Students often ask me questions like, “Why am I here on this earth?“ “What am I to do here?“ and “What is the purpose of life?“ The answer is that we are here to fulfill our part of the work in the great universal mission. There is one universal plan, a cosmic plan, which has brought everything and everybody here into this universe. You can call the one who created that plan, “the Creator” or “Nature.” The one that created the earth, the sun, the moon, and all the planets—our entire solar system as well as millions and billions and trillions of other solar systems—has also created you and me.

We didn’t just decide to come here by ourselves. When this body was created, it was delivered from the mother’s womb. If the little toe comes out and asks, Why am I here? What is my purpose? How did I come?, the answer is that you didn’t come alone. You came as a part of the whole, along with the head and the arms and the chest and the leg. And you can’t do anything on your own either. When the head wants to go somewhere, the legs will stretch themselves forward and backward. Where the first toe goes, the other toes will follow. You can’t say, “No, I don’t want to go! Let the big toe or let some other part of the body go and I’ll stay behind.” We are all cells of the cosmic body. Just as this physical body has millions of cells inside, we are all the cells of the cosmic body. Whether we want it or not, whether we know it or not, whatever we are doing is always connected to the cosmic plan. Our duty is just to know that. It’s not that you have to do anything. We just need to understand the cosmic plan so that we don’t do something that harms yourself or anyone else. If the little toe wants to go this way while the big toe wants to go the other way, no one will be going anywhere.

If you cannot understand the cosmic plan then you can at least have faith in it. You can think that there is a cosmic plan and that you are here to do your part in it and to allow things to happen though you. This reminds me of the Christian prayer: “Lord, I am thine, all is thine, thy will be done.” That prayer means: I have connected my will to your will, your will is the cosmic will, and if I have a little will at all, it is a part of your will which you have allowed me to call as my will. Ultimately, thy will be done. Please, let me know that.

The same idea is expressed in Yoga. Once you understand that what you call your will, is nothing but the cosmic will, or God’s Will, what will happen to your little ego? It’s lost because you become part of the whole; you are no longer self-centered because your center is everywhere. A saintly person once said that God is a big circle and has its center everywhere. An individual is a little circle, who thinks that they are the only center of everything. But, we are all the centers of God and our mission here on earth is to understand that. That means you should allow the God within you to do things. Don’t put your little will or the ego in charge in your daily life. I said “in your daily life” because otherwise it may sound like a sort of philosophy. But I don’t believe in just talking philosophy. I once poked fun at someone who asked, “What is the definition of a philosophy?” I said that a philosophy is when neither the speaker nor the listener understands. Philosophical ideas must be made practical. How can you make it practical? Are you going to sit quietly, doing nothing? No. To make it practical, listen to your conscience, listen within. Everybody has a conscience and that is the divine light, or the divine will, within you.

But, you also have an ego, called the lower mind or the little will. The lower mind wants everything because it is a selfish mind. But in your daily life the moment you become selfless, the moment every action and everything in your life becomes selfless, then you will be guided by the consciousness within you. You are not interfering with that consciousness because you have handed yourself into the hands of the light within, the God within, or the Cosmic Consciousness within. When that happens, you will be prompted to do things not for your own personal reasons, but for the other person’s sake. The little “you” is not doing anything, but you are made to do things by the God within you. Something within urges you to do and you are doing it. When you feel that way you don’t bother about whether the result is good or bad. And you are not responsible for that. This reminds me of a Tamil saint who once sang a praise to God saying:

The day when I realized that I have no business of my own here, but I am here to do Your business, I offered everything to You: my body, my mind, even my life has been given to You, now it is Yours. Now You are working through me, and when such is the case, You may do good or bad through this body, through this mind. Am I responsible for that? Will You make me responsible for that? No. How can You because it is You who is working through me! 

This utterance is only possible when you realize that something within you, that we call your higher Self, takes hold of you and does things. Then you don’t bother about it; then you don’t build any anxiety, any tension. You aren’t concerned about whether or not somebody praises or curses you and you don’t wait for a thank you. It becomes a carefree life where there is no room for tension or worry. That is the essence of all the faiths—raise above your little self. Realize that there is a higher Self within and give yourself into the hands of that higher Self. Then you are free, you are liberated. You are resting in the kingdom of God within you. When you become a citizen of the kingdom of God, you don’t need any visa, or passport because the kingdom of God is everywhere. That is our purpose for coming here.

By Sri Swami Satchidananda