The Purpose of Life


I recently gone through a period of emotional stress that created many problems for me like anxiety, depression and loneliness. But suddenly thoughts of life and death cropped up into my mind and i became too philosophical as one has to die one way, what happens after it, what is salvation or Moksh. I can’t share these questions with any random person and not getting satisfaction from anyone, I usually fear of these things and think too much and end up in confusion as to what the truth.

—Ashutosh Tripathi, India


Dear Ashutosh,

It seems you have reached an important turning point in your life. Indeed when we try to find happiness, satisfaction, and fulfillment out there in the world we are disappointed. At times we may be frantic trying all kinds of avenues to fulfill our perceived needs and desires and coming up against obstacles and disillusionment. We become dissatisfied with ‘life’. The error comes because we think life is about fulfilling these outward goals. We will never find ‘it’ out there. What our soul longs for is true peace, calmness and joy. We find these within.

We must break out of our self-enclosed ego identity that only knows its history, its likes and dislikes, and old definitions of who we are. We are none of those! We find our true power when we live at our center in attunement with the Divine that animates everything including each molecule of our being. When centered within, life’s mightiest storms may rage about us but we are untouched as the depth of the ocean is untouched by surface storms. When we expand beyond the confines of our little ego, we realize that our true nature is so much more than the little role we may play now. We are a ray of the Infinite. We have a role to play temporarily. Like an actor on a stage, we play our role but when we step off the stage the role does not define us. As Swami Kriyananda, Ananda’s founder and a direct disciple of Yogananda said, ‘Our purpose in life is to reach that level within where we can look out at the universe and see ourselves reflected everywhere. We then see ourselves not only as this ego, but as part of one great life of which we, too, are but an example.’ This is Moksha. This is inner freedom.

We do not achieve Moksha by living life passively or choosing to exit life. Death is only a temporary state. Our soul will take on a body again to continue our efforts toward freedom. We achieve Moksha by living with spiritual courage, engaged in whatever we are given to do, drawing on the Divine to act through us and give us guidance. Our challenges in life keep us moving so that we can make great progress toward Moksha and salvation. When we have achieved Moksha we are no longer caught in the maelstrom of life’s storms because we live life at a different level.

The practice of meditation is essential for making progress toward Moksha. In meditation we learn how to tune into our soul nature and draw guidance. I highly recommend that you give meditation a try. On the most practical level, medical research has demonstrated that meditation is more effective than medications in most cases to treat anxiety and depression. When meditating we tune into our Divine Friend and this is the ultimate cure for loneliness. Once you have felt that presence you will find the Divine reflected in people and experiences everywhere and you will begin to recognize soul friends in the world.

Yogananda’s teachings on meditation are simple, practical and suitable for people regardless of their outer roles in life. If you would like to learn to meditate, we have a free 5 Essential Keys to Meditation on our website.

Many blessings to you. May you make great spiritual progress in this life. May you be filled with Light.

Nayaswami Mukti