Satisfaction and contentment are the cornerstones of happiness. Modern day lifestyles have assigned to consumption and indulgence, cult status. Hedonism seems to be the order of the day with abject materialism now the yardstick to measure success and achievement. The need for more is relentless and unending. It almost has become the pivot around which life revolves. It brings along its siblings of thirst for power and fame. Are we on a wrong trajectory? Is ambition the nemesis of contentment? The greed for more does propel one to work harder, better and stimulates innovation and creativity but do we know where and when to say, ‘That’s enough’?
Renunciation is an aspect of the path to spirituality. But if renunciation is misinterpreted, it could lead to depravity that would only bury the seeds of desire deep into the soil of the subconscious. These could germinate over time to burst forth as unbridled lust and insatiable hunger.
Is contentment merely a virtue? Is it a neuro-hormonal complex that is part of one’s personality? Why are some individuals more ambitious, or have greater appetites or for that matter, a higher libido? There is a neurological basis, a centre that had been identified to regulate these primal desires. It is located in groups of neurons located in the ventral portion of the hypothalamus, a small area in the vicinity of the pituitary gland. These neurons set the programme that determines the quantum for gratification. Are we merely victims of these set points? Can we break the shackles of this grey matter that makes us lust for material things?
Whether renunciation is the path we should embark upon, is a moot point. The human brain has an inbuilt programme or software that can reformat the operating system. . Our free will is the ability to transcend this inbuilt programme and function autonomously. This free will or the programme to rewrite the operating system is called as vivekabuddhi or the power of discrimination. The power of discretion is the wisdom that can make oneself unravel the operating programme. It gives one insight and awareness of one’s own predispositions, tendencies and weaknesses, the highest form of intelligence that can reprogramme. It is intelligence that not only reprogrammes but also has the ability to realise its true nature as being the witness of the programme that is unfolding.
The perceiver is also the perceived. The subject and object are mere projections of the Self on itself. The sublimation of intellect lies in its ability to efface itself and analyse itself, analogous to the eye turning on itself to be able to see itself. The human brain is equipped with the capability of realising that it is part of the whole and also the whole, simultaneously.
A shloka from the Upanishads says: ‘Aum poornamadah poornamidam poornaat poornamudachyate’ — ‘Aum, That is complete, This is complete, From completeness comes completeness.’ And, ‘Poornasya poornamaadaaya poornamevaavashishṣyate’ – ‘If completeness is taken away from completeness, Only completeness remains