Of Long Life and Other Tall Tales

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page -

Most eastern philoso­phies, on the whole, speak of and ad­vo­cate a pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with the in­ner life as a means of tran­scend­ing the con­fines of the phys­i­cal realm. Not quite Psy­cho­log­i­cal Sci­ence. New re­search pub­lished in this pre­sum­ably au­gust jour­nal says hav­ing a pur­pose in life can add years to one’s life, whilst gen­er­ally whiling away the time, à la an aim­less, leisurely stroll through a park means you will kick the prover­bial bucket rather quickly. The re­search “proves” that hav­ing a sense of pur­pose, even aim­ing rather high, means a longer life­span across all age cat­e­gories. Which, by def­i­ni­tion, could mean a 90-year-old aim­ing to make it to 110 might ac­tu­ally get there. Now, one isn’t at all hav­ing a go at that sort of sen­ti­ment. It is rather fine and fit­ting and that sort of thing to have am­bi­tion. But, equally, one could pon­der the mer­its or oth­er­wise of a long life ver­sus a some­what shorter one, al­beit lived a wee bit more con­tent­edly. One has the sneaky sus­pi­cion Psy­cho­log­i­cal Sci­ence would not have much time for quite a lot of eastern sages, the Bud­dha in­cluded. All that drift­ing around telling peo­ple about de­sire be­ing the chief cause of suf­fer­ing and what­not. Then again, the Gau­tama might have smiled at this hu­man pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with longer and yet longer life­spans. To live well, or just to live long, one might say, is the ques­tion….

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