By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
September 10, 2018
Happiness is produced from within, and is unrelated to and not derivable from external matters. It is traceable, rather, to the human mind. How is that so? Just as our body requires physical exercise to keep it healthy, so also does happiness depend upon one’s state of mind, which can be termed as ‘intellectual exercise’. Those who spend their time in some form of intellectual exercise will be happy. This is testified to by the rarity of unhappiness among members of the scientific community. This is because science involves constant intellectual pursuit. Every scientist, with a great sense of commitment, is continuously preoccupied with some form of intellectual endeavour.
What is intellectual exercise? It is to have regular, meaningful thought processes, and to live out one’s life as a mature, thinking person. It is such intellectual activity that provides food for the mind. Those who do not engage in intellectual activity generally become victims of sadness or depression. They may have a sense of material well-being, but their lack of intellectual pursuits ultimately causes them to feel downhearted.
Recently, i pondered at length on the religious concept that it is only those who measure up to a certain criterion who will be rewarded with entry into eternal paradise. I reflected that such individuals should have some deed or activity to their credit that is commensurate with being settled in an eternally perfect abode. What should be the nature of that deed? I have come to the conclusion that it is to continuously live in the pursuit of intellectual goals. Wealth, luxury and physical leisure are not achievements that will take one to paradise. It is rather the exercise of the mind – a relentless engagement in an intellectual quest – that will make one deserving of paradise.
Such exercise leads to intellectual achievement, which in turn nourishes the mind. There should be ‘food for happiness’. If you are leading a dull life, it means you are not receiving this food to make you happy. One’s mind should have such a target, the achievement of which is a continuous and unending process. This is true of science.
Scientists do not consider their pursuit of knowledge as being complete at any particular point in time. Indeed, their pursuit is never-ending. An intellectual involvement of such a nature gives constant nourishment to the mind and a mind so nourished is never a prey to boredom. To be really happy, you must have a goal that constantly engages your mind in intellectual activity.
Take my own example. I do not remain sad. This is because the object of my thought processes is God. I constantly think about God, which, as a subject, is limitless and unending. This is what causes my ruminations to go on, perpetually. There is no other method of finding happiness except in continuous intellectual engagement.
This principle does not, however, hold true in the case of material things. For example, if you eat delicious food, you may initially enjoy eating it but, in a few days, you will be bored with it. Material food, however exquisite it may be, can never give you the feeling of newness every time you have it. A point will come when you will tire of it and totally lose interest in it. Material food has its limits. Intellectual food, on the contrary, is so meaningful and so limitless that one can delve into it and unceasingly receive nourishment from it.