What is the purpose of our life?

gurudev (2)

Every human being is constantly seeking something or the other. The purpose of human life becomes evident when we examine what we want. Even though every desire seems to be different from every other, when we examine each of them, we find that there is only one desire behind all desires; it is the desire to be free. Every living being wants freedom. Nobody wants to be dependent, nobody wants bondage or helplessness, and nobody wants to be compelled or controlled by someone else. This is the common desire behind all desires. There is no living being that wants to be controlled. There is no living being that wants to be dependent either. “Dependence is unhappiness; being free and in control of oneself is happiness” [Manu Smrti, 4-1].

The sense of dependence or being bound, limited, and under the control of someone else and thus helpless is a cause for unhappiness. There is a lot of helplessness in our lives; there are many things that we want to do, but cannot, as well as many things that we do not want to see happen, but cannot prevent. We are, therefore, always attempting to become free from helplessness, from bondage. However, the manner in which we are trying to become free may not be right.

The purpose of human life is to become free; behind every desire lies the desire to be free. When we feel bound in some way, say in not having enough money, we go after money. If we feel that we do not have enough power, we go after more power. We chase after Whatever it is that we feel we lack, because it makes us feel bound. The fact is that everybody is pursuing freedom alone and nothing else. Unfortunately, we neither understand this freedom nor know where to look for it. In our pursuit of freedom, therefore, we often end up inviting bondage.

Everything that appears to grant us freedom comes at a price. Every solution only brings some other problems along with it. There is no such thing as absolute freedom or pure gain, because there is some loss involved in every gain. More often than not, the price we pay is greater than our gain. The freedom that we seek must be known to be within ourselves, rather than in some an external source. When we realize this, our search for freedom becomes more directed.

While we imagine that the world makes us helpless, it is our own impulses and likes and dislikes that impel us and make us feel helpless. When this is understood, the process of seeking freedom becomes, instead, a process of seeking to become free from such inner impulses. Living a life of karma-yoga and jnanna-yoga alone is the means to this end. The first level of freedom is gained by giving up likes and dislikes. The ultimate degree of freedom is gained from giving up the very ego, our sense of individuality, which is a product of ignorance.

So the purpose of life is to gain true freedom,‘ which lies in the recognition that our sense of being limited or bound is a mere notion, because we are of the very nature of freedom and happiness; in truth, we are always free and always happy.

Swami Viditatmananda

Excerpts from Satsang with Swami Viditatmananda, Vol 1


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