However long or short, the essence of our lives can be captured by a set of three progress curves plotted over a scale of time. The three parameters needed are Physical, Psychological and Spiritual, and the time scale spans over our lifetimes. For staunch believers in re-births, the time scale can be interrupted periodically, but only to start all over again except perhaps for the spiritual curve. All the aspects of an entity, animate or inanimate, can be categorized under one of the three basic parameters and its progress can be plotted over a lifetime (or repeated lifetimes). While we know for sure that Man undergoes physical, psychological and spiritual progress over a lifetime, we are not sure about the case of other animates and inanimate objects. Whatever be the tall claims of some religionists about the superiority of Man, human knowledge is awfully inconclusive about the inferiority of others. We cannot rule out a spiritual life for animals even though we may not have come across any saintly cats or dogs. But it is still a possibility wide open.
Our physical growth starts the moment we are conceived. But for a few whose growth gets stunted for various reasons the physical growth continues till full maturity is attained. While a normal human grows physically only till the age of 25 or 30, there are other animates that grow till death. Physical growth of inanimate objects is unpredictable; they may or may not grow and might arbitrarily undergo deterioration and growth during their lifetimes. Man grows bigger during the growing period and plateaus for some time. And those who are fortunate (or unfortunate) to live much longer undergo a steady decline too. It is not difficult for those who have seen very old people to conclude that we might even return to the size of young boys and girls if we can live beyond 120s and 140s. Size and strength of all our organs follow a similar pattern with regard to age. It is easy to plot our physical growth – a period of steady growth, a plateau and then a period of decline and deterioration. The curve can drop to zero at any time abruptly for no particular reason.
Psychological growth refers to development of brain and mind. While physical development of brain can be covered under the physical parameter the intangible aspect is more important. It can be categorized along with the other equally important factor namely mind. We know for sure that the size of brain has nothing much to do with one’s intelligence. The simple fact that Einstein and Russell (in contemporary times) had smaller sized brains than most of us proves this point beyond any doubt. And another point to note is the clear disconnect between intelligence and mind. All intelligent creatures need not have imaginative minds. Mind is like paper on which we can write, brain our ability to write and intelligence the tool we write with. Better brains indicate better pens that can write better things. The psychological growth curve of most of us follows a steady upward slope throughout our lifetimes. It should be so unless of course there is a physical or psychological breakdown in between. Barring adverse medical conditions, older brains and older minds have always been found to be psychologically more vibrant and productive.
The spiritual aspect of anything is that which triggers its search for a meaning. There is an element of divinity at birth in each one of us and hence our spiritual curves always start at a non-zero positive value. But our real spiritual quest can start only after the physical and psychological curves have covered some ground. In simpler words, we start our search for a meaning in life only after adolescence. There are rare exceptions to this general rule like Sai Baba and Mata Amritanandamayi, but any spiritual curve for ordinary folks will have meaning only after the faculties for spiritual exploration are fully developed. Most of the Sunday classes and similar attempts to force children to learn about God are utterly useless. The spiritual curve takes off late but it can be believed to continue even after death. For life after life the same spiritual curve can continue until its soul owner realizes the ultimate truth in its entirety. Followers of different faiths can have different spiritual curves depending upon their beliefs about after life.
The attempt here to simplify a complex phenomenon as our lives to the limited contours of three curves may look ridiculous. But if you accept it for a moment and start putting together a picture for your own life till date the idea will definitely look more meaningful. Segregation of all aspects of our life under the three basic parameters and trying to plot a curve each for the progress of physical, psychological and spiritual self will certainly force us to take stock of our own lives. Such an interim review can open up our eyes and lead us to higher rates of evolution in the two vital aspects viz. psychological and spiritual. It is definitely worth a try.