A Life with Purpose
Everything in the creation has been designed with a specific purpose – nature is never extravagant. The Creator has defined a precise role for each and every living thing. Even the tiniest little insects foraging around in rotting vegetation have a specific place in the universe; if they were not there then something would be out of balance. Like an intricate motif in a beautiful pattern, they too are part of an even grander design.
All beings exist as an essential part of the whole. Unbeknownst to them they are all part of a divine dance, players on the grand stage of eternity, working in harmony to fulfill the Creator’s grand design. In nature we call this automatic or instinctive working together for mutual benefit an “ecosystem.” From our perspective as human beings we observe the intricate mechanisms of nature, and we see how each plays an essential part in supporting and existing within the whole.
There is a popular saying, “as the microcosm, so the macrocosm,” which may have originated with the ancient Greeks. It means that every part of the universe reflects the entire universe. It implies that at whatever scale we observe activity in the universe, whether material, mental or spiritual, everything is working according to the Creator’s divine plan or divine order. So long as each part acts in accordance with its true purpose, there is harmony and peace within the structure. But if an individual participant goes against this natural order, then imbalance occurs, and this is felt acutely by that individual and also at some scale within the whole system.
In this universe, all creatures lower than human beings are working precisely in accordance with their natural purpose. Through the impetus of their basic instincts, each creature is playing its part beautifully. A butterfly is perfectly a butterfly and an elephant perfectly an elephant. They behave as one would expect, as they operate within the parameters of their physical and mental capabilities.
But what of man? Depending on one’s perspective, human beings are either blessed, or cursed, with the great gift of self-awareness. Rather than seeking to play our part within the grand ecosystem as devised by the Creator, we instead seek to express our own individuality and have everything spin around us in our very own “EGO-system.”
Driven by the sense of separation that this awareness of self can cause, we strive to bend and warp everything around us to our individual will. In so doing, we disrupt the world in which we exist, causing imbalance and disruption to all living things. We see the effect of this every day in our news headlines: war, famine, pollution, and economic failure – the list goes on.
Look at trees for example. As plants they are at the lower spectrum of creation, and yet they can work together practicing cooperation rather than competition. They trade nutrients and take care of their sick neighbours. Human beings are at the higher end of the spectrum of created beings, and what do we do – quite the opposite! We practice competition with our neighbours and rarely practice cooperation.
Outwardly we may not even feel the disharmony we create around us, but certainly inwardly we all feel it. Empowered by our superior intellect and our ability to make choices, we have wandered far from the confines of the natural order of things, and as a consequence deviate far from behaving even like a good human being – much less a perfect one. Under the strong influence of the negative tendencies of the mind, we have become mentally scattered, our attention continuously drawn downward and outward by the senses. The further we wander from our true purpose, the more depressed and unhappy we feel.
So in God’s divine plan, what is our true purpose? The eighteenth-century Indian mystic Dariya Sahib describes our situation as follows:
Rare indeed is the human birth in this world;
With great fortune it is obtained,
Its purpose being the attainment of salvation.
After going round the cycle of eighty-four [lakhs of species]
One obtains a wise Guru in the world who can impart wisdom.1
Such “wise Gurus” or Saints have proclaimed the same throughout the ages, no matter from which country they belonged to, or which religious heritage. They tell us that we humans have a supreme purpose. Above all creatures in this universe, the Lord has blessed us with the opportunity to reunite with him and leave the wheel of transmigration.
These Saints also tell us that the kingdom of God is within us. The Lord God, the supreme Creator, cannot be found outside by one who has not realized him within. The human body of ours is the mansion of the Lord, the temple of the living God. Those who seek him outside wander in illusion.
This body is more than flesh and bones. Its true wonder lies in our capacity to bring our consciousness within ourselves and to know that we are neither body nor mind, but of the same essence as the Creator. Our soul is a drop from that ocean of love that we call God.
To merge back in that ocean and experience divine communion, we do not need to go to temples built by the hand of man. Instead we are already in the holy of holies, this body – hari mandir – the house of God, fashioned by the Lord himself.
Sadly we are largely unaware of our true potential. In every life – in all forms – we have struggled to live and sustain ourselves; we have had family and we have had to fight for our existence. Although these activities are still very much a part of our human lives, when viewed with the Saints’ perspective, we too can see that they are certainly not the main purpose of human life. The Saints unequivocally proclaim that the primary objective of human life is to return to our true home and become one with the Father. This is the “real work” for which we have come to this world. Everything else we do is just working through our karmas – settling old debits and creating new credits.
Hazur Maharaj Ji used to say that the human body is the top rung of the ladder of creation. From here, through our actions, we can either drop down to the lower species or we can rise up and go back to the Lord and escape forever from the cycle of birth and death.
So what is this path and where can we find it? Through science we have learned much about this creation as well as the body which we inhabit. Even the keenest minds in science are awestruck when they consider the immensity and complexity of the creation. Many of today’s greatest scientists are beginning to think that the larger part of the creation – about 95% – is what they call “dark” matter and “dark” energy – so-called “dark” as it remains unseen and unknown to them. And of the 5% they might “know” – well, even that is a constantly moving feast of speculation, discovery and re-evaluation.
In any case, this all relates to the external world and therefore the external “us,” our limited physical reality. But the true Masters wish to draw our attention away from this illusory identity and instead re-orient us towards our true selves, our inner reality, and through this to access the kingdom of God within us.
This is the field of activity of which only the Saints know. These divine messengers of the Lord, his beloved sons and daughters, are experts in this field – having themselves fully traversed the inner path and merged back into the Creator. They speak of what they know. Theirs is no idle speculation or collection of ancient texts and sayings. They come to our level and enjoin us to seek within ourselves and know through direct experience what lies within. Of this Great Master writes:
Your wildest dreams or imaginings cannot picture the grandeur of what lies within. But the treasure is yours and is there for you. You can have it whenever you go there. Take it from me, and once and for all, that everything, including the Creator, is within you, and whosoever has attained it has attained it by going inside the eye focus.2
To know how we should apply ourselves in order to achieve this noble objective, we should first understand what lies within us. As the Creator has designated a specific purpose for all creatures, he has also perfectly equipped them in order that they can fulfill that purpose – likewise within man. Whereas modern marketing seeks to constantly remind us that we are deficient in some way, and that only with the acquisition of their product will be truly happy and fulfilled, the Masters on the other hand see absolutely no deficiency in us. They say we are all fully and equally equipped and have the potential to realize the greatest purpose given to any being in this creation, which is to realize our true nature, that we are in essence nothing but love.
Another name for God is love. All scriptures express this same truth in one way or another: that God is love and love is God. The Creator is not separate from His creation; He exists at the heart of all living things and is the life force that animates them. He is the powerhouse at the centre of every part and parcel of the creation, projecting himself outwards as the myriad forms that dance before our eyes.
In this dynamic creative form, the Lord is known by many names, for example Shabd, Kalma, Tao and so many others. He is the “Word” of the Bible that created “all things;” the divine utterance that brought forth all that we see. This same power continues to flow from the Creator sustaining this whole creation. In man alone can this power be known. Under proper guidance by a true Master, we human beings can consciously contact the Creator within ourselves by directly experiencing this life force, or audible lifestream, as it manifests within us as a glorious melody and effulgent light.
If this is so, then why can’t we all see this? The reason is that we have become immersed and attached to this world through three basic activities: seeing, speaking, and listening. And it is through the process of meditation as taught by the Master that we learn to reorient these three faculties, turning them inward, and in so doing we are able to withdraw our wayward attention from the material world and bring it within ourselves.
At the time of initiation, we’re given five holy names to repeat silently within ourselves. It is by utilizing this simran that we occupy the speech faculty of the mind. Through inner contemplation, dhyan, our seeing faculty is engaged. And thirdly, when the simran and dhyan are complete, the Shabd manifests within us and we can focus solely on listening to the divine melody within.
Through this tried and tested technique of meditation, the scattered mind is drawn back to its natural seat in the forehead, the tenth door, tisra til – single or third eye. By drawing the three faculties together they collect at a single point. This point is the door to the Father’s house, and on crossing its threshold, we awaken to the glory of the spiritual worlds within us. Here our soul again knows that inexpressible love from which it originated. On finding this supreme bliss within ourselves, we become instantly detached from the base allurements of the world and instead become deeply attached to the Lord within.
However, escaping from the bonds that we have created around us is not so easy. We have been caught for so many lives in this seemingly endless play of the world, and this vast catalogue of our experiences has marked us, scarred us. So deep have these impressions become that the Shabd – the sound and light within us – has become totally imperceptible. Without the clarity of inner vision, we instead stumble around in the darkness, falling constantly, totally forgetting our true home and so becoming even more entangled in the world and totally losing sight of our true purpose.
Through our spiritual short-sightedness, we have acted – and do act – in ways that are often not in our own best interest. As a result of this, there can be significant consequences that we have to suffer. In the Bible it says:
Be not be deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.3
Whether we call it karma, the law of cause and effect, or sowing and reaping, this law is unerring, and we are all dominated by it. Under its sway, all forms lower than man are in their bodies simply paying off karma. They do not create it; they only behave automatically or instinctively. They have no choice, and they go through their destiny under the direct influence of their karmas. This being so, when did they sow these seeds for which they are now reaping such bitter fruits? The answer is significant for us, it is this form in which we now reside – the human form.
The human form alone is the one in which karmas are both created and received. It is here in this body that we sow the seeds for our future. When we make the wrong choices and perform negative actions, we are unknowingly preparing for ourselves a long journey back into the creation and the wheel of transmigration.
Alternatively we can follow the guidance on “right living” that the Saints entreat us to follow. They beseech us to adopt four simple principles (or vows) in order that the choices we make and the actions we perform enable us to realize our potential – release us from material bondage – and set our soul free to return to our original home.
We have already discussed our great potential; accordingly the Lord has imbued us with the latent power to achieve all that it entails. What the Master asks us to do is within our easy reach; it is not anything extreme. We are simply advised to diligently commit to living the life of a good human being. This entails adopting a lifestyle based on four simple principles. These are the simple instructions of “How to Get Started” in using this human form for its true purpose. Yes, we have heard them all before, and we all feel we know them by rote, but much like when we find that we’re not getting the best out of piece of home tech, a re-reading of the first part of the User Manual may reveal where we are going wrong, and some small adjustment may enable us to optimize its performance. So here they are.
Firstly, we need to adopt and adhere to a lacto-vegetarian diet, abstaining from eating meat, fish, fowl, or eggs (whether fertile or infertile) or anything derived from them. Additionally, we shouldn’t be part of any chain of activity that goes against this principle.
Secondly, the Master’s guidance is that we should abstain from alcohol, narcotic drugs, tobacco products, or any addictive substances, for that matter. In our sober state, we are already experiencing the huge challenge of overcoming the negative influence of our mind and senses – and that is struggle enough! To add to our burden and hand over what little self-control we have, is to say the least, counter-productive, as well as evidently foolish! We will need every ounce of will power to check and reverse the downward and outward flow of our attention. Constant vigilance will be required in order that we make each step on the path count towards reaching our objective.
So far, all well and good, and we can hopefully put a big check-mark against these first two vows and feel confident that we are on track. Then we come to the next and more far-reaching third vow, that we should lead a clean and morally upright life, earning our own livelihood by fair and honest means, and where possible, not being a burden to our fellow man or society at large. In short, our lives should be the expression of what all good humans should be. This vow is all-encompassing; critically applying this principle to our daily lives is to shine a bright light on all our doings, it can bring to light much of what we have hidden in the shadows and invites us to reshape our lives so that we may be fit to sit once again in the Hall of our Father.
To follow this to the letter can be a great challenge. However, if we simply approach every situation, and the people in our lives in a truly kind, giving and loving manner, then as a natural consequence, good will follow. Living our lives in this way we are working with the Creator and trying to express his presence in our lives through each and every one of our actions.
Following these first three vows, we start to build a loving environment around ourselves which creates the foundation for our most critical activity. With dedicated effort we need to commit to daily attending to our meditation for at least 2.5 hours. This is just 10% of the time we have in the day; it is so little to give when we are to receive so much. Throughout countless lives, 24/7, we have been committing actions and thereby have accrued karmas, and these debits and credits are what now block our way. They are the cause of the deep separation we feel from our Creator and they have to be eradicated if we are to merge back and have union with Him.
Meditation is the supreme action. Actions in the material world simply beget equal reactions. It’s a poor deal, you give one – you get one. Whereas in meditation we do what pleases our Master most, and our small faltering steps towards him bring him running towards us. He guarantees that if we play our small part in effecting our salvation, then he will not withhold his mercy and grace, and through this, we will one day find ourselves with him in our eternal home, a place of boundless love, joy and bliss.
Hazur reminds us:
As Christ said, the harvest is ready. The harvest is always ready, but we have to lift our consciousness to that level where we can collect that harvest … Just change your way of life according to the teachings and attend to meditation. That is all that is required. From meditation, love will come, submission will come, humility will come. Everything will come.4
- K.N. Upadhyaya, Dariya Sahib: Saint of Bihar, Beas: RSSB, 2006, p. 122
- Maharaj Sawan Singh, Spiritual Gems, Beas: RSSB, 2004, #147
- Holy Bible, KJV, Galatians 6:7-9
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Die to Live, Beas: RSSB, 1999, #353