18.61 – The first purpose of life is to discover the purpose of life
Suppose we are given a car. Learning how to drive it, refuel it and care for it are important, but not as important as learning the destination where we are to go with it.
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it?
But too many of us stay oblivious to the obvious.
The Bhagavad-gita (18.61) indicates that our body is like a car, a machine manufactured by material nature (yantra rudhani mayaya) in which we all are wandering in material existence (bhramayan sarva bhutani). But we get so caught up in caring for the bodily car – feeding it, resting it, dressing it – that we forget to even ask where we are meant to go in it.
No doubt, society gives us some purpose: “Become an engineer; become a doctor.” But this purpose frequently boils down to nothing more than an arrangement for maintaining the body and pandering to its superficial, sensual desires. This socially-dictated purpose rarely enables us to realize our potential even materially, leave alone spiritually.
Thankfully, we all have a competent guide. The same Gita verse mentions that in our life-journey the Supreme Lord is our unseen partner. He is ever-ready to offer us the best counsel.
Gaining access to his counsel begins with putting first things first: making it our first purpose to discover our purpose. When we try to find life’s purpose through introspection and meditation, we will find pertinent and profound wisdom within. And when we complement and crosscheck this wisdom with scriptural insight, we will discern the authentic divine voice. That voice will enable us to discover our purpose spiritually and materially: spiritually, returning back to Krishna for an eternal life of love and materially, working to do justice to our God-given abilities and contributing positively in the service of others.
The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.