The question about the purpose of life has confused humans since the very beginning of evolution. We assign meaning to life based on personal events and experiences. But still, this question comes up now and then.
Since ages, various religions across the world have propagated the idea of hell and heaven. The psychology behind such thinking is that humans are motivated by either pain or pleasure. The fear of pain and greed for pleasure allows for easy manipulation and control.
We are often told that God will punish us for our evil deeds and loved for good ones. It seems as if God is the supreme judge sitting out there in heaven, keeping a tab on each of us on this planet.
Therefore, from a very early age, our minds are conditioned to think in a particular way about the world. For some people, this world is an exotic vacation where each moment is a moment of joy, while for others, it is a rat race that demands the survival of the fittest.
There is no purpose to life. Whenever I say that there’s immediately a backlash, “So are you saying that we shouldn’t aspire to achieve goals, relationships and that whatever we do is meaningless?”. Hold on! Let’s not be so hasty and dig this a little deep.
It is our conditioned mind that assigns purpose and meaning to life. We form goals based on social, cultural, and environmental conditioning. The value assigned to these goals depends on how we perceive them. For some, even a billion-dollar income is not enough, while for others, living a debt free life is a dream.
This conditioning limits the mind in terms of thinking and understanding of the real nature of life. The main reason for such conditioning is that a liberated mind will never allow for subjugation, exploitation, and slavery.
This kind of conditioning allows for controlling and manipulating people. This conditioning is perhaps responsible for many social ills in the world.
When you limit yourself to be a part of a group or a social structure, you lose a part of your soul because you have to consistently compromise on your thinking to fit into the social fabric.
The identifications with a particular sect, religion, group, or community are sometimes so strong that we use all our intellect to justify their existence. No matter how intellectually advanced, we consider ourselves to be, most of us have biases.
A liberated mind cannot be confined or constrained in any way. It will be fearless. It will break the bonds of slavery and attain the highest freedom, which for it, is the highest value. But again, even this does not define the purpose of life. Confused? Let me explain.
You see, it’s the nature of the mind to discriminate. And this discriminatory intelligence is highest in humans. So no matter what, the mind will always discriminate. It will assign a high value to some experiences and build the highest ideals based on it.
Different people have different interpretations of life, and that’s the reason why, since evolution, we have not been able to reach a consensus on what is the real purpose of life.
One thing for sure is that life cannot be understood with a limited view, i.e., one must look at the larger picture and see life in totality to make some sense of it. Also, life is difficult to understand through individual experience because of subjectivity.
But Isn’t Life All About Seeking Happiness?
I would agree if you can explain what happiness is. We must ensure that we understand what happiness is. If being able to buy stuff like fancy clothes, shoes, cars, real estate, jewelry, is happiness, why doesn’t it last? Why do you need more despite all of it?
What is it that gives us unconditional abiding happiness? Well! I hate to disappoint you again, but nothing outside of us can provide abiding happiness. People from the Western world often disagree. They come up with various arguments defending their worldly needs and wants, citing examples of concepts such as the Maslow’s pyramid.
I never debate with them because I know I can’t change the mind that has been conditioned for so many years. Even I was like that at some time. I’m not against materialism. What I find disturbing is this compulsive behavior that leads to acquiring more and more material possessions—especially the culture of brands that promotes and propagates this mindset.
Every piece of advertisement you see is an attempt to condition your mind, consciously, or subconsciously. You are given a promise of “everlasting happiness” that doesn’t exist. Not only the big corporation but even our close ones, like our parents, spouse, friends, coworkers, are regularly conditioning us.
They shape your mind giving you goals and ambitions that stem from their limited thinking. They introduce the idea that happiness comes from chasing high goals (according to their limited beliefs) in life.
What we call as happiness is nothing more than a temporary release of neurochemicals in the brain. This is not happiness. It is a sort of addiction. It causes people to keep chasing that which doesn’t exist, all their life. They try to find it in relationships, work, success, money, fame, but it’s never enough.
Have you ever heard millionaires say that they don’t want to become billionaires because they have enough? No. The more they have, the more they want. Is there a point where one can say, “That’s enough! I don’t want more”. Well! Some do. And that phenomenon is known as awakening.
This awakening causes one to transcend beyond the idea of good and bad, happiness and sorrow, hell and heaven, etc. It causes us to have unwavering faith in the unknown or formless that pervades the whole of existence. It causes us to merge with the universal consciousness.
People argue that having no purpose in life is living like animals. And I do agree with them. There’s nothing bad about having worthy goals like making money, healthy relationships, spiritual development, etc.
The problem lies in building an unhealthy attachment to the desires of achieving these goals in the hope that they will bring lasting happiness. The very nature of existence is impermanence. Nothing lasts forever. It’s people’s attachments and expectations that cause them pain and suffering.
There is nothing real to life besides this very moment. Ruminating over the past and day-dreaming about the future will not help us lead a fulfilling life.
When we truly learn to live in the present moment with the highest level of awareness, the very question of the purpose of life becomes irrelevant. Being in this very moment is the most joyful and blissful way to experience life.