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Chapter 8, Kindling Your Inner Fire. Part 2
“You will recall that in the middle of the garden stood a magnificent lighthouse. This symbol will remind you of yet another ancient principle for enlightened living: the purpose of life is a life of purpose. Those who are truly enlightened know what they want out of life, emotionally, materially, physically and spiritually. Clearly defined priorities and goals for every aspect of your life will serve a role similar to that played by a lighthouse, offering you guidance and refuge when the seas become rough. You see, John, anyone can revolutionize their lives once they revolutionize the direction in which they are moving. But if you don’t even know where you are going, how will you ever know when you get there?”
Julian transported me back to the time when Yogi Raman examined this principle with him. He recalled the sage’s exact words. “Life is funny,” observed Yogi Raman. “One would think that the less one worked the more one would have the chance to experience happiness. However, the real source of happiness can be stated in a word: achievement. Lasting happiness comes from steadily working to accomplish your goals and advancing confidently in the direction of your life’s purpose. This is the secret to kindling the inner fire that lurks within you. I do understand that it might seem more than a little ironic that you have travelled thousands of miles from your achievement-oriented society to speak to a cluster of mystical sages living high in the Himalayas only to learn that another eternal secret of happiness can be found in achievement, but it is true.”
“Workaholic monks?” I suggested playfully.
“Quite the opposite. While the sages were tremendously productive people, their productivity was not of the frenetic type. Instead, it was of the peaceful, focused, zen-like kind.”
“Everything they did had a purpose. Though they were removed from the modern world and lived a highly spiritual existence, they were also highly effective. Some spent their days polishing off philosophical treatises, others created fabulous, richly textured poems which challenged their intellect and renewed their creativity. Still others passed their time in the silence of total contemplation, looking like illuminated statues seated in the ancient lotus pose. The Sages of Sivana did not waste time. Their collective conscience told them that their lives had a purpose and they had a duty to fulfill.
“This is what Yogi Raman said to me: ‘Here in Sivana where time appears to stand still, you might wonder what a group of simple, possessionless sages would ever need or hope to achieve. But achievement need not be of the material sort. Personally, my objectives are to attain peace of mind, self-mastery and enlightenment. If I fail to accomplish these goals by the end of my life, I am certain that I will die feeling unfulfilled and dissatisfied.'”
Julian told me that that was the first time he had heard any of his teachers in Sivana speak of their own mortality. “And Yogi Raman sensed this in my expression. ‘You need not worry, my friend. I have already lived past the age of one hundred and have no plans for a quick exit. My point is simply that when you clearly know what aims you wish to achieve over the course of your life, be they material, emotional, physical or spiritual, and you spend your days accomplishing them, you will ultimately find eternal joy. Your life will be as delightful as mine — and you will come to know a splendid reality. But you must know your life’s aim and then manifest this vision into reality by consistent action. We sages call this Dharma, which is the Sanskrit word for life’s purpose.”
“Lifelong contentment will come from the fulfillment of my Dharma?” I asked.
“Most certainly. From Dharma springs inner harmony and lasting satisfaction. Dharma is based upon the ancient principle that says every one of us has a heroic mission whilst we walk this Earth. We have all been granted a unique set of gifts and talents that will readily allow us to realize this lifework. The key is to discover them, and in doing so, discover the main objective of your life.”
I interrupted Julian, “It’s sort of what you were saying earlier about risk taking.”
“Maybe yes, maybe no.”
“I don’t follow.”
“Yes, it may seem as though you are forced to take a few risks to discover what you are best at and the essence of your life’s purpose. Many people quit jobs that have stifled their progress the moment they discover the true purpose of their existence. There is always the apparent risk that comes with self-examination and soul searching. But no, because there is never a risk in discovering yourself and the mission of your life. Self-knowledge is the DNA of self-enlightenment. It is a very good, indeed essential thing.”
“What is your Dharma, Julian?” I asked casually, attempting to mask my burning curiosity.
“Mine is simple: to selflessly serve others. Remember, you will not find true joy in sleeping, in relaxing or in spending your time like an idler. As Benjamin Disraeli said: ‘The secret of success is constancy of purpose.’ The happiness you are searching for comes through reflecting on the worthy aims you are dedicated to achieving and then taking action daily to advance them. This is a direct application of the timeless philosophy which prescribes that those things which are most important should never be sacrificed to those things which are the least important. The lighthouse in Yogi Raman’s fable will always remind you of the power of setting clearly defined, purposeful goals and, most importantly, of having the character power to act on them.”
Over the course of the next few hours, I learned from Julian that all highly developed, fully actualized people understand the importance of exploring their talents, uncovering their personal purpose and then applying their human gifts in the direction of this calling. Some people selflessly serve humanity as physicians, others as artists. Some people discover that they are powerful communicators and become wonderful teachers, whilst others come to realize that their legacy will be in the form of innovations in the field of business or science. The key is to have the discipline and vision to see your heroic mission and to ensure that it serves other people while you realize it.
“Is this a form of goal-setting?”
“Goal-setting is the starting point. Mapping out your objectives and your goals releases the creative juices which get you on to the path of your purpose. Believe it or not, Yogi Raman and the other sages were very hot on goals.”
“You’re kidding. Highly effective monks living deep in the Himalayan mountains who meditate all night and set goals all day. I love it!”
“John, always judge by results. Look at me. Sometimes I don’t even recognize myself when I look in the mirror. My once-unfulfilling existence has been replaced by one rich with adventure, mystery and excitement. I am young again and enjoy vibrant health. I am truly happy. The wisdom I am sharing with you is so potent and so important and so life-giving that you simply must stay open to it.”
“I am Julian, I really am. Everything you have said makes perfect sense, although some of the techniques do sound a little odd. But I have promised to try them and I will. I agree that this information is powerful.”
“If I have seen farther than others, it is simply because I have stood on the shoulders of great teachers,” replied Julian with humility. “Here’s another example. Yogi Raman was an expert archer, a true master. To illustrate his philosophy on the importance of setting clearly defined objectives in every aspect of one’s life and fulfilling one’s mission, he offered a demonstration I will never forget.
“Near where we were sitting there was a magnificent oak tree. The sage pulled one of the roses from the garland he habitually wore and placed it on the center of the trunk. He then pulled three objects from the large knapsack that was his constant companion whenever he ventured to distant mountain climes such as the one we were visiting. The first object was his favorite bow, made of a wonderfully fragrant yet sturdy sandalwood. The second item was an arrow. The third object was a lily-white handkerchief — the kind I used to wear in the pocket of my expensive suits to impress judges and juries,” Julian added apologetically.
Yogi Raman then asked Julian to put the handkerchief over his eyes as a blindfold.
“How far away from the rose am I?” Yogi Raman asked his pupil.
“One hundred feet,” Julian guessed.
“Have you ever observed me in my daily practice of this ancient sport of archery?” the sage queried, in full knowledge of the response that would come.
“I have seen you strike the bull’s-eye from a mark almost three hundred feet away and I cannot recall a time that you have ever missed at your current distance,” Julian noted dutifully.
Then, with his eyes covered by the cloth and his feet placed securely in the earth, the teacher drew the bow with all his energy and released the arrow — aiming directly at the rose hanging from the tree. The arrow struck the large oak with a thud, missing its mark by an embarrassingly large distance.
“I thought you were going to display more of your magical abilities, Yogi Raman. What happened?”
“We have travelled to this isolated place for one reason only. I have agreed to reveal all my worldly wisdom to you. Today’s demonstration is meant to reinforce my advice on the importance of setting clearly defined objectives in your life and knowing precisely where you are going. What you just saw confirms the most important principle for anyone seeking to attain their goals and to fulfill their life’s purpose: you will never be able to hit a target that you cannot see. People spend their whole lives dreaming of becoming happier, living with more vitality and having an abundance of passion. Yet they do not see the importance of taking even ten minutes a month to write out their goals and to think deeply about the meaning of their lives, their Dharma. Goal-setting will make your life magnificent. Your world will become richer, more delightful and more magical.”
“You see, Julian, our ancestors have taught us that setting clearly defined objectives for what we desire in our mental, physical and spiritual world is critical to their realization. In the world you came from, people set financial and material goals. There is nothing wrong with this, if this is what you value. However, to attain self-mastery and inner enlightenment, you must set concrete objectives in other areas as well. Would it surprise you to know that I have clearly defined objectives with respect to the peace of mind I desire, the energy I bring to each day and the love that I offer to all those around me? Goal-setting is not just for distinguished lawyers such as yourself who reside in a world full of material attractions. Anyone who wishes to improve the quality of their inner as well as their outer worlds would do well to take out a piece of paper and start writing out their life aims. At the very moment that this is done, natural forces will come into play which start to transform these dreams into reality.”
What I was hearing fascinated me. When I was a football player in high school, my coach had constantly spoken of the importance of knowing what we wanted from every game. “Know your outcome,” was his personal creed, and our team wouldn’t dream of stepping onto the playing field without a clear game plan that would lead us to victory. I wondered why, as I had grown older, I had never taken the time to develop a game plan for my own life. Maybe Julian and Yogi Raman had something here.
“What is so special about taking out a sheet of paper and writing out your goals? How could such a simple act make such a difference?” I asked.
Julian was delighted. “Your obvious interest inspires me, John. Enthusiasm is one of the key ingredients for a lifetime of successful living and I am glad to see that you still have every ounce of yours. Earlier I taught you that we each think about 60,000 thoughts on an average day. By writing out your desires and goals on a piece of paper, you send a red flag to your subconscious mind that these thoughts are far more important than the remaining 59,999 other ones. Your mind will then start to seek out all opportunities to realize your destiny like a guided missile. It is really a very scientific process. Most of us are simply not aware of it.”