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 Blooming Stars

The Purpose of Living

            In our daily satsang (gathering for prayer) at the ashram in the evening, I suggested a couple of days ago that we reflect and meditate on our purpose in life, and share our thoughts. Two persons present talked about the joy and satisfaction they got when they helped others and worked for them selflessly very early on in life. One of these two ended up joining the Salesians of Don Bosco, a society primarily devoted to the orphans and street children and other down-trodden. The other became a trade union leader addressing injustices in work place. Another person talked about primarily achieving physical and material goals for fulfillment in life. We ended up sharing immediate, intermediate, and ultimate purposes in life. We also talked about actualization – becoming all that we can be – even as we went about doing well and improving the lot of fellow human beings.

            In the New Testament of the Bible, Christ’s mission or purpose in this world is described as preaching good news to the poor, proclaiming liberty to the captives, and setting the downtrodden free even as he went about doing well. Further, he had the ministry of reconciliation of all human beings among themselves and them to God as he talked about the Kingdom of God. Before Christ, Buddha showed humanity the path of freedom from unhappiness and enlightenment through awareness. In our own days, three very remarkable men, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela, offered their lives in three continents in setting their people free from physical and spiritual bondage. Throughout human history we have countless persons who dedicated their lives for human rights and freedom from bondage. They were all truly men and women who spent their lives for others.

            A few centuries ago, one of the greatest spiritual writers of all times, St. Ignatius of Loyola, spoke of the primary purpose of every human in his Spiritual Exercises as the attaining of one’s own salvation and helping others attain their own salvation. His discernment of spirits while making decisions is powerful indeed. His Spiritual Exercises practically geared to making the right choices in living a spiritual life were primarily for Christians. In the world of Advaita (non-duality), the writings of Shankaracharya and Narayana Guru are worthy of special mention in the realm of the spirit life. Their hymns, especially Nirvana Shatakam and Daiva Dashakam, express the very essence of non-duality where God and human are one.

            For humans, there is no purpose higher than the one of actualizing God’s plan; however various religions conceive it to be. This plan is tantamount to service of God through service of humanity that is none other than the best expression of divinity in this world. Altruism unsticks humanity from selfish and sterile pursuits and steers it purposefully toward God, it’s true destiny.


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