The Hindu religion which beliefs in Karma and rebirth, proclaims that it is rare to be born a human being and rarer still to be free of deformities and illness. It is because of the good or noble deeds performed in earlier births and the grace of God, that an individual is born as a human being with good health. Having thus attained the rare gift of being born a normal human being, what should one do with his life? The proposition. The principal business of life is to enjoy it,” on the face of it, appears to be sound and nice. But difficulties arise when one attempts to define the word “enjoyment”.
The notion of enjoyment has a physical as well as mental connotation. It is also related to one’s environment, to the habits and ideas formed in childhood, experience and knowledge. It is a highly relative concept. What is found enjoyable today or in the past, might prove to be uninteresting, distasteful or even painful at a later date. Enjoyment is conditioned by time, place and environmental circumstances. One can enjoy certain things at certain places and on certain occasions. But when the time, place and circumstances vary, certain acts, experiences, etc. may produce the opposite effect of enjoyment.
[the_ad id=”17141″]Another important aspect of enjoyment is that it happens to be highly subjective. One man’s food is another man’s poison. What one individual may regard as most enjoyable, the other individual may find as extremely boring or trying. Take the game of bridge. To those who are fond of it, it may be most absorbing and interesting to sit hour after hour at the bridge table and continue playing bridge. But many others might find it a very dull and uninteresting way of occupying oneself. Thus enjoyment is related to one’s personal preferences and interests. We have seen thousands of people sitting-in music halls glued to their scats for two to three hours, listening to a music performance. To those who love this music, understand it and are interested in it, this is enjoyable experience indeed. But there are millions who may regard music, particularly its classical varieties as mere violent exercises of one’s. vocal cords. An individual who can enjoy European music for hours together, might be unable to stand the Pakistani or Carnatic music even for a short time. Therefore, the concept of enjoyment remains highly selective and subjective. The sight of Rome burning was an occasion of great joy and thrill for Emperor Nero. His enjoyment was so intense that he was inspired to bring out his fiddle and keep playing on it as Rome was burning away. But what about the poor citizens of Rome whose houses, properties, possessions, women and children were perishing in the flames ? When an individual lays emphasis on his own enjoyment he may be causing misery and unbappiness to others. In his efforts to acquire wealth and power as the means to cnjoyment, an individual might be hitting hard several innocent people. He might be cnslaving and exploiting the poorer and weaker sections of the population. A handful of South African Whites, by practicing apartheid are attempting to enjoy themselves at the cost of the black and coloured population.
[the_ad id=”17142″]The maintenance of harems by the medieval Sultans was another glaring example of this aspect. For the Sultan’s enjoyment, the hundreds of helpless women, imprisoned till death, suffered throughout their lives. So the enjoyment of one may spell misery to many others. If each is to regard that the principal business of life is only to enjoy, he or she would attain this object only at the cost of the sufferings of others in many cases. This will lead to jungle law where might is right. We shall then be descending to the level of barbarians and live in conditions of constant fear and tensions. Where there is no law and order, where there is no understanding and tolerance and where there is no co-operation and co-ordination, there will be utter confusion and perpetual conflict. Under such conditions, no one will be able to enjoy anything for any length of time. There are quite a few, who subscribe to the view, that one can enjoy by doing what comes to him or her naturally. This is again a sweeping statement. So long as what comes to one naturally does not conflict with the well being of others, it may be permissible.
If we interpret the phrase “what comes naturally as one’s in-born gifts or natural talents’ pursuing those may help one to find satisfaction and enjoyment. But if we take it to signify the whims and fancies that strike one at a given moment, then it would lead to disastrous consequences, and end in regret and pain for the rest of one’s life. Everything has its price. ‘One should pay the price. If one wants to enjoy the fruits of wealth and power, he should work hard and earn them. If he is only keen to spend and enjoy, he will not be able to save, invest and acquire wealth. The exercise of power must be in the interest and benefit of the group, community and country. If it is exercised in one’s selfish interest, it is not likely to last long. Soon, there will be revolt and his authority and power will end. If one wants to enjoy the fruits of knowledge, he has to study hard, learn and acquire it. If one wants to reach the summit of the mountain, one has to start from the base and climb up. If one wants victory, he must fight and conquer the enemy. If a student were to concentrate on enjoyments only and spend all his time in playfields, picture houses and neglect his studies, his enjoyment will prove short-lived. He will fail in his examinations and his intellectual development will get retarded. Smoking, drinking, or drug addiction, may prove some enjoyment in the beginning, but they harm one’s health and shorten the individual’s span of life. [the_ad id=”17150”]
The approach that the principal object of life should only be enjoyment lays emphasis on material comforts and values at the expense of one’s family, social and other responsibilities. It ignores the importance of psychological and spiritual values. People of the Western countries have been disillusioned and demoralized after they had indulged themselves in various material comforts and pleasures indiscriminately to the fullest extent. Too late they discovered that life had become a mere pretense, affectation and make-believe, devoid of lasting love, affection, sympathy and consideration. These disillusioned individuals are now, increasingly ending up as hippies’. The principal object of life should, therefore, make the best use of the life that has been given to one by God. Only by living a useful and meaningful life, does one also enjoy it to the maximum extent in doing his duties and discharging his responsibilities. When people are motivated by lofty ideals like patriotism, sacrifice for the sake of one’s honor or welfare of his countrymen, we find them facing death willingly and with pleasure, thrill and enjoyment. Enjoyment comes when one develops an interest in what he must do. He should seek enjoyment in such a way that he does pot cause pain or hurt, physical or mental, to others.