The Meaning and Purpose of Life
'We are caught in the contradiction of finding life a rather
perplexing puzzle which causes us a lot of misery, and at
the same time being dimly aware of the boundless, limitless
nature of life. So we begin looking for an answer to the puzzle.'
Charlotte Joko Beck 1917 - 2011 (Zen teacher and writer)
"We have now reached that stage in our quest for Truth whereby we can begin to assemble pieces of the puzzle. We have looked at some of the formerly isolated areas of the
enigma of life and death and, hopefully, it will have given you a clearer understanding of both. I will summarise the meaning and purpose of life as it has been given to me over years of searching
via direct personal experiences and by enlightened beings from both this world and the next.
At this stage of our quest, many will have been comforted to know that we are not alone on a God-forsaken ball of rock, hurtling blindly through space in a God-forsaken Universe. Neither are we a freak, billion to one chance of Nature – knowing that there is an intelligent cosmic meaning and purpose behind it all. So, does this mean that there is a life after death? If there is, where do we go and what is it like? Does a God of love exist? If so, why is there so much dreadful suffering in the world – particularly to children? Such questions have occupied the minds of some of our greatest thinkers from ancient times to the present day.
It’s the rollercoaster ride of life with its highs and lows of happiness and despair that cause many to seek for answers. But in our greatest moments of despair there is one word that, irrespective of any belief system, can sustain us, and that is hope. Hope that our suffering is not all in vain or will last for long. Hope that the inmates are not in charge of the asylum; and hope that some benign cosmic super-intelligence has everything under control!
The first port of call for many seekers is often religion. Many seek through choice or curiosity, whilst for others it is virtually mandatory from birth with no choice depending upon country and culture. When compulsory from birth it becomes indoctrination with freedom of thought and enquiry ‘discouraged’. Orthodox religion thereby becomes an organised, dogmatic faith and belief system.
Investigation reveals that much of religious history is based on plagiarised myths and legends which, over the centuries, have often been embroidered and translated into fact, with precious little of whatever truth was evident at the inception now remaining. This opens the door to diverse opinions and interpretations regarding ancient scriptures, hence the endless problem of conflict between the different faith and belief religions which have seemingly lost the plot and spawned numerous cults, extremists and devout atheists as a result.
It’s not a question of replacing orthodox religion with another dogmatic system. There will always be the need for a basic religion for the masses to find solace during distressful times. It’s more a question of outgrowing a religion when it ceases to truthfully answer meaningful questions or solve the problems of life and death with satisfactory evidence. This leads to a gradual and natural migration from blind faith and belief to the search for something more tangible. Just as a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, giving it more freedom of movement, so faith and belief can transform into knowledge and experience giving the mind freedom to expand into undreamed of consciousness levels. Thus faith becomes a trust based upon knowledge and proven Universal Truths.
So, despite their fundamental differences, what is the key element that should be uniting genuine religions? An omnipotent, omniscient Universal God of Love, one would expect! But whilst religions continue to pray to, and preach, a fictional, humanised, personal God with the negative human traits of anger, jealousy, revenge, favouritism and multiple prejudices, then global peace and the enigma of existence will continue to elude them.
'Prayer is addressed to the personal God, not because he is
personal indeed, I know for certain that he is not personal,
because personality is limitation, while God is unlimited.'
Leo Tolstoy 1828 - 1910 (Russian novelist)
In a solar system billions of light years across, and our galaxy being just one of a 100 billion or so others in this vast realm of space, the renowned British physicist, Sir James Jeans, stated: ‘The more we learn about the universe the more it appears to be the product of a single great thought.’ From around the world, enlightened scientists are now seeing the Universe as a vast intelligent field of energy, a grid system or web that connects all things. And what has astounded physicists, is that this cosmic web of energy responds to human thought.
Here is what Chief Seattle (1786 – 1866) of the Suquamish Tribe had to say on the subject: ‘Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. This we know; the Earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the Earth. All things are connected. This we know. All things are connected.’
Profound words from a native Amaerican Indian, when he echoed what philosophers and mystics have known for thousands of years when they refer to this vast web of energy that .........."