Quiet contemplation brings meaning to life

Leela ramaswamy

I have discovered that all human evil comes from this – man’s being unable to sit still in a room, wrote Blaise Pascal, the French philosopher and mathematician.

It is a statement that seems far-fetched if not absurd, for not all evil has come from being unable to sit still. However, a little reflection will reveal that this observation contains much food for thought. Sitting still is a great way of bringing meaning to life, of making it more productive as well as restful. There are at least four ways in which this happens.

Sitting still is not possible unless one is at peace with oneself. Neither the workaholic nor the shirker can remain quiet, calm and composed. He or she will be up in a trice, thinking uncomfortably about what has been left undone. Only the person who is in control of his outer world can maintain inner calm. Sitting still can be a clarion call to organise things in a better manner, to discharge duties as well as responsibilities.

By focusing the mind on what these are, we gain perspective and are enabled to set out our priorities better. Being still allows many things to rise up in the consciousness. We remember hurtful words and unkind actions. Much light is thrown on thorny issues and with this comes understanding, acceptance and even forgiveness. By doing this on a regular basis, the individual can learn what is important to his life and what is not.

It follows that this is an exercise which brings into open our fears and our doubts. In solitude we see things as they really are. There are things that we magnify unnecessarily. Quiet contemplation can influence our attitudes and help us make decisions or alter them suitably for the better. We may also need to establish some habits or give up others. Facing our fears and anxieties allows us to enjoy a sense of tranquility, a freedom from perhaps a useless past.

We will find that we enjoy our own company. Friends with ourselves, we savour a sense of inner peace and well-being.

To sum up, sitting still enables a person to be aware of his duties, to develop a sense of perspective, to face his fears and to recognise his inmost self.

Can such a person perpetrate evil or be a cause of it? Not likely – rather he will concentrate more on constructive activity and spread happiness. Sitting still can well prove an effective way of fighting evil!

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