Let us examine the various things a human seeks in life.
There is an innate desire in us to perpetuate our existence.
Life is the dearest thing to us. Everybody wants to protect themselves, to remain alive. Nobody wants to die. We make every effort to continue our existence. However miserable we may be, however old we may be, at whatever stage in life we may be, we still want to continue to live. Even at the age of ninety-one, an old lady has a desire to see the marriage of her great grandson! Even at that age, she has a long list of things to be accomplished! The whole pharmaceutical industry thrives on this desire. Why should we have hospitals otherwise? Emergency rooms, oxygen cylinders and all kinds of gadgets and equipment are there just to help humans continue living. However miserable that living may be, we still want to continue it. It represents an innate desire of humans. All the means of security that I surround myself with – shelter, comforts, etc, – are also to stretch out life as much as possible. But everybody knows that this body ultimately will come to an end, and that he or she has to part with it. It is because of this awareness that I want a son who would join my name after his and thereby continue my existence in some manner. That is the reason why we leave name plates. If the body does not remain, let my name remain. When we go to a cemetery, we find that the tomb-stones indicate the name of the person and the period he or she lived. Through memory in the minds of others, a person wants to continue to exist. He or she wants to live, which shows that there is a natural love for life. A number of our activities in life are prompted by this desire. So there is one class of activities or pursuits which is directed.
The second kind of desire, which leads to a different kind of pursuit, results from the love for knowledge.
It is not that we want to know everything, such as how many grains of sand there are, or how many stars there are, or how many cells there are! It is not that kind of knowledge that we mean by ‘all knowledge.’ What we want is to understand everything, make sense of everything, and gain clarity about everything. We want to understand the nature of whatever we confront. When we do not understand what we are confronting, we are at a loss. When you are in front of me, and I do not know you or remember who you are, there is confusion in my mind. Therefore, what we mean by gaining all knowledge is gaining clarity about everything.
The manner in which a child pursues knowledge is different from that in which an elder pursues it. A scientist pursues it one way, a housewife another. When a child looks through the key-hole to find out what’s happening inside, that is also nothing but love for knowledge, and when I am keeping a watch over my neighbor, that is also out of my love for knowledge.
The third pursuit in life is to gain happiness.
When a person is at home in the morning, he entertains the desire of going to office. While in the office, the only desire that occupies his, mind is to go home. The moment he reaches his office, on Monday the desire is – to enjoy a holiday or a Sunday at home. When the, holiday comes, he plans to go out. Man does not seem to be satisfied with what he has. He cannot relax and sit quietly. Therefore when the holiday or the day of relaxation comes people plan for outings, visits, cinemas etc. In and through every action there is a desire to get something which one does not seem to have at the moment. That ‘something’ goes by the name of happiness. I want to go to a cinema, so that I can be happy. I want to go to work in order to be happy. What makes a man happy may differ from person to person. What makes me happy, may make you miserable. In the train, in the same compartment, some who are smoking are absolutely in ecstasy. They are in heaven, but some others in the same compartment are miserable. Again, what made me happy in the past may not give me happiness now. So what makes me happy keeps on changing but the fact that I want to be happy is constant. Every human being, every living being wants to be happy. Love for happiness makes humans maintain the various relationships that we have in the society. We want to love someone and be loved by someone.
Thus, we are all are seeking immortality, knowledge and happiness.
We want to live forever. How long do I want to live? I want to live forever. I want to be immortal. How much knowledge do we want? We want to know everything, all that exists at any place, at any time. I want to be omniscient. How much happiness do I want? I want absolute happiness, limitless happiness. This is what is desired by everybody – a man or a woman, young or old.
सत्चितानन्द -Sat-cit-ānanda, Existence, Knowledge, Joy – My own nature
Our pursuit of absolute existence – Sat सत, absolute knowledge – chita चित, and absolute joy – ananda आनंद – also means that I am trying to get rid of its opposites, i.e. mortality, ignorance and unhappiness. These three things I cannot stand.
Let’s examine the nature of things that we generally think of getting rid of. I don’t think of getting rid of something unless it becomes a nuisance. Nobody thinks of getting rid of hands and legs. I don’t wish to part with one of the eyes even though I have two of them. This means that nobody wants to get rid of that which is natural to him. On the other hand, if a dust particle falls in my eye or a bug enters my ear, I will direct all my efforts to get rid of them. Even with the finest dust particle in the eye, I cannot be at peace. Therefore, in our life, what is it that we want to get rid of? We always want to get rid of that which is unnatural, the thing that is foreign. I cannot stand a foreign element but I am comfortable, I am happy with what is natural to me.
When I say that I want to get rid of mortality, ignorance and unhappiness, what does it amount to? Nobody every goes to a doctor and complains, “Doctor, please do something because my eyes see!” Or nobody complains to a doctor saying, “Doctor, There is something wrong with me. Even though I eat every six hours, I feel hungry again. So please help me!” That he sleeps at night is not a problem to man, because it is natural to him. Nobody is happy being unhappy. And so we know that happiness must be the natural state. That is why we accept it. Nobody goes and consoles or sympathizes with a scholar for having stood first in the University! Because we accept happiness as a natural and a desirable thing. This shows that ignorance, mortality and unhappiness are unnatural, whereas immortality, knowledge and happiness are natural to me. Therefore, I like them, I love them. This indicates the nature of a human being, and the nature of all living beings.
सत Sat Existence, चित्त Chit knowledge and Ananda आनंद happiness is my nature and that is what I am. This is the most natural state. This alone is the goal of life, and through all my actions I try to attain this state.
Swami Viditatmanand Saraswati