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Spiritual Meditations ( 18 Aug 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Living Life with a Purpose

By Roshan, New Age Islam

18 August 2015

Just as we cannot survive without food and water, we humans cannot survive without a sense of the meaning or ultimate purpose of life—of life in general, and of our own life in particular. Human beings are meaning-seeking creatures. Starved of a sense of ultimate purpose in life, we are doomed, sooner rather than later, to fall prey to alienation, cynicism, anarchy and even worse—to madness and suicide.

Some weeks ago, I hit upon the idea of conducting a little experiment. I began asking people I met what they felt about the purpose of life. I put this question to people from different walks of life and from various ethnic and religious backgrounds. I still conduct the experiment when I can and remember to—and the insights I’m gaining from it are amazing!

Some of the responses I got to the question are as follows:

        “The purpose of life is just to live. To survive. To just be. I can’t see any purpose beyond that.”

       “There is no given meaning of life. It’s not something that’s predetermined. Each of us is free to construct our own purpose as we please. No one else can do this for you.”

       “Don’t ask about the purpose of life. No one knows. Some people make claims about this or that being the purpose of life, but they are just that—claims, that cannot be substantiated.”

       “There is no meaning of life at all, really. It is simply impossible to make any sense of it. Life is downright absurd, given that we all have to die one day. It’s a cruel joke that the cosmos has played on us.”

       “We are just a collection of atoms and chemicals that came together by chance. Being a product of accident, there is absolutely no purpose to life. Life is a drama. We play our part and then we depart—where, we don’t know.”

       “The purpose of my life right now is to struggle to remain sane in a world that seems to be totally mad.”

        “I’m living not because there is any meaning to life, but simply because I can’t help but live since I’m too scared to commit suicide. The ‘purpose’ of my life, if you can call it that, is simply to exist till I die. I live only because I have to live, not because I want to or because I find any meaning in living. It is only waiting to die and to escape this cruel world that gives me meaning.”

       “The only thing we know for sure about the future is that we will die one day. Life is simply a prelude to death, to being totally extinguished once and for all. That, as far as I can see, is the purpose of life. It’s a doorway that you have to pass through to be snuffed out for good. Life is just what they call ‘time-pass’, a means to while away time till we die.”

       “The purpose of your life is to play the role that Existence or the Universe has chosen for you. You have no say in the matter.”

       “The purpose of life is to prepare for death by living in the right manner so that the soul is not reborn in this cruel world and it attains liberation from the cycle of birth and death.”

       “We are here because we need to play out our karma of infinite past lives.”

       “The purpose of life is to be as happy as you can.”

       “Oh, you may not believe me, but I’ve never thought about the question of the purpose of life! It’s the first time someone’s put it to me. I’m 35 now, but not once in all these years did I hear anyone discuss it—not my parents, nor my teachers, nor my friends….Okay, now since you’ve asked, let me think about it. Hmmm…Okay….I guess I am living because…hmmm…because…well…because I have to. I don’t have any choice. It’s as simple as that! I have to do all these daily-task sort of things…like having a bath, gobbling down my breakfast, rushing to office, picking my child from school, making dinner, chatting with my husband, watching TV and then going to bed. I don’t know if you’ll call that a purpose in life, but that’s really what life is all about for me…a whole series of things that I do on an everyday basis.”

       “Rising to the top of my career is my purpose in life. Isn’t that the case for most people? I think it is. Like it or not, your career defines who and what you are, and through your career you reflect the purpose you have chosen for your life.”

       “The purpose of life is to enjoy. To celebrate. To sing and dance. To have as much fun as possible. To eat, drink and be merry, as they say. Indulge in the good things that the world abounds in. I think we need to liberate ourselves from this sense of sin and guilt that moralizing spoil-sports want us to wallow in. I love movies, partying, holidaying, hanging out with friends, building up my bank balance, dreaming of a nice, new house and a nice, new girlfriend! Doing all that gives my life great purpose. Life is a great opportunity to have fun!”

       “Having as much sex and with as many partners as possible is the purpose of my life. Call it ‘hedonism’ if you like—but that, really, is the purpose of almost everyone’s life, even if they don’t admit it. At least I do and I’m honest about it, shocking though it may seem to you.”

       “The purpose of my life is to gain as much knowledge as I can. I love reading books. Recently, I bought the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica! I wonder if I’ll be able to finish reading it before I die, though.”

       “I am addicted to travelling. I wish I could see every nook and corner of this beautiful world. If I can afford it and the means become available in my lifetime, I’d love to go tramping off to Mars for a vacation! That would be really the ultimate, don’t you think! Travelling really gives me purpose!”

       “I live to eat and to watch television. But don’t tell anyone that!”

       “I want to be rich, powerful and famous. Life gives you the chance to do that. That’s what life is about for me. As a kid I used to dream of becoming the President of America!”

       “Life for me is an opportunity to make it big. Yes, I want to become rich and famous. I want to go to America and make it big there. That dream gives me purpose.”

       “Earning enough money to build up a decent bank balance and then retire to a quiet life in a Himalayan village to grow carrots and tend to a flock of sheep is the purpose of my life.”

       “Life affords me the opportunity to unfold my innate potentials, to do the things I want and be the sort of person I would like to be. I guess that is what the purpose of my life is.”

        “I want to become a famous scientist and to win the Nobel Prize.”

       “The purpose of my life is to earn for my family so that we can eat two meals a day and pay for the rent.”

       “My life revolved around earning for, and taking care of, my mentally-challenged brother and my aged parents. You could say that this is my purpose of living, at least for the time being. But our purposes change over time. Maybe if you ask me the same question next year, I’ll see the purpose of my life very differently.”

       “Being at peace with myself and the world around me is the fundamental purpose of my life.”

       “Being able to help the poor gives me a sense of purpose in what otherwise seems an absolutely heartless world.”

       “Keeping myself busy doing something or the other is what keeps me from going crazy. You might say that this is the purpose of my life, at least right now.”

       “The purpose of my life is to bring joy in other people’s lives—even if it is by doing ‘little’ things, like feeding a stray dog or smiling at a stranger. Giving and receiving love gives my life a great deal of meaning.”

       “I find meaning in doing some good so that I will be remembered long after I die. Working towards leaving a mark on history so that I won’t be forgotten by posterity gives me purpose.”

       “Doing my bit to help the country become a super-power is my purpose in life.”

       “Empowering my community is my purpose.”

       “There’s so much suffering in the world, such terrible oppression. Denouncing violence, terrorism and conflict through my writings gives my life meaning. That’s what I am living for really.”

       “We are in this world to unravel the mystery of who exactly we are. Discovering ourselves is, really, the purpose of life.”

        “We humans are created beings. The purpose of our life is the purpose for which our Creator created us. The purpose He made us for is to worship Him. Worshipping God, loving Him, praying to Him, surrendering to His will and seeking to live and die for His sake is the purpose of life. If I am able to live as He wants me to, in accordance with His Creation Plan, I may, if He so wills, live in eternal bliss with Him in Paradise.”

The meaning or purpose of life is among the most significant questions we could ever ask ourselves. And yet, as in my own case as well as of almost everyone I have been putting this question to, rarely, if ever, do we bother to seriously think about it.

Seeking to learn from others what they feel is the purpose of their life is opening up to me new ways of understanding my own. Of course, I do not agree with many of the responses that I received to my experiment that I’ve mentioned above. And yet, even these responses, like the ones I can agree with, provide me with useful insights. Hopefully, the lessons, positive as well as negative, that I can draw from what different people regard as the major purpose of their lives will help me live in a more meaningful manner than hitherto.

 You might want to try this experiment, too. It might make a great difference in the way you look at, and wish to lead, your own life!