Service and Self Sacrifice

Service and Self Sacrifice

(Vinod Anand)

 

In order to live well, we need to be fit. Is fitness physical? Throughout, amongst plants and trees, animals and birds, individuals and groups, institutions and nations — the physically weak have made place for the strong. The underlying philosophy seems to be: Elbow out others to live. Medicine, too, says that if you are strong you can avoid ailments and infections. Yet, are supermen living well? Swami Vivekananda says: “They talk a great deal of the new theories about the survival of the fittest, and they think that it is the strength of the muscles which is the fittest to survive. If that were true, any one of the aggressively known old-world nations would have lived in glory today and we, the weak ones, ought to have died out; yet we live...!” And wasn’t Gandhiji a frail man? The body, with all its perfected muscles, is not automatic, and needs something more to keep it going. It needs a sane mind. - Next, is fitness financial? If you have money, you could have all you want. However, not all rich are ‘surviving’, despite their fitness. Not all rich are sleeping well. Coming to nations, the financially fit nations do not appear to be happier than the so-called unfit ones — you need peace. At least for two reasons physical and financial fitness isn’t everything: a microbe or bacteria may destroy a strong body, and a stock market crash can turn a mountain of cash into pieces of mere paper. So the two well-known instruments, health and wealth, could fail us. We need some other form of fitness; some way of life, of true living. And that eternal way was revived by Vivekananda. He wrote to a prince, who knew fully well what physical and financial fitness meant: “My noble Prince, this life is short, the vanities of the world are transient, but they alone live who live for others, the rest are more dead than alive.” This is the secret of life Swamiji would say, “Anxiety is worse than the disease. If in this hell of a world one can bring a little joy and peace even for a day into the heart of a single person, that much alone is true; this I have learnt after suffering all my life; all else is mere moonshine.” To be healthy under unhealthy living conditions, we need a peaceful mind and this is achieved through living for others. A chaotic mind leads to all sorts of physical and other disorders. Vivekananda declared: “Self-sacrifice, not self assertion is the law of the highest universe Religion comes with intense self-sacrifice. Desire nothing for yourself. Do all for others. This is to live and move and have your being in God.” Those who lived for others alone have attained the goal of true survival; they have lived the fullest lives. The greatest contribution of Vivekananda is that he presented the ideal of karma yoga to the modern world in a scientific way. Karma is not fatalism but opportunity to improve the quality of our lives. This is the ideal way to live every moment of our lives fully, in peace. Service and self sacrifice have been Indic ideals since ages. To live in peace is to let others too live “fit” and peaceful lives. To do that, we must dedicate some time for serving others selflessly. This not only helps others but helps us also physically and mentally. And this is true religion.

 

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