For some reason this particular question has been somewhat of an obsession for me in many periods of my life. I’m not sure why this particular question has meant so much to me over such an extended period of time. I’m inclined to think that there are many other questions that would have been more practical and/or useful… for example, what is the best way to earn money? How does one master the craft of songwriting? How do you write programming code for IPhone apps?
But why? Why has my mind, over so many years, has that question taken hold of me with such a relentless grip? I’ve considered the genetic possibilities… “Micro” and “Macro”… “Micro”, I inherited this interest from my mom and pop (even grandparents, aunts/uncles). This doesn’t seem right to me based on my recollections (although my great great grandfather on my dad’s side was a moyel). I’ve settle on “Macro” as the driving influence. Jung speaks of the collective unconscious and I’ve wondered if my Jewish blood (and the collective unconscious of my peeps) has been a factor here. I don’t have a better explanation at this point.
Many things have made sense to me in answer to this question over many years…
- It’s an unsolvable mystery… who can know why we are here?
- Existentialism per Irvin Yalom (with credit to Victor Frankl’s logotherapy)- Life has no inherent meaning… all we can do is attempt to piece together a meaning that holds together for each of us through life’s travails.
- Absurdity per Steve Martin- Steve majored in philosophy in college and tells the story of sitting in the laundromat trying to determine the meaning of it all and coming to the firm conclusion that there is no meaning, the best we can do is laugh and laugh at the absurdity of it all.
- Christianity- Man exists to know, love and serve God through Jesus Christ.
- Judaism- Man exists for Tikkun Olam (to heal the world).
- Buddhism- Stop asking such silly questions and just be a compassionate being.
- Confucianism- We exist to be good, to honor our ancestors, to refine the self.
- Hinduism- We exist to become perfect.
- My own personal musings have included a few key options…
- We exist for joy.
- We exist to evolve.
- We exist because we exist (a variant of that saying, “We’re here because we’re here”),
Who really knows why we exist? There are a multitude of opinions. Despite this there are some good common themes. Some time soon I’ll blog on Aldous Huxley’s, The Perennial Philosophy… It focuses on themes shared in common by various faith paths.
My current position draws from all I’ve read, seen, heard and thought over these years…
We exist for joy- joy does not necessarily mean being happy.
We exist to serve- compassion as a way of being with the human family (and ourself).
We exist to evolve- we are accountable for how we play the hands of cards life deals us.
We exist to enjoy- to relish creation and life.
We exist to create- offspring, art, peace.
We exist to wonder- at all the mystery that surrounds us in the universe.
We exist to synthesize- to bring harmony where there is discord.
We exist to nurture- people, the earth, ideas, our soul.
We exist to burn- to be passionate about things and people that matter to us.
We exist to ensure justice- to fight for what is right and just and equitable.
We exist to be fathers, kings, sons, warriors and princes.
We exist to be mothers, queens, daughters, healers and princesses.
We exist to know the rapture of immersion in beauty… to make it… to be taken by it.
This is enough of an answer for me for now.