True purpose of existence and immortality
by Swami Prasad Sharma
(Dona Paula, Goa, India)
True purpose of existence and immortality
We happen to be in this world unknowingly but started liking it for various reasons. Our liking develops to such an extent that we try to prolong our life as long as possible by all means. The moment we gain our senses we start considering our body as “I” and start seeking pleasure through our five senses, i.e., eye, ear, tongue, nose, and skin. Naturally, for pleasure we depend on outer agencies or objects. This leads to the necessity of depending on others. Dependence in turn brings misery or disgust in life.
Similarly, the end of our existence also comes unknowingly. Death doesn’t care about our willingness to continue to live. Throughout life, one always considers himself as a body and remains attached to it firmly, till death snatches it away.
The above two facts of the life (events of birth and death) are connected with a desire for pleasure and immortality. Since time immemorial people have been devising ways to attain these goals. Now it is well established by wise persons that two aspects are involved here: pleasure in divine love and immortality through knowledge of the self.
What is love? Let us consider three situations between two individuals:
1. One is always giving to another out of love without any expectations.
2. Both are giving as well as taking.
3. One is always receiving, sometimes even without acknowledging.
So in the first case love turns into pleasure, in the second case it is a business like attitude where both try to gain objectively, and in the third case it is just selfish and ultimately leads to dissatisfaction in the relationship.
The technique to get true pleasure works through universal love, developed to the extent of divinity (Refer to article “From loneliness to universal companionship”). All walls of distinctions (caste, creed, wealth, gender etc.) are to be demolished. One does not even need to be literate to acquire this technique. It needs a selfless attitude in all circumstances. Here tolerance is of utmost importance because such a person becomes the target of his own community and suffers. Usually he takes up service to mankind, a source of divine pleasure.
Now coming to immortality, it can never be of the body that is always changing since birth.
It has a beginning and is destined to end in the collapsing of the whole system. It’s existence can be prolonged through various means but it certainly couldn’t be made immortal. It is the soul that is immortal. This is known through self-enquiry in two ways:
1. Consider that an immortal element present in the body cannot be compared characteristically with anything in the world, or that an element is pervading all beings and non-beings. It can be extracted and visualized through certain Yogic practices but success is not time bound.
2. Revelation may happen without a desire even, by the grace of God or perhaps due to deeds in a past life. Either way, one attains self-realization and only this self is immortal and unchanging. Here we don’t visualize anything because our sense faculties are not present at that moment, so it is not possible to describe it fully, but its characteristics are similar to those of God and descriptions of this can be found in all religions. The relation between God and the soul(self) may be compared as between the Sun and its rays, the Ocean and its waves, etc. Both exist together and inseparably.
There are three steps in the path of devotion to God, namely, wisdom, perseverance, and solace. Naturally, the wisdom develops through our own experiences and is also gained through other’s experiences. A child confined to isolation would hardly learn any language or behavioral aspects. Hence a suitable social environment, favourable or otherwise, is required.
Any spiritual/materialistic phenomena we perceive through our wisdom are limited. There is always much more than what we know. Hence, we need to approach wise persons for what we don’t know in our field of interest and in the process both are benefited. Since spirituality is unworldly, at an appropriate time God provides the devotee with a guide, whose pleasure is to guide true seekers and to infuse faith in the process. Until we get such a guide we can continue to clean our heart by removing all vices and the rest is taken care of by God, through His representative (the difference between God and his representative is for name’s sake, not in reality).
Hence, the purpose of our existence is to achieve true love eternally and attain conscious immortality through self-realization.