It’s something that we all wonder at some point of our lives, I’m sure. Why are we on earth, what are we doing here? We were born, and then we will eventually die, that’s the cycle of life. So what’s the time in between for, if we’re all going to die some day anyway? Or perhaps it’s just me who thinks about such negative things at times. Ungrateful me who doesn’t feel being alive is enough of a reason to be happy.
If you’re extremely religious, the answers are pretty simple though, and straight from your holy book. In Islam, the purpose of life is to worship Allah and show our gratefulness to Him for creating us. In Christianity, it is to live righteously and becoming as much like Christ as possible and consequently make God happy. In Hinduism, it is to move on to the next phase of the reincarnation cycle, and achieve moksha — to be eventually liberated from the painful cycle of repeated death and birth, and be one with God.
They’re pretty similar — in the end it all comes down to God, Allah, whatever you wish to call Him, the extreme power we believe in but can’t see. But those of us not all that religious, who don’t pray as much as we should or spend time reading our holy books, forget that our purpose in life is to please Him by being a person He would be proud of. We push the real purpose of life as dictated by religion to a corner of our minds, and continue to live life to please ourselves. And often pleasing ourselves makes Allah unhappy I’m sure, such as giving in to lust or greed.
Putting aside religious theories, since religion is pretty much based solely on (often blind) belief, there are people who feel that our purpose on earth is to make the best of what we have, to live up to our potential, follow our dreams, be happy, enjoy life. Some pretty selfish reasons, don’t you think? All me, me, me. But then again, human beings can be incredibly selfish, it’s just a fact of life. Then there’s the not-so-selfish ideas — make others happy, help others, make a difference in the world — which can tie in with the religious viewpoints. There are materialistic reasons too — to make money, gain power — but what use is money or power when you’re dead?
Those are actual reasons, but then according to some people you shouldn’t question life, while there are those that believe life actually has no purpose, and we’re all just trying to make up a reason to justify our existence.
So many theories and ideas have been put forward, but which one of these is actually true? I don’t think we’ll ever know till we’re dead, to be honest. Till then, I guess it all depends on our values and perceptions.
I know what we humans think, but I wonder if all the other living organisms out there wonder about their purpose of life.
Last week, I went to Waitomo Glowworm caves, quite a long car trip from Auckland where I live. We went on this boat ride through a pitch black cave, where all we saw were the twinkling of blue green glowworms over head, almost indistinguishable from actual stars apart from their aquamarine tinge.
But before getting on the boat, we were told about the life cycle of the glow worm. The adult fly lays about 120 eggs. One of them hatches and then proceeds to eat the other eggs. Then they spend the next 10 months baiting insects and fattening up, before like a butterfly, spinning a cocoon, and then becoming an adult. But guess what? These adult flies have no mouths. They can’t feed. All they do is find a mate, lay some eggs if they’re female, and then they die. To them, their sole purpose of life is to produce the next generation.
We know that this is important to maintain the ecosystem, and if they die out, there will be significant consequences for the rest of us, but do they know this? Do they ever wonder why they are completing their life cycle like we do? Or is it just us, with our above average intelligence who are even capable of such thought?
Perhaps even our sole purpose of existence, along with every other living organism, is to maintain our population too, pass on the ‘best’ genes, to the future generations and help sustain the ecosystem. The scientific purpose of life. Natural selection and survival of the fittest and all that, so that future populations are the best that they can be. But what is the point of producing generations after generations? What is the point of earth existing, and every tiny organism on it? And if you tie science in with religion (which doesn’t mix well all that often) why did that higher power we call God create Earth, humans, and all those other organisms in the first place?
It’s baffling to think about. I wonder if we’ll ever figure it out!