CONNECT AND CONTRIBUTE
By Venugopal. Acharya (Vraja Bihari das)
In one of Shakespeare’s most powerful soliloquies, Hamlet, struggling with his private thoughts, asks himself:
What is a man, if his chief good and market of his time be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more. Sure, he that made us with such large discourse, looking before and after, gave us not that capability and God-like reason to Fust in us unused.
Prince Hamlet regrets that a man who simply eats sleeps and carries on his life as an animal does no good to anyone. He reflects that God created us for a reason, and it’s up to each one of us to fulfill it. We live, love and leave. We seek to live peacefully, in harmony, with who we truly are. We also desire to love and be appreciated by others. And for more evolved humans, to leave a legacy—to serve, add value—and to contribute to others’ happiness is as sacred a need. In other words, we have three aspects to our existence—our relationship with ourselves, others, and with divinity, also referred to as God in most cultures, that transcends our matter-centered routine life.
There are many people who work hard for their family and have good friends, yet they feel a vacuum in their hearts. They wonder if they have chosen a wrong career or a partner. Thinking they are not doing things that truly represent their innermost values and purpose in life, they feel disconnected from their own self.
There are, of course, some who do what they want, but realize over time that their relationships have suffered. After all, we need to love and feel loved. Despite measurable success and money, it’s love that we seek.
Marilyn Monroe, one of the most popular sex symbols of the 1950s, rose from a miserable childhood to Hollywood stardom. She always wanted to be an actor and she did become a legend. Yet, weeks before her death, suspected as suicide due to an overdose of drugs, she confessed in an interview, ‘I never quite understood this sex symbol. I always thought symbols were those things you clash together. That’s the trouble; a sex symbol becomes a thing. I just hate to be a thing . . .’ She got what she wanted, but her heart remained starved of love. She felt disconnected.
A few people do manage to live on their own terms, and they also get love from others. Yet, an incompleteness stares at them until they seek a deeper relationship with their spiritual existence. A divine being, also known in various traditions as Bhagavan, Supreme Lord or the Almighty, is at the core of our existence. Our spiritual reality is as inseparable to us as sunshine is to the sun. Yet, we chose to be covered by the clouds of ignorance. Spiritual practices—meditation, prayer, chanting—help us dispel these clouds; they unravel the mysteries of our own identity; we connect to our eternal spiritual self and to God, our loving friend and parent. And as a by-product, we also bond with our fellow brothers and sisters on this planet. Spiritual practices flood our hearts with love and help us leave behind a legacy of love.