Volume I - The Way of Illumination
Section IV - The Purpose of Life
A person who is conscientious in his duty, who attaches great importance to his ideal, is apt to say to the person who is engaged in money making, 'You are striving for earth's treasures, I am performing what I consider my duty.' The person who is making his way to heaven, who is holding paradise in his expectations, is inclined to say to the pleasure seeker, 'You are absorbed in life's momentary pleasures, I am working for the life to come.' But the person who is busy money making can also say to the one who is conscientious of duty and the one possessing the high ideal, 'If you had to go through the experience which I have to, you would see in this too something worthwhile.' And the seeker after paradise may also be answered by the pleasure seeking soul, as Omar Khayyam said:
This shows that all these seekers after different things, seekers after wealth, seekers after ideal, seekers after pleasure, and seekers after paradise, must have their own ways. They will at the same time have their own reasons. One may contradict another, although they are all making their way to the goal. Sooner or later, with more or less difficulty, they must arrive at the purpose of life.
One may ask, 'Which of these four ways is the best way of arriving at the purpose of life?' That way is best which suits you best. The way of one person is not for another person, although man is always inclined to accuse another person of doing wrong, believing that he himself is doing right. In reality, the purpose is beyond all these four things. Neither in paradise nor in the ideal, neither in pleasures nor in the wealth of this earth is that purpose accomplished. That purpose is accomplished when a person has risen above all these things. It is that person then, who will tolerate all, who will understand all, who will assimilate all things, who will not feel disturbed by things which are not in accordance with his own nature or the way which is not his way. He will not look at them with contempt, but he will see that in the depth of every being there is a divine spark which is trying to raise its flame toward the purpose.
When a person has arrived at this stage, he has risen above the limitations of the world. Then he has become entitled to experience the joy of coming near to the real purpose of life. It is then that in everything that he says or does, he will be accomplishing that purpose. Whether outwardly, to the world, it would seem the right thing or the wrong thing, he is accomplishing his purpose just the same. For instance, I have seen holy souls taking part in a religious procession which was made perhaps by the ordinary people. Thousands of people making a kind of fete-day, playing music and dancing before the procession, singing and enjoying themselves. And among them, most highly developed souls, who might be called saints, doing the same thing, all following the procession. One might wonder if they needed it. Is it good for their evolution, or by this do they gain any satisfaction? No. And yet it does not hinder their progress. They are what they are. They know what they know. A grown up person by playing with the children does not become a child. He only adapts himself for the time being to the party or children.
Did not Solomon sit on a throne and wear a crown? Did it make him less wise, or did it rob him of spirituality? No, for he was above it. For him the throne or crown was nothing but acting in a play for the time being. It was a pastime. We read that Krishna took part in the battle described in the Mahabharata. A self-righteous man would look upon it as a cruel thing and would be ready to condemn Krishna for this. But behind that outward appearance, what was there? There was the highest realization of love, of wisdom, of justice, of goodness. The soul had reached its culmination. An ordinary person, even today, will judge it. He would ask how it could be a great Master who led the army of Arjuna.
We come to understand by this that the further we go
the more tolerant we become. Outward things matter little.
It is the inward realization which counts. However sacred
duty may be, however high may be the hope of paradise, however
great the happiness one may experience in the pleasures
of the earth, however much satisfaction one may find in
earthly treasures, the purpose of life is in rising above
all these things. It is then that the soul will have no
discord, no disagreement with others. It is then that the
natural attitude of the soul will become tolerant and forgiving.
The purpose of life is fulfilled in rising to the greatest
heights and in diving to the deepest depths of life: in
widening one's horizon, in penetrating life in all its spheres,
in losing oneself, and in finding oneself in the end. In
the accomplishment of the purpose of life the purpose of
creation is fulfilled. Therefore, in this fulfillment it
is not that man attained, but that God Himself has fulfilled