The Quest for Truth

81 Quest for truth

Sometimes it is said that man is a rational animal. Now, if you take away the rationality, man is an animal. Now, what does it mean to be rational? Rational means to be able to discriminate what is truth. If we do not live for the truth, if we do not live on the basis of the truth, then our whole life is a waste. It is an illusion. There will be no fruit of happiness. There will be no real purpose to our life. “Man is a rational animal” means man has the power to discriminate: What is the truth? What is knowledge? Who am I? And what is the purpose of life? Someone may say that this kind of life is very impractical in today’s society, which is a society of competition and of “might is right.” But let us examine within our hearts: what do we really want in life? There is nothing wrong with competition. But one must compete in pursuance of the truth, not on the principle of illusion and ignorance.

So, whatever our field of activity is in this world, that is not bad. But we must act on the basis of truth. There is nothing more glorious than truth. But there is only one problem in this world, i.e. ignorance. Every other problem in this world is only due to the presence of ignorance, because the human society is in ignorance. Even in the name of faith people are attached to so many traditions, so many rituals, but as far as the real goal of life, practically everyone is ignorant. Therefore, we have to ask ourselves: what happiness, what purpose, what goal have we accomplished?

The greatest misfortune in all of creation is to get human life and to waste its precious moments by not pursuing the truth. If one is working but if one’s ambition is simply sense enjoyment, such a human being is not a rational animal. Whether you are an industrialist or a doctor or a lawyer or a housewife or a professor or an administrator or a manager, if your motivation is based on the truth, if it is based on love, mercy and compassion towards all living beings, you will be most effective. Your purpose will bring about real satisfaction in your life and you can contribute real satisfaction and real happiness to the world.

– Radhanath Swami