The Highest End of Man
Sri Swami Sivananda
This article is from the book Easy Path to God-Realisation.
Man seeks happiness in the objects of the world. He thinks that he will get happiness by attaining a certain object. He exerts and possesses it, but he is deceived. He then exerts and possesses another object and he is deceived again. He again and again attempts to get possession of different objects and each time he is deceived. He does not get real lasting happiness. He becomes restless. Real, everlasting happiness can be had by realising the Immortal Self, through purification and meditation.
Man thinks that he is imperfect, if he has not got a wife. After he gets married he again thinks he is imperfect, so long as he has not got a son and a daughter. This is due to ignorance or the presence of Vasanas or Ishanas (desires) in the mind from Anaadi Kaala (beginningless time). However much a man may gain materially, there is always something lacking to make his happiness complete. There is always some sort of discontentment and dissatisfaction. This is a universal experience. Only when he is established in Atman, he will get eternal satisfaction. He will become Paripurna (all-full). The senses of want will totally disappear.
O M.Sc. students, don’t waste your time in analysing Silica and sand and in melting the same to turn it into glass. Don’t make speculations to open glass factories. You cannot get peace there. Analyse your mind and the three products Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Build up a golden factory in your heart for Lord Krishna. Worship Him there repeating His Name and Mantra: Om Namo Bhagavate Vaasudevaya. All your miseries will terminate immediately.
What is the highest end of man? All are agreed that the one aim which man has in all his actions is to attain happiness. The highest end of man must, therefore, be to attain eternal happiness. This can be had in the Self only. The pleasure that is derived from contact of objects is illusory and momentary. It is mixed with anxieties, pain, fear and sins.
Rich people possess immense wealth. They have all sorts of comforts, good circumstances and they have an easy-going life. They have decent motor cars, beautiful bungalows, servants, etc. They take dainties and palatable dishes and go to hill stations during summer. And yet they have no peace of mind, because they have no inner harmony. There is discord in their hearts on account of their greed, selfishness, egoism, lust, pride, hatred, anger, fear, worry, etc. Outward harmony and quietness cannot give you real peace of mind. The peace of mind is an internal state. You can obtain it without the help of money and outward favourable circumstances.
Rich people are selfish, greedy and miserly. They have a constricted heart. They can only love their wives, children and a few friends who help them when they are in distress and troubles. They are under the strong grip of the devil. When they are in distress, they cry for peace.
Even if they possess enormous wealth they have no peace of mind. When Lord Yama catches their throats, when their last breath comes out of their bodies, their minds will be on the keys and the iron-safe only. Miserable people! Their lot is lamentable indeed! They are care-takers of money only. They earn the money by hook or crook. They do not know how to utilise the money profitably.
Man has hunger. He finds delicious food to satisfy his hunger. He feels thirsty. He has water and other sweet beverages to quench his thirst. He is passionate. He gets a woman to gratify his appetite. He finds in this world any kind of object to satisfy any kind of desire. There is one common desire in all human beings. Man wants to enjoy eternal, unbroken, perpetual happiness that is not mixed with pain. There must be one Supreme Vastu (thing) also to satisfy this desire, though he is not able to cognise Him with these fleshy eyes. That Supreme Vastu in which you can find eternal, unalloyed bliss is God or Brahman. He can be cognised by the inner eye of wisdom through meditation.