What is the Purpose of Life?

Written by Naren on February 16, 2009

Deeply frustrated by the pangs of outer reality, crushed and crippled under the harsh wheel of hopes and aspirations, and tired and tattered in the mad race of competition and achieving, ultimately, these questions start pounding in our mind:

All these questions are intertwined and simply a variation of each other. They are basically all related. And in this article, we will examine these questions to their deepest core, and hopefully we will all be able to gain some understanding.

These are some fundamental, sensitive, call it philosophical, metaphysical, or psychological questions, but the truth is these questions have been plaguing man for eons. Not all individuals necessarily raise these questions. Some live their lives in such a deep sleep that there is no need to ask these questions. Life is a daily routine for this individual. He wakes up every day at a certain time, goes to work, does his daily chores, comes back home, sleeps, and gets ready for another day. Life is simply a daily survival. No questions are being asked, hence no answers are needed. Life just flows, but only in one direction. Life becomes linear, nothing more. No new flavor. No new joy. But he is okay with such life. One day death comes, and he dies completely unaware of the tremendous potential hidden inside him. He could have been a Buddha, Lao Tzu, or Christ. But he is completely unaware of it. He lives in unawareness, a deep hypnotic sleep, and dies in unawareness. May be in his next life he will be a little aware. He is bound to be…

Some people will raise these questions in their own lifetime, out of frustration. They are deeply unsatisfied with the events happening in life, extremely exhausted from all the efforts, and not finding peace and contentment anywhere. Out of this group of individuals, some seek for an answer, and become seekers. As more thirst arises in them, they become meditators. Then sooner or later these questions will disappear, as the light of understanding will penetrate them, making these questions utterly meaningless. Then they have already found the eternal bliss and ecstasy in life. In a deep state of meditation, they have fathomed the very depth of their inner being, and scaled the highest peak of consciousness. These questions will disappear without any trace at all.

Others from this group may get lost in the web of these questions. They run here and there looking for answers. They get more confused, as their logic and reasoning fail. Their lives become hell, and ultimately on the verge of nervous breakdown, they end up on some shrink’s couch.

Finally, there are some people who are already meditators and have understood the meaning of these questions so they don’t become bothered with them. They have their own way of living and don’t allow these questions to become a hindrance. They have already gone beyond, and have understood the futility of these questions.

Life is Purposeless

Yes this is the straight answer. No matter how hard I try to deny this, now I cannot. Two or three years ago, I would have been very offended by this answer. I would have been enraged. Because, if life is purposeless, then why am I here? There should be some purpose, some reason for me to be here.

But now I ask myself, if life has a purpose, then what it is? Why hasn’t anyone been able to find it? People have walked on the moon, they have collected information from Mars, and the law of gravity was discovered hundreds of years ago, why has no one ever been able to find the purpose of life? Why have these questions been haunting humanity for so long? Why?

Let me repeat again. Life is purposeless. This is not my discovery. It is just a simple understanding. All the enlightened masters have been saying this forever, and we have turned a deaf ear. The very mentioning “life is purposeless” is inconceivable. We cannot accept this. It’s too hurtful for our ego to accept. Because, if we accept this, then it is the death of the ego. The ego sustains only in the dark valley of our unawareness. Once we become aware that life itself has no purpose then the ego simply dissipates into thin air. For example, when you bring a light in a dark room, the room is no longer dark. And it is really difficult for us to deny that life has no purpose, no goal, and no direction. Because if there is nowhere to go, nothing to achieve, then what’s the point of living? Why bear all the pangs and suffering of everyday life? What is the point of survival? These questions are all coming out from your ego, though. It’s the trickery of mind. Because mind exists, and ego survives only if a goal is assigned to life. Mind keeps on continually reminding us that without any purpose or goal, our life would be like a letter without an address. We will end up like a dry leaf tossed and turned in whichever direction the wind blows. We will have no control in our life and be lost. Our lives would be miserable. And we easily fall into the trickery of mind. Just like the ego is false, all that ego says is bound to be false.

But the truth is when purpose is assigned to life then life loses its entire flavor, all its juice and beauty. This is the end of life. Life is no more life. Because then you get detached from life. You start working toward that goal. Now, with the goal, future has become important. Your present seems less significant. In fact, then present does not exist to you anymore. Because, with a goal, desire is bound to follow. Dreams will be woven around those desires. Anxiety, worry, and stress will soon trail behind. You start hurrying towards the goal. There will be competition. A mad race of who is going to take over who, will arise. And there will be people who will continually be saying, life is short. So hurry. Hurry, move fast before somebody gets there. Why won’t you be miserable then? Your whole life becomes so turbulent that there will be no inner peace. Because now you are so obsessed with your goals, you forget everything. You are eyeing something far. Something of the future, which no one has seen. You are running after something which may not exist, and life exists right now and right here, in the present. When you get obsessed with the future, why wouldn’t you be tense, why wouldn’t you be miserable and be in a panic-stricken state? Unable to slow down and relax, you will make your life so chaotic, as if you are sitting on some quake zone which is about to erupt anytime. You will be on a state of nervous-breakdown, and ultimately you will have to knock on some shrink’s door, and end up on their cozy couch.

Just pay close attention to today’s society. Every other member of a family has their own therapist. They have their own psychoanalyst. And the most ridiculous thing is that even these therapists and psychoanalysts are visiting other psychoanalysts to be themselves psychoanalyzed. Can you conceive the ridiculness of this situation? Isn’t this a tragedy? A complete puddle of some ugly mess!

The Purpose of Life

Life is as it is. Yes, life has a purpose. Life has a goal. But, life’s goal is life itself. Life’s purpose is life itself. That’s the way it is. Life is absolutely non-purposive. Because purpose is the end of life. But, life has no end. This is the existential truth. Life is eternally eternal. Life keeps on going. If life had a purpose then everything would be finished.

For example, if life has a purpose, then everything in this existence must have a purpose. Does anybody know what is the purpose of the sunrise? What happens if suddenly the sun stops rising tomorrow? Can you imagine this? What if the sun says, “I’ve achieved my goal. Enough rising! Let me take a break.” Then, what would happen?

Similarly, life is also purposeless. Many of you may not agree with me. That’s perfectly okay. Because everybody has their own way of thinking. Everybody is brought up differently, thus there will be different thinking, different opinion. It’s absolutely fine with me if you do not agree. Because this thing cannot be defined with logic and reasoning. The mind tries to seek answers for everything. But remember, mind has its own limitations. How much further can mind go beyond its reach? Mind cannot penetrate the deeper realm of your inner being. Only the light of understanding can. Mind cannot because it survives in its own logic and ideas. And where is this idea and logic coming from? Is this your own? No. These are all borrowed. These are learned. It’s simply an assimilation, a collection, from here and there. From this book that book. From your parents, teachers, gurus, masters, society and so on… Otherwise, close your eyes and try to find if even a single thought belongs to you. It's really tough. You will hardly find any thought which is entirely yours. In fact, this is a great way to be in meditation. Let’s not delve deeply into this right now, as it will be the topic of a separate article. Mind is simply a collection of your borrowed, memorized or learned knowledge from various sources. This applies to me as well.

Hence, a deep understanding is needed. Once understanding dawns on you, the questions will disappear. Because as mentioned above, life itself is a goal. Otherwise many other absurd questions will arise. For instance, if life has a purpose, then who gave it this purpose? And why isn’t the purpose known yet?

So, do not fall into this cunning trick of mind. Remember mind is very clever. It knows how to manipulate you. It knows how to play with you. For example, it even suggests what is the purpose of love. Why be in love? Now what to say! Love is love. When you are in love, you don’t ask what is the purpose of love. Once you ask this question then there is no more love. The very questioning is the murder of love. Isn’t just being in love, love? One could say love’s purpose is happiness. But, what about the pain? Love brings pain as well. So this is just a never ending cycle. Love itself is the purpose.

Life is a Play

Have you seen a small kid running after the butterfly, chasing a rainbow, or jumping on some rain puddle? I, myself used to do that when I was a kid. It’s so much fun. Now, what is the purpose of a kid chasing after butterflies all day? But, have you ever seen the joy and happiness on his face? Have you ever noticed the playfulness in his act? To him, it’s just a play. It’s a total enjoyment and his whole being is so deeply involved in it.

The moment somebody asks what is the purpose of running after butterflies, the act becomes dead. The kid is just playing and having fun, there is no purpose. Likewise, in the east, in a country like Nepal or India, people say life is a leela (khel), which means a play. Life is the most beautiful journey. It is eternal. It is from nowhere to nowhere. It is a non-ending continuum cycle. This is how life is perceived in the east. There is no need for purpose in life.

But in the west it is still very difficult to perceive this idea. Everything has to be assigned some purpose. For example, even playing has a purpose. You play to have fun. That’s the purpose. The label is always there. Now, assigning purpose to everything makes things look like a business, not a play.

The Beauty of Life

Just as existence has always been purposeless, life is also non-purposeful. That does not mean life is completely meaningless and valueless. Life has tremendous value and meaning. Its value is its beauty, with all the joy that it can offer in each and every moment. By limiting life to some purpose, we can destroy the beauty of life. Life is love, life is beauty, life is God, life is existence – without any goal or purpose. Can’t we be content that we are alive? Isn’t this enough?

Life is as it is, for no reason at all. Existence has provided us this most gracious and beautiful gift, so why not live it to the fullest. Life is full of beautiful moments. And each and every moment is available to us. Why not make these moments a celebration? Why not sing, dance and rejoice and live life totally? Why sacrifice and waste this already available precious moments running for some mundane purpose in the future, which may or may not come?

Let me tell you a story:

A man was walking at night and studying the stars. He was so focused on his work that he fell into a nearby well. Hearing his loud weep and wail, an old lady who lived nearby, came and rescued him. The man was happy to be alive, and he could not thank the old lady enough. He told her, “You saved my life; I have to give you something. I am the king’s chief astrologer and very popular in the neighboring country as well. People pay lots of money for my service. But, if you come tomorrow to my house, I will foretell your future for free.”

The old lady laughed, and said, “Don’t even worry about giving me anything. It’s okay. You cannot even see a foot ahead of you, how are you going to see my future. I am perfectly happy here.”

Now this can be applied to people of the contemporary world. Everybody seems to be so occupied in the pursuit of their goals, dreams, and purpose, that they become blind to what is available at the present time. People have become so farsighted and focused on their future and goals, that they have forgotten to enjoy which is immediate at the present moment. If you start living in the present, in this very moment then everything that you have been aspiring to and have crystallized as a goal will be clear to you. All the faraway stars will be on your hand, right here and now. The only thing needed is a clear vision. Toss off the achiever mind and everything will become crystal clear to you. You will be surprised to find the whole beauty of life in each and every moment.

Have you ever pondered this: that every rose is a new rose, though they look the same; similarly, every moment is a new moment, alive, vibrant, and full of energy and ecstasy?

An Achiever Mind

From the very beginning, a child is being forced, poisoned, and influenced with the notion that he has to achieve something in life. He has to carry some kind of ambition, goal or purpose. If it is in eastern countries like Nepal or India, parents want their child to become a doctor, engineer, or businessman. No matter what, he has to achieve success, name and fame, earn money, and accumulate wealth. The motto is to make his life easy and later on, easy for his children.

Now, look at the situation of the world. It’s like a madhouse, completely berserk. Everybody is involved in cut-throat competition. Now, the child has to learn his way and adapt. Instantly, an innocent child becomes cunning, exploitive, and deceitful. Truth and honesty evade his soul and are being replaced with lies and cunningness. What to do? One has to survive and struggle in this insane race. The consequence: life becomes miserable, a hell. Life turns into a desert, barren and dry, with no sign of rainfall. He cannot relax, not even for a moment, why? Because, now he is in a tremendous hurry to achieve his goal. Tension surrounds him because everybody seems like his enemies. You are a threat to the others, and the others are a threat to you. Someone could snatch your success from your hand in a blink, thus there is not even a second to relax and rest. Even in sleep thoughts start haunting you. The fear of failure terrorizes your peace. You don’t know what to do. You feel like crying, but you can’t even do that. You are scared and afraid.

Such is the situation. No one wants the other to be ahead of the game. Even a best friend starts acting strangely and pulling your leg. Whom to trust? Look what ambition, purpose, and goal does. And what can be done. Everybody has a goal. Everybody has some dream, ambition, and aspiration to be somebody, something. It needs to be achieved anyhow, before it is too late. Life is short, who knows what’s next. So achieve while you are here. And do it fast. Act now, get off your butt. Hurry, Hurry, Hurry! It’s no surprise to me why people cannot relax, they cannot stop, and their whole being becomes traumatic, complete chaos.

No wonder why, now from this world, the flower of love has stopped blossoming, friendship -- what is friendship, never heard of it! Honesty has disappeared. All that have remained, thrived and prospered are a jealous, cunning, achiever, dreamer, aspirant, accumulator, and hoarder mind. Peace has died a long time ago from the world. All that can be seen is violence, hatred, people killing each other in the name of race, money, country, pride, ego, nationality, or religion. What a pitiful condition we are living! What an ugly mess we’ve created for ourselves! Now, you tell me how love and compassion can exist in such a neurotic and crazy world? And it’s all because of the achieving mind, a mind full of purposes, to do this, to do that, achieve this, achieve that, be this, be that. All the poisoning has seriously taken such a big effect, that people have lost their senses and hence there is no peace, silence, and tranquility in their being anymore as everybody is in a hurry.

And this has to stop. The only way it can be stopped is if only you will be able to understand all this, and drop the dreadful philosophy of an ambitious and a purposeful mind -- a mind full of goals and dreams. I am not implying for you to quit your job, get divorced, run away to a jungle or hide in a mountain. I would never suggest such stupid ideas. You don’t have to drop anything you are doing. If you have a job, be happy about it. There are millions who are jobless. If you have food, be grateful. There are millions who are dying out of hunger and deprivation. If you are in love, be in love, it’s the most beautiful thing. So don’t drop anything. Do whatsoever you like doing. But drop this achieving mind that corrupts you with ideals, pride, and ego. It feeds you the notion that only you are the best, only your culture, country, or religion is the best. Look into your heart. These are not coming out from there. It’s only your mind which has been polluting you with this absolute false belief and ideas. So drop this mind that has been making you sick. Yes, mind is the biggest disease. How long are you going to carry this disease with you? Just drop it. Again, I repeat drop this egoistic, prejudiced mind that gives goal, ambition, and purpose. These are all wrong. Just relax into the innermost core of your own being. You are fine as who you are. You don’t need to be somebody. You don’t need to achieve anything. Just being here in this beautiful world, isn’t this enough. Isn’t this a great achievement, a great purpose that you can breathe with so much vibrancy and energy? You can enjoy the beautiful nature, the rain, the sun, the green trees, the river, the ocean, the singing of the birds, the dance, the music, isn’t this enough?

Final Thoughts

Let this understanding glow in your heart, and then you won’t even ask the question, what is the purpose of life? Why am I here? My answer is: You are here because you are. Why shouldn’t you be here? You are here to live life for the sheer joy of living. You are here to enjoy every moment in absolute awareness, freedom, and celebration. Let this penetrate in your being then automatically you will be relaxed. You will be happy with what you are doing. You will find the source of contentment rushing to you, and showering you like a rainfall on your dried out heart. All you have been listening to is the mind. Now it’s the time for you to listen to your heart.

Remember life is the goal, and life is the destination. From nowhere to nowhere. Now you can sleep, eat, and spend time with your family in peace; and even when you embrace your beloved, you will be in peace. No thoughts of distant goals will haunt you. Now the life will seem like an ecstasy, full of contentment. Now life seems like a play, a leela, a khel. Life is no more a business. There are no conditions to be fulfilled. Enjoy and rejoice like the child does even in the simplest things. Life is full of millions of these divine opportunities. Grab it right now. Everything is already available at the very present moment. Just wipe that gloominess from you face, and drop that troubled mind. Life has to be lived for its own sake. If this is understood life becomes a moment-to-moment triumph.

Now open the window of your room and let the sunlight enter. Enjoy each and every sunray, the chirping of birds, the cool breeze, the rain drops on the leaves, you will feel so content, so happy, so blissful that love and compassion will start radiating to your friends and even to your enemies with no judgment or competition, by itself.

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