What is the purpose of life?

Within this question are other questions that have been asked by people for millennia. What is the meaning of Life? What amounts to a good life? Is there a reason for life? Why am I here?

I think that for people to go about existence, and be happy and fulfilled we must have some shape, no matter how hazy or fluid this shape may be, to the answer for these questions. Otherwise we just survive because we are scared of death.

Actually that may be a good place to start this, perhaps we should first ask why we fear death and from this we may find meaning to life. The existentialists have gotten to this before me and concluded that to exist was meaning in itself, life was absurd and seemed to have no reason or purpose other than to just be. Death was nothing, life was everything and should not need meaning or purpose to be preserved and enjoyed. In many ways that is the motto of our current post-modern world. Just do it.

I feel uncomfortable with that. It lacks imagination, it lacks humanity, it lacks wonder and joy.

So why do we fear death? It is not the pain of dying of which I speak but of the not-living. I think it is because we do not know anything but life and fear that great unknown, that loss of hope, that loss of dreaming about the future, the loss of things getting better, of not seeing a new, of missing out on everything. The absence of hope.

So what do we hope to come about? For this should give us insight into purpose, for what we fear missing is what we should be trying to achieve.

As I sit writing this I can see on my wall a small velvet scroll, a gift from a friend on her return from McLeod Ganj. On it is transcribed in gold the words of the Dali Lama’s true meaning of Life.

“We must try to do something good, something useful with our lives. If you contribute to other people’s happiness, you will find the true goal, the true meaning of life.”

This could be read as doing good and making others happy is the purpose of life, but it is not his meaning but rather through doing good and making others happy you will find your meaning.

This I think has some truth, we discover meaning. We start with ideas, goals, purposes and meaning comes about through them not the other way around. Perhaps that is our purpose, to discover meaning in its ever changing myriad of shape and form.

I will leave you with some idea of purpose. To not do so would leave the fluid ghost of meaning as a dense impenetrable fog. A weight of burden rather than the knight of inspiration. I think through following these I find meaning in my life. I try to be good, I wish to leave the world better than when I arrived, I wish to leave a legacy and be remembered, I wish to create something grand – tangible or not. I wish to leave the world more loving and content than it is now. I do not see an end point to these goals, love to me seems eternal and infinite, as is the peace of contentment. And I like that these goals can never be achieved, and that eternity brings meaning.

David J Campbell

Share this Post

Leave a Comment