Just a few days back, my daughter asked me what her goal in life should be. I was too dumbfounded to answer, for I had never thought about it! I was leading my life, doing my job, raising my kids, looking after my family. But, were these my goals in life? Getting a cushy job, owning a house and car, getting a hefty bank balance — suddenly these seemed to pale away. That wasn’t my goal in life.
Then what was?
I had to find out for myself, before I could answer my child. I set out on a journey to figure it out and stumbled upon some words of Swami Vivekananda that seemed addressed to me.
“The goal of mankind is knowledge and that is one ideal placed before us in Eastern philosophy. Pleasure is not the goal in life, pleasure and happiness both come to an end. Men foolishly think that happiness is the goal to strive for and that leads to greater misery.
The ideal is knowledge, knowledge that will set us free. Freedom is the basis for all the struggles in life.
The saint is oppressed with the knowledge of his condition of bondage and wants to get rid of it by worshipping God.
The thief is oppressed with the idea that he doesn’t possess certain things and he tries to get rid of that want. To obtain freedom from it, he steals. The freedom loved by the saint leads him to bliss, but that which the robber has set his heart on, forges greater bondage.” Only knowledge and devotion bestow peace on the soul. This does not mean that we won’t work, won’t earn or live well: we will. But that is only a means to sustain ourselves in our pursuit of calming spiritual knowledge.
Otherwise, we will never be free from vacillating between sadness and joy. Lastly, Swamiji says that if every mother could tell this to her child as the goal of life, all the miseries of the world would come to an end.