Therefore one’s actions would determine how life has been lived, ‘man lives in deeds not in years’ is a sane and soulful counsel. Ben Johnson in two meaningful lines has determined how life has to be lived not like an oak which lives for a hundred years without any usefulness but ‘a lily of a day is fairer far in May’.
The lily in the short span, only if a day brightens the garden with its hue and scent and charms so many hearts. That is how life has to be lived. Short though the span of life is, it needs to be lived with a mission and with a meaning. Keats and Shelley lived just two decades and a little more but the history of English literature of the 19th century would be poorer without their mention.
Swami Vivekanand died too early but then he is remembered as the messenger of the Vedantic philosophy to the West. His address to the Chicago Council of the Religions of the World as ‘Brothers and Sisters’ sent a thrill among the audience and conveyed only in two words of address the entire philosophy of Vedanta.This is how life has to be lived.
Wordsworth laments —
‘The world is too much with us
Getting and spending we lay waste our powers’
This is the true scenario of modern life. We are all blindly running after ‘getting’ and wasting it over in ‘spending’. The materialism of modern life style has aptly been described by the poet.
‘Nothing do we see in Nature that’s ours’.
That is what Wordsworth feels worried about. God’s gifts in the form of Nature are right at our doors but we are oblivious about it.
Wordsworth is saying it about the great beauties of nature which God has given as gift to mankind — let us symbolically understand it that life has been given to us by God to be lived with a mission, with an ideal —’to leave the world a bit better than what we found it to be’:
In the life as it is today we are running after the shadow treating it as the substance, we are chasing the mirage.
The material possessions are and cannot be all and end-all of life. That is what they have not to be, as there is no limit to them. The more we have, the more we want. The child today has lost the charm of his ‘childhood’.’ Heaven lies about us in our infancy. Shades of prison house begin to close upon the growing boy’.
Where is that ‘Heaven’ now? With the invasion of T.V. serials, the child grows into adolescence much too soon. What he watches on the T.V. screen in the serials becomes to him the image of real life. He should also live that way — why should he not? — That becomes his thinking. In his studies, there is so much parental pressure for better and still better achievement that the child hardly has time for outdoor games — the evenings on the play fields — there is hardly time for that with them.
The distances in the metropolitan towns, the problem of commuting and the time wasted in that — all these are practical problems which the child has to face. His life turns machine like and then he begins to seek refuge and relief in pursuits — more and many more of which the modern life provides and offers.
The parents have little time for the children and that adds further to the problems.
The discipline of life — the performance of one’s duties in the right proper manner is another field where we find something, very much lacking. The dedication, the sense of devotion to duty is absent — and that is the malady from top to bottom.
The beauty of life lies not in the decorations and the designs that one can provide to his palatial house or the style in which one dresses himself or the grand parties that one can throw or attend but the beauty of life lies in how much pleasure one can give by one’s deeds to the society of which one is a member.
One may live frugally but make others plentiful with one’s services that are what would ultimately count. No one is going to remember how many suits you possessed or changed everyday, what you would be remembered for would be how many demanding souls you went out of your way to help. That makes for the science of life. Your usefulness to the society shall be the point of judging your art of living.
How much beauty have you provided to your neighbours — in making them happier by your words as well as your deeds?
Life offers many challenges. They sometimes appear insurmountable. They discourage you; they make you despondent and depressed. But eternal hope is the elixir of life.
Never lose heart; pursue your goal in the rightful way and if today it is a sunset, tomorrow it shall be a sure sun-rise. Keep looking ever towards the horizon — even the unattainable can be attained with courage of conviction. But budge not from the right path — what is right and what is wrong — it is the ‘still small voice within — the God’s voice which would always tell you.
Crone, the South African Cricket Captain, committed the greatest folly of his life to have fallen a prey to the devil — the mammon — but has indicted himself at least — vindicated himself to his conscience — by confessing his guilt. He would have felt lighter within after that though he has fallen from grace in the eyes of the world.
Not confessing his guilt at this stage and to be found guilty later would have been a greater damnation. But he could hear the voice of God within — that has partly redeemed him.
So to make life to be lived as an art as well as science one must follow —
To obey God’s order as desired by conscience — that is duty; to obey man’s order issued by the rightful authority is discipline.’
The foundations of both alike are denial of self — a higher good, unless the lesson of duty is first well- learned the lesson of discipline can be but imperfectly understood.