What’s Important in Life?
Mark Twain, not known to be religious at all, said something surprisingly profound: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” For satsangis, we have been given the opportunity to “find out why” we were born. Why we have been put on this earth? What is our purpose in life and where will we go when this life ends? This whole path is about discovering the “why” of life. The masters have explained the purpose of life in very clear and precise terms.
The purpose of life is to bring about complete concentration of mind and thereby vacate the entire body. Precisely the same thing happens at death.1
The singular purpose of our being born as human beings is to find a guru, learn from him the path of devotion within, and then worship the Lord by attaching ourselves to the Word or Nam. Maharaj Sawan Singh explains this clearly:
Just think, human life is very precious and is due to past good karma. It is not granted to us for rearing children or for enjoying ourselves. All these functions are performed even by the lowest animals. The only difference between man and lower creation is that man’s life here is meant for seeing the Lord and reaching the highest spiritual plane, in this life. Every minute of it is worth millions of dollars.2
So it is clear what our purpose in life is, and it is also clear how we achieve that purpose — by meditation. If we can remember how precious this life is, then we will remember how little time we have to reach our goal. To achieve anything in life takes constant effort. Each time we try, even if we fail, is a step forward. Actually we don’t fail; it is a fundamental part of effort. A small child learning to walk falls many times before succeeding. His first efforts will always result in a fall. Mark Twain shrewdly said: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” We need to start without fear. We may need to start hundreds of times if necessary. We must learn to view our failures as positive steps forward because it means we are trying. “The quickest road to success is to possess an attitude towards failure of ‘no fear.’”3
Failures become steppingstones to later success. Thomas Edison, whose most memorable invention was the light bulb, supposedly took 1,000 tries before he developed a successful prototype.
“How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” a reporter asked Edison. “I didn’t fail 1,000 times,” Edison responded. “The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
We will achieve success with our meditation one day but we first have to get started. Then we must embrace the fact that every effort we make moves us closer to our goal. There are no failures on the path, only those who stopped trying. We generally have no idea how close we are to our goal. The masters have given the analogy of digging a tunnel. You could be inches away from breaking through to the other side but would never know it. About giving up, Thomas Edison said: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
So it always seems to boil down to effort and grace. The more effort the more grace, and the greater the chance of success. We must see every day as an opportunity to achieve our goal. If our day doesn’t go as planned, if we didn’t do what we set out to do, then tomorrow we can try again. We should not let our so-called failures discourage us. It is said that the road to success is paved with failures. John F. Kennedy said: “Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly.”
We meditate because the master has asked us to. Effort is in our hands. The master has said many times that if we could not achieve success he would not have initiated us. He is our one true friend who believes in us, that we can succeed. We leave you with a quote from Abraham Lincoln about not letting our “friend” down. “I’m a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down.”
- Maharaj Jagat Singh, The Science of the Soul, p.140
- Isaac Ezekiel, Kabir, The Great Mystic, p. 80
- Ralph Heath, Celebrating Failure, NY: Weiser, 2009