“All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
The mind is everything. We become what we think.” - Gautam Buddha
The only eminent trait that distinguishes the world of animals from man is the latter’s capacity to think and this is what precisely makes man superior to other living beings on this planet. While life for animals crudely means instantaneous gratification and adhering to the rudimentary rule of the jungle, that is, eat and be eaten, it is man’s ability to visualize and ponder and to select such attributes as accommodation that has sustained life for long. The spirit to co-exist stems from the eternal fount of tolerance. Rationalization of the very thought process, manifesting itself in exercise of self-restraint, results in the fruition of the five-lettered word: peace.
If our bodily constitution is a clinching evidence of what we eat, then our actions may be directly construed as a natural extension of our thoughts. Therefore we are what we think. Our thoughts are marked in our everyday likes and dislikes. If we are votaries of cleanliness, then, needless to say, our rooms would be uncluttered. Illegible handwriting is often taken to be an indicator of an unstable mind. Talent is nothing but identification of a skill one is good at by indulging in soul-searching. Most professions in this world are, ideally, logical culmination of one’s attitude and aptitude. If a man is inclined towards depicting the finer nuances of life in a kaleidoscopic form on a canvass, a painter is born. Or, if he is adept at capturing emotions and re-enacting them in a manner that is soothing to the ears, a musician arrives on the scene. In the same vein, it is the scientist’s or a researcher’s penchant for digging deeper into the voluminous books and countless extracts and analyzing them diligently that eventually leads to path-breaking discoveries. However the unambiguous message that is hard to miss is that ‘create’ is an intrinsically affirmative verb that needs the oxygen of optimism to blossom. To create, the mind needs to be put into a progressive frame. Progress and creation are synonymous with each other. Transition from the primitive Stone Age to the modern era of wireless communication would have been virtually impossible had it not been for the presence of a progressive mindset. All over the world, religions of different hues, no matter how much they disagree among themselves, converge unanimously on at least one postulate: the Universe was created with the ‘positive will of God’.
It is the longing for company and to end his isolation that led the nomadic hunter-gatherer to settle down into clans, giving birth to the feeling of kinship and in a broader sense, the society in general. When people think alike and share identical beliefs, communities are built. Youth bond over aspirations and material fulfillment and the elders connect over their vivid experience through a lifetime. Community work is integral to advancement of society. Communities work towards a common goal and for fulfillment of a common dream. The only pre-requisite is: the intent must be noble and the content should corroborate it. Soldiers are united by patriotism and unflinching love for their motherland, Teachers are defined by dedication towards their students and Humanists are deeply touched by the plight of the marginalized and the downtrodden. The essence of life is to construct and contribute. Conversely, constructive living is what keeps the wheel of life in perpetual motion. When the mind is open to learning and determined to make a positive impression, man achieves a two-tiered contentment: one, at the personal level and two, at the collective level. On the personal front, a man on finding the purpose of his own existence becomes happy and when this happiness deduced from doing so is radiated further, it becomes the genesis of a happy family. The proponents of prohibition of discrimination against women and justice and uplift of the poor are driven by compassion and an equally strong yearning to raise voice and take effective steps to address the same. These actions, in summation, assist in making the world a much better and egalitarian place to live in and the individuals populating it are worthy examples of humanity.
Nevertheless, just like the ceaseless cycle of day and night, mind is not insulated from the inherent dichotomies. Human mind works in tantalizingly complex ways. The antonym of create is ‘destruct’. Optimism and pessimism reside as two irreconcilable neighbours in the deepest recesses of the human mind. Optimism kindles hope; pessimism brutally destroys it. If negative thoughts constantly plague the mind, it is then that the beautiful scenery of the artist gets distorted into one gory scene of splattered bodies after a riot on the canvass, the melodious morning jingle of the musician into a morose tune and the rocket made by the scientist into a deadly missile. It is optimism that makes one see a half filled glass of water as half-full and not half-empty, choose democracy over dictatorship and believe in the civilized tools of debate and discussion to evolve consensus. Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King metamorphosed into legends that they are today primarily because of these qualities. It is when a self-serving politician acquires the attribute to embrace religious minorities and respect individual choices of food, clothing and sexuality that he transforms into the archetypal statesman. Without any loss of generality, it is the same mind that also makes terrorists, murderers and molesters when conservatism, chauvinism and revenge are allowed to gain precedence over modernity, forgiveness and liberalism. A mind that is filled with excessive gloom, anger, hatred and sense of injustice, professed or otherwise, and a burning desire to avenge the same, finds real-life expression in misogyny, racism, hard-line regionalism and communal pogroms. Nothing hurts man more than irrationality and the inability to accept change. They can set him back by centuries if not decades. More than anything, they gradually rob him of his ability to move forward and keep him transfixed to the visions of a once majestic past over which he has no control at present. Radical preachers feast, in particular, on this infirmity of gullible young men. Thus, whether the world eventually becomes a Global Village or a ghetto depends on the mind, the direction it is headed in and its flexibility to evolve with the times.
Negativity cannot be wished away per se. The effort must be to co-opt negative thoughts and ensure the preponderance of positive thoughts. The individual must be willing to welcome changes, even if they are not compatible with one’s ambitions, with the same alacrity as it would be the case when he is having a Midas run. Joy is contagious; staying in the company of cheerful people could work wonders. Whining about an undesirable situation would only make one more agitated and, as history has shown, an agitated mind is cannon fodder for disastrous decisions. Only proactive bonafide measures would mitigate it. Let us pledge to stay calm and composed and not destroy all our ancestors had built assiduously with their altruism and sacrifice. We can ill-afford this schizophrenia. Let the light of positive thinking shine bright!