Desires are the barriers to a meaningful, complete, peaceful & happy life
How to lead meaningful, complete, peaceful, happy life? Are we really leading this complete, peaceful, meaningful, and happy life, or not?
Science and technology has given us comfort. Our lifestyle has become very easy and comfortable. And most of us have basic amenities of life – “कपड़ा रोटी मकान सबके पास है”. However, the question is whether we are happy? And whether we have peace of mind?
If you ask people who do have basic amenities of life, you won’t get a direct answer – that he or she is happy or peaceful. Why it is so?
Because our unending desires make our life miserable and unhappy. We are not satisfied with what we have. That is the problem. That is why our life is not complete.
Most of us have some mental suffering and misery. Lord Buddha left everything home and hearth did sadhana and discovered that the desire is the root cause of all misery and suffering. He said –दुक्खम्दुक्खम्सर्वमदुक्खम् (dhukkham dhukkham sarvam dhukkham).
If you just see deeply you will find the whole world is nothing but dhukkha, dhukkha, and dhukkha. In the life of a human being, sukkah (real happiness) is very little. All the time you find dhukkha – problem, challenges.
I will tell you one incident from the Bhagavatam:
Raja Yayati had a big kingdom, and his nature was to just enjoy. At the end of his life he realized, “Many of my desires are unfulfilled. What do I do? After few years I will go away. I may die”.
So he went to his younger son and asked – “You see, my desires were not fulfilled. Can you give your youth to me so another more life I may enjoy, I can satisfy all my desires.” The younger son immediately became ready, and he transferred his youth to his father, and King Yayati again became young.
Again at the end of this life, after two births, many desires remain unfulfilled. Then Raja Yayati realizes that all desires cannot be fulfilled. Desires are endless, unending. When ghee or oil is poured on fire it will not extinguish. It will go on increasing. Desires are also like that.
In the Bhagavad Gita it is mentioned about what happens when a person becomes frustrated. When desire is not fulfilled then it takes form of frustration, the frustration to anger, then anger leads to buddhi naasha – which means your buddhi will be destroyed – your buddhi will not function, you cannot discriminate between what is good and what is bad! So finally this frustration leads to a disaster in a person’s life.
How to check this desire: seek not avoid not!
Yes, human being must have desire, but one must have a control over desires. If one does not have control over the desires then life will become miserable. So it is important that you must follow this – seek not, avoid not.
What is that seek not, avoid not?
When you are working, money, name, fame, power etc. are coming in. Let them come, accept them, don’t avoid them, but, if you go to seek them or hanker for them, then there is a problem. I should get this, I should get that, if this kind of hankering is there you will not feel happy. Your life will become very miserable.
In human life, there should be some desire just to maintain our livelihood. To lead a meaningful life, peaceful life, happy life – how much you want? You want a good car or transportation, you must have good flat – a 2 or 3bhk to live in, and to maintain your body you must get nutritious food, and you have to earn some money to give good education to your children. This much you want, this much you can say is the basic necessity of life. But people go on wanting, I want this, I want that – if it is 3 bhk then 4, 4 then 5…and it goes on like this. So then your life becomes very miserable.
The Goal of Human Life is to Realize God
In this context I would like to tell you one incident.
Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa used to be invited by many devotees to their houses. Once he went to the house of Adhar Sen. He was a deputy magistrate, an influential person, and a devotee of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.
Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, a friend of Adhar Sen was also invited. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee was the composer of Vande Mataram, a deputy magistrate, and Sahitya Samrat – a great literary personality. Sri Ramakrishna started talking with Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and asked him, “Bankim babu, what is the goal of human life?” Like ordinary human being, he said, “Oh, goal of human life is to eat, drink, and be merry”. Sri Ramakrishna was infuriated by the reply and said, “What is this? You are a great man, you are the Sahitya Samrat, and you are saying that the goal of human life is to eat, drink and be merry? How can it be? Wretched fellow!”, he scolded him. Imagine scolding Bamkin Chandra Chatterjee, a great personality of those days! Bankim Chandra Chatterjee simply kept quiet.
Then Sri Ramakrishna said, “Look, the goal of human life cannot be to drink and be merry. This is the goal of animals, and not humans. The goal of human life is to realize God.”
Realization of God is to know oneself
What is realization of God? Many people talk about realization, about becoming spiritual, and all sorts of things. Realization of God is nothing but to know yourself.
Most of us do not know about ourselves. What you know is very little about yourself. Who are you, from where you have come, what is your duty, what is the goal of your life? Most of the people do not have the answers to these questions.
The Indian philosophy states that there are two kinds of existence, of all beings, whether living or non-living beings – physical existence and spiritual existence.
What is our physical existence? Our physical existence is the body-mind complex.
There is another dimension of existence –the spiritual existence. You cannot see it. You have to realize it. It says that you are not tiny, little physical body, body-mind complex. You are ‘That’.
What is ‘That’? In all our scriptures, ‘That’ means ‘Brahman/Atman’ – you are infinite-Ananta.
The test of spirituality is nothing but unselfishness
There is this nice saying of Swami Ranganathanandaji to the question: How one can understand that one is progressing in the spiritual path? He or she is becoming more and more spiritual?
He says: “Are you growing spiritually? Can you love others? Can you feel oneness with others? Have you peace within yourself? and do you radiate it around you? That is called spiritual growth, which is stimulated by meditation inwardly, and by work done in a spirit of service outwardly.”
Know yourself means to become one with others. That is the ideal – become one with others. If you become one with others, then you will become unselfish. And Swami Vivekananda said again and again that the test of a spirituality, is nothing but unselfishness.
If a person says that he goes to temple 100 times and does puja, but at the same time he is most selfish, that person cannot become spiritual. So if you want to become spiritual, first condition is that you have to become unselfish.
A story of unselfishness: John Rockefeller
Money, name, fame, power, position, all these things cannot give you real happiness and peace. In this context, I think some of you may know it, that John Rockefeller in those days was the richest man in America.
John Rockefeller was the emperor of petroleum products in those days. But he was not at all happy. He did not have peace of mind. He was so mentally disturbed that he was contemplating suicide.
One day one of his friends said to Rockefeller, “You see, you are not happy, you are very morose and depressed and frustrated. One Indian yogi has come. You can go and meet him.” At that time Swamiji was in America, New York.
Rockefeller thought within himself: “Yogi means beggar’. What a beggar can tell me and teach me?”
However, one day he found Swamiji’s address, and in the morning without any appointment, John Rockefeller entered the house where Swamiji stayed. Without an appointment, without informing anybody, straightway he came to Swamiji’s room. Swamiji was completely engrossed in reading. He did not see Rockefeller. Rockefeller was standing and thinking, “What is this fellow, he is not looking at me, I am John Rockefeller. Even the President stands before me and this fellow is not doing anything, not looking at me.”
After a few minutes Swamiji looked at him. “What do you want? Why have you come?” Then Swamiji started saying on his own: “I know why you have come to me. You don’t have peace of mind and you are suffering like anything.” He told him some private, sad incidents of his life. John Rockefeller became very surprised – “What is this? He knows all this about me. How did he come to know? Except me no one else knows, but, this Swami from India, how did he come to know?” Then he asked, “How did you come to know about all these incidents of my private life?” Swamiji said, “Look, I can see through and through. When a person is standing before me I can see the inside of that person. If you put something inside the glass door almirah, you can see what is kept inside the almirah through the glass. Similarly I can also see through you”.
Rockefeller became very impressed. Then Swamiji said: “You are not happy, you don’t have peace of mind. You have amassed a lot of wealth, you are the richest person in America. In spite of that you are not happy; you don’t have peace of mind. Do one thing: do something for others.”
Rockefeller was not happy with this proposal. Anyway he went away. After few days, again without informing, he came to Swamiji. Swamiji was again at that time writing something, was very engrossed. Rockefeller threw a cheque of huge amount on Swamiji’s table. “Look you are saying that I must do something for others, for poor people, the underprivileged, so this is the cheque.” Swamiji just looked at it.
Then Rockefeller said, “Swami you must thank me”. Swamiji said, “Why should I thank you? Rather you should thank me that I had sparked that inspiration in you that you must do something for others.” And all of you know that afterwards big foundation called the Rockefeller Foundation was established for helping others.
That is why unselfishness, feeling for others is essential in everybody’s life. The more you feel contracted, selfish and narrow, the more your life will become miserable.
In a letter to the Maharaja of Mysore, Swamiji writes: (it is very famous quote of Swamiji)“This life is short, the vanities of the world are transient, but they alone live who live for others, the rest are more dead than alive.
But unfortunately we all live for ourselves, not for others. When selfishness comes life becomes miserable.
Practicing spirituality in day-to-day life: working in the spirit of service
One question asked some time back was: How we can practice spirituality in our day to day life?
You can practice spirituality in your day to day life or work. It is very easy – not really easy I should say – but you just have to change your mindset! That is very important. If you change your attitude/ mindset you can practice spirituality in your day to day work.
How you can do that? You are working in the office with some attitude – how you can get more clients, how you can contribute to the society, to the company, etc. But you need to work in the spirit of service. That is very important.
But many of us do not have that attitude. If you do work in the attitude of service you will definitely be benefitted by it, you will become more and more spiritual.
That is why Bhagvan Sri Krishna told Arjuna: “You are frustrated, you are dejected. So do one thing. Work without expecting the result of your action.”
This may sound very absurd – that without expecting anything in return how can you do work? What then is the motivation of work? But this is not absurd. If a person does work sincerely and he or she doesn’t expect anything in return, that is what matters. If you do good work, good results will come. If you do bad work, bad results will come. So you need not bother about the result of your action. Because this is the law of action and of karma.
Normally, before doing anything, you think: ‘What will be the result? What will be the return?’. And you feel frustrated, mentally disturbed. Your duty is to work. So you work and you will get the result. And result is also not in your hand.
Whether you will get good results or bad result is not in your hand. It is like shooting arrow. If you shoot arrow then arrow goes, then you have no control over it. Arrow may hit the target, it may not hit the target, it may go this way or that way. Similarly you don’t have any control over the result of you action. You do not know whether you will succeed or not.
So Lord Krishna said that unnecessarily you should not bother about this result of your action. Your duty is to work – work sincerely, and you will get the result. There is no doubt about it. No struggle will go without its fruit. You will surely get the fruits some time or the other.
When you work with this attitude – whether you are working in the court, in the corporate office, in agriculture, factory– you will definitely get peace of mind. Otherwise your mind will get disturbed.
Be unselfish, don’t expect any result of your action and then you can lead a peaceful life.