Human Excellence

Jul 28, 2015

Throughout history the spirit of human excellence has been exemplified by men and women from all walks of life.  Excellence is a word that we use in our daily life to express our highest appreciation for any human accomplishment that exceeds our expectation. It is almost, always, associated with a skill, performance, achievement, act of humanism and even for the common things—food, recreation weather that we relish in our daily life.  From a holistic perspective, human excellence goes beyond skills, talents, personal and social preferences.  It is the ability to direct the power of   physical, mental and spiritual energies within us and put it to the best use in everything we do. Excellence is the highest development that a human being can aspire for and seek in his or her lifetime. It represents the harmony of all human energy.   The primary motivating factor for human excellence is an unshakable resolve that nothing is beyond our reach and always do more than what is expected of us under any circumstance and regardless of the outcome.  In the words of Mark Twain “if you think you can, you can, if you think you cannot, you are right.”  

Life presents us several opportunities to learn from, and to pursue our ambitions and goal(s). Human life is the greatest gift given to us by Mother Nature and how we use it is our gift back to her.   Knowledge and skill alone are not enough to achieve our purpose in life. They should be complemented by faith in our self and conviction that what we are doing has a Divine purpose and is good for us and the world. The external environment and circumstances may differ from person to person but the internal resolve and unshakable faith in our inner potential are the bedrock of human excellence. These two powerful forces working inside us combined with persistence, patience, personal integrity, compassion, benevolence, and humility   ensure the pathway to excellence. We find these traits in the great personalities.  Their motto in life is “not what they should do but what they ought to do” without the least concern for the worldly thralldom.  The Bhagwad Gita describes such a personality as “from whom the world is not agitated and who cannot be agitated by the world”.

Our human history is full of examples of people of great convictions. Behind every great work we find that there is the tremendous power of conviction.  The world is shaped and moved by men and women of conviction of all types--- political, scientific, social and spiritual. All have wonderful world moving powers. They are indisputable powers no doubt but without the spiritual dimension human excellence is elusive and   an unfinished symphony.   The scope of human excellence and possibilities are not only broad and related to our external wellbeing but also deep.    The spiritual dimension of the human personality brings out the infinite man in the finite man and the immortal man behind the mortal man that is revealed by sensory cognition.  Deep within us lays this hidden strength.  The expression “faith can move mountains” relies on this strength. Swami Vivekananda exemplified in his life that the confluence of the external and internal powers of the human being, the power to act and the power to be, the power to reason and the power to worship constitute true human excellence.   What you are is equally important as what you do.  It is not whom we think we are, nor what others think we are but “what we are” that matters when it comes to excellence.  Once we develop this mind set it is a quality that gets ingrained in our personality and finds expression in every act no matter how small or trivial it may appear on the surface.  Our experience has taught us that even small acts of kindness, courtesies, benevolence gives us the impetus to bring out the best in us.  Very often we hear of common people do extraordinary acts without any desire for return or reward.  Here is an example of excellence for excellence sake:

A tourist once visited a temple under construction where he saw a sculptor making an icon of God. Suddenly he noticed a similar idol lying nearby.  Surprised, he asked the sculptor. “Do you need two statues of the same idol?” “No” said the sculptor without looking up. “We need only one, but the other one got damaged at the last stage.” The gentleman examined the idol and found no apparent damage.  “Where is the damage?” he asked.  “There is a scratch on the nose of the idol.” said the sculptor, still busy with his work.  “Where are you going to install the idol?” was the next question to him. The sculptor replied on a pillar twenty feet high. If the idol is that far, who is going to know there is a scratch on the nose?” the gentleman asked. The sculptor stopped his work, looked up at the gentleman, smiled and said “I will know it”. The desire to excel is a drive from inside, not outside.  It is exclusive of the fact whether someone else appreciates it or not.  It is not an exceptional act but a habit.  It is caring more than what others think is wise; risking more than other think is safe; dream more than other think is practical; expect more than other think is possible.

- Dr. Radha Krishnan