Real pleasure within reach

(The following article was posted in the “Meditations” column of the Hindustan Times, one of India’s largest English language daily newspapers, on 26 April 2004.) LIKE IT or not, we’re controlled by governments, money, politics and intellectuals — mostly scientists — of our time. But a far more pervasive, irresistible and, at times, subtle force governs us: the entertainment industry. ‘Good Clean Fun’ is how Walt Disneyites might characterise it. Theme parks, cute animation, live comedy, movie stars’ lives, and television form part of the mix. This captures the minds and bodies of people of all ages, determining thought and action. The industry has created millions of zombified spectators checking out movies, sports, weather patterns, and minute-by-minute movements of Bollywood celebrities. Billions digest the constant music that feeds our voracious noiseaphilia, holding boredom at bay. Shopping malls, fast food and fashion are also part of the piped-in fIlet of philistine vulgarity. In the rush to inhale such products, the spiritual side of life has been shunted aside, eclipsed. TV and fIlms portray religion as old-fashioned and irrevalent. Themes are processed to make us feel good, rather than think. Transcendental pleasure, on the other hand is within reach, and those fortunate enough to grasp it, are continuously content — internally. Sustained happiness is available with an attitude of prayer, surrender and what the Gita calls sukham, sometimes translated as ‘boundless transcendental happiness’. If we wrench our heads from the TV, we might appreciate our own unique dramas or just be happy being who and where we are. (The writer is emeritus member of the ISKCON governing body commission)