Natural Evolution and Happiness

In a riverbed were two trees. One was the mighty banyan tree and the other was a thin bamboo reed. The banyan tree used to poke fun at and deride the bamboo. "You are spineless and cannot stand for your rights. Look at me. Not only am I tall and stand erect, I also give shade to the wary and my tentacles allow me to spread myself far and wide", it would say to the bamboo. In the rainy season a great flash flood came. The mighty river's force uprooted the banyan tree while the bamboo simply bent with the current and when the floods receded it became erect again. This story is normally told as an example of humility. Bamboo was humble, it bent and survived whereas banyan was haughty, arrogant and refused to bend and hence was uprooted. However there is another great lesson in this story that is only those systems that come in equilibrium with the surroundings survive. 

Evolution of natural systems normally takes place via branching. Thus all species whether plants or animals branch out at a certain time in their evolution. This branching takes place when the system goes far from equilibrium or "becomes unwieldy", and is governed by laws of non-linear thermodynamics.

The branch, which comes into equilibrium with the surrounding forces, survives and prospers whereas the other branch simply withers away. This is the basic theory of survival of the fittest since the evolutionary branch, which can withstand and weather the elements survives.

Coming into equilibrium with surroundings also means actively interacting with surrounding forces like sun, wind, atmosphere and gravity. A system can only interact with the surrounding forces when it can sense them. Thus natural systems have developed mechanisms for sensing all these elements and hence have temperature, humidity, solar, chemical and gravity sensors. 

By following the natural evolutionary mechanism it is possible for us to become happy.

Most of the time we are not happy because of conflict within the self or with the surrounding forces, which include people and environment. In order to resolve the conflict or come "in equilibrium" with them we should be able to sense our surroundings. The first mechanism for happiness is therefore to become acutely aware of the surroundings and the corresponding forces. This means that one should develop a sensitive mind and increase one's awareness. Both these are produced by making our minds powerful through Yoga. A powerful mind is a great information processor and hence can process signals and information from the surroundings very efficiently. Without awareness the interaction with the forces is only a one way affair i.e. we are controlled by them.

This enhanced awareness also helps us become non-violent towards nature and our fellow human beings because we can start understanding the other person's point of view. Similarly it also gives us strength to make others aware of our point of view. This is the genesis of compromise or coming in equilibrium with the surroundings. If we approach a conflict, which could either be internal or external, in the spirit of compromise, then it has a mechanism to elicit a corresponding sentiment from the other person. This results in conflict resolution.

Compromising nevertheless is not an easy process. It requires a great courage and a very high quality of thought to produce compromise formulas since a viable and an acceptable solution has to be provided. Gandhiji had made this compromise process into an art form and it was the reason for his great success in finding solutions to difficult problems. 

This ability to compromise is the second mechanism of happiness. Without the process of compromising, the evolutionary path will be based on conflicts and may end in all round destruction of both people and environment. This path is being presently followed by our civilization. Hence conflict resolution through the mechanisms of awareness and compromise can produce true sustainability and eventually happiness.   


More by :  Dr. Anil Rajvanshi

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