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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

A good philosophy makes life worthwhile | Blog - TOI Edit Page

Extract from ‘A Time For All Things’ published by Speaking Tiger.

Photo: Ruskin Bond
"The other day, when I was with a group of students, a bright young thing asked me, ‘Sir, what is your philosophy of life?’" according to Ruskin Bond, India's most loved children's writer. 

She had me stumped.

Photo: Times of India (blog)
There I was, a seventy-five-year-old, still writing, and still functioning physically and mentally (or so I believed), but quite helpless when it came to formulating ‘a philosophy of life’.

How dare I reach the venerable age of seventy-five without a philosophy; without anything resembling a religious outlook; without arming myself with a battery of great thoughts with which to impress my young interlocutor, who is obviously in need of a little practical if not spiritual guidance to help her navigate the shoals of life?

This morning I was pondering on this absence of a philosophy or religious outlook in my make-up, and feeling a little low because it was cloudy and dark outside, and gloomy weather always seems to dampen my spirits. Then the clouds broke up and the sun came out, large, yellow splashes of sunshine in my room and upon my desk, and almost immediately I felt an uplift of spirit.  And at the same time I realised that no philosophy would be of any use to a person so susceptible to changes in light and shade, sunshine and shadow.  I was a pagan, pure and simple; a sensualist; sensitive to touch and colour and fragrance and odour and sounds of every description; a creature of instinct, of spontaneous attractions, given to illogical fancies and attachments. As a guide, philosopher and friend I am of no use to anyone, least of all to myself.

I think the best advice I ever had was contained in these lines from Shakespeare which my father had copied into one of my notebooks when I was nine years old:

This above all, to thine own self be true,

And it must follow as the night of the day,

Thou can’st not then be false to any man.

Each one of us is a mass of imperfections, and to be able to recognise and live with our imperfections, our basic natures, defects of genes and birth – hereditary flaws – makes for an easier transit on life’s journey …
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Source: Times of India (blog)