The seven keys to a beautiful life

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Do you have a meaningful inner life, do you strive for excellence in all the ways in which you express your self, and are you moving towards self-actualization?


The Indian Context

Today we are encountering a fragmented way of living in India. We live amidst great wealth and fast growth as well as dire poverty, industrial expansion and environmental destruction. We don’t seem to have discovered a way of responding to these challenges in a meaningful and holistic way that reflects the genius of India. We probably confuse being modern and global with being western. This is the consequence of the fact that we are brought up in traditional families, study in modern schools and colleges and become competent managers and engineers in technological organizations. Many thinkers and seers have spoken about the deep erosion of personal and collective capability and resilience that result from this fragmentation. This becomes especially corrosive when an amnesia and lack of authentic connection with one’s tradition is replaced by an empty adherence to ritual on the one hand and a superficial imitation of alien ways on the other hand.

The Global Arena

Man is confronted with the reality of globalization, exponential growth of knowledge and an unprecedented rate of change. Till the early 1900’s, the pace of change was slow with technology and ways of living remaining more or less the same during the best part of an individual’s lifetime. When change in technology and the context of one’s living is slow, it is possible for us to arrive at a balance between values and deeper aspirations and the external transactions with the world around us. Thus the discovery of a wholesome movement between the inner and outer life of an individual, and the development of the culture could take place naturally.

Today, the scale and rapidity of all-pervading change makes finding such a wholesomeness difficult. Hence it becomes all the more important that we delve into ourselves, discover that which is eternal and human and find ways of meaningfully deploying it in our work and our life.

Some of the casualties in this explosive growth of knowledge and technology are faith and a sense of the sacred. Scientists like Einstein, Heisenberg and Bohm among many others, found new meanings and explored the world of meditative insight and mysticism. However, the glorification of science and its “conquest” have led many of us to believe that life only consists of the outside world of activities and logical explanations. The dominance of a ‘scientific, rational outlook’ is invariably accompanied by a negation or devaluation of the self and traditional/cultural values. Such an outlook has inevitably resulted in a depletion of the inner world. It becomes imperative, therefore, to find a way of being alive to the deeper aspects of the self devoid of superstition and superficial piety, while living in a world shaped by technology.

The Seven Notes

In such a context, the question one is persuaded to ask is “Do I have a meaningful inner life, do I strive for excellence in all the ways in which I express myself, and am I moving towards self-actualization?” If a person is feeling unworthy and depressed within, then he can’t motivate others to invest in self improvement. A person who has a deep and meaningful inner life as well as great accomplishment and excellence in outward action is known as a Satvik. Such a person is able to conduct one’s own life with greater skill and ease, and provide able leadership for the empowerment of others. In order to get to the state of Sathvikam one is invited to put into practice the steps recommended in the SaptaSwara: the seven key values and practices that can provide the foundation for a beautiful and harmonious life.

SaptaSwara is a framework proposed by Sashi and Raghu that is a convergence of over four decades of serious study and practice. It is a set of seven values-in-action that a deeply harmonious and meaningful life is replete with. They are:

Maitri - Friendship
Karma - Action
Dharma - responsibility
Gnyana - Knowledge
Ramya – Evocation and aesthetics
Yoga - Mindfulness
Abhyasa - Practice

These are like the 7 basic swaras or basic notes of music. When one becomes adept at living in resonance with these values, ones life will be beautiful, like uplifting music. All these concepts are found in the Yoga Sutrasand they find an echo in all Indian traditions. Many of these ideas are identical in Buddhist and Hindu tradition. Other traditions like Jain, Sufi and Sikh for instance also emphasize these qualities.

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