Hello and welcome to episode 81 of The Ask Sri Vishwanath Show. Today I want to talk about the purpose of life and why people keep missing the target.
Today’s question comes from Kim and she says “I’m very successful in life yet I have to admit that I am constantly seeking and running after goals. How can I stop this because I’m really tired of it?”
Thanks for the question. In a way this is a good problem because there are so many people who are not motivated to achieve their goals.
Vivekananda is a beautiful writer and I highly suggest you read his work. In one of his poems he says:
Ever rising, ever falling with the waves of time,
still rolling on I go
From fleeting scene to scene ephemeral,
with life’s currents’ ebb and flow.
Oh! I am sick of this unending force;
these shows they please no more.
This ever running, never reaching,
nor e’en a distant glimpse of shore!
The bird and the ship
So let’s talk about the shore, everyone wants to get back to the shore. He talks about a ship that is about to leave the shore when a bird comes and sits on the mast. The ship travels for miles and miles and the bird comes to its senses and realises that it is far from home. All it can see around it is the sea.
The bird stretched its wings and flew to the north. It flies and flies but all it can see is water everywhere. Eventually the bird had to turn around and fly back to the mast on the ship. It sat there for some time but naturally that restlessness started to return and it longed to be on land again.
This time it spread its wings and flew to the south. It kept flying and flying but again all it could see was water all around it. It got tired again so it had to return to the ship one more time.
When the bird had regained its energy it decided to fly to the west. It flew and flew but yet again all it could see was water for miles on end so it had no choice but to return to the ship again.
When he felt energized again it flew to the east. It flew fast and hard yet again, all that was to be seen was an endless stretch of ocean. Once again it returned to the mast on the ship.
The bird then reconciled itself to the fact that it had gone north, south, east and west and that there was no shore in any direction. So it sat still and closed its eyes. At that moment it become very still and was at peace.
This story is important because the example is going to reveal something very beautiful. The first thing everyone wants is to go back to the shore. That is the purpose of life. Everyone wants to go back to the shore but the problem is that no one knows how to do this. We try lots of things but we usually end up in the water going around in circles.
The bird did not know why he chose to sat on the mast. In the same way we do not know why we were placed here. We have come here with our body, mind and intellect and during our childhood we don’t understand that because we have so much energy and things to do so things like that do not concern us.
After a while the bird came to its senses. In middle age the same thing happens to us. We wake up and start to ask why were are here and wonder where we are going. We keep seeking but all we find is water.
Everyone is caught up in the water of karma but no one is admitting it. Everyone wants to go back to the shore but we fool ourselves into thinking that we can find that shore in the midst of water. People in charge preach about getting back to the shore when they themselves have not found that shore.
The biggest mistake people make is seeking the shore that is outside. Like the bird who flew north, south, east and west but not getting anywhere. We think we are educated but we make such a huge mistake.
Krishna says “I am the self resident in the inner self of all beings.” And Vivekananda says that God’s circumference is nowhere but his centre is everywhere. The centre is the consciousness and it is everywhere. Like fools we go out searching for things when the answer is inside us from the start.
Another verse I want to share is this: “the supreme self smaller than the smallest, higher than the highest lies concealed in the heart of all creations. Know it to be eternal and all pervasive. This supreme self cannot be attained by study of the scriptures or vast learning. It is attained by him who whole heartedly seeks for it. Through such an aspirant the supreme self reveals its true nature.”
The purpose is to find the gold image which is located at the shore of the consciousness. We form it from the mould given to us.
Dharma and karma
There are only two things we need to know. Dharma and karma. The dharma is the soul, this is the goal. In this example the water all around us is the karma. It is the baggage that holds us back and we need to be able to discriminate between the two of them. We need to stop trying to find dharma inside karma. You will only be wasting time because it’s not there. So what is in the water? There is success, passion and doing good things. That’s what is in the water and there is no dharma here.
People who seek things will constantly want to seek things to gain approval from others. They seek others to validate their successes and passions but it only leads them to wanting to seek more. It’s an endless cycle.
So what is dharma? Dharma is being detached to that karma. Karma is your baggage and your dharma cannot be affected by it so let it flow away from you. Stop trying to grab for it. Dharma is also withdrawing from the gunas. When you do that you’ll find your own centre and you’ll be able to meditate on it. So don’t seek the shore, meditate on it.
I hope I answered your question. Remember you keep asking questions and I’ll keep answering them.