One should not forget to work on inside world: Gaur Gopal Das
Monk-motivational strategist-author Gaur Gopal Das has recently launched his book Life's Amazing Secrets: How to Find Balance and Purpose in your Life at Starmark in South City Mall in Kolkata. In an exclusive chat with IBNS correspondent Souvik Ghosh, Das tries to sketch the path one should follow in the modern world
Tell us more about the book.
The very basic theme of the book is that in the world today we have mastered the art of having but not sure whether we have mastered the art of living. So although we have learnt so much, in the course of having, we have forgotten how to live well. So Life's Amazing Secrets, through the analogy of a car and its four wheels, explores how to live well. The four wheels are personal life, relationships, work and social contribution. The steering wheel of the car is one's spiritually. So combining all of these together, the book is about the nuances of how to live life right.
The title of the book suggests that you spoke about how to get a perfect balance in life. What do you think the main cause of life's imbalance?
I think the main cause of imbalance in life is that we have really become consumed by the consumer culture. We just want to keep consuming luxury goods, clothes, branded wears and I am not against it but when we get so consumed by living just an outside world life and then we don't mind neglecting other areas of our life. Like, if one wants to have a Mercedes or a Ferrari (luxury cars), one has to work really hard to have that kind of standard of living. Now everybody wants to have that kind of standard of living but it comes at a cost then. For a rich person, all these things came ready made on a golden platter but rest will have to work hard to achieve it. So when one remains busy so much with work, naturally the other sides of life get imbalanced. I am not against achievement or luxury lifestyle. I just feel there is a great need that we bring in that sense of balance because according to me, the greatest project that one can work on oneself is 'You (Oneself)'. If 'You' are in place, rest will be in place. If not, then despite having everything else, no good does to one. So I am not against going and getting there in terms of standard of living, but I do believe it shouldn't be at the cost of those most important aspects of life which are the things the book is also talking about.
We can't really prevent oneself from achieving new feats. Now how to draw the line between the different aspects of life?
That is balance. No one can or should stop achievements. But there is a great need to start assigning the right priorities. If money or achievements are going to come first, then balance is (goes) out of the window. So one of the greatest issues in the world today are wrong and mistaken priorities. We are accepted not for who we are but for what we wear or where we live or what car we drive.
So in a world which is so shallow, we are accepted only for what we have and not for what we are. So everybody wants to just have. So this mistaken idea has given a mistaken priority to the world. And I think its a high time that we change it, understand the greatest and most important priorities of life. If one's mind is stable, if one's inside is fixed well and there is a tremendous focus and no internal distraction, one gets to do a lot more work within a short time. It's not that one will achieve less but more by working on oneself. So what happens we keep neglecting oneself. As a result, neither do we achieve what we want nor do we experience satisfaction.
How do you look at the digital world and social media more precisely. Do they create more distractions in life?
See a knife is neither good nor bad. Then if the knife comes in the hands of a surgeon, it will save a life. If the same knife comes in the hands of a murderer, it will take a life. The knife is neutral so is the digital world or technology. It depends on how we use it and what we use it for. One can get completely carried away by the digital distractions and miss out the point, on the other hand, one could actually be utilising the digital platforms for constructive purposes, for connecting to people and for networking in a constructive way. So when does it add further to the problem, when one don't know how to moderately use technology rather than being used by it. In the world today, we get used by the world of technology than using it for constructive purposes.
Lot of people come to you seeking guidance. They come to you with several problems they undergo. Pick one problem you come across most often.
When it comes to youngsters, the problems pertain to examinations, relationships, heartbreaks and wanting to grow big materially. Performance pressure, salary hikes, promotions, workplace politics are the things the professionals talk about the most. When it comes to married couples, the problems they talk about are the lack of compatibility or the loss of relationship spark. And for those who have led a bit of a balanced life, had a good family life, worked well, their problem is they think about future achievement. They think about their purpose of life. So I think people come with different categories of problems.
If I ask you for one solution to every problems, what it would be?
While working on the outside world, don't forget to work on your inside world.
Several Hindi films (like Oh My God!, PK) were made criticising the saffron culture and also the monks. How do you view those films?
There are three kinds of spiritual leaders- one is those who come to the spiritual path with a noble desire to help and they continue that. The second kind is about people who come with noble desires but get carried away by facilities, money and followers. And the third kind is about those who come to the path only to cheat. One individual doesn't define a profession. In every fraternity, be it medical, teaching or spiritual, there will always going to be a black sheep for whatever reason. I don't think that should turn faith off rather we should look for right kind of people.
(Images by Avishek Mitra/IBNS)