“Fulfillment has nothing to do with circumstances.” – Gangaji
Millions of people are born into rather difficult circumstances. Some are born poor. Some have highly dysfunctional families. Some are born into starvation and disease. Some have seemingly normal home environments, yet they’re subjected to various forms of abuse. There are educational, religious, cultural, societal and other influences that affect the development of a child from birth. Yet none of these can prevent the realization of fulfillment in life.
It would seem a contradiction that someone with dire circumstances, a poor upbringing, little to no education, no warmth or social skills could ever feel fulfilled. Perhaps the great miracle is that they can achieve fulfillment, despite circumstances, whatever they may be.
Fulfillment has nothing to do with where a person lives, their upbringing or wealth or any other external factor. Granted, those do have an effect on how the individual may view life – at least to begin with – but they are not the determining forces on whether or not fulfillment is possible. That comes from within. Fulfillment emanates from desire, from a willingness to put forth whatever effort and length of time is necessary to achieve a goal. The goal has to be deemed worthwhile, for if it isn’t, the motivation to continue will be absent.
To see how this works in plain terms, consider the simple scenario of a young boy or girl born in an impoverished country, with no access to education, hunger and starvation ever-present in his or her environment, afflicted, perhaps, with a chronic disease, possibly even lacking the nurturing presence of one or both parents. How can this person ever find fulfillment in life? Isn’t it more likely that he or she will experience lifelong deprivation, failure and misery? The wondrous nature of the human spirit is that it refuses to be crushed. No matter what misfortunes or circumstances assail us, we will not be destroyed by them. If anything, misfortune often makes us stronger, more determined, more hopeful and more motivated to succeed.
Why, then, do those of us with so much that’s considered positive in our lives often have such a hard time finding fulfillment? By all societal measures, we may have it all – we’re more or less healthy, we’ve gotten a fairly decent education, work at gainful employment that we may even enjoy, have relationships with friends that we find stimulating and fun, and take some pleasure in doing things for others without any expectation of reciprocation. Why don’t we feel fulfilled? We should, right?
The truth is that everyone can find fulfillment. It does take a willingness to recognize and appreciate – and be thankful for – everything that we have been given, everything that we enjoy and find happiness in doing. Fulfillment is never selfish. It requires self-examination, humbleness and a capacity to embrace our spiritual side. Recognizing that we are but a small part of an infinite whole, a precious entity in that which is humanity, we can begin to find what’s real and good and ultimately fulfilling in life.