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Only Fortitude Can Ensure Sane And Peaceful Living

Only fortitude can ensure sane and peaceful living. Every impulsive reaction to an event means unavoidable loss of mental energy and takes its toll on our physical well-being as well. Vedanta offers a better reason to practice fortitude: We are divine by nature, and realization of this divinity, the Atman, is the goal of human life. We are not conscious of this divinity because of our identification with our body and mind. To the extent we free ourselves from their hold, we get glimpses of our true nature. The more agitated and impulsive we are, the more we remain identified with our mind and remain alien to our true nature. Fortitude can help us see ourselves in perspective, strengthen our will and facilitate our inner growth.

‘Let the body and the affliction take care of themselves; O mind, you learn to be happy (by detaching yourself from them).’ (Sri Ramakrishna) People pray to God for relief from afflictions. The prayer is not bad in itself, inasmuch as it affords them an occasion to think of God, albeit momentarily. Vedanta teaches us that the body has six characteristics: it comes into being (jayate), exists as an object (asti), grows (vardhate), undergoes transformation (viparinamate), decays (apakshiyate) and dies (nasyati). No one’s body — neither saint’s nor sinner’s — is exempt from this rule. As the saying goes, after the game of chess is over, the king and the pawns go back to the same box. When such is the case, Vedanta says it is foolish to expect the body to be free from afflictions and decay. Amid his excruciating pain from throat cancer and despite being forbidden by his physician to talk, Sri Ramakrishna spoke to people on spiritual life, since he was sure that might help even one soul towards God-realization. So it is far saner and more logical to pray for strength of mind to bear our karma-prompted affliction than to pray to be free from it. True, such a prayer for deliverance from affliction, too, could have a momentary positive effect, but that is a different matter.

So to practice fortitude we have to bear with physical afflictions.