Love in Everyday Living

Debangshu Chaudhury

The Call Beyond
15 Mar 2020

Love must not cease to live upon the earth; For Love is the bright link twixt earth and heaven, Love is the far Transcendent’s angel here; Love is man’s lien on the Absolute. Sri Aurobindo (Savitri, Book 10, Canto 3, p. 633)

Apart from the almost unreal orderliness that marks the city of Singapore, there was another thing that took me by surprise – the number of strangers who would smile at you. On the roads, at the markets, in public transportations – if you had an eye contact with anyone, you could extend it with a smile. A gesture as simple as an unsolicited smile is very powerful. It has the strength to turn an ordinary day into a memorable one. It can calm a person down in one instant. It has the ability to momentarily evaporate tension. Smile brings in peace. It creates a bonding, a kind of trust between people. A smile has the ability to create an unspoken connection that could have lasting effects. Even after so many years, I can quite clearly remember the faces that extended courtesy to me with a smile. There were no reasons or purposes behind that action. I thought it be one of the most beautiful gestures requiring negligible effort. Smiling at someone not known to you. What a magnificent bridge between two souls!

In this regard, the Indian middle-class value system has often posed a slightly different opinion. Smiling at strangers is not taken as a friendly or even a sweet gesture. As children, we are in fact, taught to not smile at people unknown to us. It may send out wrong signals, we have often been told. While I am not going to deny or even negate this possibility, I unabashedly believe that smiling at a stranger may be the easiest and the quickest way to spread goodness. A smile or a simple friendly nod at people unknown to us, I believe, has the power to reaffirm our faith in humanity and provide us with a great deal of hope. Of the foremost and basic expressions of love, one is just a smile. ++

Love brings about equilibrium. In our household, one of the simple yet effective ways of achieving this equilibrium lies in being just a little more empathetic in dealing with our domestic helpers. As radical as it would seem, this idea I feel is worth a thought – surprising your helper occasionally by cooking and having a meal with, or even partnering him/her on the chores. A gesture of this kind may sound ludicrous. But if practiced, I believe, it could well become a solid foundation for a trusting and a deep bond between two persons that could help both become better human beings. In this case, love extends itself into empathy. And empathy creates better understanding and equilibrium between two people who interact practically everyday. That in turn, creates smoother interactions and lesser friction, thereby enabling a better day-to-day functioning of the household. Wherever there arises better understanding, people often go out of their ways and bend their backs for each other, creating a more harmonious environment. Good behavior, I believe, can spark off a chain reaction of sorts; what you receive is what you give. Empathy is sure to arouse empathy. If this kind of love extends to our interactions in offices, where one is just a little bit more considerate of one’s colleagues, specially subordinates, work related stress can get reduced, far greater coordination and understanding between the employees can be attained, thereby enabling greater output and a friendlier work environment.

Jostling for space creates stress. An area where an average person faces stress of extreme high levels is the road. If road behavior were to be treated as one of the benchmarks of civility, we Indians wouldn’t really be right up at the top. Having said that, I do see an opportunity here in making a positive change with a little bit of love. In this case, love would extend to courtesy, by ‘giving way to others.’ A little smile, better behavior, just a little consideration for a fellow road-user as we cross our paths, I believe, can go a long way in diminishing this stress. It may take practice but if we do inculcate a few changes in ourselves, I believe traffic stress can be tackled. Let us indulge in love on the road! Let us be considerate towards our fellow road-users. This is bound to make all of us respect the traffic rules just a little bit more. As we follow rules, there will form a better sense of discipline on the roads. Better discipline would result in lesser stress. And lesser traffic stress would definitely mean better traffic management. In turn, better traffic management would lead to reduction in cases of rage, accidents and casualties.

Essentially speaking, if we are able to add just a dash of love in our everyday interactions, it can be quite an accomplishment. Being polite and respectful is an empowering habit. Love usually works where most of the other methods have failed. A little bit of love can make big changes. And a little bit of love costs almost nothing. Repercussions of love can raise hopes and make the act of living stress-free to quite an extent. Love in everyday life is a choice that we make. And let this love reach out not only to our fellow humans but also to the animals and plants in the form of compassion. Let us be gentle as we observe nature more closely. Let us find time to soak in a sunrise, the chirping of birds, change in weather, a new leaf or a flower, newborn stray pups in our locality. Let us be loud and clear with our thanking to the local colony guard, to the parking attendant, to the sales boy at the mall, to the taxi driver, to the car cleaner, to the delivery boy. This kind of love is sure to benefit one and all in our society. If we give this love a good deal of practice in our day-to-day lives, we are bound to find ourselves in a far greater harmony within our community. The only way to rekindle the romance in living that may have gotten lost in the hustle bustle of the city life is to be able to give and receive Love in our everyday living.

Thus shall the earth open to divinity And common natures feel the wide uplift, Illumine common acts with the Spirit’s ray And meet the deity in common things. Sri Aurobindo (Savitri, Book 11, Canto 1, pp. 710-711)

By quoting the example of Singaporeans, I do not mean to put one type of society on a higher platform of civility than the other. And many would argue that an orderly society is a product of state-imposed discipline. Be that as it may, what I wish to emphasize is that an orderly situation is surely more desirable than a chaotic one. There’s harmony in it. In orderliness greater number of people have the opportunity to flourish. At the same time, I would not say that orderliness is a direct byproduct of love. But I can safely say that by extending love to chaotic and crowded scenarios, the chance of gaining order becomes greater. And this becomes beneficial for one and all.

Harmony is one phase of the law whose spiritual expression is love. - James Allen

Debangshu Chaudhury, an alumnus of The Mother’s International School, did the Course on Teaching Yoga in the Ashram in 2019. This article was submitted by him as an assignment to meet one of the requirements of the course