The Basic Problems of Life

The Opinion and Attitude of Man towards Life

Keeping this premise in mind let us divert our view from the details to the fundamentals. Man finds himself living on this planet. He possesses a y which is endued with divergent potentialities. A magnificent expanse of earth and sky lies before him. This universe contains an endless variety of things and man has the power to press all those things into his service. Man is surrounded by countless millions of other human beings, animals, plants, minerals and his life is inextricably linked with all these things. Is it possible for you to imagine then that man can adopt a mode of dealing with these things without first forming an opinion about his own self, the nature of things which surround him and the position in which he stands in relation to those things? Is it possible for a person to adopt a way of life without determining: Who am I? What am I? Am I responsible or irresponsible? Am I independent or subordinate to someone? If I stand in a subordinate position who is my superior and if I am responsible, to whom am I accountable? Has my worldly existence any end, and if it has, what is it? Similarly, can a person propose to expend his powers without first deciding the questions: Do these powers belong to him or are a gift endowed by someone else? Is there someone to call him to account for expending his powers? Is the use of his powers to be regulated by himself or by someone else? In the like manner is it possible for a man to adopt a certain behavior towards things which form part of his surrounding without ascertaining: Is he himself their master or someone else? Does he command unlimited power over them or are his powers restricted? If his powers are confined within bounds who does set limits to his powers? Likewise can a man devise a mode of behavior towards his fellow men without first forming a definite opinion as to what are the ideals of humanity? What is the basis of distinction and disparity between man and man? What are the motives forces underlying friendship and animosity, coalescence and discord, cooperation and non-cooperation? Similarly, is it likely that a man can on the whole adopt an attitude towards this universe until he arrives at certain definite conclusions about the nature of the system of this universe and his own position as a part of this system?

On the basis of the premise I have already discussed, it can be stated without hesitation that it is impossible to adopt an attitude without forming an opinion about all these matters. As a matter of fact, every, living man, consciously or sub-consciously, holds certain opinions--nay is constrained to hold certain opinions-about these questions of life; for without this opinion he cannot move even a step in this universe. It is not essential that every man might have deliberated in a philosophical manner upon all these questions and might have arrived at certain conclusions about each and every matter after detailed investigations. Nay, most men have no definite idea apt these questions, nor do they consciously exercise their minds over them. Respite all this, all men do form some sort of a negative or positive opinion about everything and the attitude of every man towards life is inevitably controlled by the opinion he has formed.

The Bases of Individual or Collective Behavior are the same

As this rule holds good in the case of individuals, so it is true in respect of groups as well. These questions lie at the root of human life and unless matters relating to these questions have been clearly determined, it is impossible to frame a program for the body politic and raise an edifice of culture and civilization. The moral code of a society will reflect whatever conclusions would be drawn about these vital questions of life, the concept of morality will be shaped in consonance with them. The various institutions of life will be modeled on the same conclusions, indeed the whole fabric of society will be molded by these conclusions. In point of fact, there can be no two opinions on this matter. The attitude of an individual or a society will be determined by the nature of conclusions arrived at in answer to these questions. If you wish, you may analyze the attitude of an individual or a society and very easily ascertain what conclusions about life's basic questions are the motive forces of the existence of this individual or society. It is definitely impossible that the nature of an individual or collective behavior should be at variance with the nature of conclusions drawn in answer to these questions. Words and actions may disagree but nature of the answer of these questions that dwells in the inner self of a man cannot conflict in any case with the nature of his practical behavior.