- Description of my ideal.
Ideals are food for the mind as bread is food for the body. They are dreams of perfection. Men are both angels and beasts. They have bodies and instincts of hunger and thirst, and these must be satisfied. But they have minds and souls and by these they become human and even divine. if we do not cherish ideals we are no better than our dumb brotheren, the beasts of the field and birds of the airs.
But even the birds of the air sing songs when their bodies are fed and so men too begin to think and dream as soon as the wants of their bodies are fulfilled. As soon as we fill our bellies, our minds begin to wake up and look about. We look up at the stars and begin to wonder. We respect our nursery rhymes:
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
He I wonder what you are;
Up above the world so high;
Like a diamond in the sky!
This is a rational and healthy state of mind. The beauty of the world makes us think, wonder and ream ans deals are the bright stars in our brains. They give beauty and light to our life. They keep us hoping. They sweeten our moments of despair and bitterness. They push us on to follow a path which promises to reach heaven. But for these dreams and ideals, our life on earth would be a dreamy journey. It is they that inspire us to strive after perfection. They provide us with standards by which we measure our progress in life. They change we grow up. For example, our ideal in school life is to pass the Secondary School Examination, but as soon as we do so we begin to dream of passing higher examinations. It is such dreams and desires which keep us marching on from one stage to another which is higher. They are a guarantee that we do not remain beasts only. They drive us onwards to stages of men, angels and gods.
Ideals by definition are unattainable. For if we attain some goal, it is no longer a dream: it becomes a fact and a reality. That is why ideals are always unattainable. They should be so. Else there will be no ideas. We must keep on going from one ideal to another, for the path of progress and perfection is really endless and eternal. This is the glory and beauty of human life. It is an endless journey from the lower to the higher. This is beautifully described by Shelley, one of the greatest idealists in literature. Listen to his description of his skylark:
Higher still and higher
From the earth thou springest,
Like a cloud of fire.
The singing still doest soar,
And soaring ever singest
This is the best description of those who follow their ideal. Always rising higher and higher and also joyous and happy because they fix their eyes on their ideals and keep on approaching towards them.
My ideal ion life is simple living and high thinking. I have come to adopt this ideal after reading the lives of great men and women who followed this ideal. This is one of the grandest ideals in the world. Why do I choose such an ideal? Well, I choose it because it costs nothing and buys everything. Simple living means a great economy of one’s energy. Everyone in his world has to spend his energy in earning his living. Now if we are not satisfied with simple living, we will have to spend a good deal of our energy for living a life of luxury and comforts. There is no limit to one’s desires. A life of luxury and high living means working from morning till night for making enough money to live such a life. if we wish to live in costly places and eat costly places and eat costly food drive in luxury cars we will have to spend enormous sums of money. If we are honest, we will have to be slaves from day to day in order to earn money for leading such a life. All this means that we will be really working for money. It means concentrating all our energies in producing money. Now even if we get all this money we will never be peaceful and happy. We will be wanting more and more. Under such conditions of life we will become wholly selfish in our outlook and will become money-making machines. We will have no time even for enjoying our money. We will end our lives most miserably. We will have lived the most selfish, narrow-minded and useless lives. In possessing riches we will be possessed by them.
That is why I do not wish to live in such a way. I wish to spare my energies and time for a better thing than money and luxuries. I will earn enough to maintain a frugal, simple, life and I will then be able to devote my time to social work. I will be able to serve the poor and the needy only if I limit my ambition to a life of simplicity. When I have earned enough to maintain my simple life I will have enough energy spared for devoting myself to the service of others. The field of social service of others. The field of social service is so wide that I will have enough to do in that field. For this purpose I will have to prepare myself.
Living thus I will be in a position to devote some of my time to thinking. I will be free to read noble thought and to put them into practice. I love to accept a vow of poverty and so work constructively. It is in the villages of our country that social work is largely needed. I will go to those places and live like the poor people. I will show them how to make their life good, healthy and happy. I will serve the poor and be happy in such a service. I am sure that I will be then really happy because I know that only they can be happy who forget their own self and become interested in that of others.
It might seem that I am trying to do the impossible. I agree that this might be foolish on my part. It requires great discipline and self-control to do what all I wash to do this nevertheless. As I said, an ideal is by definition an impossible thing, an unattainable perfection. It is because of this that an ideal is an ideal. Our ideals must remain great and unattainable. Otherwise they will not be inspiring enough. An impossible thing inspires precisely because it is impossible. Its glory and grandeur are so great that it is enough to inspire even small things like myself. When we desire to be great we do so because there is the seed of greatness in us. The only precaution we should take is that we should not become vain, proud and boastful. We must nurse our ideals in our hearts, keep them in Purdah (as it were), and cherish them as our beloved. They must be like lamps lit in our hearts to light up our path to perfection. The greater the lamp the steadier will be its light and guidance.
So I am not at all afraid of the impossibility of my ideal. I is the duty and right of ideals to be impossible. I shall keep living and trying again and again in order to achieve my ideal. I have a dream in me and I will go on cherishing it. It is a wonderful dream. It makes me a traveler and worker. It takes me out of my poor, little self which never satisfies me. It makes me big and great and good. The only price that is needed to get this ideal is simple living and high thinking. If I am prepared to pay this price, I am sure to get it. I have decided to do so because I know that men cannot be rich enough in the wordly sense. There is a limit to our capacity for getting riches in terms of money, property and gold. There is a limit to our capacity for being powerful, authoritative and famous. If we pursue money and power in the material world, we find that no one is really rich and powerful. We think we are rich if we have say, a lakh of rupees. But this is only an illusion. We already see men with two three and innumerable lakhs of rupees and we become miserable. In the same way, power too is unlimited. We think we are great if we become the chairman of our town municipality. But what is this except illusion? Is there not President of Pakistan and the President of any great country? And can more than one person be great in this sense? Clearly not, so the true path of greatness and true wealth. As we cherish these we become great in fact. That is why ideals are important. I have, therefore decided to dream my dream of simple living and high thinking. This ideal frees me from my petty self and makes me really great. It makes me a lover of mankind. I prefer the luxury of doing good to all other luxuries. This is my idea.