What is this life? A battle or a vision, a trial or a tale, a tempest or mid-summer night’s dream. Perhaps it is both. It is the union of the two that the perfection of life consists. Thought and action are in fact, the two sides of the same coin.
One completes the other, and is completed by the other, Thought without action is an abortion and a ‘treachery’: action without thought is ‘an arrow shot in dark’. One makes the promise, the other gives it performance. Thought illumines the goal, action reaches it. In the advancement of the world thinkers and actors share honors equally.
Thought is a prelude to action. We think and we act, we brood and we build. Shahjahan had the dream of the Taj before it became of living structure at Agra. Every great specimen of architecture or painting or statue is but the material reproduction of the artist’s thoughts, and should you ask him, he would tell you that they were but poor imitations of the mental pictures from which he copied them. Whitechead says, “Our minds build cathedrals before the workmen have moved a stone and our minds tell before elements have worn down their arches.” Every order was, thus, vision in the soul before it became an accomplished fact in history. In the beginning was the word, which means in the beginning was the idea and the idea became flesh.
“I am ashamed of my emptiness“, said the words to the work.
“I know how poor I am when I see you“, said the work to the word.
Word is the soul of work, theory of practice. If there were no word, theory or contemplation, there would be no work, practice or action. Contemplation aids a man in planning and devising a fruitful course of action. It saves him from the pitfalls of life, from hazards of action. It gives him clarity of vision, tenacity of purpose and strength of will and conviction.
Contemplations helps a man not only in devising a fruitful course of action but also in yielding him true happiness and peace of mind. Happiness in the real sense of the term does not depend upon the outward conditions and circumstances of life. It is useless to search it in the world, it is in the inner chamber of our own should waiting to be sought through insight and mediation. The mush is the deer, but it thinks that the fragrance come from outside and so foolishly hunts for its reality. Victor Hugo discovered his happiness in thoughts and declared, “Think yourself well and all that is well with you, the nature will read your though and make it true.” We are always that we think. Thinking, not mere acting mediation and not petition results in an enlargement, and elevation, transformation of one’s whole being and thus the recreation of the world. The westerners look upon the life of contemplation as a kind of laziness and condemn oriental saints and mystics as idlers.
It is through the means of though or contemplation that we realize our inner nature and establish contact with the divine things. As Shri J.C. Bose, the great scientist, writes, “Not in matter but, in though, not in possessions, or even in attainments, but in ideas, are to be found the seeds of immortality“. Inward meditation is the key of spiritual insight. When we sink out the fever of existence into the quiet of self-communion, when we have our eyes and ears set inward, we delight in the music of though. rather than in that noisy panorama of social activities and external excitements. In that profound silence we hear the still voices of the soul, the plaintive cry of the prisoner for freedom, of the wanderer for home, the cry of the finite for the infinite. The hardness of the ego melts and the intense focusing of all souls into on supreme being is grasped. The whole thing is illumined with a flush of light from the great heights, and this prepares us for the ultimate meeting with our beloved Father. The veil of the temple of humanity is rent in twin and we are no longer greedy for sensations. We become sons of immortality; and then the words escape from our lips “What shall I do with that which does not lead to immortality?”
God, takes into account not only our actual achievement but also our unrealized hopes and dreams, all that we aimed at but could not attain owing to the unconquerable difficulties of flesh or of our adverse destiny. The foolish people of the world may regard our unfulfilled thoughts as ‘Vulgar mass’ but in the eyes of God they are not less valuable than the actions of the greatest, for He knows that the world is moved more by ideas than by actions.
“Ideas rule the world“, declared Plato. History is made or unmade more by philosophers and artists than by generals and merchants. it is philosophy which becomes history and culture and civilization. The thoughts of Plato and Aristotle materially contributed to the structure of Greek civilization. hobble gave impetus to the Civil War of 1642 and Locke to the Revolution of 1688. The French Revolution was the outcome of the philosophy of Voltaire, the meditation of Rousseau and the encyclopaedists. The philosophical radicals. Bentham and Mill, inspired the liberal programme of the nineteenth century. Karl Marx also with a tremendous effort of imaginative faculty and mediation thinks and feels that human society is a single organize whole and strives to oppose all kinds of supernatural and capitalistic force. Life is governed by ideals and philosophies are at the back of all revolutionary movements. Thus all the great achievements which are the pride of the human race, are the works of men who sat still and mediated on the great mysteries of all. It is the contemplatives, the idle strangers, the so-called useless people who took at the starts, who are responsible for the comfort and happiness of us all great ideas.
Thoughts are intended for maintaining the organic unity, the health and wholeness of the world. We become each-other’s brother and sisters only when we take to a religious life of prayer and thought, and refuse to eb regarded in mere biological terms as the most cunning of animal or economic beings controlled by the laws of demand and supply and class-conflicts. A civilization remains healthy and strong as it contains in its centre some creative ideal which binds members into a rhythm of relationship. Scientific applications, economic alliances, political institutions may bring the world together outwardly, but, for a strong and stable unity the invisible but deeper bonds of ideas, and ideals require to be strengthened.
Thinking, in order to be inspiring, and elevating should be set within the limits of reasons and self-discipline. Excessive and way-ward thinking does not strengthen but weakens our will. It becomes a kind of disease very much akin to Melancholia. It keeps us depressed and gloomy. It develops in us a distaste for life and action. It blinds our brain, and we ruminate inwards on the miseries of self as spider working inward soon envelops himself in a web. To the eye of solitude life appears no more than a vale of tears, a meaningless puzzle, a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
It is true that thoughts govern our character, give food to our inner life and make us happy, healthy and hopeful, but we should not indulge in them to the extent of becoming passive, idle or listless. Let us by all means contemplate but let us not do so at the coat of actual living. We have to conquer the ‘self‘ and the whole world around. For a man of action there is much to do in the world. In spite of our boast of progress, disease and poverty still continue to exist in our society. We have not yet discovered a satisfactory method of setting international disputes, which flare up into wars.