LIVE – MEANING OF LIFE

Albert Camus

‘You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.’

Religious texts, prophets, saints and the newest fads in wholesome living all advocate you to find the meaning of life – find out your purpose and live the way you ‘ought’ to live life.

Quite frankly and I’ll be blunt about it, I don’t get it. I don’t understand why we are so preoccupied with the true meaning of life. What I don’t understand even more is what finding out the meaning of life has to do with religion, because life, in my opinion, came before we found religion. In fact, at the cost of being branded an atheist, I’ll admit here that I feel life is far bigger and more complex a concept than religion. It may be just a four letter word, but it encompasses within itself concepts that none of us mortals will be able to figure out within one single lifetime, and that religion is only a part of life itself. Even if someone served us the meaning of life on a platter, it will take a much more evolved human brain than ours to grasp its entire meaning. For who are we, but puny human beings, living on limited air and time?

To me, the exercise of devoting one’s entire life to finding the meaning of life is a life not lived because life has so much to offer than trying to figure out what it’s about. To me, the question is rather subjective. The meaning of life could mean different things to different people. If a saint comes and tells me that the meaning of life is blah, blah, blah, I won’t nod my head in mute acquiescence. I’ll say, ‘that’s your way of thinking, not mine’.

To give you an example, a few months back India was witness to two parents abandoning their toddler to the care of her aged grandparents, in order to become Jain monks. They relinquished the world and embraced monkhood. For those of us who do not know about this, please read about it here. I don’t know about you but when I read the news I felt that they had wronged their toddler daughter by relinquishing her to care of their parents. They relinquished their duty as parents, something that should have come over and above everything else to them. But that is not what they think. To them the true meaning of life lay in religious pursuit.

My reason for giving you this example was not to tell you my opinion of whether their action was wrong or right, it was to show you that there is a difference of opinion in what matters in life most. There is thus, inherently, a difference of opinion in the assumed answer to the question ‘what is the meaning of life’.

To a pauper, the true meaning of life may be to earn enough one day to leave the footpath for good. To a rich man, it may be finding a balance between his work and home life. The purpose of a mother may be to ensure the good upbringing of her child, but the purpose of a career woman would be to be the CEO of a good company. A priest may find peace in devotion to religion, while a scientist may find it in a new invention. Who do you think is right or wrong? None of them!

So when two people, their desires, the way they think, the way they attain their goals, their very raison d’etre are different, how can they concur on what is the meaning of life?

Life is so many things to so many people, it’s meanings cannot be ascribed to a few set ways in which a few of us perceive it. To me, life is about a careful balance of pleasure and duty, ambition and sacrifice. I believe there are a set of duties that all of us mortals were born to fulfil, and some pleasures that every one of us must be entitled to enjoy. If we have ambition then we must remember to let it not trample on the lives of others. That is a kind of sacrifice and a duty. And that is not the only sacrifice that a human being must make in his life. When a person achieves a near perfect balance in these two sets of extremes, is when I believe we have found meaning in life.

My point is, and you may not agree with it, but that’s your opinion, that figuring out the meaning of life is keeping you from fulfiling your very purpose of existing on this planet – living your life – which is why you have life running in your veins. All of us have a life because we were supposed to live it. We have different ways of living it and that is fine, because there cannot be a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ way of living. We all live according to what our circumstances allow.

I believe that we have only one life to do and be all that we wish to do and be. I feel that if we do not forget to be ‘humane’ at all times and lead a life of peace and harmony, balancing our duties against our pleasures at all times, is when we will not need to search for the meaning of life.

WHY DID GOD LET THIS HAPPEN?

While talking about such a controversial topic I ought to put up a disclaimer right in the beginning. It’s not that I am an atheist. I do believe in God. But my relationship with God is different. I have my own doubts and questions. I do not wish to hurt anyone’s religious sentiments and I apologise if have.

Tanu’s life turned upside down when her husband lost his brief but painful battle with cancer..

Anirudh was left wondering what he did wrong when after putting in a lot of hard work and toil was still given the pink slip at the end of the month. All because of devious office politics..

Both responded in the same way… Where is God? Why did he let this happen? Why is life not fair? Why are good people punished.

Just picking up the newspaper and reading about the killings and rape fills me with bitterness. I mean all people good or bad are God’s creation. Then why does he create such extreme emotions in people? And again the biggest irony is that most of the killings happen in the name of God.

When something really tragic happens to really devout people. People who don’t miss out on any Pooja or ritual or fasting and otherwise are also good people at heart I really have this question. Why? Why O why did God punish them?

I know what you will say. That it’s beyond us to understand the ways of God. But we should accept that whatever happens, happens for good. We can’t understand God’s plans. I know maybe you are right. I have had long discussions with my father in law about this. He has tried to make me understand. I understand too but when circumstances change the doubt creeps back again into my mind. Maybe whatever happens, happens for good in the long run. But what good can come out of suffering of small children at the hands of adults, or brutal rapes or untimely death in the family.

Like all of us even I have got desensitized to news.  When we read about some bad news it does rankle but we tend to forget about it very soon. But when someone close to us suffers then it really pinches, we want to set things right but it’s not in our hands. That’s when the angst creeps in and questions like why God is really doing this come into my mind.

(Pic Collected from Internet)

My good friend Chiradeep has tried many a times to clear my doubts, remove some of the bitterness from my mind. Maybe in some time his efforts would yield results… God willing…

WHAT IS LUCK?

When I was a small kid, I often had a lot of questions. Most of them my parents could answer for me, but many they couldn’t. I often reflected on my life and that of others; sometimes I felt luckier and other times I felt envious of other’s lives.

This is what I wrote as a 13 year old kid while reflecting one late night

Luck is the most unpredictable part of life. When it turns and how it turns – nobody knows. Death, marriage, life, family, friends, children and so many things we say are dependent on luck. But what is luck dependent upon?

Is it the deeds of this life or the deeds of our previous lives? Or is it just in random dependent upon nothing. 

If it is dependent on the deeds of this life then I wonder what bad has been done by that infant who is the sixth child of those parents who are living in a small cell, starving and struggling to survive. He has just opened his eyes to see what this world looks like. He is too innocent to do a wrong to somebody. Then why has he got such miserable life and I have such a beautiful one to deal with. 

No dear, it can’t be the deeds of this life. It has to be the doings of our previous lives. How unfair it is that we are being punished for those deeds committed by us which we don’t even remember. It is very strange; I cannot quite understand the mystery of the maze prepared by the Almighty.

I wrote this almost 20 years back. I still don’t have the answers. All I know is that I have to trust Him and do my best in whatever I do. Whatever happens, happens for a good reason – we are mostly blind to that reason because we do not understand the bigger picture. 

Well, the quest will always continue…

WHERE IS MY PEACE?

Have you seen my peace?? I have lost it somewhere!!

Long long long time ago… Well, not that long, but it so happened that my mom was shouting at me for coming late from college. She went from, “Is this a time to come home?” to “What will people think of you?” and more. That day I told her, “Please let me eat my food in peace!!” Since that day, it has been a daily dialogue for me. Some how my peace has gone missing; I have searched, and searched and it still eludes me.

How can we describe peace? Some might say peace means having time to sit alone and think. Some would say enjoying a nice cup of coffee without disturbance. Some would say, to sleep through out the night. The definition of peace is different for different people based on their perception of life. Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work, but to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart. We tend to lose our peace everytime we encounter some unpleasant environment. Doing the wrong things in life, destroys our peace. Being in relationship with a wrong person, destroys our peace. When we visit places, where we have had some unpleasant encounters, there we lose our peace. Being in wrong places at wrong times makes us lose our peace. Not being able to do things which we want from a very long time kills our peace. Not being able to express our emotions also makes us wary and pushes our peace away.

And me, I have just managed to do most of them. You can just imagine how peaceful my inner self would be. When I saw Kung fu panda part 2, where Shifu teaches Po about the inner peace, O how much I saw myself in Po! He never knew who he really was in order to attain real peace. We all think we are leading a very peaceful life.

But are we? That inner peace… Is it attainable? Well, according to the movie, Yes!! But in real life????

We try very hard to soothe ourselves with all kind of things that help us relax like music, dance, art, and we very happily name them as hobbies. Good!!! Very good in fact!!! It is said that the time we enjoy wasting isn’t wasted after all. But the question still remains. Do we really do anything to attain that real peace? That’s a kind of quest which actually continues for a lifetime. It comes to an end only when we find our real purpose in life and how to accomplish it. Life is always a game. It has quests. Some important and main ones and some adjoining ones. Eventually all lead to the ultimate thing.

Mine is finding my peace. I haven’t quite figured it out yet. I have a long way to go. I am still in the process to find my ultimate peace. I can never figure out how did Po find his inner peace so soon. But it’s definitely taking me a lot of time. Its just HUMAN I think. High five to all who think they can relate to all such situations. Good news is that we will sooner or later find our thing by adding a little patience. And of course spread our love, joy and happiness to this world. I pray everyone find their peace and live a relaxed life.

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” – Holy Bible

ARE WE CONTENTED WITH OUR LIVES?

From the perspective of a foodie I have often patronized the fact that I LOVE BIRYANI. Not just any Biryani but the famous Kolkata biryani that comes with the humble potato. The love that I have for this item cannot be compared with the fondness that I have for other eatables. I have such humongous affection for biryani that I can devour it for all the meals of the day (Trust me I’ve done that as well).

But, consuming something for ages that is lardy and heavy comes with a price. I have to watch my weight as I am going on its higher side. It gives rise to gastric ulcers resulting in chest pain and fatigue. Numerous breakouts like acne on the skin are noticeable. Having experienced the results of some sorts I pledged to reduce the intake of such items at the start of the year. Yes, I took a resolution (I doubt its sustenance though).

You must be wondering why I suddenly related to gastronomy and my resolution at the beginning of this article as the topic for the week is “Quest of Life”. However trivial may it sound, this does help me relate to a pertinent question that I have been pondering upon lately. To what extent must a people go on living their regular lives till they realize they need a change? Do we really find contentment in the things we do?

We all take decisions regarding various aspects in our life which are far more important than having biryani. Do we really find satisfaction in leading our lives the way we want to? How far should we go to satiate ourselves till we become self-sufficient? We run after our desires and do not rest until we achieve our targets. As soon as we accomplish we set new goals and prepare our quest for them. Our interests keep changing. We have forgotten to be consistent. We change with the shift in trends. A new trend sees a new you. Somewhere in this changing process we tend to lose ourselves to the temporary changes. Change for consistency and sustenance is what we don’t aim for. I am not saying that change is bad as in some cases it is necessary and changing for the good has its own rewards. Now let us address the question of self-sufficiency. Can we ever become self-sufficient? The answer is NO. The mortal human cannot achieve self-sufficiency. How much we try to acquire knowledge, skill etc. we will never be enough for ourselves.

If this is the case then why do we resist ourselves from showing love and being kind? Why do we prioritize ourselves and feed our selfish desires? We spend our time worrying and planning for an unseen future. Discontentment and dissatisfaction encompasses us giving rise to displeasure. We are annoyed with our human nature. But the truth is there is no need for such annoyance as we cannot change the fact that we are dust and to dust we will return. Where do we find the solution to end up this displeasure? The joy will be found when we know who our Provider is. The previous week we were illuminated with the various facets of God’s nature. Self-sufficiency is one of them. Your Creator knows you best. Trust me when I say He will give you what you NEED and not what you WANT. Running after something that you want will only add up to the dissatisfaction that is already present. Therefore, submission to someone like this is what we need to do.  This is the key to be contented and peaceful amidst all chaos and imperfection.

We do realize the times when we want to change for the better, isn’t it? Still, we feel like lingering on to irrelevant and unnecessary things. At times these unnecessary things can be toxic enough to destroy us. Though we want to let go we don’t take a step further in it. That is when we see ourselves engulfed in worries and discontentment. As we keep on prioritizing ourselves losing out becomes a red mark and we tend to have false hopes. Let me tell you, there is a unique joy in losing out to the righteous. But you will only feel it once you step out of that zone and embrace the right path. Innumerable times we ignore the call to joy and continue to break ourselves till we become soulless. Stop right there and answer to the call. Stop trying to do everything by yourself. You certainly cannot turn every stone. The reason for that I have mentioned in the previous paragraphs.

The birds never reap, sow or store as they are aware of their Provider, The Heavenly Father. Hence, they do not worry. We humans are more valuable than them yet we are in constant vexation. So if you too are struggling with the thought of changing for good, transforming into the ideal human, identify your needs before your wants and submit to the will of the Creator. If this makes you a weak person delight in it as you will realize that your strength relies in nothing but God who has promised never to forsake us come what may.

Even if we know this very well…yet why are we so discontent and dissatisfied?