The philosophy of looking inwards will actually facilitate happy aging process. It will help the elders to manage emotions, maintain a well-balanced life, enable taking a wider perspective of looking at issues and things. Changing the paradigm of life through migration from “looking outward” to “peeping inward” is a difficult process but it will happen, if one consistently pursues
For a significant part of our life, we are often guided by materialistic considerations and run after the mirage of external cosmetics. This essentially means we look at things outside, compare ourselves with exterior coordinates and try to achieve things external to us with our resources: physical, mental and financial. We run a rat race of life always rushing to get the best of everything outside us: good education, coveted jobs, dream houses, expensive cars and lovely life partner / family, among many others. In this mad rush of life, we often forget to look at ourselves and more particularly our within. And thus, external locus of control assumes more importance than the internal sphere of influence.
As age progresses and we take a backstep from the active and mad rush of life, the wisdom dawns prompting us to look within. While some may call the phenomenon as getting spiritual or religious, others may term it as more of pause, reflection, introspection and evaluating life as a journey. This reflection in Philosophic parlance might be described in terms of one of the four Mahavakyas (great sayings) of Upanishads: “Aham Brahmasmi” meaning thereby “I am Brahman”. This signifies unity of self with the eternal soul or consciousness. Once this realization comes, it is the feeling of one with the ultimate reality and inseparability of individual from the ultimate power that be. While this might be the ultimate goal, the journey of looking within is an important trait particularly for elderly as external glamour wanes.
The three (3) dimensions of the journey of looking within are:
- What It Means: It means dawn of realization that life is much bigger than manifestation of external facets of life. Having gone through the rigmaroles of life, it is now time to reflect and see within. It means understanding fruitlessness and then breaking away from the of external glamour & beauties and taking a deep look at ourselves, trying to dissect our principles of life, trying to see inward at our life and its meaning. It signifies beginning of a sense of detachment from world pleasures and developing a sense of detached attitude towards life. It does not mean that elderly should retire from active life; it only means taking a broader view of life and enjoy life without being attached.
- Why It Is Necessary: This view of life is necessary in elders as otherwise there is no end to gratification. Definitely we would not have achieved many things what we dreamt to; lack of this philosophical attitude will lead to frustration and regrets. Life would be frustrating and seem to be meaningless. To come out of this sense of regret, it is extremely important to start looking at within going above the sphere of achievements and glories of physical world. It will make our life mor beautiful and worth living. It will also create a sense of happiness within.
- How To Do It: There is no prescriptive solution as to how to migrate from a worldly view to a space of journey within. People take various routes. Vanaprastha as described in Vedas was one of the ways that used to be practiced in earlier days for this process of transition. In current scenario, one can remain within family but migrate to the higher sphere by being away from direct family roles, and spending a selfless life with a sense of service attitude. Mediation is one way to bring up the consciousness to lead a life of detached service. Guiding principle remains the same: elders should try to be away from the world life while remaining a part of society and contributing to nation’s growth & development.
The above discussions mean that it is, sometimes, worthwhile to look within compared to the traditional thought of looking at outer dimensions of life. As elders, it is important as it will guide us to charter remining part of our life journey in a happy and contented manner. The philosophy of looking inwards will actually facilitate happy aging process. It will help the elders to manage emotions, maintain a well-balanced life, enable taking a wider perspective of looking at issues and things. Changing the paradigm of life through migration from “looking outward” to “peeping inward” is a difficult process but it will happen, if one consistently pursues. We must appreciate that happiness lies how quickly we can move to the new laws as it will change gear of life from competition and aggression to collaboration and peace. There lies real attainment of value of lie!!
Dr A K Sen Gupta is the Co-Founder and Chief Trustee of My Retired Life Foundation (MRLF). This article has been published in Free Press Journal (FPJ) on 12th March 2022, where he is a regular contributor. Dr Sen Gupta was the Director of S.P. Jain Institute of Management & Research, Mumbai and Director & Mentor at SIES College of Management Studies, Navi Mumbai. He was a World Bank Consultant and instrumental in setting up National Banking College in Ghana, Africa and Professor at National Institute of Bank Management, Pune.