Om namah: shivay
Let there be peace
I think that of all the phenomena that drive our world today, this one is the most important. The more I think about it the more I realize that the world in which we live today is based on dissatisfaction and an unquenchable thirst for more. Talking from a purely economics based perspective, need is defined as those basic necessities without which life is not possible. A want on the other hand is something that we desire and which is backed by purchasing power. So I may desire a Lamborghini or a private jet but till I can buy it it’s not really a want. However a need is even more basic. It includes basic essentials like food, clothing, shelter, education etc. although it is true that even the list of needs has increased, we do notice that the number of needs even in economics remains limited.
Let us now move onto a person by the name of Edward bernayz. The brother of the famous psychologist Sigmund Freud, the man never received the same attention his brother did although in all respects his contribution to the present day world economy is far greater. Edward dealt with crowd psychology. He postulated that if you want to sell something to people you have to make them believe two things-
1) they need that particular commodity and
2) In the absence of that commodity their life will be incomplete.
This brought in the era of what we term as consumerism. Today all economies are based on this very principle. Switch on the TV and you’ll see advertisements for virtually everything. If you look at it with an open mind you shall realize that the advertisement is a desperate attempt to make you believe that you need that product. For e.g., an advertisement for a car will show a child happy with the fathers decision to buy that car. Subconsciously we decide that we need not want or desire this car. From then on all our efforts are directed towards ensuring that this car is what is required. I am no saint and I admit that I too am prey to this phenomena. I too insisted on a car, got it, enjoyed it and genuinely believed that I needed it. I convinced myself and everyone around that without that car my life would be impossible. Recently I tried using public transport. I agree it’s not the same thing as a personal car but it serves my purpose and gradually I have started enjoying it more than I did my car. Today I state that I no longer need a car, I want it. I want it because I am not satisfied with other modes of transport. Now comes the part on dissatisfaction. I am dissatisfied with other modes of transport, just as I am dissatisfied with a car without decent speakers, just as I am dissatisfied with a car without alloy wheels, just as I am dissatisfied with my dissatisfaction.
I realized something that I wanted to share which is why I write this. Close your eyes for a moment, just empty your mind, forget the pressures of this life, forget the consistent dissatisfaction you have- take a deep breath and relax. Now think – what is it that you really need?
Do you really need that 30 lakh package or that Audi?
Do you really need to gift that expensive cologne?
Do you really need to monetarize everything?
Think about it everything today is money. Something as pure as love has also come to be calculated in monetary terms. It matters not how much love you give a gift with, all that matters is how expensive is your gift. The more you think about it the more you’ll realize that you need less. As for desires and wants- they are insatiable- like I told you – you can never fulfill them. So you keep running in circles working harder at aimless jobs trying to fulfill all your desires, and as soon as they are fulfilled you desire more and more and more. After that comes a stage wherein you need to maintain all those accumulated wants and desires and the lifestyle that comes with it. So if you have a nice car, you’ve got to step out of it in snazzy clothes, you’ve got to put the best interiors , the best music system, the best modifications and soon so forth- if you don’t then again you face dissatisfaction. If you’ve followed what I’ve said so far then you shall understand that which I am about to say.
The best things in life are often free and often the most ignored. No. you do not need a master card to enjoy life- that’s what the ad tells you- you need the ability to see beauty in everything- the ability to sit in nature and feel one with this earth, the ability to hold your loved ones close and bask in the power of love. Try it. Just once try enjoying life for what it is.try thinking about what you need and be satisfied with it. The basic presumption is that if you are satisfied by less you’ve failed. If you haven’t topped your class its not good enough, if you haven’t got a huge salary package you’ve lived life in vain because everything is dependent on your financial status. Do you see how absolutely stupid all of this is. Why make yourself believe that you are dissatisfied when you’re not. Why keep running in circles when you have reached your destination and have found a place to sit.
I’m sure many reading this article have been addicted to something or the other or perhaps still are- I request you to pause for a moment and think why you are addicted. Why do some people need to smoke boxes of cigarettes in a day? Why can’t some people sleep without drinking- it’s because we are convinced and we truly believe that we need it. A very interesting feature of us humans is that we argue with that inner voice a lot. We keep trying to justify our actions and convince it that what we are doing is unavoidable and has to be done. So we get addicted.
The biggest misconception of mankind however is that only drug abusers and smokers and drinkers are addicted- we all are each and every one of us is. We are all addicted to what we think is life and everything it has to offer. We are addicted to this pointless and aimless existence we call life. We keep on running from ere t there seeking fulfillment while all the time it lies within us. Kabir das talked in one of his dohas about the kasturi mrig or the musk deer which spends its whole life searching for the smell of musk not realizing that it itself is the source of the scent. The same is true for all of us. True satisfaction lies within and not in external objects.
Try for once and feel the difference. Just remember- regardless of what anyone says it is not a crime to be satisfied. Dissatisfaction is an addiction – it’s like a cigarette or a packet of chips- no one can eat just one. However the mind is what is truly powerful- convince yourself for a moment that you are not addicted and you will be surprised as the craving will gradually die down till it finally becomes non existent….
Mahatma Gandhi once said that it is better to be violent than be a coward and sham under the guise of non-violence or ahimsa. I do not intend to make you believe that you should sit back and take life the way it comes, I am not saying that you should be satisfied with what you have- all I ask is that you figure out for yourself what you truly need and draw a line somewhere- all I ask is that do not keep running from pillar to post- you may have more than you need like in my case or you may have less. That is completely dependent upon your perception. It is for you to classify certain things as wants and others as needs.
Before concluding I would however like to point out that even at this point I haven’t learnt to overcome dissatisfaction- the fact that I am dissatisfied with what this life has to offer is in it proof of that. I admit that dissatisfaction will always exist but how much and regarding what is in our hands and in our control. Money today has become the most ferocious of all religions. It has created barriers and classes and divided us way more than any religion ever has. If we learn the art of satisfaction then perhaps a lot of things will change. I know for a fact that my children will have the 15 liters of diesel a day that I am forsaking right now. I know for a fact that distinctions on the basis of money is absurd. I’ve learnt a lot since I learnt t be satisfied. Today in the bus, there was a lot of traffic. Two women were standing. A laborer sitting next to me, someone we think of as uncouth and as not having the same levels of sophistication as us, got up and offered his seat to the lady.
I followed his example.
This in itself made me realize that so much of what we believe in today so much that we are convinced f is actually fundamentally wrong and biased. I hope that someday I understand the nature and meaning of true satisfaction and so do you.
Om namah: shivay
Let there be peace