Saturday, April 16, 2005

What do you have to show?

Well, i've been alive for about 26 years give about 6 months, my time at law school is coming to an end and soon i will be joining the real world and work force. Apparently my entire life is ahead of me and there is so much for me to do. A random thought popped into my head as it every so often does and made me think what have I got to show for the past 26 years of life. I thought about it and sadly I don't think its much. I don't mean in terms of monetary or professional achievements, money has never been a goal of mine, it is only a means to achieving an end, not an end in itself. Although, most of the society essentially seeks the security and comfort that money affords them even if they claim they don't seek money as an end. A person is lauded as a success or something great once they have reached a certain level of financial power.

Our heroes are people who have achieved considerable amount of personal success, meaning success that concerns primarily themselves. The athletes, whose hard work and dedication is essentially for themselves so that they may either play the game out of love or benefits that come from being good at their sport. Same with musicians, actors and all entertainers. We have very few and far between heroes who really have done something outside themselves. Everyone wants to be a Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant but who wants to be a Martin Luther King Jr. or Gandhi these days.

In Hindu thought there are four goals in human existence, they are called the purusha artha or four ends of mankind. The four goals are: artha (wealth), kama( bodily and mental desires), dharma (duty) and moksha (salvation). Human beings are to strive for each of these goals. Wealth is necessary for life within a society, desire is necessary because humans should not deny their most basic needs and urges. Duty or Dharma is very important because artha and kama should not be pursued without the binding force of Dharma, one is to try and achieve kama and artha within the guidelines of dharma, which also includes chairity (which many hindus convienently forget). Finally there is moksha or salvation from bondage of human existence and the universe of transience and impermenance. This is the final stage and also the hardest goal, and requires that three other goals be done with this goal in mind, it requires total surrender of the notion of the individual as an actor or agent into an instrument of the divine. That discussion is for another day.

Essentially, I was thinking about all this stuff and it sort of dawned on me that I really don't have much to show. If i were to die tomorrow, what would i leave the world? Aside from being a good friend, son, brother, cousin and/or person? Did I leave anything lasting or will my life too essentially fade into the wind as billions before me? We are taught in this society to live for ourselves and do what makes us happy, but is this necessarily the best way to live? Do we not have a duty to others around us? If all the people in world were to only look after themselves then we would have a world in which no one helped another aside from helping themselves. Do I have an answer to remedy this problem? Nope not yet. Will I ever? No idea but one can hope. All I know is that I don't have much to show for 26 years of existence, especially if the standard is monetary.

The world is such a selfish place, the root of it is the ego or Ahamkara (the "I" maker). It is the "I" or ego that makes the world a bad place, the idea that I am the actor, things are done by me, the world revolves around me. Somehow we differentiate ourselves entirely from everyone and everything around us, it is this process of differentation that creates a rift between people, a rift which perpetuates the false notion that we are each islands unto ourselves and all that matters is what we do for ourselves and therefore we owe no duty to others. Our lives should have meaning and impact outside the personal sphere of existence, meaning outside simply our circle of family and friends. To help others who you have no real personal relationship or connection with is amazing. There is a saying: Manava Seva Madhava Seva, it means the Service of Humanity is the Service of God, to serving others is equivalent to serving God, for God exists in all things and beings, so one should help and serve others as if they are helping themselves. Just food for thought.

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