The story of the grasshopper and the ant is a familiar one. The grasshopper’s definition of life was merry making and enjoying himself. He lived in the moment without a care for the future. The tiny ant on the other hand, had a lot more foresight and fortitude. She knew that spring would not last forever. She made the most of the abundant food that was available in spring so that she could survive comfortably in winter.
The story of the rabbit and the tortoise is yet another tale that we narrate often to our children. That despite the physical limitations that nature bestows on us, we can emerge as winners in a race. We need qualities like humility and steadfastness of purpose. We need to focus on the doing our best, here and now, and not wonder about the result. Surely enough, the tortoise won. And though the rabbit was bestowed with more potential and had no physical limitations like the tortoise, he lost the race.
Can we infer correctly from the above tales that both the ant and the tortoise were successful in achieving their goals? If these two tiny creatures could define their goals and derive the meaning of success in their lives – why cannot we – as human beings- and a more evolved species bestowed with intelligence do it in our lives?
To the tiny ant, providing for her own future was more important than succumbing to the temptation of sensory pleasures like the grasshopper. She was successful in leading her life comfortably and it was against her inherent character to ask for help when she could help herself.
To the slow tortoise, success did not mean winning the race or running fast – it simply meant doing his best despite all odds. Other people’s opinions must have hurt him too, but they surely did not deter him. He defined, nay redefined the meaning of a race after winning it.
It takes all kinds of people to make up this world. Each one of us is unique, born with differing temperaments and we are bestowed with certain innate qualities and limitations. The distinguishing factor is that we can overcome our limitations and improve the quality of our lives. But first we need to frame our own definitions of success and find our own purpose in life.
For some people, success may mean happiness – like the grasshopper they prefer to live in the moment without caring about the future. They are blissfully ignorant about virtues like discipline and seem to have no purpose in life. Only when they realise the truth will they think of changing themselves. And then they will have to make conscious efforts to do so.
Others prefer to spend their time in meaningless pursuits like gossiping and idling away their time. They can enhance the quality of their lives, only when they redefine the meaning of their lives. Like the rabbit, they must realise that it requires more than just physical or mental ability to win the race of life.
And yet there are others, who like the ant, are industrious and disciplined. They go about leading their lives brusquely. They have derived their own meaning of life, success and joy. They lead their lives in a way that they deem fit and have neither the time nor the energy to listen to other people’s opinions. They are content with the fruit of their labour and prefer to generate their own peace of mind with industry.
Just as every creature has a different definition of success, every human being will also have to create his own definition of success. He will also have to map his own course and pave his own road that will take him down the road of his life. He will have to find the purpose of his life on his own.
We are all gifted with this one life span. We are all gifted with 24 hours in a day. We need to use this precious gift fruitfully and understand the true purpose of lives. Only then will we be able to come out of this cycle of birth, life and death. Only with sincere and dedicated efforts combined with the fruit of our labour, can we destroy the residual Karma of our previous births and move ahead on the path of spiritual progress.
And for a spiritually evolved person, this path is clearly etched and he is able to experience it in totality. He progresses faster because he abides by the precepts laid down by Paramatma. He has an awakened soul which realises the purity of the inner soul. He is thereby able to break free from the shackles of Karma and attain Moksha . Every mortal has to reap the fruit of his Karma. He cannot escape it. But by being aware of the true purpose of his life and by working hard, he can move ahead on the path of spiritual progress, destroy his residual Karma and achieve salvation.