Tuesday, April 24, 2007

life and human values

What sets us apart as a species is our intriguing curiosity. It is this curiosity which has developed us and made us so different from all the other species on earth. We lead our entire lives wondering and searching for answers. We hope to find it before we die. Find what you ask? Something that will help us understand life and our purpose here.

Biologists state that the purpose of life of every species is to reproduce and give birth to their young in order to propagate their kind. You are born, you grow up, you give birth and then you die. You’ve achieved your purpose in life. But does it hold true for humans too? I haven’t yet met a person whose aim is to give birth to a child. It is a part of life yes, but not the goal one’s entire life is headed toward.

What is life then? Why does it matter so much to us? What is the value of our life? And what do we mean by human values?

Twice in one’s life a person turns philosophical. Once when you are an adolescent and next when you turn past your prime. Once when your life is ahead of you and the other when you feel you’ve lived your life. Both these times you are scared. Either wondering what your life will be like or wondering whether you lived it right.

Having gone through those adolescent years recently, I empathize with those going through it now. I know what they are going through. I wish them well and leave them to their own devices. Why? Because that’s the best way of finding your own answers. It is every man’s quest. It’s a journey best made alone. Not until you experience it yourself can you understand the answers of the questions you seek. That is the philosophy of student-teacher relationship. Teacher epitomizes someone who has experienced life and its contradictions, someone who knows the answers. The student signifies the one looking for answers, for he does not understand what he sees or seeks in this world. But the teacher does not give the answers to the student. He sets tasks for the student to perform instead, because he understands that not until the student has gone through hardship and pitfalls will the student understand the meaning he seeks.

Indian philosophy states that it is the purpose of every human to find their ideal guru and for the guru to find their ideal disciple. I differ from this aspect of this philosophy. I say that every person lives their life in a dual role. At any given time they are both a guru and a disciple. As a disciple, a person seeks answers from those more experienced than them. As a guru they provide answers to those who haven’t experienced as much as they have. There is no one constant guru for everyone. At every stage of their lives people seek out different gurus. They learn from them and move ahead. Today I admire someone for their grit and determination. I learn from that person, he becomes my guru. I inculcate his virtues and move on. I in turn inspire another person with my virtues. But my guru remains my guru.

That is the purpose of our lives. To seek out virtues, to admire those that have them, to influence those that don’t. That is why our lives are important. We enrich lives around us and are enriched in turn. Every person sets out in their life in search of answers and finds them in the values of other humans. Such is the power of human values.

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