What Really Matters In This Life?

Birth. Life. Death. Birth. Life. Death…This cycle is eternal. 

Today we are in the phase of Life. By this, I mean that we are living in this body, in the way we are at the moment. We see death around us. This life will also end in death of this body some day. We will live on…as we are part of the Eternal… but the matter at hand is this life.

What really matters in this life?

We are often told to work hard, save money and succeed in our endeavours. A lot of this is focused on the material and economic aspect. But when somebody dies, we find that all these do not really matter in the ultimate sense. What matters is what we bring to life and the world around us. As Peggy Noonan writes beautifully:

In a way, the world is a great liar. It shows you it worships and admires money, but at the end of the day it doesn’t. It says it adores fame and celebrity, but it doesn’t, not really. The world admires, and wants to hold on to, and not lose, goodness. It admires virtue. At the end it gives its greatest tributes to generosity, honesty, courage, mercy, talents well used, talents that, brought into the world, make it better. That’s what it really admires. That’s what we talk about in eulogies, because that’s what’s important. We don’t say, “The thing about Joe was he was rich.” We say, if we can, “The thing about Joe was he took care of people.

We often tell others and ourselves like this: “Be true to yourself. The key is to hold firm to your ideals.”

But what do we really mean by this. Do we really know who we are? We need to know that if we have to be true to ourselves. What are ideals worth holding on to. These things are difficult things to understand and they are very personal. But they decide the quality of our life and whether it is well-lived or not. Although these are difficult things, there are some things I think we can all agree upon. Like, these four ideals:

  • Taking care of those you love and letting them know they’re loved, which involves self-sacrifice.
  • Holding firm to God, to your religious faith,no matter how high you rise or low you fall. This involves guts, and self-discipline, and active attention to developing and refining a conscience to whose promptings you can respond.
  • Honoring your calling or profession by trying to do within it honorable work, which takes hard effort, and a willingness to master the ethics of your field.
  • Enjoying life, which would mean to relax and live in the moment and not being concerned with what you get or have.

When we live life in this way, then the world will really treasure the way we lived…and the beautiful couplet of the great mystic, Kabir, will ring true:

“Kabira jab hum paida hue, to jag hanse hum roe,
Aysi karni kar chalo ki ki hum hanse jag roye”

When we had taken birth in this world,we were crying and the people were laughing. Act in such a way, that when we shall leave the world , we should laugh, and the people of this world should weep/cry for us.

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