What is it that we care about in the world? To a great extent, we care about self-advancement – Cracking competitive exams, securing jobs, working hard, and accomplishing feats. In these pursuits, we get wounded emotionally and we create a lot of walls around us to keep emotional disturbances away. We keep moving forward. All our sensitivities are invested at a particular point where we got hurt in the past. For the rest of the proceedings in life, we progressively become more and more insensitive.
The next thing that we care about is our family- either those we provide for or those who provide for us. We restrict ourselves to social/cultural roles. We develop mannerisms in our relationships and never look beyond our (or others’) habitual responses. Deep expectations never fulfilled stay unspoken for a long time in life. A fatherly figure would care about how disciplined and focussed his son/daughter is in career related pursuits. He would care little about the levels of stress the youngster is going through. A mother would be worried whether her child has eaten properly or not. Emotionally, she would find herself incapable of touching on other aspects of her child’s life. All their energies are invested in whether their ward is following the ‘correct path’ according to their own understanding of human nature or not. There won’t be much beyond these issues that they care about. They do not invest their energies into understanding the myriad concerns that a 21 year old has. How many of us crave for a better understanding from people around us? Each one of us! And yet, only rarely it happens that someone understands us.
Beyond this boundary, there are friends and relatives. We have a lot of fun and nice experiences with friends especially. In the entire process, we also make good friends. In our own weird and unique ways, we do care about those with whom we have spent a considerable amount of time. Lucky are those who can make such friends and even better are those who care for these relationships.
But, what beyond that?
Have you ever wondered about the possibility of caring about anything beyond all this? Almost all the people on the planet do not care about these things. The truth is that there are very few who can even care about these issues adequately. Where does our capacity to care go? Where have we lost it?
It is in all these different ways that we have restricted ourselves from feeling that our sensitivities have become dead. Beyond our very personalized life, we don’t care if the rest of the world lives or dies. We do enjoy shouting moralistic cries that this is wrong and that is immoral. But, in effect, we are always defended in our hearts against getting deeply affected by the crises of the world- starting from beggary by children, child labour, atrocities on women to faulty government policies that violate rights of marginalized people, cultural violences and so many other things. To pay attention to all these is to mess with one’s own mind. “There is enough trouble in my own life, there is no space to think or feel about anybody else.” Still, a small child trying to sell something on the traffic signal or a poor boy begging on the street does affect us. Most of us would try to scare the child off by shouting at him/her so that the poor chap would not make us feel bad.
We run away from the sadness of the world around us and in turn lose all our sensitivities. Is being insensitive towards the world around us the only way of living? What will happen if we start allowing ourselves to get affected by things around us? Will we lose our stability or will we gain something unheard or unthought of?
You will be surprised if you let yourself get affected by the environment without reacting to it! You will realize that your heart is capable of taking a lot more than it presently does. Yes, it will be difficult, especially in the start. It will involve breaking away from old habits and becoming a lot more patient than you presently are. If you manage to do this, you will find equanimity in your heart, a deeply felt compassion for the world and an incredible depth of feelings. You will enjoy the entire world a lot more than you currently do. Even more surprisingly, your past hurts would vanish either on their own or you will yourself get rid of them by talking about them with someone.
Now you must be wondering how is all this relevant for a student who is preparing for CAT? Or someone who wants to give a boost to his career by doing a professional course?
Right now, you are an isolated individual in the world. You carry the torch of your personal-advancement in the world. There are innumerable forces that are trying to blow your torch off. You pour in a lot of effort, a lot of energy into keeping this flame alive and grow larger. Sometimes you even steal the fuel from somebody else’s flame because of which that person goes through a tough time. Sometimes someone else does that to you and you struggle with your flame. You have reduced yourself to a person of certain ambitions and certain qualities (good and bad both). You do not belong to any groups, any classes simply because you are not aware of these things. Look at yourself again. You are MORE than the isolated individual that you feel you are.
Do you understand that you are a part of the student community at different levels. Have you ever read about different kinds of revolutionary activities that student community has got into? Do you understand the challenges that an individual faces during his student life? Are you aware how the educational system damages students and their aspirations?
What religion do you belong to? How much do you know about your religion? What is the fundamental way of life according to your religion? How are politicians utilizing your religion and your identity for their contrived reasons? Is it possible to live in today’s world while being faithful to one’s religion? What is the significance of religion in one’s life? What does it mean by being an atheist? What does the concept of God mean to you personally?
You are a resident of the locality where you live. What problems do people in that community face? What are the positives of living in that place? Have things changed over the past few years? How has your city changed in the past few years? Have you come from a different place to the big city? Do you understand how a person who has come from a smaller place experiences this vast and fast world?
You follow a certain fashion. What makes you do that? What do you think about fashion followed by others around you? What fashion do you follow and what are the fashion styles that different people follow? What are the different elements of these fashion styles? What books do you read? What movies do you watch? Have you developed an exquisite taste for some form of art? Is art mere entertainment for you or do you look deeper into it? What are the reasons behind your preferences?
You are a part of a certain culture. I am not talking about your family traditions. I am talking about things you believe in, attitudes you carry towards things, people and practices around you. How do popular choices affect you? How does your culture govern the choices that you make? Many people sacrifice what they enjoy for the sake of career progress. Others do not know what to do with the things they enjoy and are good at. What are different aspects of your culture that you enjoy? What are the aspects of your culture that you would like to change?
In India, you speak at least two languages. How nicely do you know these languages? With what skill do you use these languages? Is it bare minimum communication or you can express deep ideas and experiences in an articulate manner in those languages? How much do you know about the languages you speak?
Are you aware that you represent so many things in this world. You are a rightful representative of so many things. If you happen to go somewhere outside your social circle to a place where there is little that is common among you and your surroundings (a foreign country for example), you will be able to see all the different facets of your existence much more clearly. Can you see these facets now? To what level of prominence have you developed these many sides of you? How do your preferences contrast with those you live with? How do your preferences contrast with those whom you are related to?
You are letting all these things go unexplored and undeveloped within yourself.
Something about you should change – NOW! Your self-obsessive attitude towards life and the world should give way to a more aware existence of your own self and to a more sensitive attitude towards things. You are one of the many faces in the crowd but YOU are special and YOUnique. But so is the person next to you. Try to identify what persona you wear and what is the reason behind it. Is there any possibility to be anything more than that. You ARE more than what you have made of yourself. Discover the things you care about to a greater depth and you will find your heart becoming stronger, more alive and your presence more substantial. Develop different facets to your personality and know that your true self is always more than all of these. And when your personality will be so highly developed, when it will have so many faces, you will discover a magical ease in your being and an indefinite creativity to express yourself.
The writer of this piece is an IIT Delhi graduate who has always helped students in developing interest and passion in whatever they are pursuing. A passionate observer of life around himself, he believes life without intensity is like a torch without a flame and that is the belief he has been instilling in students for the last 2 years. He is currently working at MBAGuru to inspire energy, intensity and perception in students; to show it to them that becoming confident is not very far from becoming interested.
MBAGuru has helped me sail through my CAT preparation in a very smooth and effective manner. The comprehensive study material and a 360 degree approach towards CAT and other competitive examinations are commendable and I would like to thank the faculty and other staff of MBAGuru for giving me the guidance towards a great future.