Religion and Practical Life Lessons – Sooraj Dash

Religion is a core pillar of my life, and in Hindu tradition the rituals, practices, tales, worship and prayers are integral to its fabric. However, the most valuable points I have taken away from my faith are the lessons of everyday basic living and the ones, which I can practically apply to my life to live better with more success and happiness. There are many people, who set forth aims and goals which they would like to achieve for their personal development, or to benefit society. These goals could range from reaching a personal milestone of playing a sport better to working on a plan to reduce plastic pollution in the world’s oceans. But the lessons of faith which sound so simple, and are so basic to understand, are far too often ignored in the weight of their practical applicability so that the seriousness of the message’s content does not sink in at times.

For example, in the Bhagavad Gita, one of Hinduism’s most influential pieces of literature, there are many such lessons which not only reiterate the importance of Hindu philosophical thought, but which also give simple insights for everyday living. One such insight is of change being a constant of the universe. There is always change in this world, and in our lives. People come and go, we move on in life towards new things, and nothing is permanent. This insight has helped me to build a sense of detachment from the things that I do. Whenever something ends in my life, such as an experience, a vacation, a job, or a certain amount of time with someone or something, I have noticed that this lesson has really lifted me up. It is because of such examples that I have learned from the Gita that I do not feel as sad, worried or deprived whenever something is taken away from my life. The Gita has allowed me to look deeper into the fact that I myself will not be here forever, so I should live dutifully by the Gita’s wisdom, yet experience life and enjoy the time that I am here by being happy. This lesson is only an illustration of such things in religious texts, which can be practically used to make one’s life happier and more efficient, and improve it in certain contexts.

Another important lesson in Hindu texts is of focusing on the method and on what you are doing to achieve a goal, rather than to focus on the goal itself. From what I have observed of people in my life, there is a trend to focus on goals, aims, and ambitions that one strives to achieve or attain. However, the amount of attention and dedication towards the process of really getting there is often ignored. I have many times set forth on a journey, yet never focused on making sure everything in that process or that journey went as well as it could have. We tend to sometimes lose perspective, as elements such as doubt, or lack of interest, or something more exciting comes our way, making us lose focus on the process of what we are trying to achieve. The most important thing I have picked up from my experiences is that the basic, practical, every-day lessons, which are re-iterated again and again, are the simplest yet hardest practices to maintain with discipline. However, maintaining discipline and focus on the process is needed in order to achieve ones aims and goals.

– Sooraj Dash