Most of us place great value on being occupied, finding meaning and attaining fulfilment in our everyday existence. We believe that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop and we are very concerned about engaging ourselves in something productive at every moment. There is widespread belief that keeping busy and achieving success in life would magically solve all our problems. Interestingly, statistics seem to point in the opposite direction. A study published in the University of Cincinnati Law Review suggests that CEOs are at twice the risk of developing depression as compared to the general population. Another comprehensive review of literature published in the Journal of Affective Disorders elucidates that people living in developed and wealthy countries have a greater risk of suffering from mood disorders than those living in developing nations. The famous case of fireman Robert O’Donnell who rescued a little girl from an inaccessible underground shaft in Texas, sums it up. The rescue operation became one of the top-rated events in the history of world television. There were several interviews, a valedictory parade, invitations for reality shows, a letter from the President, a meeting with the Vice President and a movie to acknowledge the brave efforts of the firefighter. No wonder, Robert got addicted to fame and when the cameras moved away, his world collapsed. He found it hard to get back to normal life; he became severely depressed and finally committed suicide. It is time we acknowledge that the existing paradigm of becoming more and more productive and chasing success and fame is making us lonely, fearful and miserable. We need to make a fundamental change in our approach to life. The ancient Chinese text Tao Te Ching teaches us the value of emptiness – when we look at a pot, we usually pay attention to its shape, colour and design. But there is something more important in the pot that our eyes cannot see, and our hands cannot feel – the emptiness inside the pot. It is this emptiness that makes the pot useful and gives it deeper meaning; else it is nothing more than a mass of clay. Modern science has discovered that our universe consists of not just the observable galaxies, stars and planets but also a huge empty space which is bigger than everything else put together. It is postulated that this empty space possesses a mysterious energy which causes our universe to continue expanding at an accelerated pace. Have we gone wrong in not paying attention to the emptiness in the cosmos and within us?
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