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January 07, 2005

"I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own - a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. It is enough for me to contemplate the mystery of conscious life perpetuating itself through all eternity, to reflect upon the marvelous structure of the universe which we can dimly perceive and to try humbly to comprehend even an infinitesimal part of the intelligence manifested in Nature."

-Albert Einstein

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You are definitely correct in recognizing that tragedies and unforeseen circumstances cause us to reflect on the purpose of life. The tragedy of September 11 and all calamities in general, whether personal or collective, cause one to ponder upon his own existence and where he fits into the grand scheme of things. There is no doubt that death is inevitable. But, it will not come upon our request, for it is an uninvited guest. This is a fact that many people remember during tragedies only. Thus, most of our life is spent in pursuits of the world, with some or no preference to spiritual elevation. But at times of disaster and suffering, we think of re-evaluating our priorities because we then recognize that life is short.

As it has been written, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Thy statutes” (Psalms 119:71). God allows afflictions, despair and sufferings in order that we might re-evaluate what is important in life, because what we call life is just another name for death. Day by day, we are progressing towards the finality of our stay on this earth. The Bible states, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14)? Due to any cause or reason, one can lose his life. Still, man runs and hankers to accumulate more and more, only to be abruptly halted when death strikes or when his energies are snatched away from him. Instead, while alive, he can utilize this short time to understand that all will vanish and to realize the One who always remains.

It has been said by Saint Kabir, “So long as the disease of old age has not come; So long as death has not seized the body; So long as the speech has not grown powerless, O man! contemplate on the Lord”. Thus, our outlook should always be to look within and contemplate on God and His will for us. Let us take lessons from the uncertainty of life and use it as a stepping-stone to seek the truth about life. It has been said, “When life gives you a kick, let it kick you forward”.

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