A few days ago I lost my phone. It was on silent mode, hence I couldn’t call from another phone to locate it.
I had used it that same evening to order pizza but I couldn’t remember for the life of me where I had left it so I kept looking for it frantically, feeling some sort of separation anxiety.
Finally I got tired and went to bed, hoping the next morning would bring better news.
That day I had been going through existential anxiety bouts since morning: What am I doing here? Why should I be here? Am I even at the right place?
For a bit, the disappearing of my phone took the heat off from those larger questions going through my head, and I laughed at myself thinking: if I can’t even find my bloody phone, how will I ever find the purpose of my life?
The next morning it took some technology, some pleading with the husband, and some worry that it was my office phone, to finally locate it—it was lying right under a box on the ironing table in my bedroom. The same box that I had looked inside and around multiple times, but not under it.
The phone had always been there, it did not have feet to move around, so why did I say that I “lost” it? I never lost it. I only lost the awareness that it was there where I had kept it myself, while being in world of my thoughts, trying to paint a picture far, far away.
Can’t the same be said about everything that we are trying to seek? Or reclaim, thinking that we “lost” it?
Purpose of life. Meaning of our existence. Our true calling. Our essential nature. Our dharma, as Hindus say, or our dhamma, as Buddhists say. Our deepest desire, which defines our deeds, which in turn defines our destiny, and which is ultimately us—as say the Upanishads.
If we were born with it, it can’t be “out there” somewhere. We should still have it right in front of us—inside of us. Just like my phone, it could never be lost.
The present moment is all there is; it’s inevitable. If it had to happen any other way, it would have happened that other goddamn way.
The way we find “our one thing,” our purpose, starts with where we are today. Just like those mazes that have so many different paths but only one gets us to our destination, the path of our life is unique. We can’t walk another’s and no one else can walk ours.
An old legend says that God once sent one of his assistants to Earth to bring a really poor woman whose time in that life was over. But when this guy reached the woman’s house he saw that she had three little girls—two of them still suckling at their dead mother’s breast, and the third one sitting and crying. So the Godman decided to not take the woman with him, away from her girls. On hearing this, God got totally mad and sent him back to Earth, asking him to return only when he had realized his stupidity. So many years passed and one day three very healthy, happy and pretty girls walked into the shop that this Godman was working in. He immediately recognized that they were the same three girls, all grown up, and were now getting married into a royal family. After their mother had died, the girls were adopted by another family that brought the girls up with utmost care and comfort—way better than what their mother could have given them. The Godman realized his mistake of doubting his master’s plans and went back.
Of course the story can be argued in any way, but the point is that the next step on the path of life’s maze can never be seen. It is futile to have a plan B for it; it is silly to predict it. The eyes can only see till a certain limit.
Right now I see my screen, my table, my bed. Even if I draw the curtains and use a telescope, I can’t see the world. The world beyond this world and so on.
So the meaning of life is really about keeping the faith in its plan A and losing yourself in every moment. Only then, can we find it.
Author: Shivangi Sharma
Image: Elephant Journal/Instagram
Editor: Katarina Tavčar