The Aim of Life
Jai Maha Dev
The aim of Life (the object of the Game) is complete FREEDOM (Moksha). We want to be free from anything that limits our experience of complete happiness. Some people call this state of Total Happiness heaven; others call it Nirvana; others Ananda (bliss); and of course there are many other names for it too. But all will agree that it must be a state of ‘being’ and not just a state of imagination. All will agree this state of being must be free of pain, misery, and suffering on every level (physical, mental, and spiritual). We could call that heavenly state the state of Total Well-being.
We exist and we are conscious of our existence, but are we really happy? Are we completely satisfied? Are we fulfilled? Is there ‘something’ that is so fulfilling and satisfying that there is nothing we could ever imagine that would be any greater or more real? Yes, and that ‘something’ is our own Essence.
Our Essence is all-pervading, all-knowing, and all-blissful (SatChitAnand). Our Essence cannot be imagined nor can it be denied. Some will try to deny it, but even those who deny it assert its existence by their continued search for the ‘ultimate.’ It may be their search for the ultimate ‘high’, the ‘true love’, the ‘solution’ to the puzzle, or the ‘answer’ to the mystery of Life, but it is still the Ultimate Truth that they seek. Life is filled with seeming contradictions and sometimes the very God whose existence we deny with our words is affirmed in contradistinction by our endless seeking.
We want to be happy but how can we be happy when others are in pain? We want to experience total freedom but how can we enjoy our freedom when others are bound by chains?
How can we bring hope to others if we have lost hope ourselves? How can we enlighten others if we are steeped in ignorance? How can we teach others what we have not learned ourselves? How can we show others what we have not seen? How can we lead others where we have never been? How can we make others happy if we are unhappy? How can we free others when we are bound?
Life is not a mathematical problem that we can solve with a theory. Life is not a puzzle with so many pieces that all fit neatly together. Life is a manifestation of Consciousness, and this expression is an artless art. This life is a Game, but not one played in competition with others: we are living this life to realize our own Essence. This realization unfolds in our daily living. When our actions are coordinated with our noble thoughts, this ‘working’ is a work of art because it is both uncontrived and beautiful.
To know ‘who we are’ we have to stop pretending to be what we are not. We are not our name, our religion, our nationality, our gender, our genes, or our generation. We are not what others superimpose upon us (imagine us to be), nor are we what we imagine in our own mind. We are immortal beings. We are indestructible entities of Consciousness. All the rest (the ego, intellect, mind, senses, and body) are just adjuncts. The ‘add-ons’ neither increase nor subtract from what we are. The ‘add-ons’ are used in the Game (or in the tapestry of Life). When the Game is over we step off the Field (of Prakriti); we put down our brush and paints and see this Life for what it is: the expression of Consciousness.
For now, we are embodied in human form. Our human nature is a dual one: we have both a lower nature and a higher one (our Real Nature). Our lower nature pulls us down to the gross, physical world and our higher nature inspires us to go beyond ourselves and realize our highest potential. Our highest potential is to be completely fulfilled, totally FREE, and whole. Our highest potential is to be Liberated (established in Moksha; Nirvana; Bliss; Absolute Happiness).
From the perspective of Reality, there is no soul (Atman) that is superior or inferior to another. All are on an equal footing because all are established (as embodied souls, Jivatmans) in the same, eternal Prakriti. We are all working and playing together in this field of human existence, we are all playing by the same ‘rules’ (the Principles of Consciousness and the Laws of Nature), and we are all playing against ourselves (not against one another), and the expression of our Life is our own expression (work of art) and not that of another.
All of us (as embodied souls, Jivatmans) have the same beginnings. However, we did not all start playing the Game at the same time. The ‘Game’ begins when the conscious Self (Atman), of its own free choice, desires to play the ‘Game’ and projects itself as PURUSH, the Spirit-Self (Atman emanating its own Prana) and ‘joins’ with Prakriti (the eternal non-conscious substance) and devolves from Mahatattva (the Universal Mind), which devolved from the union of Paramatman (the Supreme Purush; MahaPurush) and Prakriti. The first instance of this ‘devolution’ (from Mahatattva) is the Ego (Ahankara) and the subtle states of Matter (known as the five Tanmatras). Then follows the intellect, mind, senses (Jnanindriyas and Karmindriyas), and finally the gross physical body. In conjunction with this ‘devolution’ of the embodied soul (Jivatman), the Universe consisting of insentient (non-conscious) matter is formed in succeeding stages of development (beginning with the subtle states of matter) to support various life forms.
Originally, everyone begins the Game of Existence in the simplest of life forms (perhaps as an ameba). Through billions of years of existence, we pass through millions of different life forms and eventually are embodied as human beings. Being born for the first time (in the current ‘Game,’ which may have begun trillions of Creations, i.e., ‘Big Bangs’ ago), we will have innumerable impressions (Samskaras) in our mind as a result of our innumerable experiences. Associated with these impressions are corresponding tendencies/inclinations/desires (Vasanas) which shape our mental attitudes and thoughts (Vrittis). Due mostly to the preponderance of the active intelligence (intellect) in man, human beings are prompted to think before they act, while acting, and after an action is done. Man’s thoughts are influenced by the impressions and tendencies of his past but his mind is also drawn to his higher nature by virtue of his intellect.
Human beings are fallible. We make errors in judgment due to ignorance and ego, and these errors invariably result in some form of pain. Both ignorance and ego are natural. However, due to the presence of our Higher Nature (evidenced or inferred by our intellect), it is ‘unnatural’ to remain ignorant (which we do by holding on to our ego and ignoring the advice of the Wise and our own experience).
A ‘game’ may be painful from time to time, but it certainly should not cause any suffering. Suffering is not ‘written into the game;’ suffering is written into ‘attachment.’ The way to avoid suffering is to practice dispassion, which is “compassion without any attachment.” When we live our life dispassionately, we continue on our journey to Eternity without losing our balance.
We face many challenges in life, and seldom do we have any warning before the challenge comes. It is only at the very end of our journey that we will be able to look back and perceive the whole sequence of Evolution (of the living soul) from the beginning of the Game to the attainment of the final goal of Moksha (Liberation).
In the meanwhile, we have to ‘take it a day at a time’ and live every day with courage and fortitude and ‘give it our best.’ We need to understand that in every game there is the element of ‘chance.’ The element of ‘chance’ makes the game all the more challenging (and as immortal beings playing the Game of Life we welcome the challenge).
Our greatest challenge is to give up our ego and rise to the highest heights of Consciousness. The highest achievement is to manifest our Real Nature and realize our Essence. The greatest joy is to see the Supreme Self shining in every heart and every soul shining in Supreme Consciousness.
OM TAT SAT
(So be it.)