Last week I had gone to a shop to scan a photo andhad a thought provoking experience. When I gave it to the gentleman to scan he asked me…“Why do you want to scan the photo? What’s the purpose of it”? I was taken aback for a moment and felt, “Why is that relevant”? It was a picture of my Guru which I just wanted scanned.

Probably seeing my bewilderment, the kind man asked, “What do you want to do with the scanned image? Do you want to reprint it in the same size or a bigger size or just to preserve it?”

Immediately, the penny dropped and I said, “I would like to print it later in a bigger size.” Then I understood why he asked the question… it was so that he could scan a better quality image at a higher resolution. This mundane example made me think, how the clarity of my purpose of why I wanted the image scanned gave him direction to his action of how to scan the image. It highlighted how purpose directs actions, yet how many times I find my actions being without purpose. In fact, in most cases, we go through life without any defined purpose.

Why is purpose important?
If we wear our most expensive shoes to perform regular everyday activities like buying the groceries, etc. wouldn’t we feel that we are wasting a really good quality footwear on somethingless important? Similarly, to live through this life without achieving something great, whatever it might be as per our own vision, is a waste of the precious opportunity called human life, don’t you think? Hence, purpose is important to guide our
actions. But purpose, if it is defined only by one’s own intellection, can be limited and even dangerous. Hence, the scriptures are studied for oneself (not blindly followed) to gain this clarity of purpose. Action with purpose is better than acting blindly, following the crowd. However, the latter is better than procrastinating or not acting at all. Our scriptures, our culture, our upbringing is supposed to guide us to that Higher purpose within us. It is not meant to make us one like everyone, but it is meant to make us one with everyone! Unfortunately, today’s Religion and Spirituality is nothing but follow the leader (blindly). There is no room for questioning or enquiry.

How can religious practices indicate our purpose?
Religion has depth because it is the pathway prescribed by realized masters who have reached it’s depths. Those who wish to reach those depths can do so, even today,through their own sincere and intelligent practice of their religion. What does sincere and intelligent practice mean? This means to apply the values on themselves and grow them within one’s own heart before they are suggested to others. To strive to be the best we can be, at all times, competing with only our earlier efforts, with the mind fixed on reaching our goals. In the process to be ever ready to learn from the mistakes made en route.To remain ever focused on growth and not failure or success. All this is possible only when we transcend the narrowness of mind which we develop due to unconscious unhealthy habits.Just as the valves of the heart get narrow due to deposits of fat from poor eating habits, in the same way,the walls of our mind, as it were, get narrow, creating a narrow vision of everything around us, all due to a lack of choice executed or some poor choices made. They way out is to actively and sincerely study our scriptures which, direct us to our Higher essential purpose, under the guidance of one who lives it not just preaches it… absorb it’s essential meaning, remember the essence and apply it in the way we make our choices and relate to things and beings! Only such a life moves fromthe ordinary to the extra-ordinary. We are all capable of it!

Bramhachari Adarsh Chaitanya serves as the Resident Acharya of Chinmaya Mission, Auckland and conducts weekly spiritual classes for children, youth and adults. For more information go to: or call 2756954