Is Self-realization the ultimate goal of life or is there something beyond it?

Why have we come to planet earth? Why have we been given this human birth? Are we born just to live and die? No, of course not. There is a purpose. It is to find out – Who am I? The realization of the self is called Self-realization. It is finding out who we truly are. It is realizing that we are not the body, not the mind, but the Soul, the Atman, the Spirit. But is this the ultimate purpose of life? Or is there something beyond the realization of our true self? Self-realization is, in fact, only part of the ultimate goal of life. It is the first step.Our ultimate goal is God-realization. It is God-realization that will ultimately liberate us from all misery and suffering on earth, from the Karmic cycle of death and rebirth, and lead to unification with the Divine.

The first question that therefore arises is, how do we attain Self-realization? For this, we must go on a spiritual quest. We must Ask, Investigate and then Realize the Truth. How does one realize the Truth? The Truth cannot be known. It has to be ‘realized’ and this needs 3 steps. The first step is Sravana, reading and listening. It is the assimilation of knowledge. Manana, the second step, means to intellectually discriminate the knowledge one collects in Sravana. When a seeker of truth passes Sravana and Manana, he reaches the stage of Nididhyasana, a stage where he is able to realize the Divine Truth, that we are not the body or the mind, we are the Divine Soul. One must also live the life of a Yogi, being ever-connected to God, in union with God, through Dhyana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga and Gyana Yoga. Without the guidance of a Guru, a spiritual master who has realized the Truth himself, it will be difficult to attain realization. A Guru can show us the way, and take us forward on the right path, helping us on our journey towards God-realization.

Although we may go through the process of learning and contemplation, and despite the guidance of a Guru, what can stop us from realization? It is the ME, the Mind and the Ego. We all know about the ego, but we don’t realize that it is a roadblock on the journey of self- discovery. It is the cause of all our ignorance, along with the mind. Thus, we must let go of the ego and we must tame the monkey mind, by making it silent, making it still. We must observe it. Further, we must activate our intellect; the intellect must always reign over the mind. The intellect will help us discriminate between the Truth and the myth.

Once we realize the Truth that we are the Divine Soul, then the next step is God- realization, the realization that just as God is in ‘me’, God is in everyone. Everything and everyone, in fact, is a manifestation of God. The cause of the beauty in this world is Divinity itself. God is present in all beings, in nature, in  inanimate objects. With God- realization, we begin to experience God all around us, all the time. We realize the Truth of Satyam Shivam Sundaram – the Truth is God is beautiful and everything is beautiful because of God. We live in the state of Satchitananda — Consciousness of the Truth is Bliss. When alive, with God-realization, we live in a state of Divine Bliss and Peace, as a Jivanmukta, free from all suffering and misery, and at death, we attain Moksha. This is our ultimate goal — Liberation, Nirvana, Salvation, freedom from the continuous cycle of death and rebirth, as we become one with God.

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