Thursday, May 3, 2012



Most often we are aware of the nuances of good living and what a good life constitutes of. However many times we forget to put it into actual practice. The awareness of good living and a good life is relegated to some deep recess of our sub-conscious mind. It is not always easy to summon this knowledge from the sub-conscious realms and put it at our disposal. The essence of Good living deludes us more when we are far away from our roots/country exposed to alien cultures, trying to deal with a new world and it’s demands. Somewhere in the fast pace and demands of living the essence gets diluted and we become more and more disillusioned. During one such phase I was reminded about the essence of a good life, by B.N. Mahapatra (My father). Elucidated below are his views on good living which can be achieved by a holistic approach to living.

The World where we dwell is brimming with paradoxical and conflicting forces.  Existence of conflict corroborates the existence of two or more opposing sides (forces). The presence of two sides obviously generates two disparate and at times, even conflicting opinions/formulas. The wise man is one who is capable of striking a balance between the two and living peacefully. In the ancient times man lived in complete confluence with nature. However times have changed and naturalistic living is slowly being replaced by an artificial and increasingly material world. As our life becomes more comfortable we get more and more distanced from the natural way of life. We are living in affluence but there is no peace. It indicates that our style of living is defective. The untapped resources of the earth are now being uncovered and fully exploited. We are at the top of material development but inner happiness eludes us and discontent is intensified. Our needs are ever expanding –the more we have the more we want. Distancing ourselves from nature gives rise to umpteen problems. To get rid of one difficulty we take necessary steps but in the process another difficulty crops up. The best approach is to adopt an intermediary path of life.
Once Chhatrapati Shibaji while riding on a horse felt that the horse was thirsty and decided that it’s thirst should be quenched. On the way he met a man who was drawing water from a well. The wheel and axel used for drawing water from the well, utilizing a rope was producing a lot of noise. Despite being thirsty the noise irritated the horse and it kept away from the well. Shivaji requested the man to stop the sound. The man answered that sound is an unavoidable part of the activity of drawing water from the well. He requested Shivaji either to go away or bear with the sound. Shivaji wisely chose a middle path. He tied the horse, at a little distance away from the well and took a bucket of water from the person for his horse. The horse drank the water in full satisfaction. The villager too was happy that Shivaji had not troubled him or coerced him with unfair demands. This story demonstrates how adherence to middle path can resolve a problem amicably.
In Buddhist Religious scripture the “Madhyam Pradipada” is an important word. In Sanskrit it is called “Madhyam Pradipada” or middle way. Bhagaban Buddha was exposed to two completely opposite forms of living. His first phase of life before renunciation was very luxurious as a prince. In the second phase of his life he renounced the luxury and adopted one of austerity i.e. a staunch Sanyasi. Buddha denounced the life of luxury in favor of a life of austerity in his search for true happiness and self-realization. At the same time Buddha realized that in his quest for self-realization he had ended up hurting his family and subjects. Once Buddha saw a lady playing Bina on a boat in a river. He observed that while the lady was tightening the strings of Bina and when she was loosening the string no melodious sound was coming. But when the string was on the middle not too much tight or loose, the melodious sound was coming out of the Bina.  Gautam derived a great knowledge out of it- that sticking to the middle path was the real way of living. “Madhyam Path” means Equanimity / Balance. It is not possible for everyone to renounce their worldly duties for self-realization or inner peace. It is however possible to attend to affairs of the world and yet not be consumed by materialism. It is possible to follow a middle path where development and progress doesn’t come at the stake of losing humanity (true human nature).  No Guru can teach it. It is a dynamic way of living. Swimming or cycling cannot be taught to anyone. Yes, there might have been a strong supportive hand to help, but ultimately it has to be a process of self-learning. I am revealing an incidence of my life that occurred when I was 7yrs. I did not know swimming, but one day a friend forcibly dragged me into the village pond. I would have most certainly drowned that day. I remember the incident vividly- how I struggled in the water, my mind blank, my heart thumbing. Yet some unseen power compelled me to fight for my life, urging me to splash around my hands in desperate attempt to swim, stretching my hands and legs up and down. My struggle that day taught me swimming. In life we may flounder or fall, but as long as we possess the will to learn the lesson will never elude us and we can understand the truth of life.
Goutam Buddha has described these things in “Arya Astanga Marg” or noble eight fold path.
Right understanding
Right thought
Right speech
Right action
Right livelihood
Right effort
Right mindfulness
Right meditation
All these are the byproduct of righteousness and Equanimity.
In another example it may be seen that when we are measuring some goods in a  ‘Taraju’ or measuring instrument we judge by the needle in the middle of the instrument so that we can get the correct measurement. The needle in the middle epitomizes equanimity or correctness.
To live in peace means to adhere to the principles of “Yoga”. Yoga does not mean bending body in different posture, physical exercise or respiratory formula. Lord Sri Krishna while defining “Yoga” has said in Sanskrit language“ Samatwon  Yoga Uchyate”-     equanimity is “Yoga”. In fact to remain in peace one must keep the balance like in the “Taraju”. When the mind is in equanimity it will behave like a good balancing instrument and remain unwavering. The Emperor of Buddhist world in India, Swami Ramthirtha elucidates the true of art of living- “ ik pal bhi jie , magar sehensha banke jie, bhikari banker mat jie, bhagaban banke jie.” (Even if we live for a few seconds we should live it not like an emperor but like God would have lead his life)
The real beggar is not one who begs rather who expects from others. Bhagban Buddha was a beggar outside but he was an emperor inside. We are emperors outside but great beggars inside.
In conclusion it may be said that the real art of living is to adopt an attitude of detachment. When we are not to be unduly affected by worldly pleasure or become too distressed when faced with sadness, we hold the reins of true happiness in our hands. The path of our life may be dotted with thorns or carpeted with petals, but when we put on our shoes these do not hamper our journey. When we empower our mind and refuse to make it vulnerable to outside forces- when we focus our mind on the true goals can our life can become more fruitful.
Bhagabat Gita has supported this view in Chapter 5 stanza 19 :-
            “ Eheiba Twerjitah sargo jesam samye stitham manah,
            Nirdosham hi samam brahma tasmat brahmani te stithah”.           

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