Thursday, February 14, 2008

Agony and Human Mind

‘Mera jeevan, kora kaagaz kora hi rahe gaya…..’ Very captivating? Enchanting? Of course. But what makes it golden song even decades after it was composed. Music? I do agree the music was fantastic, but was it just the score of music which has enthralled millions for decades? What does it have that makes millions to relate them with the song?
Isn’t it the agony the lyrics depict which binds us?
Merry making and gaiety seem to attract us, but it is very short lived. Shakespeare’s tragedy is still more famous than his comical plays. Isn’t it ironical that man has always wanted success, wanted to be happy, but has glorified sorrow, sacrifice, agony. If we observe, a soothing music depicting an ironical life with a pinch of sorrow will always capture our attention regardless of taste for music.
But the question is, why does man relate well to agony than gaiety, despite the fact that every endeavor undertaken by man is to make himself happy?

History is evident that agony and grief has churned great minds. Tagore became impregnable with the number of bereavements he faced in his life. Madam Curie became addicted to her work when she lost her parents and sister in a small period of time. Einstein too has confessed to have been a victim of insecurity, not belonging to any country or state. His famous statement “I am by heritage a Jew, by citizenship a Swiss, and by makeup a human being, and only a human being, without any special attachment to any state or national entity whatsoever.” reinforces his opinion and the mindset.

Having made the above observation, let us try to objectively dissect the meaning of agony and its root cause.
Dictionary says agony is a state of acute pain. But what is pain? It can be described as a somatic sensation of acute discomfort. It is a human tendency to constantly make himself comfortable. Comfort level increases with every new invention/discovery of man which aides in reducing his effort and achieving his motive. But human mind is irrational, comfort is a very subjective word defined by every individual according to his/her culture of mind.

Ideally speaking, every man is supposed to have a goal in his life so that his energy and effort is channelised towards a constructive and a noble cause aimed at the upliftment of mankind. But it is possible to achieve such a goal when his/her personal interests are in coherence with the noble cause. Friction between interests will just lead to unwanted energy loss. So it is important to formulate a goal for our life which is noble at the same time is in sync with our interests and bent of mind. Any successful man’s life can be traced back to a date when he would have his goal visualized with utmost clarity.
Now the goal is set, in other words the destination is known. So, the journey starts now. Even a 1000 mile journey starts with a single step.
But like the human body, human mind also tends towards complacency unless there is a constant motive power to push it forward. Though a clear goal acts as an engine, a tinge of discomfort will add as a fuel. Lamp emits light only when a wick tolerates the discomfort of heat. It is a universal fact that extended periods of relaxation or very low disturbances leads to stiffness in both physical and mental domains. And we also know that universe is dynamic and it is a characteristic property of the universe. Since we are an integral part of the same universe, it should be our characteristic property as well. Hence, by nature man should be dynamic, if he needs to be in harmony with nature. Normally what discomfort does is, it tends to disturb the complacent mind and gets it ticking. It alerts the mind and constantly reminds us of our destination. It will help us concentrate more and put more efforts in the right direction. The only requirement from our side is to keep our eyes wide open. Ironically, majority of us will shut our eyes and wait for miracles. This is the reason why we had only one Einstein, one Tagore , one Subhash Chandra Bose, One Gandhi, and one Madam Curie, inspite of millions of people who had the potential and also faced similar situations as they did. These great souls had just one thing in common. They believed that ‘The only real prison is fear and the only real freedom is freedom from fear’.

Agony is in fact the wick which burns itself and lights the dark. It is an opportunity to testify individual’s endurance and stretch beyond what we had previously thought possible. Agony is the fuel which burns to push the vehicle of thought in the direction of our goal. Discomfort is a state of mind which we have developed over ages due to the incessant feeding to our brain on what we consider as comfort. Pain will never go in vain. It will always help us gain! Now, what we have gained is for us to introspect.
So, people who value their journey more than their destination relates more to agony
as that is the state of mind they would be for most of their life.
Agony becomes more lovable to those who experience exhilaration instead of exhaustion.
“Man is an animal like other animals, wants food and success and women, not truth. Only if the mind Tortured by some interior tension has despaired of happiness: then it hates its life-cage and seeks further, and finds, if it is powerful enough. But instantly the private agony that made the search muddles the finding. Then search for truth is foredoomed and frustrate? Only stained fragments? Until the mind has turned its love from itself and man, from parts to the whole.”
– Robinson Jeffer

Thirumal Rao R