Principles of Life

A western thinker once commented, “You have removed most of the road blocks to success when you have learnt the difference between motion and direction.”

American Astronaut, Neil Armstrong, stepped on to the moon for the first time in July 1969. The moment he set his foot on the moon, the control mission in America received these words uttered by him:

“That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

If from a vessel containing water a single drop is found to be brackish, it means that all of the liquid is undrinkable. We need sample only of one drop to know with certainty what the rest will be like. Much the same is true of the human personality. It is like an overbrimming vessel, which keeps on shedding drops for other people to savour, to find sweet or brackish as the case may be. Small instances of an individual’s behaviour and quite short interludes in his company are generally sufficient to tell us what his overall personality is like.

According to La Rochefoucauld: “Mediocre spirits generally condemn everything that exceeds their small stature.” Perceiving this common human failing, a modern poet implores people: “Don’t criticize what you can’t understand.”

The trouble is, people tend to judge matters on how they affect their own selves. They are quick to support anything, which improves their own position, or at least does not downgrade them in any way. But when something appears threatening to their own position, they oppose it, regardless of its intrinsic worth.

The owner of a transport business once found himself in weak and vulnerable position because, for technical reasons, he had once had one of his vehicles registered in the name of another person. Several years passed, and that person still held its license. The licence-holder decided one fine day that he would take possession of the vehicle himself, and that its real owner would have to make do with a paltry sum of money in exchange. The owner naturally felt that the most dreadful injustice was being done to him and, greatly incensed, he was determined to have his revenge.

Charles Darwin (1809-1882) one of most famous thinkers of modern times, (although the writer does not agree with his views) played a major part in the intellectual formation of modern man.

Darwin achieved this position of eminence in the modern world by dint of exceptional hard work. The Encyclopaedia Britannica (1984) says of him:

“All his mental energy was focused on his subject and that was why poetry, pictures and music ceased in his mature life to afford him the pleasure that they had given him in his earlier days.” (5/495)

A young man who was employed as an ordinary worker in a Bidi factory soon learnt the entire art of the business and set up his own factory. He initially invested only Rs. 5000 in his business, but then by dint of fifteen years’ hard work, his business progressively increased until it expanded into a big factory. One day, narrating his life story to his friends, he said: “Just as a young child grows into boyhood after fifteen years, so does a business. I have not reached this stage in one day. It has been a fifteen-year struggle.”

There are two types of people in this world—the self-making type and the history-making type. The aim of those who are self-making is to serve themselves, whereas history-making people seek to serve humanity as a whole.

In situations of adversity, head-on confrontation, as a means of eliminating opposition, is frequently resorted to. As a negative reaction, it is almost always counterproductive. Experience shows, oftener than not, that the better way is to take positive action. That is, to return good for evil.