ARMAAN JHANGIANI writes – Societies with law and order, power and stability, and virtues of morality and love have always been epitomized as the peak of human community and self-restraint. While the beginnings of America would encapsulate this, the industrial rise following America’s success in World War II would introduce different means of health and stability, inevitably modernizing America along with most of the connected world.
Forms of modernization appear in technology and healthcare. As a result, science and empirically gained knowledge have been used to improve traditional forms of healing and living to the highest standard of modern society. While the resulting outcomes have been exceptional, increasing life expectancy and our understanding of the physical body, many underlying illnesses still prevail. The quick and fast-acting mentality of modern productivity, though, highlights only short-term benefits, leaving many of the long-term effects for later dealing – until now.
Western and Eastern cultures, specifically in the Old World, vary in their approaches involving health and activity. A long and still-standing idea of the Eastern world is the awareness of one’s “self-health,” specifically the three foundational columns of overall wellness: Mental, Physical, and Spiritual Health. While different Asian cultures used different names and methods to express this trinity of ideas, they fundamentally remained the same.
Such concepts are not entirely foreign to the Western world either, with Plato famously stating that “Human behavior flows from three main sources: Desire, Emotion, and Knowledge.” This can be categorized into the Greek terms: Epithumia, Thumos, and Nous. Epithumia relates to the desires and “appetite” of the physical body, Thumos describes the passion and “will” of the self or soul, and finally, Nous refers to the intellect and mind’s ability to reason. Plato had a theory, specifically the ‘Chariot Allegory,‘ that encapsulated the three terms as parts of a chariot – the intellect pulled by the horses of their wills and desires. Only when aligning one’s horses’ interests can one pursue a higher and more stable life.
Much more can be said about Plato and his Allegory, but I hope to address an issue among Americans that arises today: The loss of individuality that has spread since the media has taken such an influential role in our society. Mediatization has largely formed the thought processes of those still listening to it as trusted followers and consumers, taking what is discussed online as their own opinions and beliefs. Current studies show more than 80% of Americans get their news from digital devices, while +50% of TikTok, Snapchat, and Reddit users are regulars when it comes to consuming the news. This is dangerous not only to democracy but to the individuals themselves.
An important process of life is facing and dealing with many of the problems and challenges thrown our way. Without individual struggle and overcoming, one may never know their ultimate potential. Facing an overwhelming media, people have started to accept other icons and influencers, issues and problems, and forms of entertainment as their life, subconsciously stopping the pursuit of a worthy life.
As a youth living in America, I would soon realize the path of consumerism leads nowhere but to regret and misery, as no real progress is ever gained. The quick and fast styles of social media, like TikToks and Reels, have been attacking our attention spans, requiring us to have a “daily fix” of content. Otherwise, we lack focus on our tasks. This lack of self-control and passion led me astray, as the instant gratification of doom-scrolling kept me formed by the society around me into something that I knew I was not.
And so, I turned toward my cultural background of India, reading and learning what it means to be human and trying to make the most of our time on Earth. The switch was not easy, nor was it quick and simple. Much of what I knew had to be relearned.
Upon reading primarily Indian writings and teachings, I would soon branch out to other Asian countries like Japan, Persia, Nepal, and China, each with their methodologies and ideas. Instead of staying ignorant, I opened my eyes to the wisdom other cultures had to offer, soon finding our experiences are all the same, only differing in action. Much of the wisdom gained from Japan would be the importance of a strong mind, adopting personal philosophies that would keep me from back-sliding, staying true to the path as well as those who show love around me. Nepal would enlighten me on the origins of spirituality, with the tale of the Buddha and his findings on the human experience, metaphysical and all. Finally, India would show me the importance of bodily control with Yoga, not just limited to strength and physical shape but the importance of flexibility and self-discipline.
Attempting these teachings, I found myself living a different life. I was more committed to shaping my body, rearing perfection out of the vehicle I was bonded to. I stopped worrying and participating in social drama and gossip, as the never-ending stress would cloud my thoughts, draining my energy and time. Additionally, I started eating better, learning the nutrition that humans must receive, thereby rejecting the processed and quick-thrill snacks I was so familiar with from my childhood. While not extraordinary, these changes significantly changed how I saw life and transformed my actions in the present. In addition, finding others who shared the same drives and motivations helped me further understand the mountain we —and they—have chosen to climb.
Over the next few weeks, I hope to share my experiences involving each culture and its interpretations, offering wisdom and advice to fit both our younger generation and those that wish to seek more personal purpose. Self-development, while important, requires the individual to embark on this journey, committed to the idea, free of external judgment and comparison.
With our society structured so heavily on connectedness, we often give the external too much energy, leaving inadequate amounts for our internal selves. While I have much to learn on my path, an individual’s healing is no match for the recovery of the community, as our collective light glows brighter. Our Trinity of Selves, when prioritized, will result in more focused and personal strength, increasing one’s energy and mental awareness. Please join me in opening our eyes to the hidden nature of humans, evolving as we were meant to from birth, rather than according to the dictates of modern times.