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Mahatma Gandhi with Cheering Female Fans at Greenfield Mill, Darwen, Lancashire
The happenings in my surroundings compel me to think. A couple of days back, a thought, which is being reproduced after this paragraph, occurred to me when I found that many who push very hard fail to deliver quality output. I also found that the world around me is flooded with things, material or non-material, sans quality. The memories of many unhurried, unruffled and peaceful gentlemen helped me to realize that they all could distinguish between actions and activities. The thought that occurred to me was;

“Changes occur slowly but continuously in nature. We are a part of the nature. That kind of rhythm we need to adopt. Dragging and pushing wear us and our surroundings. We need to learn to roll forward continuously in the right direction. Rolling forward should become a natural involuntary activity and finding the right direction a willful and intelligent voluntary action.”

When we have made a decision about the direction we want to go in our lives as individuals, or have been assigned a job to be performed as managers or are expected to carve out a path to achieve an objective as leaders; the first question we seek answers to is, “What is to be done?”. How to do the job, when to do it or what all must not be done while doing the particular job are associated questions that also need to be taken care of, but later.

What is to be done, that is, the target before us, can’t be lost sight of during the entire process of accomplishing a job; as that is the action we take. Other things like, the way the job must be performed, how different steps must be timed and what all must be avoided etc. are activities that need a mechanical treatment. They can be perfected by repeated performances, reviews, rectifications, discipline and restraint. Hard work, diligence and continuous practice are needed to achieve perfection in ‘activities’. When perfection is achieved the activities become so simple that hardly any energy is spent in completing them. This implies that one’s entire concentration (intellectual efforts) can, then, be devoted to what is to be achieved.
But, when one is able to devote all his intellectual efforts towards what is to be achieved; one becomes free to question whether the target to be achieved is the right target and is expected to benefit us in the ultimate analysis.

Is it not true that modern man has made himself intellectually too busy with problems related to methodologies, accuracies, efficiencies and ease of doing things, etc.; that is, dealing with matters related to how things must be done; leaving virtually no intellectual space for finding what must be done for the benefit of mankind?

Can we expect that the next generation will give more importance and higher priority to exploring what actions would benefit the human race than what we are doing today? To answer this, let us look at the education system that is in place the worldwide.

How far it is socially justified to have an education system that compartmentalizes physical sciences, social sciences, history, politics, management, humanities, engineering and technology, religion, economics, commerce, spirituality and so on so forth? Is it not true that we derive a sense of pride in being rather very meticulous in compartmentalizing different spheres of knowledge? We say that the modern times are times of expertise. Are we quite sure that we can put together experts’ opinions from different fields to find the direction we should move towards for the true benefit of the mankind? Ironically, we all know the story of four blind men, each trying to understand a single object, that is, one elephant.

In the last chapter of his autobiography Gandhi wrote;

“My uniform experience has convinced me that there is no other God than Truth. And if every page of these chapters does not proclaim to the reader that the only means for the realization of Truth is Ahimsa, I shall deem all my labour in writing these chapters to have been in vain. And even though my efforts in this behalf may prove fruitless, let the readers know that the vehicle, not the great principle, is at fault.
To see the universal and all pervading Spirit of Truth face to face one must be able to love the meanest of creation as oneself. And the man who aspires after that cannot afford to keep out any field of life. That is why my devotion to truth has drawn me into the field of politics; and I can say without the slightest hesitation, and yet in all humility, that those who say that religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion means.”

To achieve a target is easy. To claim and establish that the target is the right target is too difficult.
If someone is able to identify the right target that benefits the entire humanity and is also able to achieve it; what would you call him? A great statesman, a true leader, a spiritually elevated soul or someone with attributes of all rolled into one?
To identify the right target one has to simplify many things, physically, intellectually and even spiritually.

[The writer of this blog is also the author of “Mahatma A Scientist of the Intuitively Obvious” and “In Search of Our Wonderful Words”.]