If you asked a child ‘What do you want to be in life?’, and he or she replied ‘I want to be happy’, what would you do?. Most adults would say, ‘That is true, beta. But what do you want to do to be happy? Do you want to be a doctor, an engineer or an actor?’ These adults start to give children goals and ambitions that we think, will make us happy. This achievement orientation comes from a sense of insufficiency in our lives. In true childish candour, the child has hit the nail on the head by saying, ‘I want to be happy’.
This need to be happy and a fulfilled person is the goal of life. Not knowing how or where we are going to get this fulfilment, we seek it through our various activities. After all, ‘Since happiness is out there somewhere if I get the perfect job, the perfect house, the perfect, I will be perfectly happy’, becomes our belief. Although these do make us happy in a relative manner, it does not give us a sense of fulfillment. Therefore, we want a better job, better house and better relationships. The struggle of life continues.
To be a truly fulfilled being, free from my sense of insufficiency and lack, irrespective of my position or condition in life is the core of spirituality in general and Vedanta in particular. Some ask – Will this not make us complacent, less ambitious? Perhaps. Perhaps not. In any case, ambition is overvalued. We can achieve things happily from a sense of self sufficiency rather than insufficiency. We can happily build our careers, families and institutions. All this is possible with a sense of fulfillment and happiness. We cannot get there by a mere change of attitude. That is a mistake many make. It can only be, by discovering oneself as Ananda. This is the core teaching of Vedanta and indeed the true purpose of a human being’s life.
The writer is the founder of Aarsha Vidya Foundation. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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