A Life of Purpose is a Life of Service


living a life of purpose-Devshishu

Today, one of my close friends came over to my home. When I opened the door, she spoke not a word, just came in and sat down, sad and sullen, eyes downcast and swollen from crying. I knew she was deeply troubled about something, and I instinctively put my hands on hers. She immediately came forward and hugged me, and burst out in sobs. Her husband had just suffered a severe heart attack and may live only for a few more years, the doctors had said. I said nothing, I just stood there shocked, with my own eyes brimming with tears, holding her in my arms and waiting for her to calm down. But I had to hold myself together like a brave and supportive friend. So, I simply took her hand, and went out for a walk into the woods nearby.

We live in Dharamshala, a beautiful Himalayan town, of snow-capped mountains, full of greenery and an abundance of several Himalayan flowers and plants, the names of many whom I do not know of. The formidable and majestic mountains loomed large over us as we walked slowly, surrounded by pristine nature. Below is a photo of a gurgling stream near my home.

walking meditation in nature-Devshishu

We walked in deep silence and thought. At this point, our stroll was stopped by a pleasant fragrance. The Himalayan landscape is home to various beautiful flowers, and this one was a giant red flower that rose in full bloom before us, full of life and a wonderful fragrance. Just to behold it was a sight and rarity in itself. All thoughts stopped as we stared at it, spellbound by its beauty. I put out my hands to gently touch it, feel its soft petals and caress it, and my friend did the same. When we withdrew our hands, we were amazed to find the sweet fragrance still lingering in our hands. We looked at one other, stuck by the same thought at the same time. ‘This flower would hardly be alive for a few days at the most. Yet it smiles, blossoms, and is full of life, giving its beauty and fragrance to anyone who passes by and cares to experience it just a little. Isn’t this a great service for the world, coming from a mere flower with a limited existence?

As we continued admiring its beauty, a small white butterfly came and sat on it, sucking nectar from it for all its worth. As we all know, butterflies are one of the insects that aid in pollination and thus play a major role helping in the reproduction of flowers and fruits. And what is the life span of this butterfly? Hardly a month! But does it ever stop to think about its short life, and cry about it? No.

For the short time it is here, it is fully alive, happily fluttering about from one flower to another, proving to be immensely useful by helping in the procreation and sustenance of nature, the limited duty it has been assigned to do on earth. And once its service to the world is over, it knows the time has come for it to leave, so it quietly sits, draws its last breath and then sleeps forever. Without any lament, complaint, resistance and fully accepting the ultimate law of the universe. A sacred presence, both in life and death.

Turning to my friend, I asked her this very question that was running in both our minds. ‘What about us, my friend? Your husband may go in five years, you may go in twenty and I may go before or after you, nobody knows. And who cares? How important are we to this world, beyond our own small families? Ultimately, isn’t the quality of life more important than the quantity, for the quantity or life span is not in our hands, while the quality of our life is in our hands.

Maybe, we can start living like that giant flower or small butterfly, who live for just a short while, but provide great service to the world in their own unique way. They may have a limited existence, but aren’t they wiser than us, do they not teach us the deepest truths if only we care to learn from them?’

My friend stared at me, spellbound, at this new perspective to life.

‘Is living a hundred years a life well lived? Or is living a life of purpose and service well-lived? Is it the quantity or the quality of life that matters more?’

So, what is your unique purpose in this world? What have you come in here for? Is it to lament or complain, or is to serve and aid in the sustenance and betterment of this world? Ask yourself this question again and again repeatedly.

In the limited time you are here, you can choose to merely live, fulfill your own selfish needs and greed, or you can choose to be truly alive and serve the purpose for which you came here. Do you live a miserly existence, simply going to a job for the sake of earning a living for yourself and your family? Or do you strive to serve the people, the society and the world around you? The first motive is selfishness, and is bound to cause you misery and bondage. However, the second leads to freedom – your work is the way to your freedom, where you are truly aligned with your real nature, and you work not by expecting results for yourself but rather with an intention to serve others around you, in whatever way you can. Any job can be a service, whether you are running a business, doing a desk job, cooking, farming or even cleaning the toilet! In doing this, you are purified, you become as enlightened as that beautiful flower or butterfly, who unselfishly serve the universe, rather than thinking about themselves and their limited bodily existence all the while.

“To live is not to merely breathe, not to carry on a burden of existence, but to be truly alive, to realize our true nature, and to serve the world. This and this alone can justify our existence in this world.”

So, what is your Swadharma, that inner calling, your purpose in life? What would you like to dedicate your life for?

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