A man asked a question anonymously on a question-answer website:
“I was 25 when I got married and two years later we were blessed by a baby boy and three years after, a daughter. I have become old now, used to work in a bank and now I am living a retired life. It was about 4 years ago that both children got married. The daughter went to her new home and soon after my son also left to live with his wife.
Now, just I and my wife live together in our home. Sometimes I think, what was the purpose of all this if at the end we have to be alone; we are back to where we started. For years I have been in an illusion that our son will be there for us in our old age.”
After reading this question, I wondered if the man is from India because anyway, there is no culture of a joint family in the west. Well, this is a genuine pain of separation; however, it is coming from a years-long expectation that the son will be there for us, with us, always. And see, such happenings can give rise to profound questions; this time, it is about the Purpose of Life.
First, let us make this expectation thing clear, then we shall move on to the purpose. Just think for a moment, your very purpose of having a child is to give your life a purpose, isn’t it? You got a long life-purpose of 20–25 years, and your life revolved around him or her. You took good care of him, you may have nurtured him pretty well, but now he wants to live in another house, so what about it? That which was never yours is going away. Is that what pains you? See, you welcomed one life in your quest of getting a purpose to live, and it worked well for some good years, but now you want that to continue for a lifetime!
A fully grown life is desiring for independence, and here you are in the grief of losing your favorite being. I am not saying that the decision to leave parents at their ripe age is good, all I am saying is let it remain a personal decision. Whatever is the decision, why are you losing the track?
Here in India, parents love their child at a different level; well, sometimes it can become overly possessive. A child is never your possession, he just came through you, and that is all. You fed him to make him a complete life; after all, you started the life process. The emotions you attach to the child are completely your doing. Biologically, like in any animal, there is nothing more to it than you being a medium for the new life. Your life should have a bigger purpose than just taking care of your child, well definitely, he or she is a purpose but not the ultimate one.
They ask in interviews, ‘Tell something about yourself or describe yourself’ and to these people tell their entire history, from name to degrees, work experience, and whatnot. Still, they are not anywhere close to knowing who they are, but yes, the answer is accepted pretty well.
Now, you ask the same question to a 16-year-old; he has got little to say, so he will tell you that he just passed the high school, along with his name and some hobbies. But you know what happens when you ask the same thing to a 5-year-old? He will just tell you his name, gender, or to some extent, the place where he lives. There is nothing more that he can find in the question. Not that he knows why he is a boy, but everyone told him, and that’s what his identification to himself is. In reality, this is the most fundamental identification we all have with ourselves, or to be more precise with our body! Do you know anything subtler about yourself?
Right now, the most prominent aspects of human lives are food, good sleep, and desire for the opposite sex or preferably, a companionship. These are the same things that an animal needs to live its complete life. We have just developed more socially pleasant ways of doing the same things. For food, comfort, and sleep, you work and earn; just the mechanism is sophisticated rest the needs are the same as of animals.
We got a human life not to find external purposes and stick to them but to expand our inner capabilities, to become more aware and conscious. Yes, every aspect of life is important and you should live it, you should earn money, your want to have sex is justified but it doesn’t mean all this has to be your life purpose, isn’t it? After achieving a physical evolution of this level, now we are capable enough to explore our reality, and that’s the only real purpose.
All that we know about ourselves is coming from our affiliations to society or people we are living with, our educational and financial status. All we know is just the body; there are many subtler dimensions only available to the humans to explore, no other being got this capability.
All those whom we are associating ourselves with will die one day, and so will we. Whatever we are doing is of no real value, many replacements are waiting for us to vacate the seat. If at this moment you die, someone else will continue the work for your boss. For whole life, you just work for your petty needs, and one day you will die fulfilling only these, achieving no life at all. Once again, I am not against making money or fulfilling desires, but to what extent? This limit only you can decide for yourself, no one else can.
This happened that one of my friends bought the latest iPhone for herself and bang comes the WhatsApp status, ‘unboxing happiness’.
Well, some things you get to know only when your experience of life develops and you perceive what real happiness means. These accessories or for that matter all that comes in your possession can never provide you with a lifetime of contentment, all they can give you are a few moments of pleasure.
Knowingly or unknowingly, we all are trying to be a fuller life, but this want of becoming more of what we are right now constantly manifests itself as a want to derive pleasure through some tangible thing. A multitude of desires keep us engaged and never let us be. Deep inside, we know that this is not an everlasting feeling. Real joy and contentment are only possible when you know yourself to the fullest, or at least you are in the process of knowing. When this happens, you will become like a child; crystal clear, nothing attached.
Let us say this universe is an electric circuit with all the living beings as light-bulbs in it. The plant life and animal life are small bulbs but they are being lit on their full capacity, there is no more scope to them. The humans are a very large bulb but are still dim, they are not lit to their full capacity. The whole thing is just this, the bulbs are same, the light is also same but everyone is not carrying the same amount of it.
As you become more conscious and aware, you will naturally draw more current and hence more light will happen. And one good thing is, the light which you carry within yourself can illuminate many dark spots!
Some curious mind may think why are we even dim, to begin with? Well, the answer to this will take another article 🙂
Becoming a Joyful Being
To invite permanent joy, we need to be full of life. One way to be full of life is the purpose to find ourselves, to dive deep into one’s reality, and the other one is to find a purpose for the greater good. No one has ever done anything significant by thinking only about oneself, it requires a tremendous amount of life-sense to think about the masses, and if you can, you are already a fuller life.
Now, for doing something for a greater cause doesn’t mean the things that you are being paid for. Like a teacher may say, I teach these many students, that’s not the point. What you do apart from your job has a different impact on the way you are, do something that creates a sense of fulfillment within you. Usually, people never find fulfillment from their jobs. They are just doing it for the sake of earning a living, but to earn life; you need to have this sense in you that you are touching and nurturing other lives. We should look for how we can enhance the life around us; if this happens, joy is a natural outcome.