From the moment you are born into this world, you are compelled to act. If you had no desire to act, you would not take birth, but as the architect of your own life, you have to make a firm decision regarding the kind of life you are sole creator of the heaven or hell in which you live.
The life you have been born into is the medium for you to express your higher faculties and dormant potential. Life is a treasure trove full of opportunities, but by the time you realize its importance, most of your life has been spent. The secrets, the mysteries, the bliss, the heaven, are all within your grasp in this very life, but you miss out on them due to your lack of discrimination.
I will tell you a story which illustrates this. One morning before sunrise a fisherman went to the river. Near the bank he felt something hard under his feet. He picked it up and fumbling in the darkness, concluded that it must be a bag of stones. He was waiting for daylight to break in order to start the day’s work. Immersed in thoughts and anxieties, he absentmindedly picked up a stone from the bag and threw it into the water. Plop! came the sound. He mused over it and threw in another stone. In this way, to amuse himself he started to toss away all the stones. one by one.
Slowly the sun rose and by the time it was light, the fisherman had flung away all of the stones. Only one was left remaining in his hand. His heart almost failed him when he looked down and saw there, shining in all its luster, it was a beautiful diamond. He cursed himself many times over when he realized that in the darkness, lost in his sorrow, he had thrown away many rare gems. Full of remorse, he sobbed cried and went almost out of his mind with grief. Accidentally he had encountered a mass of wealth which could have enriched his life many times over, but in the darkness, unknowingly, he had flung it all away.
For most of us, too, there is darkness all around. Time ebbs away, and the sun never rises. So we throw away the gems of life without ever realizing their value. Life is a bag of precious gems, but in ignorance and darkness we take it for granted that life is nothing but a collection of worthless stones. If you have a mind to see, you will find there is a lot of good in life. In every situation, there is a mine of riches and wealth, but you regard it as worthless stones simply to be thrown away.
Throughout life you are molded by the way you think. Ultimately it is your attitude towards each event and situation in life which makes or mars you. It changes and shapes your life and helps you to awaken your soul. Your attitude towards life and influences the path of your further evolution. When you realize that you may immediately try to change your way of thinking. You may begin to view life from a completely different standpoint.
The problem does not lie in your husband of wife, your child, your parents, your home, your wealth, your happy or unhappy circumstances; it lies within yourself. Change yourself and automatically your whole life changes. Just as same way, you can brighten your life when the sun rises, in the same way, you can brighten your life with the intense flames of discrimination and proper understanding.
Ordinarily, we believe that whatever is opposed to life is religious. In the name of religion we are taught that negation of life. Time and time again we are chastised for our involvement with life and reminded of the consequences we may have to face after death. But, if you are unable to justify your life, how will you cope with what you will face after death? The preparation for death is also to be done in and through life. If there is another life after death, there to you will be confronted by that which you have experienced in this life. There is no escape from this, even if you negate or renounce life.
To adore life is the greatest sadhana. To avail yourself of life is the highest tribute you can pay to yourself. The one who misses life is sure to miss everything else. But the tendency has been exactly the opposite. You regard life as a trial. In childhood and youth you are not given the proper education and foundation for the future. You are sent to school to learn the ABC but, in fact, you learn nothing. For when you are faced with a crisis, you crack up. Then you begin to moan and groan; you become disillusioned and think that life is unjust.
If life makes you despondent, it is because of your impure perception. Life can shower happiness upon you if the proper way of living is known. But in order to learn that way of life and thereby derive joy from it, you will have to alter your way of thinking. That is what the path of karma sannyasa teaches you. Karma sannyasa does not mean the disbanding of life. It does not ask you to turn your back on life, but rather to face it squarely. Karma sannyasa is not escapism; it is the way to fully embrace life. It is a through realization of life. Thereby karma sannyasins give their lives a spiritual goal, aim and direction. For they begin to understand that in order to evolve spiritually, they have first to understand the events and circumstances of their life. They become active participants in life by transforming and elevating their goals, ideals and purpose.
It is our purpose that ultimately defines our character and sets us apart as an individual. In the final analysis, it is not what you are doing that is of consequence, but the purpose for which you are doing it. For your self-evolution it is necessary to life thoroughly, but at the same time your purpose should be constantly clear to you. When you create a family, what is your purpose? There can be many purposes. The purpose of an ordinary person would be for procreation and enjoyment, but for a person of higher awareness, a karma sannyasin, it would be entirely different.
A prostitute may thrive on her profession and still have a noble purpose. On the other hand, a priest may worship daily in the temple, but his purpose may not be pure and sublime. A thief may rob thousands of people every day, but his purpose may be to feed the poor and sick. A weatlhy person may support many charitable organizations, but his purpose may be most uncharitable.
Therefore, karma sannyasa begins with the redefining of the aim and destination of life. This new aim is related to the understanding that all events in life, whether ordinary, extraordinary of sublime, are only stepping stones or transit halts and have to be regarded in the light.
~Swami Satyasangananda Saraswati