16. The Real Purpose of Life
(Darshan given on February 8th, 1996.)
A visitor: I was wondering how you felt about fate.
Swamiji: There is no such thing. It is only a reaction to action. People call it fate. You deserve what you have done. If you have done something, that action which you are performing will so intensely act upon the whole atmosphere of the universe that it will produce a reaction corresponding to the nature of your action, and that reaction may follow either in this life or the next life. When in the next life something comes, you may say it is fate. That word is not appropriate. It is a very justified reaction set up by the nature of what you do as an action, a purely scientific fact. Action produces reaction. Its force is equal and opposite, like gravitation.
You should not use such inappropriate words like ‘fate'. Rather, it is a scientific, systematic operation of the universe, like a mathematical organism. What you think you are, that you are, and what you do, that you will get back. That is the law of retribution, and when the retribution comes upon you in the next life, you do not know why it has come so you complain that it is fate.
Do you understand? When the fate comes, you do not know the cause of it because the cause belongs to the previous life; the effect comes in this life, so you are unable to connect these two. Hence, you complain that God is very unkind and fate is very cruel.
Visitor: And what about when extraordinary things happen?
Swamiji: There is no extraordinary thing in the world. Everything is normal, natural. Nothing extraordinary can take place. Yesterday it was hot. Today it is raining. Now, can you call this rain as an extraordinary thing that is taking place? It is a perfectly ordained systematic action of nature with a proper cause and proper effect. If you know the whole phenomena scientifically, you will not say anything has come suddenly or unexpectedly. Nothing anywhere happens unexpectedly. There is no such thing as an accident. It is a cause-and-effect relationship of which one is totally unaware. Because you don't know the cause of an incident, you call it an accident. Everything is systematic, perfect, judicious in the structure of the universe, but nobody can know it because of the attachment to the individual body and a total ignorance about the natural setup of the universe.
Another visitor: How does the heart open, the heart of a spiritual aspirant? What opens the heart?
Swamiji: It opens by the deep acceptance of there being such a thing called a Supreme Eternal Being transcendent to the whole universe. If this acceptance enters your heart, it has already opened.
Visitor: How do we keep it open?
Swamiji: By intense affirmation of it again and again every day. You should not forget it, because it is a very important thing. You are a valuable entity. There is a great value in what you are, and similar is the value that you have to see in others.
There was a great philosopher in Germany. He was Immanuel Kant, a very profound thinker. From the point of view of what I have said, it would mean that every person is an end in himself. There is no one who is a means to somebody else. There is cooperation in the sense of achieving a purpose which is the common purpose of everybody. Everybody wants to live, everybody wants to live as comfortably as possible, and everyone would also like to live as long as possible. As it is true that we would all like to live as long as possible, we would also like to have as much as possible.
There are two great principles which, many a time, elude our grasp. There is no end for the desire to live. It is not that you would like to live only for three hundred years. Suppose you feel that three hundred years is a good thing: Let me live for three hundred years. When two hundred and ninety-nine years are over, there will be a fear: I am going away. So three hundred years are not sufficient. Even if it is a blessing to live one thousand years, when nine hundred and ninety-nine years are over there will be the same fear as the common fear of everybody that one day we will go.
That is to say, deeply think over this matter. The desire to live long is actually to defy time. There is no such thing as long life because even the longest life is short when it comes to an end. So there is no such thing as long life. It is only a peculiar conceptual blunder. Ask any person, “How long would you like to live?” The fright of death will catch hold of a person even after one thousand years of living. That fright which is to come after one thousand years, the very same fright is now because there are only a few years more.
Hence, to come to the point, the real purpose of life is not to lengthen the duration of one's immortal existence empirically, but to go beyond the tantalising process of time itself. You would like to be always. Inasmuch is nothing in the world can be always, there is a contradiction between your aspiration to live always and the things as they behave in the world. There is nothing in the world anywhere which can live always, but why is there the desire to live always when it is contradicting the actual operations in life? That is to say, there is something in you which is not destructible. If that desire to be imperishable were not there, the desire to be completely free from death and to live as long as possible would not be there. If perishability is the real nature of a person, there would not be a fear of perishability, because perishability itself will not be afraid of perishability. So there is something imperishable in every person, and it dreads perishability. Our involvement in the time process confines us to the fleeting life of perishability, but there is something in us which is above time. Eternity is masquerading through this particular individuality, and we are asking for eternity, endless existence. Limited existence cannot satisfy us. Nothing that is limited can satisfy us.
Similarly, on the other side, you would like to have as much as possible, as wide a dimension as possible in your life. You do not like to be limited in any way. You want to be a big person, a vast person, an extended person, and have as many treasures of life as possible. It would be good if you could have the whole Earth for yourself. If that is a possibility, you will say, “Why not? Let me have the whole Earth.” But even the Earth will not satisfy you because there are the skies over which you have no control. You will be wondering, “What is the use of this limitation to the Earth? I want to conquer the skies.” People go to the stars and to the planets. They are not satisfied with life in this world.
But there is no such thing as endless possession. You cannot find the limit of the sky It is endless. To pursue an endless thing is to pursue a will-o'-the-wisp, so you will never have it. The desire to possess infinitely will have no meaning. It will be defeated. The desire to live the longest life also will be defeated.
But there is a hidden meaning behind this longing. Why is the person pursuing some impossible thing – the path of having endless possessions and living endlessly in time, which are purely contradictory situations? Why are they enshrined in the heart of a person? That is because you belong to two worlds. You belong to the world of time and space, and you also belong to the world of infinity and eternity. It is impossible to conceive of eternity and infinity, because infinity is not vast expanse. Vast expanse is the quality of space only, and infinite existence is spacelessness.
It is difficult to conceive all these things because if you are within space you will be pursuing an endless phantasmagoria, as you see the horizon and try to go near it, to touch it. The farther you go towards the horizon, the more you will find it receding. There is no such thing as endlessness in the world. It is like the endlessness of the horizon. Similar is the endlessness of time. That also is not possible. If that is not possible, why is this desire in the mind of a person? It is God speaking inside. What you call infinity and eternity is another name for Absolute perfection, which is the creative power of the universe.
You cannot easily imagine what this creative power is. If the universe is indescribably vast, beyond the concept or calculation by the human mind, That which has created it must be vaster still. The vastest space and time complex is little when compared to the vaster-still existence of what you call the Creator of the universe. And you are included inside that. You are within space, within time, inside the world, so you cannot stand outside the world, outside space, outside time.
Now, if this is the case, you are involved in the whole spatiotemporal complex. You are involved in the entire creative activity of the cosmos because if you say that you are separately sitting somewhere, you will be outside the space-time world, which is not possible. The very cells of your body are made up of the space-time complex. The particles of nature are operating through the body of every person so that there is nothing in a person totally independent of natural forces and cosmic existence.
Hence, you are basically, potentially, a citizen of the cosmos. Not merely a citizen in the sense of an individual outside the country, you are organically connected with it because of the fact you cannot stand outside it. Can you conceive this state of affairs where you are cosmically involved, and you are existing as a whole total energy of the cosmos, and you are not a person – not a man, not a woman, not anything? Can you imagine this condition? This is the beginning of philosophical thinking.
This is a seed I am sowing for deep, profound, valuable thinking in the direction of the knowledge of what the purpose of life is. The purpose of life is to finally attain deathlessness and to overcome the limitations of space. You do not like to be cooped up in one little place. You travel all over the world. You would like to be as big as possible. Otherwise, why should you not stay in your room? Why do you travel? Limitation is anathema to the inner asking of wider dimensions. That is why people go, go, go, go, to touch everything. They would like to touch the stars also. That is the inner longing to be endless infinitude. And, at the same time, there is a desire to be existing always. Even if you are an emperor of the whole world but life is only for three minutes, that emperorship has no meaning; and even if the life is very long but it is utter poverty, that also is no good. So two things should combine in the person: the endlessness of spatial expanse and the endlessness of the time process, which is not possible practically on account of the perishability of the limitations of space and the limitations of time.
So you must be cautious enough to realise what it is that you are wanting. You do not exist at all as a so-called you because of your participation in the cosmic process. The whole universe is existing, and everything inside it is like a cell in the organism of the universe. As the cell is not outside the body, none of us is outside the universe. Then when you think, you must think like the universe. This is actually, veritably, to think as God Himself thinks. If you can think like this perpetually, you have performed the greatest worship and the greatest service to everybody, and blessed thou art. Then no hair of your body can be shaken by anybody. The forces in the universe will protect you for all time, and make you the most blessed of individuals, because you are no more an individual.