Children, from birth until death, people are trying to possess one worldly object or the other. During childhood, the mind runs after various toys and playthings. When we grow a little older, we throw these toys aside, and our infatuation is for bicycles. Before long, we want to own a motorbike or scooter. The mind will not linger too long even here. Without delay, we desire a car. In this way, as soon as we possess an object, we start thinking, “This isn’t enough. I want something better.”
It does not take much time for the attraction we feel towards an object to turn into boredom and then dislike. Recently, when Amma visited the home of a family, she went to the room belonging to the son, a college student, and saw at least 15 mobile phones on the table. When Amma asked, “So many mobile phones?” his father replied, “What can I say, Amma? Whenever a new model is released, he throws away the old model and buys the latest one. We’ve given up on advising him.”
There is no point in blaming the children alone. They learn many things from their parents. Today, going shopping once a week has become a norm. The parents buy a new pair of pants, shirt and saris every week. They frequent restaurants to eat various kinds of food. When parents themselves set such examples, they lose the credibility to tell their children to do otherwise. Amma’s point is not that these habits should be given up in toto. We should observe moderation in everything.
If we give free rein to our thoughts and desires, the mind will lose its equanimity. This lack of equanimity is one of the reasons behind the increase in mental diseases and depression among youth today. It does not take us much time to dismiss any new object as ‘old’. When we get something new, we will feel happy for some time. However, when what we think is ‘new’ becomes ‘old’, we lose that happiness as well, and boredom sets in. It is common to feel that way towards our house, car, the city we live in, and our clothes. Unfortunately, we have this attitude not just towards objects but individuals, too.
The discontent, conflict and divorces that we see in families today arise from this boredom. Though living in one house, the husband and wife exist as if living in two different worlds.
Amma has heard a funny story. A man asked his friend, “Hey buddy, when do you think the world will end?”
“Which world are you talking about?”
“How many worlds are there?”
“When my wife dies, one world will come to an end. Then, when I die, the second will also end!”
Today, the happiness and sorrow of people are dependent on external circumstances alone. Imagining that one can get happiness and contentment through these alone is wrong thinking, because contentment is not something that arises when all our desires have been fulfilled. Not only that, it is not possible for anyone to fulfil all desires. Contentment is a purely inner attitude. We should evaluate our thoughts and emotions in the light of discernment and with a contemplative mindset. We should be able to distinguish our real needs from the endless stream of desires, and reject the rest with a positive frame of mind.
Then we will experience contentment. Until then, boredom, discontent and dissatisfaction will continue to haunt the mind. Human life is a journey from the animal mind to the human mind, and from there to the divine heart. To realise this and to live accordingly is our Dharma (righteous duty).
The writer is a world-renowned spiritual leader and humanitarian