We all like to get what we regard to be our true worth in all our dealings. Parents who put their children through an expensive education hope that they will end up with five figure salaries; actors and directors who work hard on their movies hope to reap rich profits as well as awards; sportsmen and artists look not only for worthy remuneration but also accolades from their peers and their governments. Young women get married in the hope that their husbands will treat them like queens and hold them as the apple of their eyes.
We look for value addition in everything we do. We question the worth and the price we pay for everything, including medical treatment and education. A man who undergoes knee replacement surgery asks his surgeon, “For how many years will this knee be good for me?” A student who joins the MBA programme demands to know whether her job will recover her fees in two months. “What am I going to get out of this?” is a constant refrain in business, investment and trade. In business circles, my friends tell me, this is known as ROI—return on investment.
A friend recently told me that he had an altercation with a beggar at the gates of a shrine he visited. He had dropped five rupee notes into the bowls of all the beggars who had been sitting outside the gates of the shrine to beg for alms. One of the beggars had loudly demanded whether five rupees was all he could afford to give away in charity. When the friend tried to remonstrate, the beggar is said to have remarked, “Come on, sir! We all know you are giving away your money only to wash off your sins and obtain God’s favours through charity. Nobody in your position gives away anything for nothing!”
True, we like to make the best of every bargain! But are you getting the best out of your bargain with life? Have you indeed made the most of your life? Are you living your precious human life meaningfully, consciously, purposefully?
I know the answer to that question is not easy. But you will agree with me that we need to think about it, at least occasionally. True, we all love life and want to make the most of it. We long for happiness, peace and fulfillment in all that we do. But do we know the purpose of this life, the goal of this life?
Our saints and sages have said to us repeatedly: this human birth is invaluable, it is God’s greatest gift to us, let us use it wisely and well. Have you ever asked yourself as you snuggle into bed and drift into sleep: what have I done with my day today? Have I moved closer to God? Have I brought happiness to anyone? Have I spoken kind words? I know several businessmen who will not leave their offices before the day’s accounts are tallied and closed to their satisfaction. They insist that pending bills and unsettled transactions should not be carried forward to the next day. But how many of us tally our daily accounts in the book of life?
If truth were to be told, we live a life of inertia. We leave our accounts unsettled, untallied. Days and weeks and months pass by rapidly; we get older, but, alas, not wiser! We seem to be frittering our life in pursuits that contribute nothing to take us closer to the Truth. Time is fleeting. If we are to make the most of this life, the time to begin is NOW.
So many of us today are just drifting through life. We do not know where we are going; we do not even know what we want out of life. We work like machines, going through the same routine day after day. We forget that each of us is unique. They say that there are hundred million people in India today. Just imagine, among those hundred million people there is no one exactly like you. Why, amongst the billions of people, who inhabit the earth, there is no other person who is like you? You are unique. God made you for a special purpose. Discover that special purpose. Make it your goal and once you have fixed that goal, you must keep your eyes always on that goal. This is one of the secrets of making the most of life—fix your goal.
If I were to ask you right now: “What is that you want out of life? What do you wish to achieve? Not many of you will be able to give me an answer straight away. But if I were to phrase the same question in a negative manner, “What is it that you feel you cannot achieve?” Many of you will have ready answers. Some of you will say to me, “Achievement does not run in our family. My father achieved nothing; my brother achieved nothing. I shall achieve nothing.” Perhaps others will say, “I do not have the power, the education or the influence and the resources to achieve whatever I want.” Yet others might say, “My brother has all the brains in the family and my sister has all the good looks, I have nothing, so I cannot do anything.” To each of you I would say: you must fix your goal. It may be a material goal or a spiritual goal but you must fix your goal, and everyday, you must work to reach that goal!
Several years ago, a cartoon appeared in an American newspaper. It showed Martians, looking at people on earth: One Martian asks another, “What are those people doing on earth?” The other replies, “They are moving.” “Where are they moving?” persists the first one. “They do not know where they are moving. They are just moving,” is the reply. We are just moving; we are just drifting. But if we wish to succeed, we must fix our goal! We should be able to describe our goal vividly. We should fix it in our imagination. And we should have an unswerving focus on the goal all the time.
If we are fortunate, if the grace of God is upon us, a day comes in our lives when we see the futility of all the running around and the restlessness. Our soul is awakened and we realise that we have wandered far too long. The truth dawns upon us that we have dwelt in darkness till now; the restlessness now gives way to an overwhelming emptiness within; we long for peace within the heart; we are filled with a sense of yearning to realise the goal of our life.
The river of time flows on. The hours quickly change into days, the days into months and the months into years. Suddenly, one day, the bell rings and the call goes forth: “Vacate the house [of the body]!” The body drops down and man realises that he has lost the golden opportunity of the human birth. We must be very careful about our time. We must use it creatively and never forget that every moment is just the right time to do a right thing. If we wait for more opportune moments, we may have to wait till eternity. Take care of your moments and the years will take care of themselves.
Therefore, we must fix a goal. So many of us, alas, are just moving, knowing not where we are going. Time is neutral. It could be used either constructively or destructively. Therefore, let us fix a goal—secular or spiritual—and each day strive to draw closer to the goal.
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