Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Why the Question "What is the Purpose of Life?" is Fundamentally a Flawed Question?

"What is the purpose of life"?

Before we proceed further, it is absolutely important to take note of the following:
  • Who would ask this question? It has to be a human being who is mentally fit but it cannot be an animal or even a human being who is not mentally fit per se
  • When would someone ask this question? Typically, when the person is going through a tough phase in her life. This question will usually not get asked by a person when everything in her life is going well (secure job, high income, loving spouse and family, great health)
  • Why would someone ask this question? This question would be asked when one looks at one's own life not as an actor but as an observer, standing far apart. It's like the "real you" asking this question to the "physiological and psychological you" (at this juncture, it is important to see the "three you" in the "apparently one you")
In light of the above, it is easy to see why the question "what is the purpose of life"? is fundamentally a flawed question.

Why the heck should life have a purpose? Think of an animal. Does it ever ask "what is the purpose of life"?


It just lives life without worrying about its purpose. That is just very fine.

Purpose is not really essential to live life. And without a purpose one won't die instantly.

Any animal is born at a finite point in time and space and comes into "being". It then lives for a finite period of time. And it eventually dies at some finite point in time and consequently stops "being".

Purpose or no purpose, the cycle of birth-living-death will happen as it should.

Human beings ask the question "what is the purpose of life"? because they think they are either a reflection of the supreme being or the supreme being itself.

So they better have a purpose.

What if there is no supreme being?

Or even if there is one, he is not interested in the worldly affairs?

Or even if he is interested, he doesn't known a certain human being exists?

Or even if he knows a certain human being exists, he doesn't care whether that person has a purpose in life or not?

Or even if he cares about the purpose of that person, he doesn't agree with that purpose?

How would he let the person know the purpose is not alright and there should be a different purpose.

It is even not known whether the supreme being is actually a she and not a he or maybe something different from either he or she.

Why do we pull purpose into this situation. Why the question "what is the purpose of life"? assumes so much of significance.

The reason could be very simple.

Since the  "apparently one you" asking this question is actually the "three you - the "real you" and the "physiological and psychological you", human being tend to assume that they are somehow more important than the other living creatures.

A man or a woman has the right to ask the question "what is the purpose of life"? but not a dog, cat or a mouse. Why is that so?

Have you ever seen a dog attending a philosophical discourse and ask such a question "what is the purpose of life"?. 

Human beings control the planet and decide what the purpose of a dog should be.

The purpose of a dog can be serving as a pet to a person, getting used for some kind of experiment, working with police for bomb detection, or even getting served as part of some dish on the plate!

But the above purpose is actually super-imposed on the dog and the dog may not agree to have the above as the purpose of its life.

The dog doesn't get a choice unfortunately.

The point is, a dog can live life without a purpose or with a super-imposed purpose that it may not necessarily agree to given a choice.

It may be born as a street dog and die as one without wondering about and worrying about "what is the purpose of life"?

Human beings think they are not a dog and hence they should have a purpose.

This thought runs against the basic philosophy of desire-less action so well narrated in the Bhagvad Gita.

If you live life with fruit of your actions as the purpose of the action and your life as well there will always be issues. 

The Vedanta philosophy dwells upon the "apparently one you" and the "three you - the "real you" and the "physiological and psychological you" in a very insightful and profound manner.

As per the dualistic school of thought (Dwaita), the "apparently one you" is supposed to be a reflection of the "supreme being" (Brahman).

And as per the non-dualistic school of thought (Adwaita), the "apparently one you" is the "supreme being" (Brahman) itself!

Living is about being and nothing beyond that. 

You are there because you exist. Things are there for you because you exist. And you exist because you are there.

Being there is all there is to it. Having a purpose is not anyway impacting or getting impacted by being there.

Life is simply about existence. If there is no existence, there is no life. If there is existence, there ought to be life.

So life doesn't need to have a purpose. It is all complete in itself.

And that is why the question "what is the purpose of life"? is fundamentally a flawed one.

The question that is more pertinent to be asked is actually this:

"Why not to bother about purpose of life and how to just be as you live life before your drop dead?"

The purpose of life is to just be!

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