Let us gain whatever we can for our well-being and secure our future, but not at the cost of the other, says AJIT KUMAR BISHNOI
The following is a true story of a retired very senior civil servant in the west, who joined an Institute in Belgium to train foreign public servants. In one such training session for Indian civil servants, she stayed around after finishing her lecture. She spoke at a personal level to a couple of Indians, and then became very emotional. She confided to them that she was very lonely. Though she was earning a lot of money, but she lived all by herself. She felt that she would have been better off in India in her old age, because of stronger family bonds in the country. She had visited India several times during her work tenure and was aware of Indian family traditions.
Where had the lady gone wrong? The fault lies in the materialistic culture of the West. It gives a false sense of security when things are going well materially. One lulls the self into assuming that things will continue go on smoothly. But, they don’t. Because the material creation is subject to changes; nothing remains as it is for long. This fact requires that one plans for future, because that will surely come. Having a wonderful present is nice but there is future also to be lived. And that gets us to the point of our discussion — what should we gain in the present and what should we save for the future.
Let me take up the present first — the more important of the two. What are we looking for in our present? Every adult will agree that self-sufficiency is on the top of their list. Without that, life can be quite miserable. We study and train for years to be able to gain that position, often sacrificing a lot of play time. Only to realise later that they should have kept aside time to enjoy. What is life if not enjoyed!
Some people go horribly wrong in their choices and cause damage to their future as a result of it. Next comes the mental level. There must be satisfaction with the way the life is progressing. Peaceful existence is another big goal to be pursued. And, we cannot leave out the sense of security about the future, which we all dream about.
How do we achieve the last three goals? This is where the material consciousness fails us. God has to be in the picture. Without Him, there is no chance of satisfaction, peace or security. This is where the lady of our example failed. With God comes God consciousness and all His instructions to live a quality life, and ensure a great future too. Because God teaches us to love fellow beings, serve them and not be so selfish that everyone abandons you in your old age. Why is India envied when family values are spoken of? Because they do believe in spirituality, a good % do. Saving money for future is nice but after a point, money is just a number, that cannot replace love from other human beings.
The human birth is meant to optimise both, that is material sufficiency and spiritual advancement. The latter is crucial for the next life. Remember, when we are born, limitations are placed on everyone. The more fortunate ones have more freedom, because they are born in cultured families who are well off too. They learn early in life that the human life is meant to advance the self perpetually. It is never to live in the present at the cost of the future by doing sinful acts and inviting a lot of suffering in the balance life and the next.
Therefore, let us gain whatever we can for our well-being and also secure our future. One should not be at the cost of the other. Some people unfortunately go to the other extreme and forget to enjoy the present obsessed as they are about securing their future. Ideally, we should gain the present and save something for a bright future. This is wisdom.
Bishnoi is a spiritual writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org