What Am I Here For?
As my sister and I prepared to depart for university, we awaited with some dread the predicted lecture from our dad: the lengthy talk about honouring the family name and focusing on our studies, avoiding temptations and keeping regular hours, and above all doing our very best.
To our great surprise, on the morning of our departure for college he simply gave us each a sealed envelope, which we were instructed not to open until we reached our university residences far from home.
Setting off on the journey naturally produced bittersweet emotions. On the one hand, leaving the comforts of home and all the guidance and love of our parents’ shelter was heartbreaking. On the other hand, we were excited by the prospect of new adventures and experiences.
When I reached my college room, I was eager to open the envelope. Inside was but a little card, bearing in bold letters the following five words: WHAT AM I HERE FOR? Just a simple rhetorical question. The card was to be placed on the study wall above the desk, and so it was. Job done.
Initially this seemed a very simple and straightforward thing to do. But boy, oh boy, did this card come to life!
Whenever tiredness crept in and sleep seemed preferable to studying, the card would leap into view and shock my heavy eyelids to flick back up. When worldly temptations pulled too strongly, its message revived my balance and focus. If ever morals might be about to waver, the words it bore provided guidance.
This card acted as a parent’s watchful eye, a summary of spiritual values, and an invitation to remembrance of God. In a way, it built an invisible fence of principled living around my daily college life.
Thankfully, the many years of studying were safely completed. However, the message on the card had not finished its job. As time went by and the card stayed with me, it took me into layers of spiritual searching deeper than I had been inclined to explore during my college years.
It brought on an existential questioning and a pondering on the deeper meaning of life. This eventually led to a strengthened yearning for God, which culminated at last in initiation and receiving the great gift of Nam.
The card bearing that question ‘What am I here for?’ lives nowadays beside my bed. Whenever the tendency arises to slacken on the path or to be carried away by the world, that battered old piece of card jolts me back into focus.
The present Master is always encouraging us to seek more meaning in whatever we do. He also tirelessly reminds us to give real focus and attention to our meditation, rather than letting it become a mere ritual. In fact, we should be attentive to whatever we are doing, and be present and focused in the moment. Somehow, the card my father gave me still serves to reinforce this message from the Master.
‘What am I here for?’ is the ultimate question for all of us. Musing upon it helps us identify our priorities and focus on what is most important to us. It makes us aware of the fleetingness of time and of the things in our lives that can steal our time. In this way, it helps us adjust our daily schedule around our realigned priorities. Ultimately, it enables us to bring more alertness to our meditation and to carry that love and light into our daily life.
As Guru Arjun Dev says:
He who cherishes the Word within his heart, the greatest king is he;
he who has Nam within his heart will fulfil the purpose of his life.
As quoted by Maharaj Charan Singh in Divine Light