He looks to the stars and to some invisible power to redress his grievances. He offers large sums to priests and astrologers so that he may become rich and lead a life of ease. He goes all out to propitiate the so-called god men and make sure of his salvation. This is a philosophy of dependence, of stagnation.
His faith in fake messiahs -has seeped into his mind. He has lost the power to think, to act independently. Even for a minor matter like naming his baby, he runs to a pundit. Most Indians spend their lives in eating, sleeping and ‘worshipping’. They make little effort to improve their lot. Their spiritual leanings are a subconscious substitute for their sloth.
Worship, when extended to all-night sessions, or when it becomes a life-long preoccupation, breeds idleness. Idleness leads to empty talk. The human faculties need to be exercised and improved. When these are not put to proper use, the urge for action is diminished.
Sermonizing is India’s national pastime. The man-hours lost in this activity alone since independence should add to an astronomical figure. The man-hours lost through strikes and gheraos, compared to the ones lost through insane discussion, would be negligible present, which calls for action, is glossed over.
Siermons dwell on divine dispensation rather than the present plight of Indians. Few godly men care to work among slum-dwellers. Their preaching is usually directed at the middle or the affluent classes.
Working among the poor entails discomfort. Is it surprising that despite a surfeit of politicians and priests the country has not progressed either politically or spiritually? Apparently, the politicians’ philosophy is that an ounce of image-building is better than a tonne of action!
The average Indian, living a life of poverty, and privation, has learnt to find solace in the sermons of god men. Spirituality acts like a drug and the devotee loses all impetus to action. Poverty, a result of non-constructive activity, is explained away in terms of his past ‘karma’.
‘Karma’, which is really the concept of right action, is confused with blind force or fate. The scientific concept of cause and effect suffers in the process. Simply stated, a person desiring to improve his material position has to apply the principles that produce wealth. No amount of spiritual gimmickry will bring him riches, unless he uses dishonest means to get ahead.
Man has no control over his birth and his death, but the years between these events can be used to good purpose. Man may not be the master of his destiny. But nature has endowed him with sufficient powers to make his life meaningful. Here, a philosophy of constructive action plays a significant role.
Constructive action is a tremendous force. It helps one to overcome obstacles. The fulfillment of desire depends on appropriate action. Emerson’s saying, “This world belongs to the energetic” is very true.
Have the people in this country, many of whom hibernate in their spiritual cocoons, tried to use action-power? The average Indian’s attitude to work is proof that it is not so. Very few people set out specifically to accomplish^ their goals. On the contrary, several unabashedly say, “I work four hours a day, (out of the normal eight-hour office stint) but bring home a full pay packet”. This is stealing an employer’s time. It is unethical, the contradiction of any spiritual code.
Most people look upon work as punishment, not as a form of self-expression. The average Indian is not imbued with a strong desire to grow through work performance. He prefers to vegetate. There is a marked aversion to work. The usual excuse for idleness is insufficient pay. But how many people really deserve the salary they are paid?
Man spends the greater part of his life at work. It is essential that he accepts it readily and gives of his best to the task in hand. The difference between a man who is happy at his work and the one who is not is that the first grows in stature through his job; the second man is just marking time. The latter’s personality atrophies, though he may not be aware of it.
The good worker is a mature, self-reliant person. The other’s personality is still at an infantile stage. Another aspect of work is that it represents achievement. Any good piece of work is a contribution to society, be it a stenographer’s neatly-typed letter, or a new society fashioned by a statesman.
Work also implies purposefulness. Bertrand Russell has said, “The habit of viewing life as a whole is an essential part, both of wisdom and morality, and is one of the things which ought to be encouraged in education. Consistent purpose is an indispensable condition of a happy life. And consistent purpose embodies itself in work.” Today, more than ever, India needs this kind of work ethos.