Life and its Purpose
By Swami Sivananda
Have you understood the significance and the glory of human life? Have you realised what a precious gift and veritable divine power this human birth is? Do you not feel that life is meant for the fulfilment of a most sublime purpose?
Truly it is meant for the attainment of a lofty goal, namely divine per fection and perennial peace and bliss. You all know quite well that life is not merely the act of breathing, digesting, eliminating, thinking, feeling, knowing, willing, etc. Life is not meant for eating, seeing, sleeping and dying miserably in the end.
You truly live your life when you strive manfully for working out and driving the mind to spiritual realisation and service of humanity. A little toast, butter and jam, a little stylish clothing, a bungalow and a motor car and a round of cinemas, attendance at parties – these do not really constitute life. This is not the end of the real man who has been ‘made in the image of God.’ Mere sensual life is after all only the life of an animal.
A little toast, butter and jam, a little stylish clothing, a bungalow and a motor car and a round of cinemas, attendance at parties – these do not really constitute life.
Every day you must polish it and make it look divine and be divine. Egoism, desire and sensuality – all this is ignorance; it is deep delusion. Can material comforts elevate the souls of the people? Can gross physical prosperity alone confer upon you solace, courage, peace, joy, immortality and eternal perfection in the spirit? Certainly not. Oh blessed children of immortality!
Reflect yourself over what I say. Think deeply. Discriminate. You will realise the truth about this most transitory pain-filled life on earth. In the dizzy whirlpool of fleeting sensual pleasures and ceaseless seething desires, do not forget the true purpose of life and its real goal. There is no greater blunder than to think, to feel, to mistake the unreal for the real, the transitory for the permanent and to forget the most important duty in life.
What greater folly, what greater tragedy is there than when a man neglects to reach the goal of life? You are helpless when you are a baby, you are helpless when disease overtakes you and when you are seriously ill and you are helpless when powerful calamities like fire, flood, earthquake, cyclone, etc., strike down mankind. You are helpless and you are miserable when you become old and senile. Why then are you so proud and eccentric?
Rise above this delusion and attain your goal through discrimination and dispassion, analysis and enquiry of your real spiritual nature. Enquire ‘Who am I’ and try to realise your essential natural self. Then alone you will transcend your body and mind and realise the Self. Then alone you will be really free and ever blissful. Virtue is the way to peace and light. Righteousness is the real secret of Self-realisation. Purity is the path to perfection. Goodness leads you to godliness.
Strive for ethical perfection. Live a strictly ethical life. Adhere to truth and righteousness, even at the cost of your life. Base your life upon absolute righteousness. Cultivate noble qualities with diligence and care. Be sincere, friend! Actively practise all virtues in right earnest and with real zeal. Become an embodiment of goodness. Think no evil. Speak no evil. See no evil. Do no evil. Be good in thought, speech and action.
Remember the Lord daily and every moment of your lifetime. Pray to him fervently with humility and devotion for purifying your nature and helping to attain the glorious goal of life. Live for God. Boldly face all the difficulties and tribulations of this petty earthly life. Be a man. With courage, struggle for the great attainment. Climbing a mountain, crossing a channel, bombing a city or blasting a fort, these are not the true acts of heroism and real courage.
Assert your real divine nature and your mastery over your lower nature and lower self. This is your most important duty.
Controlling your mind and senses and over – coming anger, passion and egoism, by attaining self-mastery; these constitute the real heroism in man. How long will you be a slave of passion and the senses? Assert your real divine nature and your mastery over your lower nature and lower self. This is your most important duty. Do not identify yourself with this perishable body. Do not run after fashion and passion. Do not cultivate the habit of clinging to the glittering names and forms.
Do not be ignorant, Oh man; and think of no delusion. Do not feel: ‘I am an Indian,’ ‘I am an American,’ ‘I am an Italian’, etc., “I am black, I am white, I am yellow”; ‘I am superior, I am inferior’; ‘I know everything, he knows nothing; I have done this, I have done that; I am a Hindu, I am a Christian, I am a Mohammedan and I am so and so, I am a Parsi, I am a Jain’, etc.
All this is the worst type of ignorance. Hear the great truths declared boldly by the prophets and godmen, saints and men of real deep wisdom. Thou art neither this perishable body nor this impure mind. Thou art in truth eternal, ever free and ever perfect and ever blissful spirit Immortal. Thou art in essence Sat-Chit-Ananda Atman. Thou art imperishable. This is thy real glorious nature. Feel this, meditate over this and assert this. Realise this and attain the Wisdom of the Self. Be for ever in bliss.
Life is meant for the practice of Yoga. Strive ever to attain this great goal. Practise the Yoga of saintliness. Do selfless service in a spirit of pure worship. Cultivate devotion to the Lord and worship Him daily. Purify the heart through charity and generosity. Meditate daily upon the Lord.
Serve Love, give, purify, meditate, Realise. Be good. Do good. Be kind. Be compassionate. Enquire ‘Who am I?’ Know the Self and be free.
Through ceaseless discrimination, reflection and enquiry attain the Wisdom of the Self. Serve Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realise. Be good. Do good. Be kind. Be compassionate. Enquire ‘Who am I?’ Know the Self and be free. The one Lord indwells all beings. Feel his presence everywhere. See Him alone in all men and things. Give up all distinctions and differences. Feel oneness with all beings. Embrace all. Love all.
Feel the bliss with all in a spirit of brotherhood and live to kindle the light of life in your heart. Be all-inclusive. Radiate pure love throughout your life. Start the good life right from today. Cast aside all doubts, fears and misgivings. Do not hesitate, be bold; life is short. Time is fleeting. You have to be practical Oh man! Do not be weak in thy faith. You must have faith that can move mountains.
Never forget your Immortal nature. Never forget your true purpose in life. Wake up from your long sleep of ignorance. Realise thy hidden real nature. Stop not till the goal is reached. Stop not till you attain the wisdom of the Self. Oh Wanderer in this quagmire of Samsara! Overcome all evil. Annihilate all lust, greed and egoism and come back to your sweet original home, the abode of eternal peace, eternal bliss and eternal sunshine.
Through sincere struggle with the lower nature and the lower self and through a life of practical goodness and Yoga, attain perfection in thought, word and deed in this very life. To whatever nation you belong, to whatever race you belong, to whatever society you belong, your real duty and the most important work is this, the attainment of the highest spiritual perfection and bliss. May the Lord, the one God who is known variously bestow upon you all the highest bliss and perfection in this very life. May love alone prevail everywhere. May peace and prosperity be unto all living beings.