In the core of our very being, we are beasts of prey. The real truth of the world is that even humans function within the ‘survival of the fittest’ paradigm.
Many of us vehemently subscribe to this view and justify competition in the world. Wars, mayhem and rioting are also seen as evidencing the truth of this unfortunate law of life.
Yet, in every calamity, there are stories of great courage, empathy and something totally self-transcending. No wonder our scriptures write that we approach the kingdom of grace only by leaning upon the arm of another we have helped. because at our very core, we are love, kindness and empathy.
This is also the very nature of the creative Omnipotence, the Universe.
Even famous thinkers write that charity itself is an act of selfishness as we do it to bring happiness to ourselves or to further some other motive.
The truth is that if we look at humans as only flesh and a thinking mind, no doubt the entire spectrum of human values is reduced to biology. Happiness too is reduced in stature to being only a synonym for pleasure.
However, if life is looked at through a spiritual lens, the picture becomes clear.
Pursuit of happiness and pursuit of pleasure become separate purposes. One self-transcending and the other one of physical or mental joy.
Accounts of some prisoners in concentration camps, going to great lengths to help others at personal peril, of people risking lives to save the victims in riots point to a far deeper instinct that that of survival. There is a story of prisoners doing construction work in Japanese prisons during world war II. One day, as the shovels are being counted at the end of the day, one shovel is found to be short. The Japanese soldiers angrily line up all the prisoners and ask the one who has stolen the shovel to come out. None comes. Finally, the Japanese announce that all prisoners are to be executed. As they begin loading their rifles, one prisoner comes forward and admits that he had stolen the shovel and hidden it. He is executed. When the shovels are taken to the prison camp and counted once again, it is seen that the first count was in error. Shovels had been wrongly counted by the guards!
This sacrifice to save fellow prisoners is also an instinct in us.
Is there a yardstick which might help us in making the right choice of a purpose of life?
Such stories give an insight to a far greater instinct resplendent inside every soul. A yearning to be in tune with the very nature of the Omniscience. A joy of self-transcendence.
Edgar Cayce says that the yardstick lies in the ‘why’ of our action and not in the action itself. A Mother’s scold to her child stems from a very noble purpose of the child’s growth.
A purpose which transcends any selfish goal, something which seeks to enhance is what life is all about.
That is what makes us who we really are.
A self transcending purpose.