Paramahansa Yogananda
Quotes on the Purpose of Life

THE PURPOSE OF LIFE

The purpose of life is
to be free from suffering and
to attain infinite bliss consciousness – and that is God.

srfThe grandest purpose of life (contrary to the implications of novelists) is not to know human love or to produce children or to win men's fickle acclaim; man's sole worthwhile aim is to find his Self. (os)

SRF AUM

This show has a purpose: that you learn how to play the various parts of the life movie without identifying your Self with your role. It is important to avoid identification with pain or anger or any kind of mental or physical suffering that comes. The best way to dissociate yourself from your difficulty is to be mentally detached, as if you were merely a spectator, while at the same time seeking a remedy. Don’t expect to attain unalloyed peace and happiness from earthly life. This should be your attitude: no matter what your experiences are, enjoy them in an objective way, as you would a movie.

SRF AUM

Man comes here [on Earth] for the sole purpose of learning to break the cords that bind his soul. Disease, failure, negation, greed, jealousy — break these bonds now. You are in a cocoon of your own bad habits, and you must be freed to spread its wings of beautiful divine qualities. (dr)

SRF AUM

The greatest sin is ignorance — not to know what life is all about. And the greatest virtue is wisdom — to know the meaning and purpose of life and its Creator. To know that we are not little human beings, but that we are one with Him, is wisdom. (jt)

SRF AUM

The purpose of life is to ascend the six spinal centers, reinforcing the human consciousness progressively with greater and greater lights, until it is able to unite with the all-pervading, thousand-rayed brilliance in the highest center in the brain. This ascent of the consciousness through the spine may be achieved slowly through right actions and right thoughts. The yogi, however, chooses the quicker and more scientific method of meditation.

SRF AUM

Seeing God as the underlying Reality is the way to solve the problem of being caught up in the delusive distortions of our material experiences.

Stars, planets, plants, animals, and human beings are all let loose on a beautiful cosmic stage, with each one playing an assigned part. Very few people understand the meaning of the play because they do not pause to think deeply about it. To the unenlightened, the drama often seems chaotic and unjust. But God purposely did not automatically make all people poor or all people millionaires, because if everyone were alike this drama could not go on. Diversity is the basis of Nature, and self-evolution is one means of maintaining this diversity. By the law of cause and effect, action and reaction, we make of ourselves what we presently are and what we will be. The result of this variety, created by both man and Nature, is what we experience as the cosmic drama. However, God does not want us to suffer because of these differences. He wants us to know that whether one is currently playing the part of a king or of a servant, he must do his best, but never forget that as a soul, made in the image of God, he is only enacting a temporary role.

Therefore, it doesn't matter whether we scrub floors, or whether we are the leaders of great nations; unless we know that we are merely playing a part on the stage of time, we will suffer from the dualities inherent in the consciousness of being identified with these different stations and conditions. Stage actors do not bemoan their particular parts, but enact their roles to the best of their ability, knowing they are temporary portrayals. Do you see? It is only when we take life too seriously that we suffer.

While we recognize the relative existence of differences, yet

we must not only know intellectually, but realize spiritually,
that One Life
pervades everything.

There is but one religion of God, one Truth underlying the different names of religion. That universal state of consciousness is very hard to attain unless one has Self-realization, the knowing that we are souls and that

all souls are a part of the One God.

The small waves and the big waves all arise from the same ocean. So, when we stand aside spiritually and view every person and every religion impersonally, we shall see that everything is made of God. ...

I know I am but a figure in God's dream movie, as you are also. Some day, when we cease to be actors on the screen of life, we shall realize that our forms are but shadows interspersing the cosmic beam of God's omnipresence, and that the only thing in the manifested universe which is real is the light of the Infinite Christ. (jt)

SRF AUM

The saints stress nonattachment so that one strong point of material attachment may not prevent our attaining the entire kingdom of God. Renunciation doesn't mean giving up everything; it means

giving up small pleasures
for eternal bliss.

SRF AUM

Some people die still yearning for perfect human love; others die dreaming of attaining perfect happiness through wealth and fame. But they are all deceived, for to own this whole earth and be adored by all its people is meager gain compared to our loss when we behave as prodigal mortals. To perceive God and be united with His omnipresence is to own the whole cosmos with its myriad entertainments and ever new immortality. God is love, God is joy. Ownership of the whole earth is nothing in comparison; and it would be fraught with sorrows; even at death the delusion of its being wrested from you would torture you. (os)

SRF AUM

The only purpose of life is to get away from the delusion of this material world.

SRF AUM

So once you realize, as Jesus did, that there is essentially nothing in the universe but mind or consciousness, you can do anything. The body is a materialized thought and the ocean is a materialized thought and you can put one thought on another. ... Jesus had attained that consciousness wherein he knew by direct realization that the body is only a mass of energy. Because he had realized this, and not merely imagined it, he was able to resurrect his body after its crucifixion. ... The ultimate goal is to realize that the body, and all else in this universe, is essentially Spirit. The ordinary man is not aware of this. Jesus the Christ was. (jt)

SRF AUM

It is difficult to forsake any earthly happiness that is present and active in the consciousness and that sways the mind with the influence of habit. It is hard to give up the known sense pleasures of the present for unknown pleasures that may arrive in the future. This is the reason why millions of people would rather eat, drink, and try to be merry today than take the trouble to meditate and make an investment for a future of lasting happiness.

To be an emperor of the whole earth is not the highest goal man can aim for, because he has to leave it all at death; but to possess cosmic consciousness, oneness with God—the Creator who is able to materialize worlds out of ideas—is an everlasting power given to all supremely advanced souls in the Irrationality of not seekspiritual path. The beginner devotee, nevertheless, may be so much attached to immediate material passions that he passes through these periods of irrational doubt in which he does not crave the bliss and security of cosmic consciousness, with its mastery over the three worlds.

When this mental state arises in the devotee—when he thinks that he would rather die in sense indulgence than look for an unknown happiness in the bleakness of self-control—he should reason in the following way: "I lack spiritual imagination and spiritual experience; that is why I think that the present sense happiness is the only happiness worth possessing. Let me rather believe in the truthful words of the scriptures and of my guru. Let me meditate deeply and attain cosmic consciousness, then I shall see the difference between everlasting divine happiness and the temporary enjoyment of sensory entertainment. …” (bg)

SRF AUMMind is the creator of everything. When you know the nature of the mind, you have control of everything, for all is mind. These beautiful buildings and grounds sprang from thought. Nothing exists but that it came out of the Cosmic Mind.

SRF Lake Shrine

SRF AUM

As you march along this path, every moment of your life is precious. You are here in this world for only a little while; everything is temporary. But association with God is permanent and forever, and so you must not be deluded by the temptations of the world and forget God. God can be known. The Master of the universe, whose light twinkles in the stars, whose life-throb is in every blade of grass — you must find Him. The most important thing in this world is to seek and to find God.

SRF AUM

It is an insult to your Self to be born, live, and die without knowing the answer to the mystery of why you were sent here as a human being in the first place. To forget God is to miss the whole point of existence. Learn to feel God, and to enjoy Him. (jt)

SRF AUM

We came from God and our ultimate destiny is to return to Him. The end and the means to the end is yoga, the timeless science of God-union. (bg)

SRF AUM

The only purpose of life is to find God. If you are married, you and your loved one should seek the Divine together. But if you are unmarried, obey at once Christ's command: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God." When you know Him, He will tell you what to do. Otherwise, you don't know what fate may await you in marriage. The tragic stories that come to my ears are unimaginable! Terrible tales of human incompatibility. People should be taught in youth how to control their emotions.

SRF AUM

God and His cosmic laws work unfailingly for the benefit of those whose actions are ever in tune, and for the awakening, through suffering, of those who are not true to the divine Self within. (dr)

SRF AUM

The whole creation was designed as a test for man. By our conduct in this world we disclose whether we want the Lord or His gifts. God will not tell you that you should desire Him above all else, because He wants your love to be freely given, without "prompting." That is the whole secret in the game of this universe. He who created us yearns for our love. He wants us to give it spontaneously, without His asking. Our love is the one thing God does not possess, unless we choose to bestow it.

SRF AUM

We are in a dream state. The only way to wake up is to refuse to recognize anything as reality except God. Otherwise you will again and again sink to your knees in a mud of suffering that is of your own making, until you realize that neither good fortune nor evil fortune is real, that He alone is real. Then all earthly delusions (disease and health, joy and sorrow, life and death) will pass away. (dr)

SRF AUM

This world is an imperfect place. It is only a school of tests. Through tests we learn life's lessons. Test are not meant to crush us. They develop our power. They come through the natural law of progress. It is necessary for us to advance from lower to higher steps. (os)

SRF AUM

A yogi who has risen above delusion and attained Self-realization, and who having tasted divine bliss is eager to share it with true seekers, finds supreme joy in selflessly helping others to liberation. He fulfills that service which is most pleasing to God. To perceive God and—in pure devotion to Him alone—to share His love with others should be man's highest goal on earth. The constant prayer in his heart should be: "May Thy love reign forever in the sanctuary of my devotion, and may I be able to share Thy love with others."

SRF AUM

Don't yearn for human love; it will vanish. Behind human love is the spiritual love of God. Seek that. Don't pray for home or for money or for love or for friendship. Don't pray for anything of this world. Enjoy only what the Lord gives to you. All else leads to delusion. Man has come on earth solely to learn to know God; he is here for no other reason.

SRF AUM

Earth life is only a school in which He [God] has put us to see how we shall behave here; that is all. Before He will reveal Himself God wants to know whether we desire earth's tinsel glory or whether we have acquired enough wisdom to say: "I am through with all this, Lord. I want to talk with You alone. I know You are all I really own. You will be with me when everybody else is gone." (os)

SRF AUM

Trouble and disease have a lesson for us. Our painful experiences are not meant to destroy us, but to burn out our dross, to hurry us back Home. No one is more anxious for our release than God. (me)

SRF AUM

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References:
(aoy) — Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
(bg) — God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita by Paramahansa Yogananda
(dr) — The Divine Romance by Paramahansa Yogananda
(jt) — Journey to Self-Realization by Paramahansa Yogananda
(me) — Man's Eternal Quest by Paramahansa Yogananda
(os) — Other Sources... Talks, Booklets
(sc) — The Second Coming of Christ by Paramahansa Yogananda
(sm) — Self-Realization Magazines