A few months ago, I was preparing for interview questions about my future dreams and goals. They ask things about where you see yourself in 5 or 10 yrs, what is on your bucket list, what are your goals? I have been thinking about it long after the interviews were over. It is important for us to reassess where we are headed every so often. Up until now, my major goal had been about finishing my schooling. Since it took so many years, I had deferred thinking in detail about what life would look like after that… it was a vague distant future that had now suddenly become closer. In fact, it felt like I waited so long I had forgotten what I originally wanted to do when I was done, and even then, a lot of it has changed.
In the past whenever I would have answered a question like this about my future or “bucket list,” it would have been things like writing a book or travelling to some place. It was simply kind of a random list of things and mostly things that I thought most people should be doing or most people wanted to do rather than what was consistent with who I am. This time I thought more deeply about my life’s direction. It is great to have fun in life and enjoy God’s creation, but I also wanted to make sure that I don’t have just a mishmashed list of things. I know that my life’s purpose is about merging with Waheguru and continuing to follow the Sikh pillars of naam japna, kirat karni, and vand shakna. I wanted to figure out how my ideas for my future would fit into that purpose, so I reflected on the projects and activities I have enjoyed over the years and the things I wanted to continue to make time for. For example, my new goals involved wanting to finish reading the entirety of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, visiting the historical Gurdwaras and places from our Sikh history, participating in simran camps, attending kirtan smagams, and learning another instrument like Taus or Rabab to sing Gurbani with. I want to spend my life with those willing to learn, sing kirtan, and sit in sangat with me.
In the past I used to plan a lot and try to control outcomes well in advance. Then I swung towards becoming scared of having goals or dreams and not wanting to picture my future. Finally, I learned the balance of having goals but being flexible in what God has written for us and the unexpected gifts God gives us. For example, I have ideas for volunteer projects and sewa, but I will ultimately do whatever sewa I am called to do. This is the beautiful thing about life because it can be spontaneous, and our experiences also can shape and evolve our ideas, just like my understanding of friendships, sangat, marriage, advocacy, religion, and work has all evolved. Goals are important because they help us plan for our careers, married/family life, and spiritual life, but rather than being too attached or stuck in the future we can see them as a general direction.
Through the process of answering this question for myself, I learned that there are lots of things I could add to my bucket list, but its important to remember what will fulfill us in travelling the mind’s journey that we were born into this human life for. We never know how long we have, so we should prioritize that task. Gurbani tells us, “Even the greatest of the great worked and worked until they were exhausted. None of them ever accomplished the tasks of Maya.” The wordly list of desires and work will never end and will multiply manifold but we need the direction of one purpose to focus ourselves. One step at a time, we may set goals to learn morning Banis, sit in sangat every Sunday during the program, do a little bit of Simran daily, learn Gurmukhi, or whatever it may be so that we can advance that journey today. As Bhai Dalbir Singh Ji Tarmala says, in spirituality we learn to crawl, then walk, and we will automatically learn how to run, but the first step of remembering God over and over and learning the path of love is the hardest and takes the most time (katha link below). If your plans for today are inconsistent where you want to go, then it may be time to reconsider and adjust your course.
rwmklI mhlw 5 ]
Raamkalee, Fifth Mehl:
qyrY kwij n igRhu rwju mwlu ]
Your home, power and wealth will be of no use to you.
qyrY kwij n ibKY jMjwlu ]
Your corrupt worldly entanglements will be of no use to you.
iest mIq jwxu sB ClY ]
Know that all your dear friends are fake.
hir hir nwmu sMig qyrY clY ]1]
Only the Name of the Lord, Har, Har, will go along with you. ||1||
rwm nwm gux gwie ly mIqw hir ismrq qyrI lwj rhY ]
Sing the Glorious Praises of the Lord's Name, O friend; remembering the Lord in meditation, your honor shall be saved.
hir ismrq jmu kCu n khY ]1] rhwau ]
Remembering the Lord in meditation, the Messenger of Death will not touch you. ||1||Pause||
ibnu hir sgl inrwrQ kwm ]
Without the Lord, all pursuits are useless.
suienw rupw mwtI dwm ]
Gold, silver and wealth are just dust.
gur kw sbdu jwip mn suKw ]
Chanting the Word of the Guru's Shabad, your mind shall be at peace.
eIhw aUhw qyro aUjl muKw ]2]
Here and hereafter, your face shall be radiant and bright. ||2||
kir kir Qwky vfy vfyry ]
Even the greatest of the great worked and worked until they were exhausted.
ikn hI n kIey kwj mwieAw pUry ]
None of them ever accomplished the tasks of Maya.
hir hir nwmu jpY jnu koie ]
Any humble being who chants the Name of the Lord, Har, Har,
qw kI Awsw pUrn hoie ]3]
will have all his hopes fulfilled. ||3||
hir Bgqn ko nwmu ADwru ]
The Naam, the Name of the Lord, is the anchor and support of the Lord's devotees.
sMqI jIqw jnmu Apwru ]
The Saints are victorious in this priceless human life.
hir sMqu kry soeI prvwxu ]
Whatever the Lord's Saint does, is approved and accepted.
nwnk dwsu qw kY kurbwxu ]4]11]22]
Slave Nanak is a sacrifice to him. ||4||11||22||
Link to katha:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBVQYlQaw-s (katha starts at 1 h 30 min)