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Chapter 3: Purpose of my life

So I started with the classical questions, what is the purpose of my life, why am i here, while i am here-how can i best use my time, what work is worth doing?

I wanted to see how some of the great thinkers had handled the question. The Essential Gandhi gave me a good lead-in into the problem as this was the best collection of Gandhiji’s original thinking bucketed by topic. I learnt what changed from Mohandas to Mahatma. It was the essay called the Kingdom of God is within you by Leo Tolstoy. Tolstoy’s Confession is quite deep in a way that he analyzes his own thinking as well as other philosophers. He mentions that he is greatly influenced by Thoreau’s Walden and John Ruskin as well. I reduced the substance of all these writings to:

Controlling mind and body
It is crucial to control the urges of your mind and body. While practicing meditation, you know that the mind is capable of producing large amounts of garbage thoughts backed with equally non-nonsensical reasoning. The body also can get exposed to laziness and can always keep consuming more than it needs. Once it is lazy, it makes the mind more lazy and a lazy mind eventually makes body lazier and it’s a circle of death after that. For the body, there is fasting, attitude of treating food as ‘medicine’ (only eat just enough) and for the mind, its mindful meditation. The sole purpose of eating should be for nutrition and mere survival of the body and not for beauty or gluttony.

Before we make life’s major decisions, it is critical to silence the cravings of the mind and body. This process takes is tough and can only be achieved by practicing silence  of the mind. “Mind precedes all knowables, mind’s their chief, mind-made are they.”

Simplicity in living and thinking
“I had three pieces of limestone on my desk, but I was terrified to find that they required to be dusted daily, when the furniture of my mind was all undusted still, and threw them out the window in disgust.”– Walden

When we simplify our needs to things to basic absolutes, then we free up ourselves to think about ‘more important’ things in life. Exploration of the ‘self’ and mind is the utmost priority. The five senses are known to cloud the brain and must be understood and directed correctly.

Decisions
When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision. Once a person wills something, the universe conspires to make it happen. Every decision  creates a distinct set of realities that sets on a unique path with associated consequences.

Purpose of life
This can range from living a completely mundane, random life to living a life full of exactness of purpose. The former is way too unplanned and purposeless and the latter is too stringent in it’s fundamentals and does not allow for spontaneity.

I am still to figure out my answer to this, but I distilled a basic set of principles that will drive my final decision:

  • Attachment to material objects and acquiring material items is not the way to go
  • Doing work that loses it’s meaning in the larger context of life and one that makes life better for all living beings easier and joyful. For example, are machines and technology really adding value? Is more automation fundamental to human happiness?
  • When you do work to get stuff for yourself, you expend energy. When you do work with unconditional love, you create energy within yourself and also spread it to others. You also feel a lot more lighter.
  • A person must evolve with life, otherwise he is not fully living. Even if it requires major changes in one’s life and family, it must be done.
  • Passion and emotions are that drive us to our destinies. The more finely we follow them, the greater the fulfillment. Learning to listen to my emotions and basing my decisions on them seems to be the taking me to a ‘better decision’.

A cloud does not know why it moves in just such a direction and at such speed. It feels an impulsion … this is the place to go now. But the sky knows the reasons and the patterns behind all clouds, and you will know, too, when you lift yourself high enough to see beyond the horizons. – Alchemist

I am always skeptical of lofty philosophies and idealism, so I tried to break down the logic and see if it can really survive the test of time as well as if I really validate the results of following certain ideals.

    Why not live a life to fulfill material desires?

    • The problem with acquiring more materials than you absolutely need causes you to spend more time in acquiring money to get materials. Money takes time out of your life and takes a toll on you as a human. I am not saying Money is bad. It makes the world go around and it is important to have an ample amount of it. I am just saying that we should be aware of how much of our lives are we spending on getting it and us not overdoing hoarding it.
    • Everything is ‘Annica’ (impermanent) and ‘X’ (constantly changing) and any expectations tied to both of these qualities are bound to be break
    • If the excuse is to pursue things just because one wants to confirm with the norms of society than one may end up frustrated when they hit tough waters in life

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