What would we want our final moments to be like? How do we feel when we look back on our life? Is there satisfaction that our time in this world was spent in a worthwhile way, or is there regret and remorse at all the things that could have been otherwise – what we could have done but did not do, and the things we wish we had not done?
How we spend our last days is entirely up to us. It is not fate or destiny that rewards us or gives us a raw deal – we create our present, and future, by our actions.
When we survey our past and present, and ponder over the future, we can check a few things, which will give us a fair idea of what we did right and where we went wrong.
What have we chosen to fill our mind with? Do we see the good qualities of others, or spot only their faults? In other words, have we made our mind a store of treasures or a garbage bin?
If we were, or are, in a position of authority, how have we used it – to help people, or to throw our weight around? Have our talents, achievements, or socioeconomic status made us vain, or are we humble, caring, and generous?
Such introspection shows us where we stand, and enables a course correction. This is important because what we think, speak, and do shapes our future. We reap what we sow – that is the inviolable law of karma, and it is wise to keep it in mind.
If we try to get ahead by acting in ways that put others at a disadvantage or cause them sorrow, we may succeed in getting what we want, but at what cost? Will we earn any goodwill? Rather, our selfishness will cost us our respect. If we earn a lifetime of disapproval in this manner, can we expect to be happy?
Even when we do something good, what is the intention behind it? A lot of people calculate what they stand to gain – in terms of publicity, prestige, money – before agreeing to do a charitable act. As the motive, so will be the result – they do not experience the inner peace and satisfaction that come from serving selflessly.
On the other hand, we fly on the wings of joy and blessings when we give courage to the hopeless, fill the weak with strength, forgive others’ mistakes and inspire them to learn and do better the next time.
It is easy to think of oneself as a nice person, but we can check if we truly are good: Deep down, what are our feelings for others; do we truly wish them well; have we rid ourselves of selfish desires so that we are always calm and content; is our heart really clean?
This is the subtlety of being a charitable soul. When we honestly look within and change ourselves for the better, then when our final moment approaches, we will be able to leave this world with a clear conscience, borne on the good wishes of those we have served.