Comparison is the basic nature of human beings. We compare our jobs, our houses, furniture, dresses and even makeup with other people. This attitude has become so prevalent that it is governing the life of most of us these days. I have seen people doing two jobs, couples fighting with each other, parents not finding the time to see their children sometimes for almost a week just to nourish the habit of comparison.
But the point worth pondering over is – Is comparison a bad thing? No! When I look at someone well-balanced in their life, I compare myself to them and immediately realize my shortcomings and work harder. When we compare ourselves with accomplished people who care more for their inner selves than outer selves, we realize that comparison leads us into becoming better individuals and we uplift ourselves in the process. The conclusion then, is that comparison is okay as long as we are careful about what we are comparing – the object of our comparison.
Being human beings, we always compare ourselves with other human beings. We never compare ourselves with animals because it is registered in our mind that we are superior to them. When someone compares another person to a dog or a donkey or an owl, it is considered to be mockery. But if we think rationally, we will realize an amazing fact and that is – our present scenario leaves us ineligible and incapable to compare ourselves even with animals.
A cat won’t eat after its stomach is full but we can’t resist when we see an attractive dessert, irrespective of how much we ate for our dinner. Birds get up early in the morning whether it is the weekend or snow day. They have a specific mating season during the year but we are too weak to impose any kind of discipline on ourselves. Animals give freedom to their offsprings once they become capable but we – out of more than necessary attachment – continue to give our children unwanted advice and suggestions even when they’re capable of making their own decisions and do not require our interference. Animals have a tendency to work hard while we do not miss any opportunity of shirking work and lazing around.
Despite such regulation in their lifestyles, animals are considered inferior than human beings because of certain characteristics that are typical of them. For example a dog is always full of jealousy. It cannot see another dog with a bone. A wolf is always full of anger. Its growls are used as scary examples in children’s picture books. A vulture is greedy. It wants to consume all of its prey only by itself and does not let another friend share it. A crow is always running after physical pleasure and we are all aware that an owl loves darkness instead of light. Sometimes hunters rely on these traits of the animals to catch them. For example, they tie a female elephant with a tree and dig a trench a few yards away from her knowing that the male counterpart will come to visit soon enough. Not long after, the male is caught approaching but the positioning of the trench makes him a prey to the trap. The hunters extract the ivory tusk, leaving the unfortunate animal to succumb to death. One simple shortcoming – physical desire – becomes a cause for destruction.
It is surprising but true that while all the animals mentioned above are known for these typical shortcomings, human beings are subject to not one but all of these. Deep down inside us, there are all the undesirable elements of jealousy, anger, greed, physical pleasure and unhealthy attachment. In comparison, does that not make us even worse than any of these animals?
Let us exercise wisdom in using our ability to compare. If used appropriately, it can become a key tool to make our life better and more convenient. We need to justify ourselves in the capacity of human beings first keeping in mind that we were meant to be the most superior creatures in terms of our qualities and habits. Then move on to making comparisons with those people who lead unpretentious, peaceful lives and work on their inner upliftment. The values to compare are discipline, honesty, generosity, truthfulness and spirituality. And in this world of competition, worry your head off and make haste to run ahead of others if you find yourselves lacking in any of these precious things!
Ulookayaatum shushulookayaatum jahi shvayaatumut kokayaatum
Suparnayaatumut gridhrayaatum drishadev pra mrina raksha indra!
- AtharvaVed (8.4.22)
- Rig Ved (7.104.22)