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Thread: What is the goal of life?

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    What is the goal of life?

    What is the goal of life?

    The answers will surely vary, depending on the nature, aspirations, experience, and knowledge of the respondents. But is the true goal many? Different for different people?

    We understand that it will be a bad teacher who will apply a single prescription to all. A family bread earner cannot be taught to leave everything and resort to meditation 24 hours of day and night. No worthy teacher does that. There is no example of that in Hindu religion. But what is the ultimate goal as taught in Hindu scriptures?

    My understanding, based on scriptural support, is that irrespective of one's station and knowledge, the the true goal of existence is only one.

    I clarify at the outset that this post is an outcome of a recent post but it is to obtain mind of the senior members who decided not to be part of that thread on the subject -- so that valuable knowledge is gathered.

    I request Saidevoji, yajvanji, EM to kindly contribute.

    Om Namah Shivaya
    That which is without letters (parts) is the Fourth, beyond apprehension through ordinary means, the cessation of the phenomenal world, the auspicious and the non-dual. Thus Om is certainly the Self. He who knows thus enters the Self by the Self.

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    Re: What is the goal of life?

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~~

    namasté

    This as I see it is a very noble question to consider. I have multiple views on this matter . Perhaps I can offer a few ideas, and look to others and their contributions to reflect on.


    It seems the proper framework to suggest that the goal ( or aim) in life falls into the 4 puruṣārtha¹ : kāma , desire and its fulfillment, ; artha , acquirement of wealth ; dharma , discharge of duty to one's self, family, society, and mokṣa , final emancipation. Yet it has become my observation and assessment that these 4 take on new meaning pending one's station in life, their advancement and their relative attainment.

    That is, one's intent changes over time. Let me offer the following ideas.

    A Spiritual Orientation

    • Pending one's spiritual intent kāma becomes mumkṣutva - or the burning desire for libration vs. the acquisition of things.
    • Artha is wealth, yet the wealth of what? The wealth of knowledge is one venue, and one's financial wealth becomes a tool to advance this desire for liberation. That is, provide food, shelter, time, i.e. a stable environment that one may pursue their spiritual practices.
    • Dharma is the approach for one to remain disciplined and stay on their path... this discipline is welcomed as it supports one's goals and activities.
    • Mokṣa is the level of Being that one wishes to attain , but it is no longer a philosophical construct or idea, but a level that one nutures.
    A Stream of Desires
    On another level these 4 puruṣārtha's are all about the expansion of happiness. Fulfilling one's dreams and desires. This is not a bad thing as expansion is the natural tendency of this known universe. All this expansion can be done with the proper intent ( dharma ). Yet if it is done un-mindfully one's pursuits of 'happy' keeps the individual on the treadmill of desire... wanting more and more, but not being satisfied and not knowing why. This is my point , if the individual understands the overall goal ( really aim vs. goal) then the milestones along the way i.e. wealth, family, cars, acquisition, job, advancement, etc. are better put in perspective and can be seen as 'part of the ride' and not the final destination. Many they have figured this out, and there are many that still wish to crack the code on this.

    The Mind
    Just as a bee goes from flower to flower ( or a human goes from desire to desire) , an observer could possibly mistake this action and say the aim of the bee is unorganized and travel from flower to flower on a whim. Yet the observer misses the final aim of the bee's contribution to the honey that is produced back at the hive. Like that, we go from desire to desire and mistake this for the acquisition of more things, yet that is not the aim. The mind is looking for more then the most or puruṣottama (Supreme Self).

    It ( the mind) looks and looks from place to place - that is how the nervous system is wired - looking for expansion. That is why the acquisition of things gives some momentary joy , but does not bring lasting peace¹. The mind finds its contentment in the fullness of Being, or expansion of consciousness, because it is without limit or boundless.

    Hence with this statement it suggests one aim, peace of mind, balance of mind. It brings contentment, and also security and confidence in one's own being or nature. This I believe is a natural aim of a human. Some do not know it as yet as kāma is expanding in their lives and the pursuit for more continues to be at their door steps.

    Pending One's Lot In Life
    But one can easily say it is very difficult to think of contentment in the fullness of Being, or expansion of consciousness when one's belly is empty and there are financial challanges in life. Hence artha comes to the forefront, kāma is then the pursuit of sustenance and there is less attention on dharma let alone mokṣa. This I understand well.
    Yet it is worthy of note that artha is the son of dharma and buddhi i.e. duty/responsibity and intellect.

    praṇām

    words
    • puruṣārtha = puruṣa + ārtha = human + aim , purpose
    • lasting peace - chāndogya opaniṣad¹, where sanatkumāra-ji is instructing nārada and says, nālpe sukham asti or finite (alpa) things do not (na) contain happiness (suka).
    Last edited by yajvan; 11 July 2010 at 07:57 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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    Re: What is the goal of life?

    namaste Atanu.

    "What is the goal of life?"

    I can understand, as you say, "from the scriptures, that the goal can be only one, irrespective of one's station and knowledge"; and this goal is known to every human, although the knowledge about it is less or more; it's also known that all jIvas will and must reach it perforce, although only eventually.

    But then one must have an aim--lakShyam, to reach the goal--antaH, in lesser number of births to come later, if not in this birth itself; and this is where the perception of the goal and the aims towards attaining it differ personally, except for a jIvan-mukta--liberated-while-living, who has accomplished his aim of the goal.

    • What is this one goal of life for all humans?

    It is the knowledge and understanding of the Self within, and the experience of IT as the ultimate, absolute, and only reality. In worldly terms, it is the understanding of the divinity in human personality and its consistent expression in human life that leads to a constant reality of existence. The most beloved person of everyone is his/her own ahaMkAra--I-ness, and this love is sublimated and made divine when a person seeks to love God.

    • Why is the goal only one for all humans?

    Because, the very nature of the jIvAtma--self, is the attainment of ever-lassting peace and happiness. Such peace and happiness is attained only in Self-Realization.

    • What about the practical side of the goal?

    In a practical sense, the goal of an individual has always been the desire to seek knowledge. Only knowledge brings even the minimum bread-winning capability and the money to get the bread itself. Knowlege is attained, wealth and power are only obtained. A human mind gets corrupted with the desires of wealth and power, never by the desire to seek knowledge.

    • What about the individual, personal progress in life towards this goal?

    I can only speak for myself, and I expect others to come up with their own expressions of personal progress. As you said, the expressions would vary, "depending on the nature, aspirations, experience, and knowledge".

    My nature has been basically laziness and procrastination. The one aspiration I have had through my life so far is to know 'something of everything and everything of some things'. I presumed in my early life that only by this pursuit could knowledge be obtained. But then since the perception about what actually constituted knowledge had been changing, and has now almost settled, the 'something, everything and some things' do not seem so much important now, although I still crave (as an inevitable expression of my ego) to acquire and share it in some areas of mental activity, specially the knowledge about my religion.

    One thing I have sufficiently understood today, however, is this: the question is not one reaching the goal but the goal coming on to the individual.
    रत्नाकरधौतपदां हिमालयकिरीटिनीम् ।
    ब्रह्मराजर्षिररत्नाढ्यां वन्दे भारतमातरम् ॥

    To her whose feet are washed by the ocean, who wears the Himalayas as her crown, and is adorned with the gems of rishis and kings, to Mother India, do I bow down in respect.

    --viShNu purANam

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    Re: What is the goal of life?

    in brihadaranyaka up.,an illustration is given:just like a dog licks the blood coming from its own tongue but thinkin its from the bone,like a kasturi mruga searches for the smell of kasturi comin from its own body,a person in ignorance wanders around everywhere searching for his own self.

    in bg also krishna says,every person strives to attain me according to their svabhava.

    therefore jnana and vairagya should be the goal of a person.
    Sarva DharmAAn Parityajya

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    Re: What is the goal of life?

    Vannakkam all:

    There has been plenty of discussion on this, and yes, I have sat back and watched ... to this point. All viewpoints are correct for the individual expressing it.

    From my viewpoint, the ultimate non-experience is the realisation of the Self-God within. It is our destiny on this planet, and something all souls will eventually arrive at. I'm not sure if I would term it a goal.

    In the meantime, there is the path. In many ways, it is more important than the end, because without it the end won't be there. We have to think in practical terms. All this talk of God and moksha within the intellect is a burden, a waste of time.

    I remember having a talk a long time ago with a senior swami in the order I am affiliated with. (The editor of Hinduism Today) I said something about not being very interested in the concept of God, and more interested in controlling anger in situations such as burning the toast. He laughed with me at the time, but the conversation must have struck a chord with him because about 15 years later he mentioned the very same conversation to me.

    I've made similar comments on here before so my viewpoint is nothing new to older readers. Advaita isn't practical enough for me. As Saidevo related so humbly and honestly, his sore point was laziness. That has been mine at times as well. So has anger management. So has the inability to just 'be the observer' and many many others. You have to work at the level you are at. We don't feed calculus concepts to the Kindergarten class.

    Moksha is something for the very very advanced. There are many who can regurgitate other's words on moksha. But that is all of the intellect, and as soon as the next personal crisis comes along, it is all forgotten. There is also the trap that I liken to the Christian trap of "Jesus loves me so all is okay". It goes something like this, "Since God is All and in all, it is only God that is doing this stealing, this adultery, this criticising, this abuse, etc." It's an intellectual trap, a wandering off the path.

    I knew a man who figured Ganesha would find him a job, so he didn't bother looking. I am not making this up.

    When I was in Mauritius, I stayed in a family compound that had a main house and three sons were having their houses built. One was built, and one had the first two layers of concrete block done. It was obvious the process was slow. I asked about it. "Oh, it'll get done when it gets done. We save money, and when we have enough for another whole layer of block, we'll do it." They weren't even visualising the completed house, let alone the completed house for the third son. It was literally one brick at a time, not metaphorically as the saying. That really struck me.

    Aum namasivaya

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    Re: What is the goal of life?

    Quote Originally Posted by atanu View Post
    What is the goal of life?

    The answers will surely vary, depending on the nature, aspirations, experience, and knowledge of the respondents. But is the true goal many? Different for different people?

    We understand that it will be a bad teacher who will apply a single prescription to all. A family bread earner cannot be taught to leave everything and resort to meditation 24 hours of day and night. No worthy teacher does that. There is no example of that in Hindu religion. But what is the ultimate goal as taught in Hindu scriptures?

    My understanding, based on scriptural support, is that irrespective of one's station and knowledge, the the true goal of existence is only one.

    I clarify at the outset that this post is an outcome of a recent post but it is to obtain mind of the senior members who decided not to be part of that thread on the subject -- so that valuable knowledge is gathered.

    I request Saidevoji, yajvanji, EM to kindly contribute.

    Om Namah Shivaya

    Dear Atanu,

    In my opinion 'Silence' is the goal of life.


    The vibrations of the Vedas serve the purpose not only of creation and the conduct of life. There are indeed Vedic mantras that help us to transcend this life and become one with the Ultimate Truth.

    When a man returns by the same way as he comes, does he not arrive at the starting point?
    In the same way when we go seeking how creation came about, we are led to the point where there are no vibrations, no movements, where there is utter stillness.

    Some mantras that create vibrations in our nadis accomplish the same noble task of taking us to such a goal.
    Such are the Upanisadic mahavakyas and Pranava.

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    Re: What is the goal of life?

    Dear Atanu,

    both Yajvan and EM gave the answers from macro and micro point of view. Both brilliant answers.

    As EM and yajvan explained - the final goal is not visible as most of us are still climbing to cross the desire side. The micro wins are the goals of life. Though the gyani knows that these micro steps are micro inching towards the final goal - who knows when.

    Love and best wishes

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    Re: What is the goal of life?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eastern Mind View Post
    Vannakkam all:
    From my viewpoint, the ultimate non-experience is the realisation of the Self-God within. It is our destiny on this planet, and something all souls will eventually arrive at. I'm not sure if I would term it a goal.

    In the meantime, there is the path. In many ways, it is more important than the end, because without it the end won't be there. We have to think in practical terms. All this talk of God and moksha within the intellect is a burden, a waste of time.
    -
    Namaste EM.

    Thank you for the reply. I can understand that from my perspective of an ignorant. I can understand this when an ignorant harps on Moksha or Self Realisation as a preacher, while not displaying compatible qualities/effects. I also think that no one is perfect and strong criticism of imperfections of others is the biggest imperfection.

    But does it apply to Jnanis while they are imparting this knowledge to particular people or to particular devotees -- as per the rquirements in a particular case? Else, all Indian Gurus and all upanishads have to be judged as mere waste of time.

    Moroever, I wish to add that the kind of freedom from irritation/anger/lust etc. etc. you mention is actually comprised in Moksha. Elsewhere it has been pointed out that transcending faith, unfaith, and wrath is freedom and ultimate strength.

    Om Namah Shivaya
    Last edited by atanu; 14 July 2010 at 06:08 AM.
    That which is without letters (parts) is the Fourth, beyond apprehension through ordinary means, the cessation of the phenomenal world, the auspicious and the non-dual. Thus Om is certainly the Self. He who knows thus enters the Self by the Self.

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    Re: What is the goal of life?

    Namaste All

    Irrespective of the diversity of paths and the variegations within a path, the goal however, remains one, as so eloquently expressed by everyone in this thread. For me, I liked and agree to all posts. The following three, IMO, sum up:

    "In my opinion 'Silence' is the goal of life."

    "On another level these 4 purusartha's are all about the expansion of happiness."

    "One thing I have sufficiently understood today, however, is this: the question is not one reaching the goal but the goal coming on to the individual."

    IMO, the last statement could only come from a wise born hindu and it reflects the teachings such as "Be Still". Obviously it is not easy to be still, so we have to do karma, which must be alligned to prescriptions, yet prescriptions may vary a lot. Thus, a path, prescribed for me by Guru/God/Nature/ Circumstance/Birth/Coincidence (and whatever) is unique for me. Yet the fact remains that everyone is seeking unalloyed bliss. And Upanishad says that "Self is Bliss unlimited." Regarding the goal also, i cite only the following two, mentioning that Upanishads abound with one single instruction.

    BU IV, 4, 23. This has been said in the verse: The eternal greatness of a knower of Brahman is neither enhanced by works (karma) nor diminished. All that matters is to know the nature of Brahman. One who knows is untainted by evil action.

    Therefore, he who knows this, having become peaceful, controlled, detached, patient, and concentrated, sees the atman in himself and sees all in the atman. Evil does not overcome him, but he overcomes all evil; evil does not consume him, but he consumes all evil. -------

    CU VIII, 5 ------ It is the atman, free from evil, free from old age and death, free from sorrow, free from hunger and thirst: this is the atman, whose desires are truth, whose purpose is truth. Just as people here on earth act in accordance with command, living in the country or on the piece of land of their choice--

    6. just as here [in this life] the world earned by work (karma) fades away, likewise the world beyond earned by meritorious deeds (karma) fades away also. He who departs from this world without having found the atman and true desires will lack freedom in every world. But he who departs from this world, having found the atman and true desires, will enjoy freedom in every world.


    Om Namah Shivaya
    That which is without letters (parts) is the Fourth, beyond apprehension through ordinary means, the cessation of the phenomenal world, the auspicious and the non-dual. Thus Om is certainly the Self. He who knows thus enters the Self by the Self.

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    Re: What is the goal of life?

    Quote Originally Posted by atanu View Post

    But does it apply to Jnanis while they are imparting this knowledge to particular people or to particular devotees -- as per the rquirements in a particular case? Else, all Indian Gurus and all upanishads have to be judged as mere waste of time.
    Vannakkam Atanu: I don't think it applies to Jnanis at all. Whether or not any particular teacher is actually a Jnani is another question, and none of my business. That would be their karma. The difference is in the source of the knowledge within that person. One is plain intellect, whilst the jnani's knowledge is much deeper. A jnani can speak with knowledge without having read a single book.

    As far as criticism goes, sometimes it is difficult o distinguish between criticism and observation, as I have discussed on here before. I am beginning to believe that it is emotion that is the telltale difference. Observation entails no emotion at all, whilst criticism entails emotion. On a place like HDF, it is very difficult to observe emotional reactions within others. So it can all be misinterpreted, as you and I have seen for ourselves on many occasions.

    Aum Namasivaya

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