All the great sages in the past have recommended a period of rest or recreation for human beings. According to the Old Testament, we can work for six days, but the seventh day should be devoted to rest, worship and spiritual activities. This rest day is called the Sabbath. In Hindu spirituality, we have the three modes of nature: inertia or tamas, dynamism or rajas and the balance between the two, which is called satva. We need inertia for sleep, rajas for activity while satva, which is a state of inner silence, is for relaxation, meditation, prayer, study of scriptures and spiritual activities. This is meant to maintain the homeostasis of not only our biological but also our mental, emotional and spiritual layers. Good health and sane intellectual and spiritual flowering are based on that.
However, with the dawn of modernization or industrialization, people have become motivated by greed, ambition and desire. Capitalism has created a type of society that has disrupted the homeostasis created by nature. Thus, we human beings do two things: either we sleep and that too incorrectly, or we do activities equally in the most wrong way. Said in another way, we are entangled by the forces of inertia (unconsciousness, sleep and indolence) and of excessive dynamism. That means we sleep and we move. We have gone so far away from a sane style of living that seeking the right balance seems odd and even impossible. This is reflected in the way we eat: a balanced diet is unknown to many people.
Capitalism creates situations that keep people always on the move so that they can be further exploited. Thus, people have little time for relaxation, family relationship, prayer, meditation, deep reflection and study of scriptures. We complain about stress, fatigue, financial problem, gambling and many other problems, yet we are happy with the concept of 24/7. Why is it so?
People are afraid to rest, relax and devote time for reflection because they will then be face to face with themselves and the harsh realities of life. And who wants to face truth or reality? It is easier to lose oneself in useless and fruitless activities. People do not realise the simple fact that projects like 24/7 do not benefit them but rather big businesses, capitalists and their stooges and cronies. The former are but the losers. I wonder whether God made a mistake by creating nights! Here I am reminded of a friend who once told me, “Couldn’t there be more than twenty-four hours in a day so that we would have more time to do our things?” “Coming from you, it’s no wonder!” I said. “Even if there were 72 hours in a day, you would still complain.”
A human being is not meant to be ceaselessly active, whether mentally, emotionally or physically. Inactivity and silence, both physical and mental, rejuvenate not only our body but also our mind. They set our whole system in order and allow us to see, hear, think and feel much better. But I am afraid I am speaking Greek to many people. Yet, I am hopeful because we do have a few intelligent, receptive and sensitive individuals in this country.
Much pressure is exerted on the brain and body when people keep late night vigil and this has negative impact on our physical and mental health. It has been rightly said, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” Idle here means having no aim. Yes, man is like a rudderless boat in the extremely vast ocean of life, and he is full of desires, ambitions and greed. What to do with so much raw fuel? Invent all types of stupid and mad activities that will benefit the idle people, the capitalists and anyone inclined to make more money, and also create an opportunity for people to escape themselves.
If people were taught the purpose of human existence right from schooldays, then society would not be so irrationally active today and thus many social ills would not exist. What is the purpose of human existence? Knowing oneself! Yes, the greatest subject of study is oneself. We are the whole universe and all the secrets of life are concealed in us. We only need time and energy to unfold them. It is strange: we want to have eternal pleasure and we run outside ourselves for that, while our true self is not only an infinite ocean of bliss, but also a state of ineffable peace, power, creativity, virtue, above all unconditional freedom.
Today, people are scared to stay silent and in solitude. Not to speak of youth, even our elders can’t stay still for a few minutes while that should have been our intrinsic nature. People say they don’t have time to meditate, yet they have plenty of time for gambling, late night shopping, attending celebrities shows, useless chatting and gossiping.
Life is not activities and sleep alone. There is an in-between wherein is concealed the secret of life, death and birth, nay, of the whole universe! Who wants to learn it from me?
We human beings do two things: either we sleep and that too incorrectly, or we do activities equally in the most wrong way.