New Year's Resolution

An address given by Paramahamsa Niranjanananda to residents of Ganga Darshan on New Years Eve 1994

I know not what kind of resolution you have made this year and know not how much of it you will be able to fulfil. Every year we make resolutions and after a few days they fizzle out and then we say, "Okay, I'll wait for next year". Like that, time passes very quickly and we change many calendars in our life.

The sankalpa or resolution which we make during the New Year period generally reflects our state of mind, our aspirations and ambitions, and whatever reflects our aspirations and ambitions, drives, motivations and desires is bound to end at some point. The growth of the human mind and consciousness should be a continuous process. A sankalpa should cover one's entire life. The best sankalpa is to improve oneself rather than to improve the world.

Sometimes there seems to be a contradiction in our approach to life. We recognise that once we change, the world will change. We recognise it intellectually, but practically it is the opposite. We do not want to change until and unless the other person with whom we live changes. Does it not happen that way? Many times husband and wife think, "Why should I change?" The other person has to change! This is a reflection of that mentality which thinks, "I am doing something and society says something else. Why should I change? I am right and society has to change and accept me!''. In this conflict, nobody reaches anywhere, so there is a very big difference between our thoughts and our actions. Effort definitely has to be made to change oneself and not the world.

Trying to change what happens in the future is another matter, but in order to change yourself, you have to re-educate yourself, and this process of re-education is a lifelong process. In this average lifespan of ours of seventy-five to eighty years, what do I really wish to gain and give to the world which has given me so many opportunities to develop?

When you renounce you do not renounce the world. You do not renounce society. If you think you renounce society, if you think you renounce the world by adopting a different lifestyle or by becoming a sannyasin or recluse then that is devoid of reality, and in course of time you will have to accept that it is the world which has given you the opportunities to live, to educate yourself, to be what you are today.

So, your first debt is to the world and not to yourself, you come much later. What can you contribute in the span of your life to the well being of the world which has given you so many opportunities to become what you are? What is your personal life long aim?

For those people who have taken sannyas or who are living like sannyasins, the life long aim may be to experience sannyas. That's all right, but even in this there has to be an awareness, a consideration of how constructively and creatively you can contribute to the well being of the world. It is in this context that you have to re-educate yourself. You have to clarify and define your priorities and habits - 'I want to change my habit'. Well, that is your personal aim. 'I want to experience this, attain this, become this' - that is also your personal aim.

What you can give should be a universal aim by which people can be benefited, by which you can get satisfaction and contentment, by which you will contribute to the well being of the world. That should be the sankalpa of the New Year.