Thursday, 17 January 2013

Comfort and luxury


All concepts are relative. So are the concepts of comfort and luxury. Concepts related to many phenomena exist because it has a counterpart. Day exists because there is night. White is white because of black. But the concept of comforts and luxury are related to individuals.

What is comfort to one person may be luxury to another. What is luxury to one individual may be just comfort to another. A sick person needs some additions to his daily life. He may need better atmosphere. A typical bed which is more costly and considered a luxury to an ordinary man may be a comfort to the sick person.

When we judge comfort and luxury on the basis of wealth, the definition varies.
Comforts of rich man may be luxury to a poor man. Comforts in a rich country is luxury in an under developed country. Comforts to a religious group may be luxury to another group. Comfort in a concept maintained by a social group may be luxury in another concept.

So no external agencies, religious groups, social groups, nations can define comfort and luxury for another individual or group or society.
A definition for comfort and luxury is personal. Let each individual or social group define what is comfort and luxury for them.
Definitions should not be made for justifying ourselves. Definitions are formed to sustain values. A definition of comfort formed by an individual or social group must sustain a value system.

Many great men advocate simple life. What is simple life? Mahatma Gandhiji, one of the great men the world produced, did not use a shirt. He used a dothi and covered the upper part of his body with a shawl. He travelled with common people in the III class compartment of trains. He practiced non-violence. His charisma, not weapons, brought an end to the British Empire in India. His presence stopped civil wars. His half naked body silenced British guns. He led a simple life.

What does that mean? Does it mean that all those who like to lead a simple life should give up shirts? Certainly not. One of his followers, Martin Luther King used to wear suit. There are many others who are influenced by Gandhiji’s teachings and life. They have not thrown away their shirts.

His dress was an externalization of Gandhiji’s state of mind. It spoke volumes on his attitude towards this world and wealth. He chose a way of life that identified himself with the poor Indians of the time. His definition for simplicity was personal. It definitely, sustained a value system of the nation.

A value system is not related to the materials we use. It is a spiritual system that the personality of a person sustains. Person and personality are two separate beings. One is contained in another. The container and the content is not a permanent situation. Person may contain and hid the personality at times. The personality overshadows the person in great men’s life.

A value system has nothing to do with the external materials we use. But everything we carry along our life bears a mark of our personality. A motor car is not always a luxury. Even Gandhiji can live today a simple life travelling in a motor car. Today’s hermits use speedy transport systems, sit on comfort cushions, eats better food. I do not find any reason to blame them for luxury because of all these.

Old age demands more additions to life. I agree with Charles lamb that they are sorry compensations for the lost youth and vigor. These additions are not luxury. We cannot walk in old age the distance we walked in our young age. We need better living conditions.

Physical possessions do not always change the sustained value system. Value systems are ingrained vision of life. How we look at life formulate the value system. Definitions of comfort and luxury are made based on the value system we maintain.

Craving should not change values. Rather values should control craving.
Luxury is comfort that goes out of a value system.

All these thoughts lead me to another subject: “A meaningful sacrifice”. Let us discuss it later.

Further reading:
Everything is relative 
Meaningful self sacrifice

Prof. Jacob Abraham

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