Our Quest for Fulfilment
Anything one desires in life comes at a cost and with some effort. Long years of study are needed to acquire an education; hard work is required to succeed in business. No athlete receives medals and recognition without having first put in strenuous daily training. So in this life, as in any endeavour, we are required to make sacrifices in order to obtain whatever it is we have set our minds to – or whatever it is we truly desire.
All human beings are in constant pursuit of happiness and are seeking meaning in this life. Whatever it is that people do with any zeal – whether it is a hobby, a sport, social activities or even work – they do it in their quest for fulfilment. Which of these outward activities bring us any lasting happiness, and are we ever able to really quench our thirst for fulfilment for any length of time? We should also ask ourselves if we will be able to take any of these activities with us into our old age – and beyond this life.
If one looks at humanity and its frenetic behaviour, little seems to satisfy the average person for long. Job hopping, rampant consumerism, rising divorce rates – surely these are indicative of the fact that the path to true fulfilment does not lie in this physical realm. A verse from a poem by British poet Matthew Arnold reads:
What is the course of the life
Of mortal men on the earth?
Most men eddy about
Here and there, eat and drink,
Chatter and love and hate,
Gather and squander, are raised
Aloft, are hurl’d in the dust,
Striving blindly, achieving Nothing;
and then they die.
Extract from ‘Rugby Chapel’ Dover Beach and Other Poems
This is really the course of life for most. So much of humanity perceives life to be only about education, social status and career, and they consider these synonymous with success and a life well lived. However, in the Bhagavad Gita we read that:
Pleasures from external objects
Are wombs of suffering.
They have their beginnings and their ends;
No wise man seeks joy among them.
So we know full well that external objects, status, achievements and the physical creation in general bring us no lasting happiness or fulfilment and that we remain miserable. This material plane of creation has been described by the Masters as a ‘vale of tears’. Masters are well aware that there is no lasting happiness in this physical creation. A measure of happiness may be found in small snatches here and there, but lasting happiness – the kind that grows and builds upon itself – is not the type of happiness that is synonymous with this physical creation.
As seekers after truth, let us then ask ourselves this key question: “What is it that we really and truly desire?” Consider what your reply might be if you were to ask yourself: “If I were to die in the next ten minutes, what would my regrets be and what would I try to change immediately?”
Regrets and attachments are what most people cling to in their last moments as the body dies. In addition, they fear the unknown and wonder if they have enough faith to let go and to embark upon a new journey. Many of us will regret, to a greater or lesser degree, the amount of time we neglected to spend in meditation and in the conscious company of our beloved Master. Who would want to leave this world in such a pitiful, apologetic state – with the knowledge that we did not do what we promised the most important person in our life that we would do? We have to seriously consider what it is that is worth our time, consideration, love and devotion.
The following story confirms for us the fact that we really are the most fortunate people alive:
A sick man turned to his doctor as he was leaving his office, and said, “Doctor, I am afraid to die. Tell me what lies on the other side.” Very quietly the doctor said, “I don’t know.” “You don’t know?” the man said. “You, a religious man, do not know what is on the other side?”
The doctor was holding the door handle and from the other side of the door came the sound of scratching and whining. As he opened the door, a dog rushed into the room and leaped on him with an eager show of gladness.
Turning to the patient, the doctor said, “Did you notice my dog? He’s never been in this room before. He didn’t know what was inside. He knew nothing except that his master was here, and when the door opened, he rushed in without fear.”
“I know little of what is on the other side of death,” the doctor continued, “but I do know one thing: I know my Master is there, and that is enough. And when the door opens, I shall pass through with no fear, but with gladness.”
We have a Master awaiting us. We have been given a platinum key to the door that separates us from the other side, from that which is the lasting solution to our innermost desire. We have love, something real and lasting, that we can take with us when we die: something that grows and grows and can never be taken away from us. We have a Master and we have love, the very thing that will end all misery, displacement and discomfort – for all eternity. And we have our meditation.
Surely there cannot be anything more worthwhile than our meditation. Meditation enables us to develop an intense attachment to our Master as well as to overcome our fear of death. No matter how pathetic we may feel our effort is, every little bit of effort counts. Our beloved Master looks lovingly only at our virtues and our potential. It is we who judge ourselves and concentrate on our failings. Though we may not be perfect, though we may remain under the terrible sway of our mind, we have the ability to choose to make an effort. We have the opportunity to work towards attaining what we really want from life.
There may be nothing worse than facing death – the only certainty in life, which can come at any moment – with fear, apprehension and guilt. Is it worthwhile, then, chasing after the things of this world beyond what is required of us in fulfilling our worldly obligations?
When death comes knocking at our door, let our attachment be only to our Master. Let us depart knowing we have tried our best to take care of our spiritual well-being and let us leave with not a shred of fear for the seemingly unknown, but rather with unbridled joy in the anticipation of our imminent union with our beloved Master.