I, like most other people, believed that philosophy is best left to philosophers who live in their make-believe world and the common man has nothing much to do with it. As I walk in to the twilight years, I have started realising that philosophy can help ordinary people to effectively meet the everyday challenges of life and deal with life’s inevitable grieves and disappointments. My curiosity about the purpose of life was whetted and I delved in to philosophy to understand the purpose of my existence better. Now, I believe that the spiritual world is far more powerful than the world we live in. Perhaps that is why most of the people turn philosophical in the last stage of their lives as they can no more keep their doubts about various aspects of their existence to themselves. Allama Iqbal echoed such feelings when he wrote,
“Dhoondta phirta hoon main, ai Iqbal, apne aap ko,
Aap hi goya musaafir, aap hi manzil hoon main.”
Experiencing such thoughts may be common; however, what is not common is developing the ability to learn any specific lessons while living simultaneously in two different worlds — one the material and other the spiritual. While we are fully aware of the material world as it can be perceived and experienced through the five senses, we are unsure of the spiritual world. We can experience physical touch, can see things, smell a flower and hear the sound of a bang, however, we don’t know whether there is a soul or not, what does He or She look like if God exists, how do our prayers get answered and so on?
Understanding the following basics can help one lead a better life:
The divine will has assigned us tasks without consulting us and we have to act, well, the part that is given to us. Whatever circumstances we find ourselves in it is our responsibility to act out our roles to the best of our abilities. Some have smaller roles and some others get bigger roles to perform, but everyone must give a good performance.
Develop spiritual intelligence. Intelligence is one’s ability to use all the available resources for one’s benefit. Spiritual intelligence is associated with the power of the universe and is the centre of all other types of intelligence. But one must never forget that character is more important than intellect. Learn to quiet your mind. Getting distracted by trifles is the easiest thing in the world. The mind of an ordinary man is so cluttered that unless it is uncluttered, one can never have peace of mind. If you concentrate to meditate, you realise how difficult it is to focus on something and sit silently.
Liberate yourself from hate, fear and greed. Most people spend their entire life making money and taking revenge. It is only when one turns philosopher at the fag-end of one’s life that one realises that these are major hindrances in achieving peace.
Try to see yourself as others see you. Most of us multiply our strengths and divide the weaknesses by the same number. Also, we usually apply just the opposite rule for others.
Differentiate between knowing and experiencing. Resist your disbeliefs if you want your and others’ prayers to work for you. Tendency to seek scientific proof of everything doesn’t help. You cannot find any proof of the grace bestowed on you by some supreme power. You know the word ‘love’, but you must fall in love to experience its joys. Learn the will of nature. Understanding the laws of nature is perhaps the easiest and the most difficult at the same time. The will of the nature is revealed in our daily experiences. We can see the spiritual power in action through Sun, Moon, seas, trees, plants, yet explaining the universe and the life on planet earth is beyond understanding of ordinary persons.
The writer is a Chandigarh-based contributor