The Meaning of Life


Sri Swami Venkatesananda

This article is a chapter from the book “Yoga”.

What is the meaning of life? Why are we born as human beings? Do we merely exist until we die? What is my relation with you? Why do I suffer and why am I happy sometimes? What is the meaning of the terms ‘pleasure’ and ‘pain’?

These and similar questions occur to many of us at some time or other in our life, but the tragedy is that they do not arise in the mind of many people until they are rudely shaken by some shock, loss or calamity. They were sleeping and hence they were unaware of the meaning of life and the facts of existence. There are some who do not even wake up after many unhappy experiences in life!

The ‘normal’ man in the modern world is far too busy with the struggle for existence to find time for such thoughts about life. He is content merely to exist, he hardly lives. There comes a stage in ignorance, when it is mistaken for knowledge or wisdom; like a long-caged bird that has forgotton its very birthright to soar into the sky, and which fights to remain in its cage, man hugs ignorance and limitation. Even misery fails to awaken him: he changes his tactics, blames his neighbours and endeavours to find happiness by other methods.

In this process of awakening, there are two ways open to us. If we heed the precepts of the master Swami Sivananda, we can be spiritually healed and awakened which is the easy way. But if we ignore his message, god has to resort to other methods to bring home to us the truth that we live in a world of pain and death and that we cannot find real happiness here. Sooner or later, the easy or difficult way, we have to ask ourselves the great question: ‘What is the meaning of life’? Hence our master used to sing:

Is there not a nobler mission than eating, drinking and sleeping?

It is difficult to get a human birth, therefore try your best to realise (god) in this birth.

It is good to keep these flaming words of wisdom ever before us so that our life may be illumined by the light of our master’s life and teachings. Life has a great mission: it is to find god who is supreme bliss. Life minus limitation or conditioning is bliss: this is the meaning of life. Its discovery is yoga..

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