31.05.2018 Spirituality

Give Thanks

Seeking simple pleasures can sustain our spirit even in these days of rampant materialism, says Robert Gresak

Modern technology is making it more and more difficult to distinguish appearance from reality. Appearance, looking good, takes precedence over just about everything these days so caught up have people the world over become in materialism and the cult of “being in fashion”.

Fashion contact lenses can turn brown eyes into green or green into blue. Colour rinses can convert natural blandness into a cornucopia of colours. Age can be camouflaged by facelifts and body sculpturing and even the gender of an individual can now be altered by plastic surgery.

In science, technology, art and human relations there is a frenzied rush toward artificiality attractively packaged and marketed at huge cost to the vogue conscious consumer.

Shades of Maya indeed - Maya, the Hindu term for the power of illusion.

Oriana Fallaci in her brilliant book If the Sun Dies explores the artificial world of tomorrow and the future with such things as robot controlled cars on the highways and plastic grass plots along avenues and highways and in front of houses, schools, churches and temples, never to be watered or tended. A huge shroud of plastic grass that never dies or grows is truly a mockery of nature. With false hedges, with the daisies, azaleas, rhododendrons attracting no bees or ants and giving no perfume, they are dead in their stagnancy, for they are all plastic.

Her polemic is frightening in its projections of the triumph of a technological society whose spacecraft and computers may impose gravely altered values and morals on us all and our children in the very near future. It is a vision that looks to be absolutely soulless, mechanistic and rapid and the rot, as it were, has already set in without a doubt.

Things and forms custom made to perfection but with no true beauty are extrinsically promising, but intrinsically hollow.

Perhaps this is why sane thinking peoples in their droves are once again heading out into nature whenever they can to hike forest and mountain trails, to observe bird and animal life, to paint, to dream beneath some huge old tree, to delight in the beauty of fields of wildflowers, to stand in awe at an eagle's flight or paddle a canoe along a gently meandering river.

We need more than ever the solace and beauty of Mother Nature to recharge our flagging spirits and keep us from falling totally into the morass of a soulless city life in which so many have to make a living. We have to believe that the realm of nature will not be killed off by pollution and poisonous waste matter from ever encroaching industrial developments.

To large numbers of people artificiality is the norm.

We live in a world driven by it, so it seems. Our lives are bombarded by it on a daily basis via the media, by reams of advertising brochures and pamphlets or via TV urging us to buy this or that or invest in some scheme which will make us wealthy, plus more of the same via our mobile phones.

It seems that mankind is being increasingly subjected to the fickle and illusory control of these external forces and that is exactly what they are - fickle and illusory without any true livingness. People have become so used to this external glamorous material world that millions of lives are lived, from the cradle to the grave, thinking that this is all there is.

Nevertheless, the spiritual sages tell us that there is purpose even behind this, that it is all part of the evolutionary process.

They teach that man must first experience living on the periphery of the great wheel of life, learn of its illusory nature and control and master it, including his own lower nature.

The truth is that we are, in reality, spiritual beings and as one begins the journey of experiencing this through introspection, meditation and study and giving unstintingly to others in need, we are able to meet the trials and problems of life without falling beneath its hammer blows of glamour and seduction.

Of course, it is not that easy to become immune to this illusion. Surely, being only human, we all at some stage think about how nice it would be to own a larger, more luxurious, home or car, or have a good few extra thousand in the bank. The trick is each day on awakening to give thanks to the Almighty for what we have and to mean it.

My view is that it is better to have less than to have more, for the more you have the more you desire.

Robert Gresak

Robert Gresak writes articles of a spiritual nature as a form of service to help and uplift others. He is an ardent nature lover and much admires the wild birds including golden weavers that visit his garden every day. He lives in Durban, South Africa.