He wanted to become an engineer since his childhood, perhaps even before reaching his teens. It was not easy to get into an Engineering college those days so he had to toil, stop his extra curricular activities and concentrate on studies. The hard-work paid off, now, he was pursuing his engineering and it was a dream coming true. He asked himself now what? Well, let us enjoy this education and become an engineer what else?
With passage of each year, the question of “now what” became more prominent. He wondered what next? He thought to take up administrative services as his next goal. He filled the form, UPSC responded – instead of the admit card they had sent a letter – “your age is less than 20 years as of 31st July so you cannot take this exam in the current year.” He could have waited one more year but then his father was about to get retired in few years so except finding a job nothing could come to his mind. So, he set another goal, crack campus interview. By grace of God or he was lucky or may be because of his abilities he could secure a job on campus without much difficulty. He still had couple of months on campus to complete his final year. He was happy he got what he wanted. Though this pleasure was short lived, his mind started playing tricks with him again – “Now, you have a job what next?”
He was a dreamer, ambitious and committed person. So, he kept on feeding to his mind – “I will work hard, prove myself.” So, the mind probing – “You have achieved what you set as your goals without much of difficulty so sure you will get those too, but what next?” He responded to the mind – “well, I would get promoted faster than anyone else!” Mind was in no mood to end the questioning – “What after that?” He said – “I will buy Hyundai Santro. Work hard, get promoted, buy Honda City. work harder buy a house. Work hard, get promoted buy a bigger house.” He couldn’t think beyond these simple cycles of Work hard, get promoted buy car, buy house and again go back to work hard. So the mind said – “Ok! you would get retired one day doing all this, isnt it?” What after that? Why are you going to do all this? What is the purpose? Can’t one survive in smaller house? Can’t one be happy in smaller home? Can one go beyond becoming a CEO? What next? Is there an end to your carving? Is there a full stop? Why are you doing or planning to do everything? What is driving you? He slept questioning this to himself.
He started asking himself – “Why I do what I do?” “What is the purpose of my life?” He came and asked me – “Dada (elder brother in some Indian languages), whats happening? Why we run around, except filling two square meal in stomach, do we have any bigger goal in life? Is there something beyond the physical world that we should strive for?”
I asked him – What is the purpose of your life? He said – “I wanted to be an engineer, now I am completing engineering. Next thing came in my mind was a job. Thankfully I got that too in campus interviews, but now I am questioning myself what next? Why? How? What for?”
I told him – there are various reasons you are running from one goal to the other. These can be put in bigger buckets such as – emotions, social acceptance, materialistic wealth. I cannot say why you wanted to be an engineer but when you set that goal you attached your emotions to that goal – you were “Happy” or you got a “sense of satisfaction” when you achieved it. Than that was in your hand, you didn’t bother about becoming an engineer – because you were doing engineering and there was no way you couldn’t get it any further. So your mind wandered – what next? The next thing came to you was social acceptance as in, job security. Than materialistic goal of car and home and bigger cars & homes. Your mind kept on pursuing these thoughts – that is great. Most of the time people never think beyond first level (“of owning a car to what next”) of these thoughts. But it was good that you could somehow get confused and couldn’t get to the end of your running around. Even if you think you would be satisfied, happy and socially respected when you get something, become somebody that happiness or satisfaction will be short-lived.
I added – let me try to put these in further perspective – when you decided about a goal you feverishly ran to just get their. You missed the pasture in the race by just checking the milestones – “how much is left? Instead of enjoying the beauty of where you were standing.” I believe purpose of life is not just running from one point to the other making them as your goals. If you think of doing this; your goal will always be a moving target. No doubt you should have some or the other target, why not? But the purpose of your life should be being in present, staying satisfied with whatever you have, doing what best you could do to achieve your goals and yet you should not be feverish about your targets. When you die, you will leave everything here – your Hyundai Santro or Honda City or for that matter the big home you think you will buy when you are 55 (perhaps 34 years in the future!). You know Krishna said in the Geeta –
Ma Karmaphalaheturbhurma Te Sangostvakarmani
So just do things, enjoy your journey, dont be feverish about collecting flags, batches or medals. Because whenever you have some medal as your goal, your subtle wish is happiness or satisfaction of getting that. So, basically your purpose is more to be happy or be satisfied. My learning in all these years has been – happiness and satisfaction cannot be achieved while your mind runs outside. You can be happy and satisfied when you are in the NOW.
Your purpose in life can be anything – set the target, plan and execute. Why worry about future, be in the present, be happy and satisfied. Happiness and satisfaction lie in the present not in the future not in achieving the goal.
Disclaimer – Please do not make a goal of bothering anyone else. Actually teachings of many religion – a very strong teaching of Jainism – is not to harm others. So when you set a goal (or try to make a purpose of life) do not set it as killing others becoming a e.g. terrorist, at least consciously.
Purpose of my life – be Zorba the Buddha. Be in the present, enjoy life to the fullest and yet be completely aware about it. It is not something to be achieved, it is something to be lived. That is what I think “enlightenment” is.
Image source -Target https://pixabay.com/en/target-goal-business-icon-logo-1151287/
Dream – http://clipartzebraz.com/files/1/24044_dream-clip-art.html