Meditation – Personal Experience (The Context)

As we approach end of 2019, I complete my 6 years of meditation practice.

To be honest, it hasn’t been the most consistent habit in terms of duration of meditation window or quality of my efforts but definitely has been a key feature of my lifestyle. Over the course, I have experienced immense improvement in quality of life especially during the early phase of adoption when lot of things were going wrong namely unhealthy lifestyle and state of mind and that ripe situation allowed for some quick yet big wins.

To begin the practice of meditation, when it wasn’t such a buzz, was an outcome of a keen desire and pressing need for better control over self.

I was 28 years old and on the surface appeared, to most, an intelligent person educated at some of the best institutions in India and abroad, with a very interesting and exciting professional and personal life. However during my moments of self reflection, I had realized that I was just another unanchored youth drifting away in waves of impulsive acts for the last decade and my consciousness, intelligence was dimming with each such act of indulgence. I was setting myself up for a disaster with all my actions directed to immediate pleasure & amusement and each indulgence only fanning the desire for more. This vicious and thoughtless exercise drove me to the point where, in my ignorance, I was very playfully challenging the moral and ethical threads of my microcosm. Yet, in spite of stretching the boundaries there was no lasting satisfaction or joy, just fleeting moments of laughter at times followed by repentance and a strong yearning for fulfillment, contentment. On a lucky day, i realised that my youthful and idealistic ambitions to make the world a better place couldn’t be realised if I continued the same way and failed to better myself. To bring change outside, i had to start from within.

Thus, i sought a realignment in my world-view and life philosophy. In this search, i was fortunate to be helped by a college friend who guided me towards the vast, invaluable yet unexplored wisdom of our Vedic scriptures. I was sceptical initially but I approached the subject matter with openness and found it to suggest better questions that I must be asking myself and to my surprise, it also had very intelligent answers to those questions. A serendipitous sequence of events during that very brief period of self-exploration also led me to a revered monk, an engineer himself, whom i see as my Spiritual Guru. His association and discourses based on Bhagavad Gita on topics such as the meaning, purpose of life; what is true lasting joy; how can one achieve or fulfill the purpose gave a firm foundation to start my meditation practice. I will be eternally grateful to my Guru who inspite of all my shortcomings saw me worthy of receiving this knowledge and benefit from his association.

With this background, i started my practice of meditation. I humbly confess to be not the most disciplined and distinguished disciple of the practice but can still afford to make a bold claim that it has the power to transform one’s thoughts and actions as it cleanses our consciousness and elevates our being by bringing clarity about our true identity, by reinforcing self-discipline and inducing bliss in our life. Thus, i have been continuing with the practice for last 6 years and strive to get better with time.

In my next post, i shall elaborate upon the specific meditation practice and what makes it powerful and effective.

Experience & Reflection

I recently had to spend sometime on road waiting for a friend. It was just 100 mtrs from entrance to a Jail. That hour of the day likely coincided with visiting hours of Jail as I noticed a lot of people, especially women, walking out from the compound during those 15 minutes while I was there. One very upsetting observation I made was that almost all of these women – mothers, sisters, daughters or wives of inmates – were wiping their tears as they walked out. It was sad and painful to imagine how badly their lives would have been affected and how difficult it must be for them to see how their loved ones, no matter how tough or dreaded criminals they maybe, had been compelled to wash off precious years of their life locked in their cells. But it is only justified as this detention is an outcome of their own choices and actions.

The situation however has an uncanny resemblance to the story of every human being. As a spirit soul, this body is like an entrapment and jail for us. This material body is not our natural and original form. It is a condition where we have to face the inevitable hardships of old age, diseases, death and then rebirth. Our original form is eternal and blissful but due to our own ignorant choice of wanting to lord over material nature, we are stuck in this material world. Unfortunately many of us may not even realize, like many inmates don’t, that we are suffering. However, our loved one – the Supreme Soul – with whom we enjoy relationship as child, friend or student is immensely pained by our situation. Yet since true love is governed by free will he leaves it to us to make the choice to continue with our ignorant, irresponsible behaviour and stay stuck in this material world or to act in line with his instructions and head back to our home – spiritual abode – and relish spiritual bliss. 

So the way we would expect those inmates to have made a better choice or mend their way now for better future; let’s ourselves make a better choice. Let’s use this golden opportunity rendered to us in form of human life and evolved intellect to free ourselves and to bring happiness to our creator and loved one. The first step in this journey back home is to reflect upon the most important and fundamental aspects such as why we are born, what happens after death, why do we die, what is true happiness. As our knowledge has its limitations, we must seek answers in Vedic wisdom – imparted to the first living being by the Lord himself. It will help us find the way back to pure and eternal bliss.

So let’s not waste time and get started. Wish you inquisitiveness to seek answers to the questions that matter.!! 

Pursuit of happiness.

Happiness is something that we are all after and still few seem to have it and they too have it for a limited time.

What is interesting though is that what keeps us away from happiness or happiness away from us is our ‘desire’ to be happy. One of the attributes of this desire is propensity to control & direct our external circumstances and behavior of people, system around us to our liking.

Being satisfied with our life, our circumstances is in one sense a pre-requisite to happiness. This satisfaction can be looked at as a neutral stage that comes before the more positive and vibrant stage of happiness. However, if things or circumstances don’t go our way, we are not satisfied and that erodes any possibility of being happy.

Considering it will always be difficult to control so many external variables including people, majority of us find that our circumstances are not always the way we would want them to be. What we want does not happen and what we don’t want to happen does. This is what lends life its defining feature for a majority: unsatisfactory or discontenting.

Thus, if we make controlling our external circumstances a pre-requisite, from a pragmatic stand-point, we are bound to be discontent and thus unhappy most of the time.

However, if we flip the paradigm and free ourself from this burden of controlling, dictating our external environment and rather focus on controlling what we can – our internal circumstances – then we are far better placed to be content and even happy.

This is one sense is also a corollary to the central teaching of Bhagavad Gita – that we should focus our attention on the action, which is within our control, and not be affected or influenced by the outcome, in which a lot of stakeholders play a role.

Thus, the route to happiness is created by curbing the desire to be happy and the desire to control our circumstances.

Freewill: Asset or liability?

Vedic texts suggest that in order to have a natural, reciprocal, mutually engaging relationship with his creation, God accorded freewill to all spiritual entities. However, few entities, in resemblance to God, wanted to be able to enjoy independently and be the lord. Such entities were then sent to this material world with freewill to enjoy and to lord over illusory material nature.

Thus by arrangement of God, everyone born in the human form is  entitled to and has freewill.

We can very easily observe people around us freely & frequently exercising their freedom – political, of expression, of vocation, of religion, of consumption. While for a minority, due to perversions in our socio-economic systems, opportunity to freely decide & act on certain matters is still restricted but they seem to be mounting social and political pressure to be able to get that right back.

Freewill seems to be highly valued possession for which a lot many are willing to put at risk their lives and careers. However, interesting part is this populous is devoid of their right, their freewill only due to the non-discriminating use of freewill by some one else.

So in essence while freewill is the key to a just and balanced society, it also seems to be the root cause of oppression and unfairness where it is used irresponsibly.

“Responsibility is the price of Freedom” 

said American writer & philosopher, Elbert Hubbard

Key to a sustainable and cohesive system is to judiciously and responsibly use our privilege and freewill. However, even beyond some of these extreme situations of political oppression and human-right situations, it is disturbing to note that majority of us who do have freewill in all matters seem to be exercising it without any restrain and thought.

It is imperative to understand that in an interdependent ecosystem ‘No right or privilege is absolute’. 

There are always certain unstated riders, assumptions, caveats with any form of privilege; if not for anything else for our own good. However, our current generation seems to be acting in completing ignorance of this fact and seems to adversely impacting the four realms we deal with – Planet earth, People around us (friends, family, community), Other living beings and Our own self.

In our mindless practicing of no-holds barred consumerism, we seem to be extracting revenge on the very planet that supports our existence. We use almost 5 trillion plastic bags every year – 160 thousand per second and pollution has now become 8th leading cause of premature deaths. Global warming and more frequent droughts and floods are reminding us every day of what our uncontrolled, uninhibited actions are leading us to.

Relationships with other people are under tremendous strain – be in our houses, offices or amongst countries. Almost 50% of all marriages end up in divorces in US while the divorce rates have trebled in metro cities in India as well. People are not hesitant or reluctant to exercise their freewill and break away from marriages for the sake of convenience. Exploitation at workplace seems to be the norm with the leading companies getting embroiled in one controversy or other – Uber seems to be the latest in the ring. Restrain seems to be the dirty word in a go-get it corporate culture. Geo-political risks are stacking up and regional instability is on the rise owing to the temperamental and not so mindful leaders at the helm of affairs who wont’t hesitate to press the button. Lack of empathy and uncontrolled use of our temporary position of strength is also very much visible in the rising incidences of terrorism.

If we look at the plight of other living entities, no one but freewill of human beings is to be blamed. Our marine life is at risk owing to the unrestrained dumping of plastic in our oceans while a large number of species in our forests are becoming extinct due to poaching and deforestation. Natural habitats of many have been affected due to mass industrialisation, mining and other commercial activities. Meat & Poultry industry is another cruel undertaking where millions of livings beings are tortured, killed everyday only to fulfil the taste buds of humans.

On a personal front, our freewill has become so perverted that we are in effect loosing our will-power.

This is costing us dearly where we are unable to manage our physical, mental, social & spiritual wellbeing while being tossed around by the impulsive urges to consume and to gratify our senses in as many ways as we can. Social norms designed to encourage moderation & social cohesion are being perceived as limitations and a threat to our individual freewill. This self-destructive practice of freewill has already put us on a slippery slope where more number of people are suffering from hyper-tension, depression and are finding it difficult to strike a balance.

We all live in a dynamic world which primarily operates on a mutual give-get model where one set of actions guarantees another set of reaction, be it physical, emotional or social. While we are noting that this privilege and freedom in form of freewill has great potential to do good but unrestrained, uncontrolled and unguided freewill has also done lot of damage. If we continue in the same detrimental mode, we must be ready to face more strong and adverse reactions from our planet, people around us and even our own mind.

While without freewill, this world will be a monotonous, mechanical contraption devoid of natural emotions of joy, ethusiasm but with a uni-dimensional understanding of freewill we will be in an even worse situation.

We need to understand that restrain in our thoughts, emotions and actions is as much an exercise of freewill as is undertaking actions due to desire of our mind and senses. Animals don’t exhibit freewill as they are guided only by their sensory urges and it would be a shame to waste our human life living like animals.

Making a conscious & wise use of our skills, potential and freedom is critical to sustain and preserve a world which would guarantee right to exercise freewill not just to all of us but even to the future generation. Else, our impulsive and animalistic behaviour guided by our urges is likely to lead us to a catastrophic scenario where both existence of our species and our planet would be at risk.

The choice is left to our freewill.!

Dangers in search of absolute truth

A clear marker of an intelligent person that distinguishes him/her from rest is the quality of questions he/she asks.

Rather, inquisitiveness about the world around us and especially the philosophical queries about our own self is what makes humans superior to the animal species and one with a refined consciousness exhibits this trait more than others. Natural extension of a query is the attempt to find answers to them.

Each intelligent being is trying to find answers for some of the very naive yet important questions such as why are we born? what happens after death? how should we lead our life? what is the source of this entire creation?

While we humans try to find answers of these questions from our own limited experience and philosophical speculations, the ancient Vedic texts caution us against depending completely on our material conceptions and tools to find answer about the non-material.

Vedic texts point out that we are just fragmental portions of the whole and while this human form is best suited for spiritual advancement yet we suffer from four major handicaps.

These handicaps severely limit the possibility of finding answers on our own or from other human beings, even after using our sophisticated material tools.

The first amongst these handicaps is limited capabilities & imperfection of our material sense & tools through which we perceive this material world and try to comprehend and speculate upon the spiritual realm. Our eyes can’t even see in a dark room so how can we expect them to observe something that is non-material. Even if we make use of any of the sophisticated, scientific tools but since these tools are also made by our imperfect material senses they are severely limited in their ability to decipher knowledge about non-material.

Owing to the first limitation of imperfect senses, we are bound to be illusioned. The way on a dark road, we may assume a rope lying on street to be snake, the same way, our senses can trick us when it comes to realising the spiritual truth. Even in matters of this material world, our incomplete understanding led us to believe for a long time that earth is flat or that sun revolves around the earth, so what to say of the matters concerning the non-material.

Third limitation due to which we can’t discover and comprehend the absolute truth on our own is the tendency to make mistakes. Being in a state of illusion and operating under wrong assumptions we are very likely or rather certain to commit mistakes. For instance, living a life according to the worldview that put earth at the centre of the universe or taking a more modern example of lifestyle that denies existence of non-material “consciousness” is a blunder and takes away from us time that could have been well spent on making proper spiritual progress. These mistakes often lead us into a wrong direction and we run the risk of spiritual degradation rather than evolution.

Fourth limitation, an extension of the third limitation, is something that we come across so often – the tendency to cheat. Having committed a mistake, we try to cover up that mistake by not acknowledging it and rather ignoring it thus cheating our own-self and the ones who believed in us. This is a common trait easily observable in our dealings with humans on matters of both material and spiritual nature. There are many “wise” people who even upon knowledge of their faulty propositions and theories about the eternal truth still continue cheating people by peddling those lies. Hence, reliance on human – self & others – for uncovering the absolute truth is a risky proposition.

The safe, certain and easiest way to receive supreme knowledge is through the guidelines and instructions that comes directly from the spiritual source of this entire creation – this knowledge is what Vedic texts contain.

Owing to our limited potential, we on our own can’t comprehend the complete nature of the absolute which is infinite, endless and unborn.

So we must refrain from philosophical speculations and take shelter of the Vedic texts to free ourselves from the darkness, ignorance engulfing our existence in this material, human form.

Can a scientist believe in God?

Some of the interesting quotes about origin of life, evolution & God from leading men of science –

Nobel Laureate Sir Peter Medawar

“There is no quicker way for a scientist to bring discredit upon himself and his profession than roundly to declare – particularly when no declaration of any kind is called for – that science knows, or soon will know, the answers to all questions worth asking, and that questions which do not admit a scientific answer are in some way non-questions or “pseudo-questions” that only simpletons ask and only the gullible profess to be able to answer to.”

Louis Pasteur (1822-95)

“You place matter before life and you decide that matter has existed for all eternity. How do you know that the incessant progress of science will not compel scientists to consider that life has existed during eternity, and not matter? You pass from matter to life because your intelligence of today cannot conceive things otherwise. How do you know that in ten thousand years one will not consider it more likely that matter has emerged from life?”

Charles Darwin in a letter to Fordyce, John

“ In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God.— I think that generally (& more and more so as I grow older) but not always, that an agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind.”

Francis Crick, the Nobel Laureate of DNA fame, lamenting that the awesome tools of biotechnology still cannot produce life out of inanimate matter, complained that the origin of life seems “a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have to be satisfied to get it going.” (Ref. Searching for Vedic India)

Noble Prize winner, Sir John Eccles in ‘The Brain and the Unity of Conscious Experience’:

“I believe that there is a fundamental mystery in my existence, transcending any biological account of the development of my body (including my brain).” In another interview, he said: “If you look at most modern texts on evolution you find nothing about mind and consciousness. They assume it just comes automatically with the development of the brain. But that’s not the answer.”

Noble Prize winning Chemist Albert Szent- Gyorgyi began his quest to understand the secrets of life by studying organisms in their natural habitats. Next he switched to studying cells. Then he moved to the chemistry of proteins. Finally, he settled upon the electrons, hoping they would be the clues to life.

At the end of his life, he confessed: “In my search for the secret of life, I ended up with atoms and electrons, which have no life at all. Somewhere along the line, life ran out through my fingers. So in my old age, I am retracing my steps.”

Wisdom for Leaders

Austerity of body, austerity of mind & austerity of speech are critical for aspiring leaders. Bhishma Deva’s advice for ensuring that is shared in Srimad Bhagavatam:

To get freedom from anger, one should learn how to forgive.

To be free from unlawful desires one should not make plans.

By spiritual culture one is able to conquer sleep.

By tolerance only can one conquer desires and avarice.

Disturbances from various diseases can be avoided by regulated diets.

By self-control one can be free from false hopes.

Money can be saved by avoiding undesirable association.

By practice of yoga one can control hunger.

Worldliness can be avoided by culturing the knowledge of impermanence.

Dizziness can be conquered by rising up.

False arguments can be conquered by factual ascertainment.

Talkativeness can be avoided by gravity and silence.

By prowess one can avoid fearfulness.

Perfect knowledge can be obtained by self-cultivation.

(Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.9.27 Purport)

 

Economics of Happiness

Inspiration for this post came from pondering about the look of contentment & satisfaction on the face of the watchman of a plush villa.

While running endlessly in the pursuit of our own happiness we rarely get time to look around and think about the happiness of others. At this point, I feel it is important to first dwell upon what ‘Happiness’ really means.

To attain ‘Happiness’ is the primary & driving intent behind all our action & thoughts. None of us, I believe, seeks something other than Happiness from our actions and that of others.

The materialistic understanding or rather misunderstanding of Happiness treats and aspires for material accomplishments in form of more possessions or power or prestige as source of Happiness. It somehow confuses gross bodily or intellectual pleasure with Happiness.

On the other hand, a spiritual understanding (Vedic School of thought) sees this body as a constant source of pain and any efforts towards gratifying the senses, to satisfy the cravings of gross body & subtle body(mind, intelligence and false ego) are considered as futile in the search of Happiness.

In contrast to the materialistic approach of gaining or possessing the Vedic school of thought emphasizes on renunciation, detachment and on controlling the senses rather than serving them endlessly.

India is slowly but definitely transitioning to a more consumerist, materialist society with not just the happiness quotient but the very identity for most of us now being defined, governed and reflected by his/her possessions. Media and Corporations are busy selling this identity & happiness day & night on television, newspaper and internet. We are all willing to go that extra mile or even two for the latest cell phone, tablet or car that completes us or defines us.

While there is an increasingly blatant promotion and display of such happiness, have we ever wondered about the cost of this model of happiness for individuals and for society at large?

For individuals, we are already seeing the effect of this mad rush to conquer happiness in form of disruption of work-life balance which is affecting the family lives. Relationships are becoming more fragile with both partners in relationship getting lesser time to spend with each other while the kids are busy creating stronger bonds with their prized possessions, provided as a replacement for the time of parents, rather than people around them.

This ‘super-fast’ and ‘dynamic’ lifestyle is pushing more & more people to look for an escape route while still being present in the race course leading to increasing intoxication among youth and now even female segment of the population who constitute a growing part of the organized sector workforce. More and more people are falling prone to diseases originating from stress and anxiety at an earlier age. Unable to fulfil the aspirations and to bear the burden of expectations, more people are committing or attempting suicide. We can calculate the detrimental impact to the things that really matter – relationships & health.

For society at large, as a country of more than a billion people with significant portion of population living in poverty, if the aspirations are directed uni-dimensionally towards acquiring better material resources then the country is bound to push more and more people to adopt unethical and criminal approach to these acquisitions.

We will be creating a society that is more frustrated as it is impossible to give all billion plus people the lifestyle that guarantees happiness in the calm away from city rush in that plush villa or summer holiday to Antarctic or the new luxury car that insulates you from all the madness on roads around you.

The inequitable distribution of wealth will definitely lead to an unstable civic society that is more prone to unrest and with a demographic distribution like that of India things can go awfully bad. We need to be careful of not creating a culture and situation that can lead to systemic failure.

So while we can generally equate ‘Happiness’ with feeling of contentment & satisfaction, this consumerist approach seems to be failing miserably with more & more people becoming anxious and discontent. I believe this model of ‘Happiness’ can prove to be very costly to our nation & society.

I am trying to figure out answers to some question that this model poses to us –

At what cost and for how long can we sustain this kind of consumerism?

Why are the more materialist societies not becoming happier or are rather getting more dissatisfied year on year?

Who will be the role models for our next generation? Definitely Simple living & High thinking is not a motto they will swear by.

How can we justify plundering of natural resources at an unprecedented rate to satisfy consumerist cravings while basic issues of food and shelter stand taller for many more than ever before?

3 prerequisites for success

We are all looking to win and avoid failure in our life in all fields; be it in a friendly game of sports or creating the best new app or winning at the next big client pitch. However, failure in material endeavours is a part of life and can never be completely avoided. Though, we can cultivate certain habits, mindsets that can improve our chances of succeeding at what ever task we put up for ourself. 

In his writings HDG Srila Prabhupada advised all neophytes to practice devotional service with – Enthusiasm, Patience and Confidence – to make steady improvements in their spiritual pursuits. I have come to realise that these 3 qualities are critical and rather necessary conditions for us to make any kind of improvements, get better and be successful at any task.

Enthusiasm: 

Enthusiasm is the starting point and a manifestation of our genuine interest in the task at hand. Degree of enthusiasm in a way signifies the importance of the task or project in our life. Enthusiasm is the positive infectious energy that gives us wings to conceive and decide to undertake seemingly impossible tasks. Further, majority of tasks that we undertake involve participation or support from other people and in case we are not enthusiastic about it ourselves it is difficult to convince others to pitch in their best.

At the core of Enthusiasm, sits the most important question – Why? 

If we have a compelling reason to take up a job, project or task then we don’t need any external motivation and we are committed enough to make it happen. Rather, not just committed but we are vivacious enough so that others would want to work alongside no matter what the task is. If not, lack of enthusiasm will be very the cause of disintegration of teams and mediocre outputs. 

Each task is done as much with heart as it is done with our head. So if we are not enthusiastic about undertaking any activity or task then its better to drop that or we must find something good about it that would keep us motivated.

Patience: 

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Any task worth achieving would need some efforts, time and likely overcoming some failures along the way. 

While in this age of virality and instant gratification it is difficult to believe but even almost every overnight success that we can think of entails a grind of countless hours of practice, efforts, numerous rejections & failures, avoiding numerous alluring distractions to stay focused and dissuading powerful persuasions to change course. While we may aspire to have a unicorn startup, or a million followers on our youtube channel or be the best chef or sportsperson but to assume that it would happen quickly, without any hiccups is to setup self for disappointment. This mindful realization and awareness of the incubation and gestation period of success that keeps the winners interested and invested to reap substantial gain. 

Patience is in a sense also the parent virtue for persistence as it allows us to have a long-term view and enables us to not give up sooner than we should and to keep trying. 

Interestingly, Patience becomes one of the most critical virtues when we are dealing with people – not just on the professional front but even in our personal lives. Patience with our kids, parents & spouses is critical as being in such a close relationship the expectations are high and the inability to give time and space can affect those relationships negatively. For instance, raising good kids is not an overnight task and only after 20 years of efforts can a couple confidently say that they raised good kids.  

Confidence: 

A strong belief in our own abilities and the nobility of our purpose is essential to be successful. Confidence about the worthiness of our goal and our potential to achieve that goal is what transforms into grit – a defining trait of all accomplished souls.

African American writer and civil rights activist Maya Angelou said from her harsh experience of having a troubled childhood where she had to endure racial discrimination and sexual assaults:

“It’s very hard to be young and curious and almost egomaniacally concerned with one’s intelligence and to have no education at all and no direction and no doors to be open… To go figuratively to a door and find there’s no doorknob.”

Traumatised by her childhood experiences, she spent many years virtually as a mute and became mother at age of 16  after a failed high-school relationship and yet inspite of these difficulties she had strong belief in her abilities and her vision of improving the world with her powerful and moving ideas. And she did so, becoming a Pulitzer nominated, best-selling author by the time she was around 40 years old and becoming an inspiration for many others. 

It is this sense of self-belief that keeps us moving, afloat inspite of the numerous setbacks that we may face during our arduous journey towards a deserving goal.    

With a conscious integration of these 3 intellectual and emotional aspects, we would be better placed to attain success both in our personal & professional life. 

Life – Successful or Not?

Everyone wants to have a successful life but how can we ascertain whether our life was successful or not. What does it mean to be successful? Its a subjective query and different people answer it differently.

I would say that our life is an amalgamation of the endeavours that we undertake and the outcome of those endeavours shape the narrative of our life. Upon reflecting back we will most likely evaluate ourselves on the count of favourable outcomes that we would have had in our different pursuits or endeavours.

Number of goals we managed to achieve would, for most, define how successful we were.

Outcomes of our personal goals such as becoming a millionaire by age of X, creating a successful enterprise, having a happy married life, owning a fancy house or rather 2 houses and so on may help quantify or ascertain our success. I believe most of us would agree and probably consider the same format to evaluate our own life.

While this seems to be a fair way of assessment but its based on a critical assumption that we often times miss.

This assumption is that the endeavours that we undertook were what we “should” have and were simply not the ones that we just ignorantly undertook because everyone else was (pursuing the same).

Some simple checks can help us avoid this trap. 

Did we ensure that we pursued goals that were not just nuanced forms of the basic animal necessities of mating, defending, feeding and shelter but were appropriate for an intelligent & conscious being?

Did we set milestones that were worthy of our intellect and our potential? Or did we squander away the opportunity on trivial pursuits to maximise our indulgences? Did we embark upon this journey without any serious contemplation, consideration of our true nature?

If we are not careful with our choice of setting our goal-posts then we are likely to face disappointment when the time comes as we would have missed the opportunity by far & long.

It’s like safely reaching the scheduled destination on a train but then realising we boarded the wrong train so even if we reached the final station safely and in time but its a sheer waste of time & resources and the exercise serves no purpose.

So while we passionately and very determinedly pursue our goals to be successful, we need to be very certain if those goals are worth pursuing or not. These endeavours consume our precious and limited time in this life form and at the same time can devoid us of pursuing other more relevant, meaningful and worthy goals.

So what defines a successful life is not just the outcome of our pursuits but what kind of pursuits do we undertake.

Failure in a worthy endeavour is far better & rewarding than success in an unworthy pursuit. However, not all of us tend to practice this in life.

The irony is that we grossly undermine the value that our time in human form has for us as a spiritual entity and at the same time, immensely overestimate the need to indulge our senses as a material entity.

This misunderstanding is what leads to wrong goal-setting and eventually disappointment for many when the time comes to take stock.

We are fortunate that Vedic texts carry the wisdom and instructions to help identify what our goals should be and also offer guidance on how to pursue them successfully – thus ensuring we onboard the right train and get to the destination in time happily.