The Urban ‘Paradise’
He drove into the posh mall with his fashionable wife in their elegant car. They had booked seats at the select diner where they had invited friends from abroad for dinner. As they gracefully stepped into the atrium dressed in designer clothes, they were a sight to see. The ambience was celestial and the fine food sublime.
They had such a good time together. When the bill arrived, he casually pulled out his platinum card with a flourish. Husband and wife returned home to their exclusive flat in the gated community fully satisfied with the night of epicurean delights.
Work was demanding, though. The level of performance expected of them was impossibly high and they lived up to the standard. They shone on the employee records. Sometimes they were forced to be unfair to the underlings to appease the bosses, sometimes they were the victims. But, that was a part of the game. Work hours were extended. The eight-figure annual income between them was absolutely necessary to pay off the substantial loans banks had vied to give them for buying homes and cars (They had invested in another flat for rental income). Some money was in the stock markets. Behind the elegant gait lurked a niggling anxiety for sustaining the dream lifestyle. Failure would turn it into a nightmare. Failure was not an option.
Then he fell ill. It was his heart. Reality crashed into their lives. But, they were prepared. Insurance paid for the treatment. Yet, a doubt took root. Would he be able to sustain that intense mode of work? When would they be able to service their liabilities? If they could not, what would everyone think? Stress that always lingered in the background leapt into the forefront of their lives.
Modern life is stressful. As the standard of modern living rises, the financial pressure to maintain the fine life has mounted. In a world melodically drumming up an ever-new promise of happiness through pleasure avenues, there is intense anxiety for acquiring gratifying objects and pandering to the ego’s insatiable appetite for high status. Lending institutions thrive on the middle class of moderate means but eager for lofty appearances. A vicious twin edged sword cuts into the happiness of the white-collared classes – worry of public image and the burden of mounting debt.
Bhagavad-Gita gives powerful insights that can dissipate the stress of life. The Gita presents a radical world-view. Though spoken 5000 years ago, it dissects urban reality with surprising accuracy exposing the innards that drive actions.
A person without this knowledge remains in bewilderment of his circumstances – in a crippling ignorance that renders him incompetent to know his own happiness. In the darkness he fumbles, repeatedly hitting unseen obstacles. The doors to happiness he expectantly knocks turn out to be nothing but hallucinations and that fuels his despair. When the possibility of plunging into a deep gorge with the very next step exists, the presence of total darkness is a source of deep anxiety.
Despite the ostentatious exterior, at the core, the modern human being is unable to transcend ugliness to attain the desirable pure state of happiness. Fears, anxieties, frustrations, greed, sorrow, illusion, envy, disease and impermanence all contaminate his worldly experience. They unfailingly spoil his elaborate (and expensive) pleasure designs.
Why does dissatisfaction exist? Is there such a thing as pure happiness? Is there anything that lasts forever? Can there be uninterrupted, bliss? These questions indicate what we covet. They betray what we lack.