Author Topic: The Sound of a Different Drum - 2  (Read 1196 times)


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The Sound of a Different Drum - 2
« on: May 14, 2009, 12:55:10 PM »
W.E. Channing who was a close friend of Thoreau and his
first biographer, commented after his death that, "No man
had a better unfinished life."  For what are we to make of
a man with great talents who apparently loafed his way through
life?  One of the most memorable statements of Thoreau concerned this very issue, "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because, he hears a different drummer. Let his step to the music which he hears, however
measured or far away."  [Thoreau's Walden].

Here was a person who in the face of social and peer pressure
resolutely 'listened to his inner call' and fulfilled his 'swadharma',
not as someone who visibly accomplished something in the world, but one who walked on the woods and observed the beauty and precision of nature.  "I went to the woords because
I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of
life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not,
when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."  His insights
and lucid descriptions have inspired generations of writers too numerous to list here.

Thoreau's example challenges us to ask what then does it mean
to lead a fulfilled life in which all one's virtues and skills are
exercised to the limit of human possibility?  Is it in the accumulation of wealth, social power and respect by one's peers?  Is it in doing good deeds and helping the less fortunate?

So the question here is why so much as how.  How can we lead
a simpler life in this day and age with its superfluity of impressions, desires and fears brutally shoved into our faces
by inane electronic equipments in our homes as well as at work?
We do have a choice and it is not necessarily a radical one of
renouncing the world and living in association with an ashram or similar institution.  Our daily life is composed of small choices
over which we have some degree of control.

We do have choice whether or not to switch on a television,
we have a choice and can say no when offered the latest gadget which will make us the envy of our friends.  Even in situations,
where we have no manoeuvre, we still have a choice whether
to indulge in despair or anger, or remain calm.

(Source: As indicated in Part 1)

Arunachala Siva.