Excellence Reporter: Acharya, what is the meaning of life?
Acharya Mangalananda: As an American with a life-long connection with India and its practices and beliefs, I speak both through the Traditions I have been involved in, but also through the direct experience that this connection has brought me.
I would say, the meaning of life is: Consciousness. This one deep word requires some explanation. Everything is Consciousness. The entire Universe is living consciousness; we are consciousness; all life is consciousness. What is consciousness? Self awareness on different levels and to different degrees. The Universe is a living, conscious Entity. The light, sound and energy which compose it spring from an eternal and perfect Consciousness, and are manifestations of that consciousness. It has one purpose for existence: to bring all living entities to perfect fruition of their own infinite consciousness and their connection with this great Consciousness through evolution through countless forms and manifestations.
The fact that we are self-aware and can experience “I am – I exist”, is due to the fact that our awareness streams from that one great Consciousness manifesting as the Universe. Our individual consciousness has become flawed and extremely limited by falsely believing that it is only a body/mind/emotion complex, with nothing behind that. The purpose of existence and of the Universe is to evolve us beyond this misconception into a direct experience of our unlimited, blissful consciousness that is the witness of the body and mind; ever joyful, immortal and limitless. Through the ages, people have had glimpses of this, or the complete experience of this. This is the goal of all conscious spiritual Paths, and the final purpose of Creation—to awaken us to this Truth. The more we spend our lives in pursuing this Truth through spiritual practice; through trying to feel the Unity of Life and living in love and harmony with all; and through trying to sense and feel the One Consciousness behind all and pervading all, the happier and more productive our lives will be.
~Acharya Mangalananda is an American direct disciple of the great woman Indian Saint, Anandamayi Ma (mentioned in Yogananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi”). He has been connected with India since 1973, and spent twelve years living in one of Anandamayi Ma’s Ashrams in Central India. He is an appointed Acharya – spiritual Teacher – of Ma Sharanam Ashrams of Anandamayi Ma and a kirtan artist (sacred Indian chant). Since 2007, he has toured Europe and the US, giving kirtan concerts and meditation classes. He currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he oversees a small Ma Sharanam Ashram.
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