We are all born and start our journey in life towards inexorable and inevitable termination.
The years between birth and death is the period we have goals with or without a conscious purpose.
The purpose keeps changing as we grow. As children, our purpose will be vastly different from what it may be as adults or in old age.
What is the purpose of life?
This question is as old as mankind. Writers, poets, philosophers, spiritualists and scientists have tried to answer it.
Religion provides answers to some in their own domains – do good, be good, seek God (there are so many), follow a path, avoid hell, strive for heaven, spread ‘the word’, attain salvation or detach from the world.
And then some atheists seek purpose in the physical world without a higher anchor of an unseen power.
However, if we look around, we can see for ourselves the variety of purposes we seek:
Some people experience joy and satisfaction in things. Such as a nice house, car, expensive car, jewellery or paintings.
The problem with this is that they never feel satisfied. They are forever looking at the latest, the best, the most expensive version of what they may already have.
It is a never-ending pursuit. There are no limits, never a stage when they can say “This is it”.
In their relentless search for satisfaction, they are never satisfied. In Hindu philosophy, it’s called the Maya Jal (the illusory trap of worldly things).
Buddhists say desire is the root cause of all misery. In such a lifestyle, balance is lacking – the individual is forever tilted forward toward acquiring the next object that he or she hopes will fulfil their life.
This tendency is witnessed in people who have probably been bullied in school, or have somehow felt belittled in life.
They look at others who are placed higher economically, socially or have higher qualifications and want to catch up. They want others to appreciate their efforts, work or appearance.
Social media is replete with such characters who constantly post their selfies and obsessively seek ‘Likes’.
Teenagers who are lacking in academic achievements, try and get compensated by getting validation in other areas, such as online gaming or a sport.
It is common for people in their middle age when their youthful looks are slipping away to keep asking: “How do I look?” They are certainly not expecting an honest appraisal!
The pursuit of power is most visible in politicians.
It may or may not be a genuine desire for community welfare, but there is an underlying and strong desire to be more powerful than others.
People who stand for elections – may it be for a local committee or club – want to been seen as more powerful than others. The pursuit of power becomes their sole purpose in life.
In time, they build an aura of invincibility. However, like other things, power is transitory. Positions and elections are lost, opposing persons overtake them and they feel lost and helpless again.
An emptiness enters their lives as their primary purpose of the pursuit of power bears no permanent fruit.
Some persons seek purpose through spirituality.
While some may be lucky in intrinsically believing in the religion they are born and don’t need to look further to fulfil their religious aspirations, others look for gurus, read books, attend esoteric gatherings, join secret societies, travel on pilgrimages.
They have a deep thirst for finding out answers to deeper questions of life – Why are we born? Is there a God? What is the path to lasting peace and serenity?
They usually try practising ancient and new-age lifestyles such as Yoga, meditation, humming and singing in gatherings.
There is huge demand and there are plenty of ‘gurus’ ready to offer them solutions.
All this points to the fact that most of us have a void inside which needs to be filled. Some call it Soul or Spirit. Alcoholics and addicts try and fill this empty space with substances.
Their primary purpose becomes acquiring and consuming alcohol or drugs.
We are certainly not complete and our experiences create blocks or resonances. Negative emotions may even trigger physical or mental health issues.
We can process these with the help of therapy, introspection or support of a spiritual guide.
My personal take is that we need to be ever aware to savour each moment, good or bad.
We need to accept the reality of life and death; that there shall be ups and downs. As someone said: Be Here Now.
We may have plenty of questions, but there may not be answers to each. We need to go with the flow. However, if you are driven with a desire to seek a purpose, do so. Maybe in that pursuit lies your purpose.