“Eat, drink and be merry” is considered as the aim of life. A general conception is that more wealth will bring more happiness. A mad race for accumulating more and more material assets results in stress and strain leading to blood pressure and heart-diseases. “Man wants more and more till he is himself no more.”
Guru Nanak Dev Ji met a multi millionaire who was proud of his wealth. He used to put a flag on top of his house when he had one crore added to his wealth. He had several flags hoisting on the rooftop. Guru Nanak Dev Ji gave him a needle to keep and return it in the next life. “How is it possible? How can I take the needle with me to my next life?” asked the wealthy man. To this, Guru Nanak Dev Ji replied, “As you will take your huge sums of money with you after you breathe your last, you will take this needle with you.”
We may not conclude from this that we are to retire from this world into deep forest. We have to starve ourselves. From one extreme of indulgence, we go to another extreme of poverty and scarcity. This body is the temple of God. It has to be taken care of. “All the religions start from stomach. The balance has to be maintained which is best described in the words of a Spiritual Master.
“If a man plunges headlong into foolish luxuries of the world without knowing the truth, he has missed his footing. He cannot reach the goal. And if a man curses the world, goes into a forest, mortifies his flesh and kills himself little by little by starvation, makes his heart a barren waste, kills out all feelings and becomes harsh and dried up, that man also has missed the way. These are the two extremes, the two mistakes at either end. Both have missed the goal.”
So work incessantly holding life as something deified, as God Himself and knowing that this is all we have to do, this is all we should ask for. God is in everything. Where else should we go to find Him? He is in every action, in every thought, in every feeling. Thus knowing, we must work. Thus the effects of work will not bind us. Thus we explore again the meaning of life that we put God in everything knowing Him in everything.
When we work for Him, we see Him everywhere; we won’t be attached to anything of this evanescent world. Misery lies in attachment. A bee came to sip honey but its feet got stuck to the honey-pot and it could not get away. Again and again, we find ourselves in that state. We came here to sip the honey and we find our hands and feet sticking to it.
We explore that we are being caught; we are attached. We are attached to our friends, to ourselves, to our intellectual and spiritual works. We are attached to external objects as we get pleasure from them. What, again, brings misery but this very attachment? We have to detach ourselves to earn the joy.
If we had the power to detach ourselves at will, there would not be any misery. That man alone will be able to get the best of nature who, having the power of attaching himself to a thing with all his energy, has also the power to detach himself when he should do so.
When we are sunk in sorrow, when we are not able to detach ourselves from the suffering, the grace of Satguru can take us across the sea of suffering. There are two incidents in the life of Swami Vivekanand Ji where two renowned personalities could explore again the meaning of life with the grace of Swami Ji.
Madame Calve was a celebrated opera singer in France. Despite her professional success in France and United States her personal life was miserable. She was very obstinate and quick-tempered and naturally had no peace of mind. To add to the suffering, in March 1894, she lost her only daughter in Chicago. After this tragedy, she nearly lost her mental balance. At this moment, a friend of hers wanted to take her to Swami Vivekanand but Madame Calve thought that the only way to get permanent peace was to commit suicide. She tried four times but failed. At last she decided to go to Swami Ji. She found Swami Ji seated in a noble attitude of meditation. Without looking up Swami Ji said in a gentle, affectionate voice, “My child, what a troubled atmosphere you have got! Be calm! It is essential!
In her memoirs, Madame Calve wrote, “Then in a quiet voice, this holy man, who did not even know of my name talked to me of my secret problems. He spoke of things that I thought were unknown to my nearest friends”.
When it was time for her to leave, Swami Ji showered blessings on her and said, “You must forget. Become gay and happy. Express again the meaning of life. Do not dwell upon your sorrows.” In a moment, Madame Calve felt she had no more sorrows, no more anxieties.
Madam Calve gave her friend Madam Paul Verdier the following account of Swami Ji’s encounter with the American millionaire, John D. Rockfeller, who had the same experience as Madam Calve.
Swami Ji told Rockfeller much about his past that was known to anyone but himself. Swami Ji said, “The wealth you had accumulated is not yours. You are only a channel. God has given you His wealth in order that you might have an opportunity to serve people.” A few weeks later Rockfeller gave a paper to Swami Ji, which told his plans to devote an enormous sum of money towards the financing of a public institution.
We need the grace of Satguru to explore the meaning of life. Be unattached. Give whatever you can. Don’t expect anything in return. Don’t be a trader. See God in everything.