--> Skip to main content

The Right Attitude Towards The World

The world consists of pairs of opposites, called dvandvas: pleasure and pain, happiness and misery, heat and cold, praise and blame, gain and loss, victory and defeat, and so on. Human nature is to get attached to the pleasant and have aversion to the painful. But it is an unpleasant and uncomfortable fact that if we get attached to one the other comes uninvited; it is a package deal. A bhakta, however, has a clear conception of the God-soul-universe triad and is able to see the world in perspective. Not all problems in the world have solutions; nor do they have rational explanations.

From the non-dual perspective, the world is but a dream that will break on the dawn of Self-knowledge. Considering that it is sublated on Self-realization, it is not eternal. It is also a source of misery, since worldly pleasure is of the rajasic variety, which is like nectar in the beginning (due to the contact of the sense organs with their objects), but poison at the end, when one stands sapped of all energies. The devotee appreciates that the finite world can give no lasting happiness, which is possible only in the Infinite, God. Worldly pleasure is thus only pain for him. He learns to remain unaffected by either, offering everything to his Beloved.

A devotee does not pay much attention to the auspicious or the inauspicious. He remains unaffected by them. He is firmly convinced that true dependence on God will lead him on the right way.

The devotee accepts certain inevitabilities in the world, looking upon the world cinema as God’s play. He understands that the only utility of this world to strengthen him spiritually. Every incident, his every experience, is grist to his mill. He uses them to turn to God. In the words of Swami Vivekananda, the world is nothing more than ‘a grand moral gymnasium wherein we have all to take exercise so as to become stronger and stronger spiritually’. The world continues to be as kinky as a dog’s curly tail. All attempts to straighten it only end up in straightening ourselves.

A devotee is not elated on getting what is desirable, nor does he hate what is undesirable. He is detached from both, offering them both to God. Sri Krishna teaches in the Gita to offer everything — what we do, eat or offer in a sacrifice, whatever gifts we make, austerities we perform — to Him. That can free us from the bondage of karma, bearing good and evil results.

Source - Prabuddha Bharata editorial December 2003 issue.