Prescheduled. Steve is recovering from surgery at the moment.
“Nothing matters any more,” said the man I passed in the hospital hall, who called himself an “alcoholic.” “I’m going to drink and smoke till I die.”
And here I am almost bursting, saying to myself, “Life has a purpose. There is a meaning to all this.”
Most people, it seems, when a loved one dies, a crop fails, or a similar disaster happens, ask, “Why? Why? Why?”
And supplying a credible and truthful reason seems to bring them peace.
OK, if that’s the case, then what is the purpose of life? (1) What is the “why? why? why?” of existence?
Well, let’s start by looking at God’s purpose in creating life. Ibn Arabi tells us, speaking from God’s perspective: “I was a hidden treasure and I loved to be known, and I created the creation so that I be known.” (2)
Included in being known is for God to know Itself. God, who is All and One without a second, faces a difficult task in knowing Itself and being known. How does the One achieve this end?
It’s achieved in and through our enlightenment or Self-Realization. In the moment when you or I realize ourselves as … surprise! … God, God meets God.
I know God in that moment and God knows God. For that meeting was all of this created.
“The only purpose of life is to realize God,” declares Paramahansa Ramakrishna, an Incarnation of the Divine Mother. (3) Sri Aurobindo adds:
“There is no I [or] thou, but only one divine Self equal in all embodiments, equal in the individual and the group, and to realize that, to express that, to serve that, to fulfill that is all that matters.” (4)
Rumi makes the case at greater length:
“There is one thing in this world which must never be forgotten. If you were to forget everything else, but did not forget that, then there would be no cause for worry; whereas if you performed and remembered and did not forget every single thing, but forgot that one thing, then you would have done nothing whatsoever.
“It is just as if a king had sent you to the country to carry out a specified task. You go and perform a hundred other tasks; but if you have not performed that particular task on account of which you had gone to the country, it is as if you have performed nothing at all. So man has come into this world for a particular task [enlightenment], and that is his purpose; if he does not perform it, then he will have done nothing.” (5)
I had a vision of the purpose of life on Feb. 13, 1987 (6) in which, filled with bliss, I watched a small golden star (7) emerge from a large Golden Sun (8) and travel a sacred arc from God to God, all the time spiraling forward. (9)
I watched two instances of enlightenment, (10) in the second of which the small golden star merged with the large Golden Sun and disappeared. The vision itself disappeared when I muttered to myself, “I see. The purpose of life is enlightenment.”
So that is the overarching purpose behind all of life: That God may experience Itself in a moment of our enlightenment. Sri Ramakrishna playfully pictures Siva or pure consciousness at that moment:
“When Siva realizes his own Self [in a moment of our enlightenment], He dances about in joy exclaiming, ‘What am I! What am I!’” (11)
For this reason, Hindus call life a divine leela or play, in which eternal sparks journey down into density forgetting their true identity and then climb Jacob’s Ladder of consciousness back to the beginning – and end.
Realizing the nature of life as a leela, many masters, upon realizing the Supreme Consciousness, laugh.
That’s the purpose of life. That’s the “why? why? why?” of existence. Perhaps allow that to be the foundation of all our other spiritual adventures and enquiries: We could build on no firmer foundation.
(1) If you wish to read numerous discussions of the subject, start with The Purpose of Life is Enlightenment at https://gaog.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Purpose-of-Life-is-Enlightenment.pdf
Hungry for more?
See “Enlightenment – Enlightenment is the purpose of life” at http://goldengaiadb.com/index.php?title=E#Enlightenment_-_Enlightenment_is_the_purpose_of_life; “Reincarnation and the Purpose of Life” at http://goldengaiadb.com/index.php?title=Reincarnation_and_the_Purpose_of_Life#The_Purpose_of_Life ;”The Purpose of Life for God” at http://goldengaiadb.com/index.php?title=The_Nature_of_Life_1#The_Purpose_of_Life_for_God; “The Purpose of Life for Us” at http://goldengaiadb.com/index.php?title=The_Nature_of_Life_1#The_Purpose_of_Life_for_Us ; “Purpose of Life” at http://goldengaiadb.com/index.php?title=Philosophy#Purpose_of_Life
(2) Muhyideen Ibn Arabi, Kernel of the Kernel. trans. Ismail Hakki Bursevi. Sherborne: Beshara, n.d., 3.
(3) Paramahansa Ramakrishna in Swami Nikhilananda, trans., The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1978; c1942, 273. [Hereafter GSR.]
(4) Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1983, 316.
(5) Rumi in A.J. Arberry, trans., Discourses of Rumi. New York; Samuel Weiser, 1977; c1961, 26.
(6) For a description of it, see “The Purpose of Life is Enlightenment – Ch. 13 – Epilogue,” at http://goldenageofgaia.com/2011/08/13/the-purpose-of-life-is-enlightenment-ch-13-epilogue/
(7) The Self, soul, Christ, or Atman. God the Child.
(8) God the Father, the One, the Transcendental. For simplicity’s sake, I’ve left the realm of the Divine Mother (mater, matter) out of this explanation.
(9) Returning to the same karmic lessons, lifetime after lifetime, until the lessons are learned. This makes the journey a spiral as well as an arc, from God to God.
(10) The first was a fourth-chakra experience of the Self, after which the golden star left the physical cycle and sped back to God, merging in It. There are of course many more levels of enlightenment between the two.
(11) Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 393. In an earlier article, I gave St. Paul’s description of the moment before final mergence:
“And when all things [all worldly desires] shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son [the Self, the Christ, the individuated spark] also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all [i.e., reunited].” (1 Corinthians 15:28.)