Random Perspectives on Life and Living

Double Role Devi with Lalu, and alone

     From time to time in life, we all are likely to appraise about existence, its purpose, and function, the meaning of it in general. More than finding answers, it is often an exercise to establish our bearings, an attempt to discover intent, to repent, forgive, console or feel content about our performance. I have no clue if animals are as inquisitive as us, and it is very unlikely that they will ever share it with us.
     Human life is conceivably the loftiest of all endowments that we can proudly boast of as its privileged recipients. It is the ultimate of bequests that have been bestowed on us by the Creator. And for us, if our conviction lends credibility, to be born in the most divine land of Bharat, in God’s own country as a Hindu, is the crucial donation of supreme offering, as blessed a life as one can get.
     If we follow the Manvantara theory of evolution as described in our Puranas, it is an ongoing cycle of creation and of dissolution as the day and night of Brahma, offering us births and rebirths until we blend with the Supreme Consciousness. Such a belief may fit in with our concept that matter never is newly formed or completely perished, and that it only changes in its configuration. But if we choose to search the modern view, the universe happened about fourteen billion years ago, the slow and gradual evolutionary process taking its time, our sun forming around 4.57 billion years ago and finally habitability emerging at the 4.2 billion mark. Gradually as life progressed through its biological ascendance, Homo Sapiens appeared 2.2 million years ago, Neanderthals at 0.25 million years, and finally, anatomical humans arrived on the scene in Africa just about 200,000 years ago.
     Even the gods took time to create their perfect product, the humans, equipped with a mind with discriminatory faculties, rationality, and moral conscience. For those of us who are comfortable with our Vedic notion, everything is an extension of the Divine presence ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ or ‘Tat Tvam Asi’, a concept that is easy to accept and that can explain all that there is to explain.
     And with that assumption, all living creatures are variations of one higher entity, modulated and outfitted with components that would adjust and adapt to the environment, thriving as long as they are meant to survive. Elaborating on that theory, our sensory system has been programmed and perfected to function and survive in the physical milieu, adapting to our surroundings. If we believe in a Creator and the teachings from our Vedic wisdom, we have to be content, trustful and comfortable on how we are born to live and leave when we are called. We often ignore to inquire that when the rest of the million species take life as granted, logics should pose a question of why ‘we’ need to deviate from it.
     The one difference is that humans are created with the ability to think, create and ‘change the course’; at least that is the understanding. Our race has been awarded the enviable aptitude to question and study, to modify settings as we deem to like. And ‘science’ has made remarkable strides to grant us more comfort and tools to prolong our stay, to surmount obstacles, to conquer, to explore and even dare to challenge the Creator’s designated plans. And at times we do seem to claim to know as much if not more than the designer, that our knowledge of science can decipher the intricacies of the original intentions and perhaps we may even become capable of circumventing the ultimate goal. Those with humility and a conviction of a higher presence may allow that we may never discover the end point of the bigger picture. If we were to accept the presence of a Divine Determinant (DD), a variable constant, a God Factor that ultimately dictates the outcome, such discretion and modesty may be comforting attributes. But sadly, such an assumption of a higher faculty often evades inclusion by the strictly scientific minds.
     Perhaps the most disconcerting aspects of scientific postulates are their constantly changing announcements based on new findings that are corroborated by new breakthroughs. Consequently, we are inundated by modified guidance, revised instruction, worrisome warnings, and fresh remedial measures. And often the new knowledge is totally contradictory to what we were advised earlier, alarming us of our folly and arousing guilt, that it becomes hard to accept any of such proposals that are changing overnight. At times rumors are disconcerting that a certain agent or advice may have been promoted for financial gains by corporate greed adding to concerns in the unsuspecting consumers.
     Being in the field of healthcare for almost fifty years, catering to the needs of patients, advising, warning, promising and prescribing, I learned that doctors played ‘gods’ as we appeared to patients. Sadly many of us even convinced ourselves to fit in that role. And periodically as I glanced back, my instructions and prescriptions over the years kept changing, as ‘new information’ poured in replacing the old ones, as I often felt lost questioning the competence of my practice, even that of the medical profession.
     We shuffle with differing diets, changing medications, exercise regimen, surgical procedures, technological innovations and altered philosophies creating confusion and suspicion among the hapless patients. The controversies about high-carb-no-carb diet, good or bad coconut oil, the role of supplements like coenzymes, garlic or turmeric, or trace metals, functions of cholesterol, theories about diabetes or acidosis are disgracefully uncomforting. It is awkward and impractical to keep track of the ever-changing explanations and updating our habits.
     Like a staged presentation of epic Mahabharata, where many players arrive, perform and move on, handling our health and life has become an ongoing drama meddling with an abundance of information (thanks to Google) that are hard to comprehend and often confusing. Having said that, in general, we are doing better, and living longer. The acceptance by the West of our old practice of yoga, and meditation, along with a curiosity in the vegetarian diet and Ayurvedic line of treatment are encouraging signs.
     In an overall attempt to understand the elemental essence about life and living, it may be comforting to accept with humility that there is a higher authority in charge of our management and an essential practice of moderation in everything, enjoying what is appealing to our senses but not in excess, as we focus on rehearsing our minds to stay alert and tranquil.

Author: Dr. Venugopal Menon

Was born and raised in a loving family in pre-independent India, became a doctor, served Indian army, got married, then came over to America with wife and a daughter, established as a successful Allergist, raised a family of three children, was involved in many social establishments, retired, and wrote memoirs, 'My Mother Called Me Unni, A Doctor's Tale of Migration'.

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