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.