All of us aspire to have a good life. There are as many definitions of good life as there are people. But generally people want a decent place to live, mobility, good education for their children, clean environment, a challenging workplace, good and wholesome entertainment and enough money to meet their usual daily requirements. These are the issues around which the modern industrial societies have evolved and yet they have created the biggest problem of totally unsustainable lifestyles fueled by greed. Thus the climate change, economic meltdown and other consequent social problems are direct result of our greed for resources and energy. Hence the control of greed or better yet the sublimation of greed emotions into higher ones like humility and simplicity can lead to sustainability, happiness and a rewarding life.
We will try to explore in this essay how one can lead a very happy life by channeling our desires into fruitful avenues and by curbing or sublimating our greed impulses. All these strategies combined will lead us to a sustainable lifestyle.
Happiness is a state of mind. We feel happy and enjoy life through our senses and the mind. Brain processes the information from the senses and our level of happiness is dictated by its processing power. A powerful processor can therefore extract more information from the sensory signals and hence can give us more happiness since the mind gets satisfied easily. A smaller processor obviously needs many more inputs to reach the same enjoyment or satisfaction level. Thus weaker brains need more resources to occupy them and this leads to unsustainable lifestyle. Therefore one of the most important factors for having a sustainable lifestyle is development of a powerful and smart brain. This process allows us to think deeply or concentrate during which we can get 'lost' in processing that information. This is the genesis of meditation and samadhi.
This is also the genesis of sustainability because a powerful processor shifts the priorities in life. Thus the focus shifts towards getting personal happiness through mental peace and less on material needs. When concentration on single thought is done regularly and continuously this takes our mind away from our insecurities and hence gives us a feeling of well being.
The insecurity of human beings comes when they do not have anything to do. Thus activities such as hoarding of wealth, material goods etc. are the result of a shallow mind. Mind seeks enjoyment and gets it in activities like binge shopping etc. A mind which is very powerful is capable of finding enjoyment within itself and makes a person self-contented and happy. Thus the act of accumulation or hoarding of anything is a sign of a lower life form, since it is driven by fear complex of loosing out or not having enough.
An evolved human being on the other hand will try to hoard as little as possible and will possess only those material things required for his or her use and enjoyment. This is the essence of sustainability.
Modern examples of evolved humans are Gandhi and Einstein who lived very simply and yet produced a very high quality of thought since they were very secure human beings.
Geneticists tell us that we are born with a certain type of brain and that puts the limit on its processing power. However any type of brain can be nurtured to work efficiently and it is this capability that needs to be imparted to all children. Surely there will always be differences between brains but with proper nurturing during childhood the average capabilities can be raised very high.
When we are young our brains are powerful and pliable. This is because it is relatively free of memories and psychological knots. Besides there are lots of sex hormones flowing through them. These chemicals are very useful for memory enhancement and hence in producing a powerful brain. Thus to increase the brain capacity and have more focused thinking it is necessary that teenagers should be made to focus on various interesting things and less on sex. Too much sexual activity fritters these chemicals away. Probably this was the basis of celibacy propagated by all religions in different civilizations.
Sexual abstinence is a very difficult thing to teach the teenagers. The evolutionary forces cause a tremendous hormonal flow in young people since procreation is the most important part of life. This hormonal flow should be utilized for making the brain powerful and should not be frittered away. Because of our hedonistic society we tend to create more sexual opportunities which sometimes result in overindulgence. This is disruptive and not very productive. Sex is enjoyable and when practiced among consenting adults in moderation is good for human health.
Therefore it is difficult to curb the powerful sexual tendencies of the young people. Sex desire should not be suppressed but should be sublimated. We can do this by inspiring them and make them work hard so that they do not have much time to think about sex and related things. An empty mind is a devil's workshop. This requires that parents and teachers create work environment for children which is challenging, interesting and physically taxing. A 'soft' society leads to obesity and compulsive sexual disorders.
If we want to shield the children and young adults against the disruptive 'too much sex' society then we have to first put a reign on the behavior of the adults. If adults want sex to be depicted openly in mass media then it will automatically be seen by children. Nevertheless it is very difficult to censor out sexual content since in an open society adults have the freedom to do more or less whatever they want.
Thus the ancient Indian concept of 'Gurukul' becomes useful where the children were put in the schools and colleges in isolation and where the focus was on Yoga, learning and sexual abstinence. The practice of Yoga by children will help them to develop the power of concentration which ultimately can produce a powerful brain. Since the brain is pliable during the impressionable age hence teaching of Yoga in schools should become compulsory.
However in the modern world this concept may prove difficult to sell. Also the teachers of such 'gurukuls' have to be very disciplined and highly evolved human beings. Presently teaching profession generally attracts only the lower strata of the society. Still we can aim and plan for modern 'gurukuls' which can be excellent schools with focus on Yoga, moral science and sports. Creation of very intelligent children and young adults who will pass out from such schools is necessary for the betterment of society.
Life as a Continuum
We all have the arrogance that we want to see the results of our work in our lifetime. This gives us tremendous energy to achieve our goal and also makes us impatient. Most of our problems come because of this impatience. It forces us to work in a focused fashion in a certain direction for a specific time and hence does not allow the system to come into equilibrium with the surroundings with its consequential effects.
However if we consider that we are a continuum i.e. we will continue on this planet earth for a long time in different life forms and that all of us will work together for the benefit of mankind then the task at hand looses a lot of its urgency and time its immediacy. As individuals we have a free will and work for our own good but as a part of the whole mankind we all move towards speeding up its evolution.
The only requirement for this scheme to succeed is for reincarnation to be a reality. For people who do not believe in it then the above framework can create conflicts and problems.
If we believe in reincarnation then the time stretches and we get a better perspective on life. It causes all our actions to become focused on achieving the general good of mankind for its evolution on a large scale. With this perspective one also gets a global outlook and the country boundaries vanish. And this is the essence of being a human. In a way the development of science and technology allows us to proceed in this manner, though sometimes patents, technology control and intellectual property aspects come in the way of achieving it. The latter issues come into play because of our insecurities which lead us to arrogantly focus only on our present lifetime.
This behavior cannot change overnight but will do so slowly and I feel that in another 100-200 years we will become more benevolent and sharing.
Secondly, what is the possibility that each human being will be born again in the form of human being? I think the birth in human form is probably by chance though we still do not understand the exact mechanism of how it takes place. Nevertheless with the passage of time the inter-exchange of species will reduce since it will be taken care of by the evolutionary process (most of the lower forms will disappear) and a large proliferation of human population will take place. The limit of human population will then depend on the resources available and will be governed by forces of sustainability.
Production of huge human brain is still an evolutionary mystery. Its big size cannot be explained by the pressures of evolutionary forces. I feel that it developed so that we can become conscious of the universe and universal consciousness.
Hallmark of an evolved brain is that it becomes acutely aware of its surroundings and through this powerful processor we are able to expand the horizons of our surroundings to encompass our world, solar system and universe. This expansion gives us a tremendous sense of peace, tranquility and perspective on our life. This is the genesis of wisdom.
Also the expansion of our horizons gives us an awareness of reality and life in different dimensions. This is the genesis of 'God Sense' that each one of us possesses irrespective of our caste, creed or religion. It is possible that our brains have this in-built idea because this earth was seeded by intergalactic civilization and hence through ages we have carried that genetic code through our ancestors who were more aware than us of the reality of other planets and of higher dimensional space. In fact as we evolve technologically and otherwise this awareness will become stronger and the boundaries between our four and higher dimensions will become blurred. This concept has been written up in our ancient books like Patanjali Yoga and the modern science and technology makes it possible to visualize it and possibly to experience it.
This awareness of higher dimensional space and reality also makes us fearless and removes our fear of death since death is a simple transition between various forms and dimensions. This is also the lesson of Gita. With fearlessness comes the ability to do new things and follow unchartered paths which can give us a quantum jump in our technological developments and understanding of natural forces.
Because we have roots of advanced galactic civilization hence the concept of gods with super human powers and dazzling lights are embedded in our memories.
Our roots in intergalactic space also made us very much aware and focused on heaven and hell concept. Heaven was always about the great place from where we came which I feel must have been very technologically advanced civilization where there was no physical pain and hopefully no emotional pain also.
As we become technologically advanced and become gods ourselves we will eventually loose the 'god' thought and become more tuned to making this world a heaven.
This is what we are aiming to achieve in this world. Once that happens then we will talk less about heaven and future births and more about what is possible now and can be achieved. With our present technologies the easiest way to travel inter-galactically is to transfer soul from this earth to other planets. This has been preached by almost all religions throughout the ages. I believe our ancestors understood that this was the easiest way to overcome gravity barrier of earth and hence the focus on future births in heaven etc.
However I feel that once our earth becomes really good, sustainable and a very nice place to live, then we will have no problem in being born again and again on his earth. This is evolutionary in nature and hence technological evolution is bound to take place no matter what we may or may not believe in. And as we become technologically advanced we will become an inter-solar and intergalactic traveling civilization just what the gods may have been.
Nature of Desire
It is also possible that as we expand the boundaries of our consciousness we may also desire more inputs and resources for our brain so that it can keep itself occupied. Thus a powerful brain will channel the desires into new avenues which will benefit the humanity more rather than our greed. In order to do so we must however first try to understand the desire emotion.
What is the socio-biological basis of desire? Why do human beings have it and what is the nature of its fulfillment and that of unfulfilled desires?
The desire emotion manifests in different forms ' lust, aim, ambition, control, goal, etc. However, the driving force is the same ' power, fame and money and I think it ultimately boils down to control and hence power. Some also call it an ego trip.
Desire is fueled by experience. A living being wants to experience the world. This is an inherent trait of all life forms. We are wired for experience. Urge for maximization of experience fuels the desire. Whether the desire is for sex, money, fame etc. it is driven by the same need to have experience.
As our brains develop (right from our birth) the neurons need to form the memory pathways. This process is accomplished by sensory perception. We are hardwired to increase our experience and memories. This is the genesis of desire. Thus desire and brain are interlinked. As long as brain exists desire will always be there.
One of the outcomes of desire is possession. We feel a need to possess whatever we desire whether it is a person, object or even an idea. This possession helps in maximization of experience. Besides the absorption of 'experience' through the sensory perception, our brain also processes this information and experience. It is during this process that we 'decide' whether our desires are fulfilled or not. Fulfillment of desire therefore helps us in releasing the 'possessions'. However a powerful processor or the mind can get its desires fulfilled quite easily without physically possessing the objects of desire. This is much better for sustainable development.
Desire is a useful and necessary emotion. It allows us to do something and be active. Without desire we will be lifeless, dead or like stones. However what we need to do is to channel our desires so that they get fulfilled without too much taxing of resources, materials and energy. For example a desire to invent a new process, to create a new thought or discovery does not require much energy or resources, say as that for possessing a 100 ft yacht or a jet liner etc. The desire emotions for non material goods could be good for humanity at large and will lead to sustainability.
Satiation of desire requires resources of energy and materials and excessive desire leads to greed and hence to unsustainability. The wisdom of 'I' or ego keeps a check on the desires. If not, then the mind goes into an ever expanding spiral of greed and excesses. Unresolved desires produce memory knots which have the mechanism of always directing the brain to them and creating frustrations and hence depression. This happens because the thought production is channeled or influenced by the existing memories. If the brain has more of the unfulfilled desired memory knots then the new thoughts will be centered and focused around them leading to frustration etc.
The power of the brain processor is increased by availability of its working memory. The maximizing of this memory can be achieved by increasing concentration on a single thought as practiced in Yoga. This allows the dissolution of other memories and psychological knots and hence makes available to the brain increased working memory. As this memory increases the absorption and digestion of inputs also get enhanced since the mind becomes hungry for more experiences and this increases our desires. As our desires increase both in quantity and quality the brain/mind complex starts looking for higher purposes. This 'mind opening' experience allows interaction of mind with external and higher dimensional space. This is the first step in satiation or morphing of desires to higher space dimensions. This is when we become mediums of higher dimensional thought and is the basis of probably most discoveries, inventions etc.
Thus to live a happy and sustainable life we need to make our brain very powerful by Yoga and also by conserving energies which are too often frittered away in unfulfilled desires and emotional knots. This process also helps us in curbing our greed impulse and hence can lead to sustainable and emotionally satisfying living.