On Life and Knowledge

Every human being wishes to live a life full of pleasure and happiness without a tinge of pain or suffering. But what he gets? A life full of misery, mediocrity, suffering, pain, ridicule, doubts, self-loathing and all that he does not aspire for. A person who says contrary is simply egoistic or do not want to admit the truth. Pleasure is of-course there, that makes a man go on with his life, and then a man’s life is an eternal pursuit of happiness. His sole aim in life becomes a search for wealth, fame, power, love, lust and variety of other things that he thinks can give him pleasure and avoid suffering.

Some may think that life is beautiful, and the concept that life is a suffering could make them obnoxious. But a question to ask them is: if you believe that life is beautiful, why then you work day and night and have ambition for wealth, fame, power or even love? If life were truly beautiful, you would have no need to work for anything except bare survival. Living and consciousness of such living alone could have brought you infinite bliss and contentment. Why care for anything or anyone in such a circumstance? The beauty of life itself would have brought you infinite and unfathomable happiness, no doubt.

But some may further argue that a continuous search for pleasure itself is the true beauty of life. For such people, the continuous struggle of man to achieve wealth, power, or anything that he thinks pleasurable must be the aim of life. These are dangerous kind of people our society should be aware of; they can go to any extent to find pleasure. They can kill, rape or cheat if they can find means to escape the law, unbridled by their character or morality. History is the testimony of this fact — men like Hitler, Stalin showed what such a philosophy can result in.

It is a mistake to think the aim of life is pleasure; it brings misery. Pleasure and misery, both are the side of the same coin. As you cannot find a coin with a single side, so you cannot find a life of pleasure without pain and sufferings. One cannot be separated from the other. Like pleasure, sadness too comes and goes; there is no logic in being attached to them; the concept is like holding water in our hand. Rather, in other words, we can say, pleasure is the cause and consequence of sadness: pleasure brings happiness and lack of it brings sadness.

As a man dabble his way through pain and pleasure, he goes towards experiences or knowledge. Pain and pleasure may come and go but knowledge endures time. So knowledge should be the goal of man; he must never miss what pleasure and pain have to teach him. Satisfied in knowledge alone, he should feel the same state of mind in pleasure and pain. Swami Vivekananda said, “Studying the great characters the world has produced, I dare say, in the vast majority of cases it would be found that it was misery that taught more than happiness , it was poverty that taught more than wealth, it was blows that brought their inner fire more than praise.” So, one must not care much about pleasure and pain, and go on doing one’s duty like a lion, and whatever comes from it — either misery or happiness- he should learn from it as if it were his greatest teacher in disguise. It is the true goal of life — knowledge.