An ex-colleague of mine, SR, popped up this question after sending me birthday wishes:
“…Last time when we had email conversations, you mentioned that person needs to have a purpose to get going. I have a query on that. How to know or find a right purpose? Earning money, taking care of family is the purpose with everyone. How to know or find higher purpose to make best of this human birth and remaining life?”
A few words about him. He worked with me in our Software unit. Qualified in Textile Engineering from a premier technical institute in Mumbai, he was easily the best OO designer I had seen in sometime among the good many that passed through my hands. When I was down and under after a serious heart ailment and a major surgery, this young man would take a break from his project, come up into my cabin, chat with me about this and that simply to pep me up!!! Not just once. Absolutely unforgettable. Have been in touch with him on and off. And now here he is…
With a question people spend a life time to find an answer:-)))
Will share my views on the subject.
Many believe living is doing what gives one happiness. After all there’s just one life to live. Everything else like karma, rebirth….is a conjecture. To be happy is the key to life.
Intuitively we know there’s much more to life than happiness which is a state of mind, largely a function of the present, hence evanescent.
Brought up in our tradition, we all know life is to live the role we assume as per the prescribed dharma withstanding the challenges encountered on the way. For example, a parentis required, among other things, to bring up the kid to become a good citizen in the society. Happiness is nothing more than a by-product generated in the process of fulfilling the demands of the role taken.
While this may be the basic purpose in life – to play the role well – what then is a higher purpose in life? The original question.
For the spiritually inclined, the question is easy to answer. For example, in the system of belief’s I belong to, the highest purpose of life is salvation, freedom from rebirths that one achieves when one has discharged all karmic debts (bad karma) and, yes, credits (good karma) too! In this state the jeeva (Self) goes back to its natural state of oneness with the paramathma (Supreme). In its framework, the theory holds together good and it’s difficult to pick holes. And how does one go about working towards it? Well, it’s said: “Lead a life as per prescribed dharma and, as one matures, engage more in meditating upon the Supreme in progressive renunciation of this world.”
The specific system I belong to says more on the subject. Will not dilate beyond summing it up as: The karmic load is not easy to be reduced to nil. Requires innumerable janma’s (births) of high merit. An easier and a quicker way is to completely surrender oneself to the Supreme and dedicate all thoughts and actions in its service. Prapatti proposed by Ramanuja versus Karma, Gyana and Bakthi yoga’s enunciated in Gita .
Am sure the various faiths under the umbrella of Hinduism likewise have their own theories on the subject. And other religions too.
What about those not deep into spirituality? Answers are many.
Picking on one, let me cite the example of our ten-days tour of Egypt and Jordan three years ago. My cousin got us to join. As families, we are similar and different in what we enjoy, our need for private/shared spaces, our eating habits, etc. Likewise there were another 10 to 15 families with us on this tour. We had such an enjoyable time on this trip being together with my cousin and others. Happiness shared was happiness multiplied in a group tour far outweighing the convenience of a private tour!!
Life is no different, a journey shared with many close/known to us and the multitude out there each fighting his own battle. Can we make the journey a wee bit better in some manner for each other? At the lowest point of altruism, someone suggested, costing nothing, why not greet with a sunny smile 5 perfect strangers we see in a day? Could be as easy as that.
An employee in an org, for instance, through his work, touches the lives of his employer, colleagues and customers. Opportunities unlimited! It’s not too difficult to imagine ways he could do a bit of good in his line of duty going beyond its call! An interesting implication: In order to serve them best, it is incumbent on him to operates at the peak or near-peak of his efficiency and up-to-date knowledge and skills!
Not to be left out, Artists, Scientists, Professionals…all have their own ways of threading a higher purpose into their lives and their work.
And that’s what makes life worth living, even enjoyable, regardless of one’s station in life, each new day loaded with opportunities.