Our country as well as the whole world is reeling under the flux of injustice, immorality, jealously, hypocrisy, sycophancy, economic up and down etc. We are much concerned to eradicate such all sorts of problems. But our all endeavours result in vain. Everything is taking place only in black and white while a little is implemented. So our society is still lagging. Each and every problem is lying in one thing only: the crisis of character. If we can tackle this crisis boldly and squarely, all other crisis will gradually be solved without much difficulty. While we’re much worried about all other problems and try to solve them, no serious thinking or no efforts are being made to confront the problem of lack of character. It is the most urgent problem today and all the serious and thinking citizens should devote sufficient time to find out a way how to tackle it.
But unfortunately character appears to many to be something vague and obscure. According to some of us it is something inherent quality of a man and unchangeable. So it is wrongly felt that nothing much can be done to change the character of a person. But it is fact that no attempt to make our society better and bright will ultimately succeed unless we try to build our characters. As a building’s strength depends on the quality of every brick, the character of every citizen affirms the future of the society they are living in.
What is Character :
Truly a character cannot be located directly. But it can be perceived by one’s conducts, speeches or deeds. Our talking, our thinking, our mode of working all are but the totality of our inner nature. Character, as observed by Swami Vivekananda is “an agglomeration of our propensities, it is but the bundle of habits.” Naturally we think or speak or act according to our propensities and habits. Our inner propensities motivate us to think or speak or act in a certain way which already has become our own.
Here is an example of three passersby having different properties. On a side of a road a water tap is open. Someone has used it but forgot to twist its nob. Person A notices it but ignoring the wastage of drinking water he went away. Person B notices it and begins to think whether he should stop it or not, while person C without least thinking goes to the water tap and twists the nob to stop immediately the wastage of natural resource. What we do without thinking is our propensity. The action has become a propensity for the person C but the person B is still trying to make it as a propensity. It is clear that we can change our fashion of thinking, speaking or doing and thus we can change our propensities and habits or our characters.
Habit is not formed in a day. It is formed through repeated actions. For instance, an early riser never can sleep till late morning. Early rising has become his habit as he has been repeatedly doing it. Likewise a kleptomaniac person cannot stay without stealing. Why? He previously engaged himself in stealing other things repeatedly. An action including thinking and speaking is guided by our ideas. Now if we want to form a good character we should be very careful about selecting ideas that generally guide our thoughts and therefore our actions leading to good habits. Habits, when somehow ripe, become our propensities the agglomeration of which is our character. That is why Swami Vivekananda told, “Fill the mind with the highest thoughts, hear them day after day, think them month after month.”
Necessary for Students:
It is much important for all students. Before grabbing any bad habit if they engage in this character building method, they will easily consume it and build a good character and lead a happy life in true sense. Our present educational system never gives the opportunity of character building. Instead it provokes into the carrier-building competition and entices to be a money making machine. Students are the future of a nation. When their minds are tender, it will be easy for them to imbibe many good ideas. So beside carrier-centric education, such education should be implemented by which they become both physically and mentally strong, can gain self-confidence etc.
There is a specific methodical and scientific process for building a good character —
Praying is an important factor for extension of our heart. No other medicine is better than praying to become unselfish and non-violent. A cordial pray brings the feeling for others. After getting up from bed and before going to bed our first and foremost work is to pray for the wellbeing of the entire universe. Say yourself, “I am not different from others. Oh God,bless all the men, women and children and all other living creatures!” Thus we can be able to take the sorrow, misery, hardship of others as our own. We can mingle others’ happiness with us. While describing the power of pray in his famous autobiography ‘Wings of Fire’, our former president APJ Abdul Kalam wrote, ‘My father told me there was nothing mysterious about prayer. Rather, prayer made possible a communion of the spirit between people. “When you pray,” he said, “you transcend your body and become a part of the cosmos, which knows no division of wealth, age, caste or creed.”‘
I have already told that we have to capture good ideas. But superficial acquaintance with ideas will not help to gear up the continuity. Those must be imbibed. For this we ought to invite mental determination. Only regular auto-suggestion can bring this determination. Everyday after prayer our mind must be told, ” I am man not beast. I’m potentially divine. I must acquire good character through continuous practice of truthfulness, purity and perseverance. Because this is the only way to become happy and make others happy. I have infinite power within me. So I must be able to build a good character.”
iii) Mental concentration:
Mental concentration is a big part of life-building. Unless our full control over our restless mind, we can’t proceed a step ahead. When we gain knowledge we have to concentrate on the subject. To stick to our resolution power of mind is necessary. So the practice of mental concentration is urgent for everyone. In the morning and evening the nature remains calm and quiet. These are the proper times for practice. Firstly we should have to put a dot or image which we respect most in front of us and then sit folding our legs like sukhasana or padamasana. This asana will help us to keep the waist, spinal cord and neck straight in a vertical line. The next step is watching the mind. Close the eyes. Now it is the time to follow its running higher and thither. After watching the mind for a minute or two, fix it to that image or dot. But it does not stay there even for a few seconds. So again we have to try to fix it to the image or dot obviously closing our eyes. It will be an interesting game with the mind. Thus gradually the mind will be calm and concentrated.
iv) Physical Exercise:
Some free hand exercises and a few simple ‘yogasana’ is necessary for our health. Without a good health we neither absorb a benevolent idea nor think for others. Even we can’t be able to control over the mind without being fit and healthy.
v) Reading Good Books:
We should develop the habit of studying something which encourages us and gives us true spirit in character building. We can start with the biographies of Swami Vivekananda, Netaji Subhashchandra Bose, Rishi Aurobindo, APJ Abdul Kalam, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Ma Sarada Devi and others and also their inspiring speeches and writings from which we shall certainly find many great ideas that will prevent us from getting involved in immoral, self-centric, self-deceptive thoughts.
These all five methods should not be followed mechanically. Then no progress will be marked. One should practise it heat and soul daily once or twice without failure. An obstinacy that I must make my life good is essential to build one’s character.
Human life is invaluable. It has immense possibility. This possibility may get spoilt if we are not conscious of improving the dormant qualities in us. In fine, I close the essay with a vital speech of Swamiji saying on character:
“Money does not pay, nor name; fame does not pay, nor learning. It is love that pays; it is character that cleaves its way through adamantine walls of difficulties.”