Friday, 28 May 2010

Purpose of existence

Swami Gulagulaananda pondered:
"What is the purpose of life?"

Introduction
An age old question, that has been getting me to sit and wonder... What exactly is the purpose of life? Not just life, but everything around us. If you look around for a moment, you will see that there is nothing that is wasteful in this universe. Everything is there for a reason, everything happens for a reason. And this is all perfectly logical.

Logic in nature
Let us assume you are building a robot. You would give it motors and wheels to enable it to move. You would add sensors to sense light, sound, heat etc. depending on the requirement. You would add a microcontroller to enable it to collect data from these sensors, process that and take decisions. Now I will give you an analogy. You have eyes, ears and nose which are equivalent to these sensors, limbs to move around, like the motors and wheels, and a brain and nervous system to process information. It is logical that you would need these to build a robot. And nature is full of things that are there because they have to be. A plant needed to prepare food, and developed chloroplasts and other necessary apparatuses for this task. Ants and insects developed wings and mandibles, etc. But there are some things that are even more phenomenal.

There are sperms in males and ova in females. Two entirely different organisms as units. And yet, the sperms are hardwired to get attracted to the chemicals released by the ova. My question is, how do the sperms know what chemical to get attracted to? It is curious in a way. Ants and acacia trees are another example. The acacia tree can get the ant to do something or make it stay away from doing certain things, by releasing chemicals that the ant is hardwired to respond to... How did the tree learn to do that? To simply say evolution is not fully satisfactory is what I feel.

Purpose of life
Alright, we already know enough about these scientific and natural wonders of life, and we also know that every organism has some part of its own for a purpose. My next question is, why are these organisms even existent? If you look around, the only things that every organism does, man included, is take birth, eat, grow, reproduce and die. Fundamentally these are the only things that every organism does. But we already know that everything happens for a reason. So, why is this organism even existent? What is the purpose of simply performing these actions? Obviously there is a purpose for life. It has to be there. Otherwise, the logical setup will fail...

Are we fish in an aquarium?
I sometimes feel that the earth is an aquarium for higher beings (God?) and they are simply watching us do things. Just like we watch fish... or more appropriately, we create robots and watch our creations do the little things we programmed it to do. I say program, because it is very apt. We can actually write a program to mimic organisms, albeit highly complex. In the sense that we can model organism as programs, and perhaps even write code to mimic them. If this is so, then yes, our lives don't have much purpose except serving as entertainment for higher beings.

Are we created to find God? If yes, why?
Some say that the purpose of life, at least life of man, is to find God. I don't find this very logical either. Now, why would God create life, make it evolve till it becomes a highly sophisticated organism capable of contemplation and extreme consciousness and then realise that there is God. Why would God go through all this trouble? Unless God got bored and said, ok, let me create life - my hobby project, akin to how we create hobby robot projects. But other than this, it makes no sense for God to create man just to realise God's existence. If we all die and go back to God, then why create us in the first place? What is the purpose of creating life?

Don't get me wrong. I am not saying - "Oh we are all here for no reason. What is the point of doing anything? In the end we are all going to die anyway." I have actually heard some people talk like this. Let us continue to excel in the fields we are all currently working in. But I am sure this thought will help you understand that a particular failure or success is not everything, for we are not even scratching the "actual" purpose of our lives. Let us take everything in our stride, and live life as it should, without excess of anything, without jealousy or hatred, for it would seem meaningless. I am not sure where karma stands in this context though.

Of course, my knowledge of spirituality is very very limited. Some of my questions probably might be answered somewhere. What I am saying is that, it is a very interesting question to try and understand the purpose of life, and why things are the way they are. And I am sure that it is something extremely logical and intellectually satisfying. Perhaps that is the day we attain Nirvana.


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Comments from Facebook

Hemanth Pai
Amazing thoughts , Nik . I have exactly the same thoughts running thru my head every few days :P .. which iam hardened enough to sweep under the carpet of my thinking brain :-)

But after some thought ... i somewhat believe that the 'purpose of life' is asking somebody to talk to give a talk on 'Silence' .. its nor for anyone to discuss / ... See moreexplain .. its something to be experienced ... its like we know when we are ready for that 'something' . So maybe the majority of us fall woefully short of that cutoff and those who actually get an answer are smart enough to keep their mouths shut for good reason :-)

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