By Pulkit Sharma
The epidemic of ‘more’ is looming large over the world – we are struggling to fulfil our endless desires, taxing our bodies and minds, turning them into machines and pressurising others to follow a similar path. We think that experiencing intense pleasure, achieving abundant success, wealth and fame will bring us happiness. Eventually, we end up with a diseased body, wounded heart, perplexed mind, and an alienated spirit.
Having more or doing more is not always better. However, we ignore this fact due to our mental conditioning. Our mind argues that when the whole world is chasing success, we might turn loser by being content with having less or doing less.
Ancient Chinese philosophical traditions like Taoism encourage us to think otherwise. The profoundness of Taoism lies in its simplicity – it unveils before us what has always been there. Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism says, “There is no guilt greater than to sanction ambition; no calamity greater than to be discontented with one’s lot; no fault greater than the wish to be getting.”
By being greedy, dissatisfied and ruthless we get disconnected from the universal life force; then we start leading an unnatural and false way of life that brings misery. Our very being is in a constant state of agitation, movement and exhaustion; it simply does not know where, when and how to stop. Several lifestyle diseases, psychological disorders, medical problems and relationship issues that we face today are caused by this distress.
The remedy is simple, according to Taoist sage Chuang Tzu: “Be all that heaven gave you, but act as though you have received nothing. Be empty, that is all.” He advises us to be full and empty at the same time by aligning ourselves with the universal life force. One way to do this is to remember how nature created us and stay close to it.
Just like plants, insects and animals, we too were created to be free. We did not enter this world with heavy baggage of acclaim, aptitudes, assets, or authority and therefore we need to become aware that these ephemeral entities are not important for our happiness. We can choose to be happy in their presence as well as in their absence.
The way of the Tao does not force us to undo development, retire from life and live as a hermit in the mountains. It only teaches us the importance of decluttering and simplifying our life. When we release the mental conditioning that clouds our thinking, we become aware that our need to acquire experiences and entities is unnatural and unwarranted. Realising this, we happily adopt an attitude of non-acquisition and let go of all unnecessary desires. Then, we eat only as much as our body requires, we work as much as we comfortably can, and we feel content with whatever the universe gives us.
This freedom to be heals, unifies and enlightens us. Then, we feel a oneness with the universal life force and there is no need to prove ourselves to anyone or to be anything other than who we are. The vital life energy then moves smoothly within us and we are in a state of perfect physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
The writer is a clinical psychologist in Puducherry.
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DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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