Today's Beautiful Gem: `Mortal Man and Immortal Thoughts' by Jawaharlal Nehru.

"It is not through sentimentality and emotional approaches that we can understand life, but by a frank and courageous facing of realities. We cannot lose ourselves in aimless and romantic quests unconnected with life's problems, for destiny marches on and does not wait for our leisure. Nor can we concern ourselves with externals only, forgetting the significance of the inner life of man. There has to be a balance, an attempt at harmony between them. `The greatest good,' wrote Spinoza in the seventeenth century, `is the knowledge of the union which the mind has with the whole of nature.... The more the mind knows, the better it understands its forces and the order of nature; the more it understands its forces or strength, the better it will be able to direct itself and lay down rules for itself; and the more it understands the order of nature, the more easily it will be able to liberate itself from useless things; this is the whole method'.

"In our individual lives also we have to discover a balance between the body and the spirit, and between man as part of nature and man as part of society. `For our perfection,' says Tagore, `we have to be vitally savage and mentally civilised; we should have the gift to be natural with nature and human with human society.' Perfection is beyond us for it means the end, and we are always journeying, trying to approach something that is ever receding. And in each one of us many different human beings with their inconsistencies and contradictions, each pulling in a different direction. There is the love of life and the disgust with life, and the acceptance of all that life involves and the rejection of much of it. It is difficult to harmonise these contrary tendencies, and sometimes one of them is dominant and sometimes another. `Oftentimes,' says Lao Tzu:
`Oftentimes, one strips oneself of passion
In order to see the Secret of Life;
Oftentimes, one regards life with passion,
In order to see its manifold results.'

"For all our powers of reason and understanding and all our accumulated knowledge and experience, we know little enough about life's secrets, and can only guess at its mysterious processes. But we can always admire its beauty and, through art, excersise the god-like function of creation. Though we may be weak and erring mortals, living a brief and uncertain span of life, yet there is something of the stuff of the immortal gods in us. `We must not, therefore,' says Aristotle, `obey those who urge us, because we are human and mortal, to think human and mortal thoughts; in so far as we may we should practise immortality, and omit no effort to live in accordance with the best that is in us.'"

Om s'aantih: Peace! - J. K. Mohana Rao