During a recent conversation, my brother made a very astute observation. He said that in the world of science, we always refer to conditions being at an optimum, given the natural state of things. Yet, in our lives today, there is hardly practical application nor thought given to the optimal way in which we should lead our lives. Instead, we are being made to work longer hours, work at hours against our natural body clock, and “compelled” to carry out other activities which lead us away from the optimal use of our bodies and minds.
The sole objective of all such works is to maximize profits – how to keep increasing productivity given the limited resource available, our human life and energy. In the process of living non-optimum lives, our bodies – physical and subtle – steadily deteriorate and eventually breakdown. This is typical of how we treat everything else around us, when we allow our insatiable lust for control, our overpowering greed to accumulate more than necessary for optimum-living. This has led to many concerns about the sustainability of our natural environment and resources, about exploitation of labour and working condition, etc. As long as the temper for wild material growth and the unrestricted desire for lordship over all that we survey continue, we will fail to live optimal lives, and will deprive our children and the generations to come of the same.
Are we so enamored or blinded by the glare of fame, power and fortune that we become callous to the basic principles of life, one with meaning and purpose of a higher ideal? Can we not see that even the sun, on whom we are so dependent or the earth which rotates about its axis operates at its optimal pace? It’s only we humans who are out of whack, not in synch with nature. It’s only we humans who mess things up. But, sigh, we do not seem to learn as we create one problem to solve another. The computer age was meant to herald a paperless world, with one of its aims to reduce the rate of deforestation. Yet, with a click of button, we now print many more copies and more drafts of the copies.
The root of this enigma is the fundamental value system governing society, based on the paradigm or model of life. The current undergrowth of the principle that life has arisen due to nothing but a combination of chemicals has been the major catalyst for this predicament that we are in. If life were to be reduced to mere chemicals, molecules of no value, then there would be no real meaning or purpose of life. Even if our lives were to end today, it would be of no great significance. Even if the whole world were to be destroyed, the apt question would be: so what? Such a reductionist approach would lead to the idea of exploitation of the earth’s resources as well as of each other, with no feeling of remorse of guilt for our actions or the resultant consequences. We would be living a life without a conscience; there is no need for it. But the reality is that the converse is true. We are concerned about the environment, at least some of us are. We are angry when there is abuse and exploitation. We are! We do have a conscience as we are not a mixture of a combination of unconscious chemicals – we are conscious, sentient beings with feelings, emotions, desires, aspirations and hope.
Until and unless this core understanding is established in the bedrock of our education, our politics, our economy, in all spheres of our lives, we will continue to live our lives at levels far from the optimum for which we have been created or our bodies and minds designed. With such imbalance in our body, mind and soul, the objective of all our hankerings and contrivances – happiness and peace – will certainly be beyond our optimal reach.