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What is life all about?

Life is merely about shuttling between happiness to misery and finding ways to remain happy.

india Updated: Feb 19, 2007 15:10 IST

"EJECT! EJECT!" went the frantic call from the Air Traffic Control Room of a fighter airbase. The MiG had developed a serious midair snag and the pilot's life was in danger. The baffled pilot was unable to decide whether to eject or remain glued to the cockpit, as it appeared a safe shelter to him.
Quite often, alas, despite vigorous promptings from the ground crew, the pilot's deceptive sense of safety in the cockpit at that moment proves fatal.

Most of us lead our lives this way, attached to our own little world, refusing to come out. I remember the day we graduated from IIT Kanpur after spending five unforgettable years in that intellectually charged environment. Many of us were unprepared to leave that island of learning to plunge into life and face the world.

Later, while serving the government, I had to get used to the discomfort of moving from one part of the country to another almost every three years.

For example, our pleasant stay in Meerut Cantonment is still vivid in our minds. Our house on a silent street with lush green lawns, a full view of the rising sun, birds chirping.

And then, the rude shock of the sudden transfer from calm and cosy Meerut to the bustle of Delhi. But today, after three years in the metropolis, the thought of shifting again to a smaller place is dismaying.

Is life merely about this flip-flop from happiness to misery? Here the Bhagavad Gita answers with its eternal message of detachment, which our saints constantly repeat.

It is said, also, that Sri Ramakrishna was very fond of food, strange in an enlightened saint. Frequently asked the reason by Ma Sarada, he finally replied, "I am so detached that only through this one attachment do I keep my soul and body together. You'll see that three days prior to leaving this mortal world I will stop looking at food."

The message from these exalted sources: live in such a way that ejection is casual when the moment inevitably comes.