AN ESSAY ON:
THE MAN WHO HAS NO INNER LIFE IS A SLAVE TO HIS SURROUNDINGS (QUOTE BY FREDERICK AMIEL)
I looked out of the window to watch the trees speeding past me and the glorious sun setting down with its orange hue spread across the farmlands. The solitude and the warmth of the scene left me at the disposal of my thoughts. Times like these where calmness and tranquility prevails , present to us the opportunity to ponder over our feelings ,our thoughts ,the events which have shaped and defined us ,the blend of these conscious feelings is what Frederic Amiel refers to be our inner life. The saying of Amiel is one magnificent pearl which the sea of philosophy treasures and so carefully hides, only to be uncovered by the wisest of mortals.
Joseph Butler, a great English philosopher believed in the existence and presence of a mental faculty gifted to every human being which he referred to as conscience. He advocated that every creature of nature possessed this ability to contemplate his own actions or retrospect any act that he might have performed .This I believe forms the central core to the term “inner life “.Along with this, all the doubts which the mind holds, all the future actions which he proposes and the consequences which he mulls over is what encompasses a person’s inner life .It can be defined in abstract terms as being a definitive set of morals or principles which act as a compass during all times of duress and happiness, but inner life is not all about the might of the mind .
Life is meaningless without the existence of the most vital part of human life, the heart .The power of the mind although subtle very often leads it to overpowering the mind. A person whose mind and heart does not constitute such feelings or emotions can be rightly said to be a victim of all external happenings around him and devalues the greatest gift which God has given us -the life of a human being.
We often remark on how the quality of a person’s life is determined by the hard work he puts in or the amount of resources bequeathed to him but the greater factor which seems as an invisible hand directing our life is attitude. In the words of the great Carl Jung, attitude “is the readiness of the psyche to act or react in a certain way.” Attitude, without doubt, is one of the important factors governing success in one’s life .Our perception, or way of sensing things around us and the set of thoughts our mind factory produces at perceiving a particular situation, is dependent on our attitude. Attitude is what allows a person to cross seemingly insurmountable barriers and leave an indelible mark in the minds and hearts of one and all.
The example of Sergei Bubka, the Ukrainian athlete who broke his own record 35 times is in itself sufficient to gauge the power of attitude. Had he run his life according to the whims and fancies of the society and the people around him, one can be certain that he would never have been able to muster the strength, courage and the determination to achieve the unprecedented.
Be it the mountaineers who have conquered Mt Everest or the adventurous who, every day, explore the unknown, each person who wishes to leave a trail in this magnificent world of opportunities and challenges goes through the tough process of nurturing his inner life and polishing his attitude. It is as if nature beckons men to try their mental might and use her as a whetstone by facing the trials and tribulations which it presents and thus help themselves to be that shining diamond which awaits each one’s destiny. People who have obtained completed dominion over fear, live a satisfying inner life for they have mastered their mind and the” external surroundings” no longer deter them from accomplishing their ambitions. It is complete faith in one’s abilities which allows him/her to follow the dreams which although contrary to the norms of the society, are led by optimism which stems from their inner life.
The success stories of the greatest and the most contented people on earth have always been traced to their childhood. Hence, one is tempted to say that if one’s inner life is shaped by the influence of the society around him and by the ideology of the company he keeps, then how does one define inner life? Shouldn’t people who have been brought up in the same environment and have had similar upbringings have the same quality of inner life? No, for I believe the wiser person is the one who is able to introspect over his mistakes, learn from them and constantly look for means and methods on improving his inner life. An insightful person never squanders an opportunity to gain wisdom from the minutest of incidents.
At the end, I would just like to resound the captivating moral deduced from the cockroach story by Sundar Pichai, where he demonstrates that one should not react but respond. The life which we create for ourselves is a sum total of our thoughts, biases, and perceptions. When we respond, we allow the surroundings to be a part of ourselves. This union between the two is what Frederick Amiel advocates. The day one decides to break free from the shackles of isolationism that is the day he would truly appreciate his very existence in this human world.