What is something worth? Some say it’s about how much it costs to purchase in monetary terms. Yes, the more expensive something is, the more valuable it is, seems to be the prevailing belief. So what about things you can’t value? A cute response maybe to say that it’s something priceless. Priceless things are so expensive (and so valuable in this kind of calculus) that most of us cannot afford these. A case of sour grapes perhaps, for, we still may yearn for things beyond the depth of our wallets. In the present day and age, most of the things we yearn for in our lives seem to be measured in dollars and cents.
But beyond the absolute monetary figures, the worth of something is also a reflection of our minds. For example, something I feel is very expensive may seem cheap to someone richer than I am. But his valuing of that something also depends on how one sees the value of one’s money. A miserly rich person may harbor similar reticence as I do, even though this person maybe way richer than I am.
On the contrary, even a poor person may not feel shy of buying the latest mobile phone or motor cycle. It depends on the sense of utility of the object to that buyer. An expensive meal may not be something a poor student may frequent on a daily basis, but if an opportunity for a desired date arises, that “expensive” meal or restaurant may suddenly seem plausible on his scale of utility preference.
So our sense of the worth of something is all in the mind. Whether it is for a good or bad cause, the outcomes relate to the intention stemming from the mind and moment. Whatever the mind decides, the body tends to pursue. So, to change our attitudes towards life’s hedonistic callings, we need to change our mindset. The mindset has to be changed through a withstanding of the strength of that stimulation. This not something new, you would say; everybody knows that! Yes, the big question is how do we resist giving into these temptations? And many of us may even then go on to say, there’s nothing wrong with some fun, we know when it’s the limit. Perhaps that is just the issue. Most of us are carried away beyond the limit and that is when the seeming freedom to do what we want becomes an imprisonment, an addiction. Enticement is the process of being persuaded. The strength of the stimulus determines how effectively we are persuaded. But please realize that the strength of that stimulus is not material although the object of our desire is material. This movement of being enticed is dependant on our mental disposition – awareness or ignorance to the vagaries of consequences – cost and benefits for the moment and for the longer term. This is the place of awareness, and we all need to be aware.
Establishing this ethos of awareness in ourselves will require mind training which means an active striving towards changing our behaviors by being aware of how our emotions tick – a realization that the ego’s callings is towards selfishness, and that the calling of our soul is towards service to society. How can we stimulate ourselves towards a direction of doing common good rather than pursue selfish acts? For most of us, the stimulus package in life towards doing what’s good is just not enticing enough. Rather, the path towards selfish desires is so much more attractive, but surely spells the demise of what we call community. The divisive nature that defines selfish existence is contradictory to social bonding and the nurturing of community. Thus social governance has always been a balancing act between these two competing forces within our bodies.
As surely as oil cannot mix with water, selfishness and love cannot exist together without conflict. But sadly, such division is what we are doing to our society. What is the worth of leaving such a divided and conflict ridden society for our children? And our blaming each other for the ills we manifest in our society or harbor within us will do us no good. If we want to save our selves as a nation, the path has to be unrelenting efforts towards social harmony! We need to count our days by how much service we do to others, rather than how much we accumulate for ourselves.