Live up to Your Ideals
by Swami Sivananda
You should have your own ideal in life and should try hard to accomplish the ideal. People vary in their capacities, mental and intellectual calibre, and in physical and mental strength to do things. Therefore, different people should have different ideals. Then only they can evolve quickly. Then alone they will realise sure and rapid progress. The ideal of one man will not suit another man. If one keeps an ideal that he cannot realise, an ideal that is beyond his reach and capacity, he will get disappointment. He will give up his effort and become Tamasic.
You should have your own ideal. You may realise the ideal this moment or after ten years with faltering steps. It does not matter much how long it takes. Every man should endeavour his level best to live up to his ideal. He should put his whole energy, nerve-force and will in the realisation of his ideal. You can chalk out your own ideal according to your own standard. If you are unable to do this, have your guide to do so, and he will select for you the ideal that is suitable to your capacity and standard.
One man may say: "I will teach the village boys and will give them free education. This is my ideal in life." Another may say: "I will serve sick people and nurse them carefully. I will join any Seva institution and render free service till the end of my life. Service of the sick is my ideal." A third man may say: "I will beg from door to door and start a Kshettar for feeding Sadhus and Sannyasins. This is my ideal." A fourth man may say: "My ideal is Self-realisation. I will go to Gangotri and live in a cave and do intense meditation. This is my ideal." All are quite correct according to their capacity and standard. You must gradually bring the ideal to the realisation of God or Brahman. The highest ideal is Self-realisation. Service, worship, etc., eventually result in the realisation of the inner Self. The ideal to have ethical perfection is just below the ideal of Self-realisation. But this will lead to Self-realisation. Self-realisation is the greatest ideal in life. It is the most difficult of all ideals to fulfil. One who attempts Self-realisation does the best service to mankind.
One should not treat a man who has a low ideal, with contempt. He may be a baby-soul who is just crawling on the moral and spiritual path. Your duty is to help him in all possible ways in the realisation or accomplishment of his ideal. You should give him all sorts of encouragement in his sincere endeavour to live up to his own highest ideal.
It is deplorable to note that the vast majority of persons have no ideal at all. Even educated persons do not cherish any ideal. They lead an aimless life and therefore drift hither and thither like a piece of straw. They make no progress in life. Is this not a very sad plight? Highly lamentable indeed! It is very difficult to get a human birth and yet people do not realise the importance of keeping up an ideal and living up to it. The ideal of 'eat, drink and be merry' is adopted by the Epicureans, the gluttons and rich people. This school of thought has countless followers and the number is increasing by leaps and bounds daily. This is the ideal of Virochana. This is the ideal of Asuras and Rakshasas. This ideal will lead a man to the darkest regions of misery and sorrow, the 'eternal lake of fire'. Blessed is the man who keeps up an ideal and struggles hard to live up to his own ideal, for he will soon attain God-consciousness. Glory unto sincere struggling souls!