Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Body Obsession

Sunday Sermon

According to a report in today’s Hindu, youngsters in Delhi “spend the most on improving themselves physically.”  Skin complexion, hair style and dress: these seem to matter more these days. Not only in Delhi, however.

There is no harm in looking good physically.  It is even desirable.  But the problem lies in assuming that only the body matters.  What about the mind?  The ignorance of today’s youth about great thinkers and serious writers is an indication of a malady: the obsession with the body to the detriment of the mind.

The capitalist system which has taken over the entire world has what Dr Fitjof Capra calls an “object-centred consciousness” (The Hidden Connections).  Competition, expansion and accumulation are its hallmarks.  It is never satisfied however much it may accumulate.  One may have accumulated enough wealth for five generations and yet one remains discontented.  This discontent is one of the nemeses of the capitalist system. 

Possessions don’t make anyone really happy.  There is the familiar story of the woman who was searching for her lost earring in the front yard.  A woman next door, seeing the lady in frantic search for something, offered her assistance.  Both of them searched for quite a while but couldn’t retrieve the ring.  “Are you sure,” asked the neighbour, “that you lost your ring here in the yard?” 

“No,” said the woman, “I lost it inside the house.”

“Why are you searching here then?” asked the neighbour stupefied.

“There’s no light inside the house.”

Searching for happiness in objects (including the body) is no different from the above woman’s search for her lost earring.  Happiness is a state of mind.  Certain material things may help enhance the mental state, but they are not the real sources of happiness.  Unless we learn to discover happiness within our consciousness, we are destined to remain discontented.

The real tragedy today seems to be not the discontent, but the lack of awareness about one’s own discontent.  We are like those barnacles which remain stuck to the bottom of boats and imagine themselves as going places, when in fact they are just stuck to the same reality.  If only we could give up this clinging, if we only we could raise ourselves to the higher realms of reality by liberating our consciousness from its clinging, we would see a totally different world, a far superior world, unfolding. 


A new heaven and new earth are always there before us.  But we have to choose them consciously.  Consciousness, not the body, is the seat of happiness.


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18 comments:

  1. Very true, Sir. We have to raise our consciousness in our pursuit for happiness :)

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    1. And that's the only way, Anita. The moment people realise it, their blissbegins.

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  2. I feel that extensive advertisements on tv and social networking sites have changed this scenario for good ! people are getting these facilities easily and the trend catches fast ! However i think that your point is valid, no one is bother to pay attention on what their real happiness is ! and there is no conscious efforts also ! As they say "following the flow" ,,

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    1. The ads and networks are a reflection of the prevailing culture, and they affect the culture in their own way too.

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  3. So right: What about the mind?
    I try telling my growing daughters this same thing. But it seems peers will have more influence.

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    1. The peer group plays a vital role, you're right Indrani. I have seen students giving up good habits out of sheer pressure from friends.

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  4. "Happiness is a state of mind"- this is really inspiring.

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    1. I don't like to sound like a preacher, Namrata. But in this post I did, I'm sure. Couldn't help it. But happy that you liked it.

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  5. So true.. most of us have perceived happiness so incorrectly. A happy person is the one who finds happiness in everywhere.

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    1. Yes, Namrota, happiness spreads itself. So the happy person finds it all around.

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  6. Very true Sir! Pursuit of happiness through material achievement is an elusive futile pursuit. But most of us don't want to understand! :(

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    1. We refuse to understand. We choose to keep our eyes closed.

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  7. happiness within is most important. well said

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  8. But isn't ignorance bliss? When you are conscious, you are aware that you don't find happiness in your career but you can't leave your career when you need to survive! So the end result is, you work 10 hours doing something you hate from the bottom of your heart, then spend another 5 hours to do the tasks that are imposed by the society you live in (I consider cooking, cleaning and household chores that!) and then if you have got total 9 hours to yourself....you can either sleep or actually do what you want to....I do the latter. The result: sleep deprived soul!

    So I think I'd have been more happy being ignorant of my discontent.

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    1. This is a different kind of consciousness and ignorance that you are speaking of, Pankti.

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  9. Finding happiness in material things is like making fool of one's ownself. one may feels good by wearing gold or diamond or living in a bungalow but still discontent inside and one may be living in a 1bhk house is filled with eternity, the real happiness . But problem is that how many of us really do care , what we really feel inside , what our soul wants or why are we here , what is our purpose of being in this world .

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  10. Problem with the people is that they find happiness when others says so, like for ex if someone has done some good work but he will wait for others to comment on the same and he finds happiness /sadneess according to comment of another person , inspite of the fact that he should feel what he really feels about his work.. our happiness depends upon the perception of other people around us which is so pathetic... What is real happiness for any person can be judged only by looking into his /her innerself and noone else can decide this

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