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The Need For Having An Ideal

Man needs an ideal as it is necessary for making his life purposeful. It helps him to direct his energies to a desired goal.

Ideals create conflict for vast majority of people because life consists, they say, of compromises. So they think it is better to do away with all idealism and thus free the mind from all compunctions, and this alone can ensure undisturbed enjoyment of the things of the world. Hence often they are against all idealism and ridicule those who try to follow an ideal.

The amount of awareness and the preparedness to look for defects in their life and thinking that is necessary for following an ideal is too much for many people. But denouncing a higher ideal simply because one thinks it is impracticable is moral cowardice.

The higher the prize, the harder is the exertion. The nobler the goal, the greater is the sacrifice. It is of course human to be overwhelmed by the immensity of the task ahead. But proportionate effort is the rule of all successful undertakings in the world. Great men will all testify to this.

Unless we are prepared to forgo the little gratifications, we cannot aspire after the higher ideal.

The problem of choosing an ideal becomes more difficult for young people. But adolescence is the time for opting for an ideal. Often it is done unconsciously, probably on coming in contact with a man of idealism. But soon the youth wants to find support for it. That support must be both intellectual and social. With the growth of his intellect, especially the educated youth, wants to test everything in the fire of reason. As he has less experience, imagination plays a great part. Then he requires social acceptance of the chosen ideal. If the society is indifferent, he is very much disheartened. Often he gets depressed and becomes critical. Sometimes he becomes a revolutionary and wants to bring the entire society by force to his way of thinking. But alas! Society is by nature given to inertia, sloth. Members are often self-seeking. It is a terrible struggle for all adolescents to adjust to such a society. It becomes more so for those who opt for an ideal.

The world needs the idealists. They are the salt of the earth. The progress of society and its march forward is because of the efforts of idealistic men and women. Without any ideal, life loses all its value, at least for the sensitive minds. Swami Vivekananda echoes the sentiment when he says, “It is a great thing to take up a grand ideal in life and then give one’s whole life to it. For what otherwise is the value of life, this vegetating, little, low life of man? Subordinating it to one high ideal is the only value that life has.”

Swami Vivekananda says, “Every man should take up his own ideal and endeavour to accomplish it. That is a surer way of progress than taking up other men’s ideals, which he can never hope to accomplish. All the men and women in any society, are not of the same mind, capacity, or of the same power to do things; they must have different ideals, and we have no right to sneer at any ideal. Let everyone do the best he can for realising his own ideal.”

Sourcearticle titled ‘The Struggle for the Ideal’ by Swami Swahananda published in the November 2021 issue of Vedanta Kesari.