Sunday, April 5, 2009

Its importance at personal level is easier to understand ; not so easy to appreciate but equally important is happiness of human capital to any organization's bottom line. Happy, healthy people create the ultimate competitive advantage. It makes a strong business sense. Stressed, negative, unfit, grumpy people will neutralize the advantage of any good technology or product.

Lasting happiness is the eternal quest of every form of life. Everything that we do – not just we humans, but other sentient forms of life also – is to find happiness. We earn to be happy, we spend to be happy ; we work to be happy, we take a break from work to be happy ; we wake up every morning to continue our search for happiness, and at night we retire to find happiness from the post- work restfulness of sleep - sleep is like an unconscious meditation. All our lives, we live in search of happiness, and through death we move on to other realms in the same perennial quest.

There can be no happiness without health, unless of course one has entirely transcended body consciousness, such as Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa who could dance in joy with a bleeding cancer in his throat had done, or Sri Ramana Maharshi, who too had cancer, but could smile in deep bliss. Such saints actually take the karma of their disciples to work out on their own bodies, out of their limitless compassion.

Now, physical health is impossible without a reasonably peaceful mind which in turn must be anchored in the reason of the intellect. The sensory mind which governs the five senses, is the lower mind, because it gets easily bribed by the sensory inputs. It only understands pleasure and pain. The discriminating intellect with all its reasoning faculty, is our higher mind, and it tries to tell the lower mind what is good for it and what is not, regardless of whether it is pleasurable or unpleasurable. Pain is an important part of life's learning, but suffering is optional through attitudes, through how we pertceive the challenge.

Right eating is crucial to good physical health. We become what we eat – the gross part of our food builds the body, the fine part (the subtle sattwic / rajasic / tamasic nature of what we eat) builds the mind. Fresh seasonal vegetables and fruits, nuts (esp. almonds), milk and milk products and well cooked cereals are good for us ; non- veg, preserved (`dead') food, processed and highly spiced foods should be abstained from. There are several scientific reasons in
favour of a vegetarian diet.

Equally important for good physical health is daily exercise. A doctor in the West recently said, if exercises could be packed in a pill, it will be the world's most selling drug. But it cannot be
done ; we just have to do them. Brisk walk, Yoga, cycling, swimming, playing outdoor games, light/moderate gym activity etc are great help. Controlled diet and daily exercise can effectively cure the dreaded modern disease of obesity with the offshoots of hypertension, diabetes, cardiac ailments etc. Daily adequate sleep and rest, good hygiene etc are also important to physical wellness.

Mental peace, so essential to sustained good physical health, is best obtained by daily Pranayama and an introspective management of ego-driven emotions. This will also keep our relationships healthy and promote all-round happiness.

So we see, happiness is not pleasure. It demands discipline that can be bitter in doing but sweet in results. When we eat and sleep right, love our work, do daily exercise and Pranayama, we shall gradually be closer to a purification where meditation becomes possible.

Meditation, coupled with right living and right activity, will introduce us to the true bliss – the ultimate happiness – at spiritual level. Then love becomes our nature and we always live in
an indescribable tranquility where multi-level wellness is a by- product.

The physical disciplines mentioned above, the right living principles, daily Pranayama and meditation will together create grounds for a lasting wellness and true happiness. Our bad habits will then fall off, uprooted from the field of consciousness like useless weeds. It is hard to re-engineer habits unless we develop our self-awareness and will. Habits are mental automatic machines, they force us to do things against our will. Pranayama and Meditation bring about what modern science calls 'neuro-plasticity of the brain' ; they re-wire the brain circuits and cauterize the brain cells, creating newer, better neural pathways.

So friends, happiness is our ultimate quest ; it is our serious business - both personally and professionally.


Hans Dholakia


Post a Comment