Ancient Hindu seers (Rishis) believed that life has direction – we came from somewhere and are going somewhere.
Human life is not random. It is not a chance occurrence.
Every one of us (each soul) is on a journey towards ‘truth, completeness and bliss’ (sat, chit and anand), not just in this life, but over multiple lifetimes.
As a result it is important for a Hindu to have a goal in life. It provides purpose and direction.
It means that we have an aim to work towards.
As we go through our day-to-day lives, it is our goal that keeps us grounded and moving forwards, otherwise we are blown from one place to another by the winds of time.
Only by setting worthy goals and aspiring to achieve them are we able to fully engage our minds and immerse ourselves, as it is often in a journey rather than the destination where we feel the greatest joy.
The New Year is a great opportunity to explore the process of setting goals in life, with our children, whether big or small (e.g. getting better at a sport, learning a new instrument, developing their reading skills, speaking their mother tongue around the house, etc) and work towards that goal diligently, it will be a huge achievement.
Not only that, it will start to see the value in having goals and working towards them.
Whatever your child chooses make sure that you are able to measure the progress of your child in that goal. For example, use a chart on the wall that can be completed as the year goes on.
Making a habit of setting goals is important and will serve to improve you and your child’s abilities at remaining proactive and getting things done!
Our Dhyeya should act as a resolution, or a promise to oneself.
Setting goals and working towards them is a gift you can give your children. As they get older, their goals will change. Your goals as parents will change. One thing’s for sure, with this skill, they will be a more focused child, student, friend and human being!
The greatest characters of the world achieved tremendous things in life through setting and pursuing a goal.
Their goals were not only to do well in their academic education, although this is important. Their goals were to develop themselves, help others, improve the world and make it a better place.
- What are your goals as parents that the children can see you work towards and role-model?
- What are your goals for your children above and beyond doing well at school? Can you see how this concept would be valuable to their lives?
Would it not be wonderful if your child was able to achieve an aim, just because they made a resolution to themselves? Without nagging, telling off, punishing or blackmailing.
This is the power of Dhyeya once truly imbibed.
A goal that is set, actioned and completed by an individual with no other force other than his/her own personal resolution.
This is deep rooted within Hindu culture.
A Hindu view of life…
Hindus believe the ultimate goal in life is to discover, realise and understand our inner self and God (Yog).
|| gatir bharta prabhuh saksi ||
Bhagwad Geeta C.9 V.18
“I am the Goal, the Sustainer, the Lord and the Witness”
|| ye tu dharmamrtam idam
bhaktas te ‘tiva me priyah ||
Bhagwad Geeta C.12 V.20
“One who follows this dedicated path of devotion and who engages with faith, making Me the Supreme Goal, is a devotee very dear to Me”
Traditionally there are known to be 4 goals or aspirations of a Hindu life. The ancient Hindu seers (Rishis) believed that human beings go through each of these stages on their way towards salvation/realisation:
- Kama: Desire. This word has been misconstrued over time to mean just physical pleasure. In fact, it is a word meaning desires overall. Again, Hinduism does not reject having desires. It recognises that these are natural in humans. In fact, having desires makes us aspire and achieve – it is our driver for action! What is important is how we channel those desires and control them. Merely wishing to accumulate material objects and fulfill our sensual pleasures is not a worthy aim. We must dig deeper and desire things that will improve ourselves, our families and the world around us.
- Arth: Wealth. Hinduism categorically does not reject the accumulation of wealth. However it is very specific in defining what wealth is, in that it is not just material objects. The Shri Suktam lists wealth as extending to our relationships, our health, our natural world – all of the things we truly value. Additionally as Hindus, we aspire to recognise where our wealth has come from, thereby showing gratitude to the many hands that may have helped in us gaining wealth. Finally, how we spend our wealth is of considerable importance. Hoarding and just spending on ourselves does not fit in with our culture. We should use our wealth to uplift others and society.
- Dharma: Known as the practice of virtue, or more commonly, ones duty. These are the duties incumbent upon an individual in order that they may live a good life within a society. We may know this word today with rigid traditions, such as the caste system or the 4 stages of life. However philosophically, it is said that ‘Dharate iti Dharma’ (that which uplifts is Dharma). Therefore the correct actions one must undertake is that which uplifts society.
- Moksha: Liberation. The ultimate aim of life. To be freed of the cycle of birth and death as per our beliefs. This is a long-term goal and one that may be achieved over several lifetimes. Hinduism recognises that not all goals should be achievable immediately and facilitates goals which are not only short-term and character building like the three above, but also long-term, like the horizon – ever present in the distance but just beyond our reach. It is in the striving to achieve our goals that we are stretched beyond our perceived capability and we grow as individuals.
The ultimate goal of human life is to realise that we are divine, that we are connected to each other, that we are perfect, eternal and ever blissful!
Some questions for discussion with children:
- Do you want to learn something new or get better at something you already do?
- Is there something that you would like to do that could be done together as a group/family?
- What are the steps we can take to help you achieve this aim?
- What would be a fantastic goal to work towards for the next 12 months?
- What about Dharma and Moksha? What goal will help us in these areas of life?