A user’s guide to living – part 4
WHAT IS YOUR ULTIMATE GOAL IN LIFE?
DAAJI continues his series on daily living and human transformation. In this article, he introduces the third universal principle of the user’s guide – the science of goal-setting, and of connecting with our life’s ultimate purpose.
Within the five elements are ten universal principles:
In his much celebrated book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, published in 1989, Stephen Covey outlines habit #2, “Begin with the end in mind.” This habit is the ability to envision in your mind what you really want, or want to be, even though you cannot presently see it with your eyes. In the yogic literature, this ability to imagine and visualize a goal is known as kalpana. It is based on the principle that what you create in your mind is what finally manifests in your life. Per contra, if you do not consciously envision what you want to be, then you will be shaped by the influence of others and the environment around you.
Covey’s book has had a huge impact on how individuals and companies proactively set their goals and work towards fulfilling them. But the scope of their goal setting is limited to achievements and values in the worldly domain.
It is easy to observe that when we don’t fix our goals, no matter what the endeavor, we may fail to reach the mark. Often, we mistake an intermediate stage as the final destination, or we get sidetracked. Those of us who have clear goals are more likely to succeed than those who do not.
In today’s world, this seems so obvious, but when Babuji wrote his book in the 1940s, it was not well understood in the context of modern management theory. In fact, it was not until 1960 that some of the nascent theories related to goal-setting were published. Contrast this with the ancient traditions, such as Yoga and the Vedic literature: Swami Vivekananda was famous for his statement, “Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached,” and his inspiration for this statement is thought to have come from chapter 1.3.14 of the Katha Upanishad, in which Lord Yama is teaching Nachiketa the methods of Yoga. The idea of singlepointed attention has been one of the fundamental principles of Yoga since time immemorial, as Yoga is a goal-focused way of life. Plato also describes the goal-directed nature of the soul of reason in his book, The Republic, and Aristotle’s view is, “First, have a definite, clear practical ideal; a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends; wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end.”
In the last four decades, research in the fields of management and psychology has corroborated this correlation between goal-setting and performance. When we have a clear goal we are energized, and we have purpose and direction. This creates the motivation we need to keep going when we face the inevitable obstacles and challenges. In short, people with goals are more likely to go farther than people without them.
Babuji came to similar conclusions through his own experience and intuition, but that was not all. His idea of setting a goal went a step further. It encompassed all the dimensions of existence, not just the physical world. He talked about the highest goal of human life, and his guidance is summarized as follows:
Fix your Goal,
which is complete oneness with God.
Rest not till the ideal is achieved.
Here we will explore this ultimate Goal of human life, and see what happens when we adopt it for ourselves, and what it takes to reach that state.
The importance of fixing the Goal
To become aware of such an all-encompassing Goal requires knowledge and discernment about the purpose of human life, and it is surely not what many of us are looking for when we start meditating. Actually, many of us embark on a spiritual quest for more immediate needs, like feeling peaceful, removing the heavy burden of emotional turmoil, and learning to manage our thoughts. And that is all fine, because our goals keep changing. Initially, we are often focused on the periphery of our being – our physical existence and the associated momentary pleasures of the body. The causes of pleasure and happiness for a child are different than the causes of pleasure for a teenager, a young adult, a middle-aged person and an elderly person.
When we develop more of an attraction towards the heart and mind – the subtle bodies – we start to long for inner happiness instead of just pleasure seeking, and later on we long for the bliss we experience in meditation. Of course, pleasures are needed in life, happiness is needed, and bliss is needed, but when we are attracted by the causal body, the soul, we are less and less interested in all these things. We go beyond pleasure, happiness and bliss, into the non-bliss state of nothingness that is associated with the Source. That pure, sublime state is difficult to describe, as there is no weight and no quality to it at all.
This journey to attain subtler and subtler states requires purposeful awareness and consciousness of where we are headed, which is also called Jnana Yoga. But knowledge alone is not enough. It is like lighting a candle or turning on the light; the purpose is only to do things, like reading, cooking, or eating dinner. Similarly, we enlighten ourselves with knowledge in order to do things. Knowledge is for that purpose; it has no significance without being put to use.
When we keep our goals in view, our efforts are intensified enough to ensure success. When we fix our thought on a particular goal, the thought itself becomes an intention, powered by our interest and longing, and that helps to pave the way to it.
We can use the metaphor of a boat to explain this idea. A life without a goal is a like a boat without a rudder or a helm. Without applying the helm in the direction of the destination, the boat is unlikely to reach there. For our own inner development, what is that helm? It is our strong interest, longing and determination, along with the willpower and confidence to navigate the eddies and current that are obstacles along the way. This helm-steering involves doing something, the action of Karma Yoga. And here the ‘doing’ involves the Heartfulness practices and lifestyle principles.
The third ingredient is enthusiasm – the vitality and passion that develops in a seeker to continue on the journey toward their goal. This is also known as love and devotion, or Bhakti Yoga. Without the inspiration and soothing effect of love and devotion, the journey would be dry, unforgiving and lifeless. Love propels us forward and upward. It ignites the fire of transcendence.
So setting our sights on the ultimate Goal involves the three great streams of Yoga: Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, and Bhakti Yoga.
This raises another big question:
What is the ultimate goal of human life?
Sages, scientists, religious leaders, philosophers and thought leaders have tried to answer this question throughout human history, along with a few related questions:
Who am I?
Why am I here?
What is the purpose of my existence?
Where did I come from, and where will I go afterward?
The answers to these age-old questions are not only linked to what happens during this lifetime, but are also inextricably linked to what happens before, after, and beyond this physical existence. Some belief systems promote the idea of heaven and hell, while others teach that we will keep being reincarnated until all our karmic debts are paid, and then we will be liberated. Other people believe that there is nothing before or after this life.
Babuji created an entirely new paradigm. He started by asking a simple question, “What is that one thing, having which we will have everything?”
It is not wealth, or power, or fame, or knowledge, or even love and happiness, but the source of all those things. And what is the source of everything? It is the source of creation itself; that which we call the Source or the Ultimate. If we have that, we have everything. And it is possible to attain it in this lifetime.
“What is that one thing,
having which we will have everything?”
It is not wealth, or power, or fame, or knowledge,
or even love and happiness,
but the source of all this things.
This begs another question, “What is complete oneness with the Source?” We can substitute “the Source” with various terms – the Real, God, the Absolute, the Ultimate, and the Center – to describe the changeless state that existed before creation. Everything emanated from it. All creation is a manifestation of that oneness. There is creation and dissolution, evolution and involution, expansion and contraction, but the Source remains as it is, changeless.
This idea can also be explained through quantum physics. If everything in creation is energy and vibration, then nothing within that sphere is really created or destroyed. There are only different levels of vibration. And everything emanates from the Source, which is beyond vibration, and in perfect balance. The fundamental substratum of existence is consciousness. Consciousness is the field of Being. All beings are at different levels of vibration of consciousness. We can, therefore, trace our way back to the Source, first via the mastery of consciousness, then via the mastery of the potentiality that lies at the base of consciousness, and eventually we may reach the absolute state of oneness with the Source. These three stages or regions of existence of the human being were classified by Babuji in terms of our spiritual anatomy as the Heart Region, the Mind Region and the Central Region, in his book Efficacy of Raja Yoga.
And Babuji also created a method by which we are able to refine and expand our consciousness through the journey of the thirteen chakras of these three regions, in order to realize that ultimate Goal, oneness with the Source. He outlined this journey in another of his books, Towards Infinity. All this may sound like science fiction, but it can be experienced by anyone who is willing to try it.
So fixing the Goal is the first step in completing this journey.
What happens when we fix our goal?
When we fix our attention on this Goal of oneness with the Source, with interest and longing, it creates a stir in the Infinite and the divine starts moving towards us. Think of a lover and her beloved. The beloved first hears the call of the lover. Once the relationship is established, the lover and the beloved move towards oneness, until finally the mergence is permanent and lasting. This demonstrates the importance of Bhakti Yoga in the journey. But this mergence is just the preparation! Our swimming in the infinite ocean now starts, and this brings us to the realm of Reality. Here we are free of all the miasmas of the world, but we still have to go farther to reach the final destination.
What is the key to success?
First, we must fix the Goal. Next, in order to arrive at Realization, we need to create an intense longing for the Goal. It starts with an intention, which creates the initial momentum, and which in turn promotes our efforts. Our interest goes on increasing as we gain a deeper understanding of the Goal and we begin to get a taste of its magnitude. Eventually it develops into a deep longing.
Our pursuit of the Goal is an integrated approach involving the heart and the mind. Longing is created in the heart while determination is generated in the mind. In other words, the heart creates the pull while the mind creates the push. The strength of our will and our confidence help us navigate obstacles, and the will is strengthened by applying it through the practices. Confidence also grows with practice. In short, the secret of success has three elements: Consistent practice, clear intention, and intense longing – again, Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, and Bhakti Yoga.
When we adopt these three things, the tendencies of the mind are diverted towards the Goal with sincerity and intensity. All our mental faculties now work together as one powerful stream, instead of being fragmented into multiple channels. This develops with consistent practice.
Those of you who are familiar with these 10 principles know that each one stands on its own as well as forming part of a whole, just like the pearls in a necklace. There is no hierarchy here; each one is equally important. Yet I would like to say that this third principle is one of the most difficult to explain, for in it is contained the entire philosophy of Heartfulness in its essence. It is only as a result of consistent practice that we may truly experience and understand the purpose of fixing the Goal.
Many people ask about the difference between prayer (principle 2) and fixing the Goal (principle 3). In fact they are intricately connected. We establish a connection with the Source when we practice the prayer. When we pray just before meditation, we are offering a deep cry from the bottom of our hearts, and that has the power to summon the Source towards us. Fixing the Goal is a conscious process of keeping that connection alive and allowing it to be enlivened more and more. It is an all-consuming longing, like falling in love multiplied a million times.
When the Goal is foremost in our mind, all other desires drop off, all other attachments lose their intensity, and all expectations vanish. Everything else in our lives is absorbed within this central longing. It is not that we do not value our other worldly relationships and aspects of our lives. They are also there, and they are greatly enriched by the love and potential that develop in us as we journey onward. In fact the worldly riches are embellished by making these 10 principles a part of our life.
But our focus shifts: The central purpose of our existence takes center stage, and all tendencies of the mind are diverted towards it with full vigor. There is extreme impatience and restlessness until the Goal is achieved. That is what it takes to achieve that state.
At this juncture you might ask, “What do I do after I fix the Goal?” I can only answer it from my own experience. Once I fixed the Goal, I continued to practice tirelessly, and left it to my Master.
There are three apparent paradoxes that are worth exploring here:
The first involves the guidance we are given by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. While Babuji tells us to fix our Goal and rest not until it is achieved, Lord Krishna tells us that while we are entitled to fix our Goal, and we have a right to the actions we perform to attain that Goal, we have no right to the Goal itself – the results of our actions are in the hands of God. This concept leads us to another principle that is of great importance on the spiritual journey, that of acceptance of everything that happens along the way. We do our part, and cooperate to the best of our ability, but the timing of events and milestones is not in our hands. There can be no transaction between God and us, and we can only proceed onward by accepting this fact with a yielding heart overflowing with humility. It is what it is. Anyway, the whole of life is governed by the same principle.
The second paradox is this: An even more abstract concept to grasp is that the Goal is also a receding Goal, a never-ending Goal, an infinite Goal. How to understand that we fix a Goal that is not finite? Instead, we approach it asymptotically. To offer a hint here, this paradox is one of the many reasons why the Master is so important in our journey. He represents the Goal that cannot otherwise be adequately defined.
No one can really grasp or understand the Goal that has Infinity at its base. The only way to experience it is through the feeling of incrementally refined consciousness.
And the third and related paradox is this: We may have fixed the ultimate Goal of human life, but what about the immediate goal of today? We live in the world, where the two wings of our existence – the material and spiritual – must be taken care of. Whatever comes our way in the moment is our immediate goal, for example, we may want to get rid of stress and have peace. Then, as we enjoy more and more peace, it will lead to the loosening of attachments, or greater compassion, empathy and generosity of heart. Each stage leads to the next, and the next, and so on. Finally, we are able to perceive the difference between the pure state of consciousness and perceived awareness. Having arrived at a such a pure state of consciousness, we are ready to embark upon the base that supports consciousness. At this highest level, purity reigns supreme.
Purity enhances self-awareness with reverence. It demands nothing. In turn, it keeps our senses in check. As a result, we arrive at single-pointedness and total clarity, because the senses don’t interfere any more. Such a focused mind allows contemplation that results in harmony. It is in this field of harmony that we can cultivate true happiness.
Throughout this incremental journey, even the immediate spiritual goal may not be visible. It is like climbing a mountain through a forest – we cannot always see how far we have come and where we are going. It is only when we reach a vantage point, like a lookout, that we can see back to where we have come from, and get a glimpse of the peak we are headed for. So one way to manage this process of goal-setting for our spiritual journey, is to appreciate what has been given to us in every meditation, absorb it and digest it, and expand it further until we become one with it. In that sense, our goal doesn’t exist in the future at all, it is here and now. And that requires cultivating extreme receptivity in our hearts.
I wish you every success in your journey to the Goal.
Article by KAMLESH PATEL (Daaji)
September 30, 2020
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