Monday, January 18, 2010

What is the actual meaning of being "PRACTICAL" in life?

Let's start with the conventional and acceptable meaning of the word "PRACTICAL." . From one of the online dictionaries: Of, involving, or concerned with experience or actual use; not theoretical; of or concerned with ordinary affairs, work, etc; being such for all useful or general purposes; capable of or suitable to being used or put into effect; useful; level-headed, efficient, and unspeculative.

In addressing the question more specifically, "being PRACTICAL in life" means one is grounded in the real world, in reality, facing and handling with real issues and problems, and being able to adapt and interface effectively in a variety of situations.

In the context of GITA, the teachings of Bhagavan are intended for us to be "PRACTICAL in life" - in the everyday world we face - work, family, society, leisure and recreational activities, inflation, traffic, health, love etc.

GITA does not ask us to escape the real world (of course, you can do that also, and it is indeed beneficial to take a break regularly from the mundane world). GITA does not require us to forget our jobs, family, and friends, and go into a secluded lifestyle; you need food, money, and other material resources to live in this world, unless you have attained such a level of enlightenment that have risen above the mundane world. This is our objective and goal but before we reach there we have to be PRACTICAL in life.

Many sadhaks become confused and deluded into thinking that GITA (and our other treasured Hindu scriptures) are incompatible with "being PRACTICAL in life." Totally wrong!

GITA does not provide detailed instructions to the minutest level to handle every single issue in being PRACTICAL; this would be highly impractical since such a GITA would contain millions of pages or an infinite length. However, GITA provides broad guidlines, and in some cases, specific instructions, in being PRACTICAL in life.

Here is a extract from a very useful essay on the The Art of Being Practical:

"Action in this life is a must. Since action is called practice, persons who live on Earth have to be practical. This means that you cannot spend all day sitting down in a chair, passing the time imagining, worrying, and thinking, and in doing so, forgetting to use your body for performing those actions that need to be done.....

The whole life for a human being is how to survive: man has to be aware of this and be practical. If we are not deluding ourselves, we see why it is necessary that a person with knowledge has to be practical, and why he should not be sitting somewhere in a cave only having an idea of karm: that it is not action.

You are equipped with that knowledge and enlightenment which tells you that your life cannot be shut off: you should do those things that are useful for a human being to conduct. So if your knowledge gained over here or gained anywhere in the world does not inspire you to be practical, then it will not be called practical knowledge.

A human being, with a sense of inquiry to know more, will continue asking and asking and asking questions. But just asking questions and getting answers for whole days or whole months or whole years on end, will not allow you to be practical. And if you are not practical, you cannot sustain your life.

So we are all engaged constantly in work which is practical. You call yourself down to earth. I use the phrase 'be practical.' If you are on Earth, it is essential to have the knowledge as to how to perform action, or karm.
Through seeing the nature of practicality, you have come to know that which those people, busy in practical life, will never know—the Source of all your work."

GITA contains numerous instructions on being PRACTICAL in life. Seek, dive into GITA, and ye shall receive wisdom.

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