What is the Purpose of Human Life?

Nature's Design

by Jayaram V

There is no "the purpose" to life, other than what we assume or create. Life is largely a random process, enacted through cause and effect by Nature according to its inherent laws. It is up to us to find one or more purposes and build our lives around them so that we do not feel aimless, empty and disorganized or give ourselves to chaos. In doing so we may use our knowledge and faithor intelligence. Jayaram V

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The lessons hidden in Nature

Observe the life around you. Everything in creation serves something else. Fire, earth, water, air and space serve all of us in their own unique ways. Fire keeps us warm. Earth supports us. It is part of our bodies. Water quenches our thirst. Our bodies are largely made of water.

We cannot live without breathing air, and we cannot move without empty space. It is space which makes life and movement possible here. These five elements serve us, although technically they are gross material elements and lack intelligence or awareness. Plants, trees and other vegetative life forms also help us in different ways in our survival. They serve us as food, medicine and building material, besides keeping our environment clean and green and supporting life by releasing oxygen into the atmosphere.

From the smallest organism to the largest, every life form serves a definite purpose either as food, or as a competitor or as a support to other organism. Even inanimate objects like the rivers, oceans, lakes and mountains have a definite purpose. So is the case with the sun and the moon and the constellation of stars.

Even science acknowledges that the planet earth is one large ecosystem. If you destroy one aspect of it there will be ripples everywhere. A plant gives seeds. A plant gives flowers. The flowers spread fragrance or help in the propagation of the species. There are surely many inefficiencies that are built into the mechanism of Nature because by and large it creates forms through trial and error. However, if you look at it carefully, you will realize that it does not let anything go waste.

There is a purpose behind every creation of it and it is to serve the system as a whole in some significant way. You may perceive competition at the individual level in each species. But even in that seemingly competitive environment, Nature promotes internal cooperation and support among its various components. If you can stand outside of this system and observe it, you will realize that Nature functions as a whole, as a unified system. It is very much like a large wheel in which each spoke has a specific role and function and each holds both the hub and the rim together.

The Message of Hinduism

Our seers noticed this hidden design in the component realities of Nature. They observed both the unity and diversity in the manifestation of the world. They realized that the creation of God was built on the principle of cooperation and service and the purpose of each component of creation and each entity of creation was to support creation by doing its part. This they believed was the duty or dharma of various life forms in creation from gods to the tiniest creatures. They also observed that human beings might not observe this fundamental law of creation because of their selfishness, ignorance and delusion, because human beings have the ability to think for themselves.

While intelligence is useful to cultivate wisdom, it can also become a vulnerability if human beings succumb to selfishness and evil qualities. Hence they suggested that human beings should not succumb to the demonic quality of being selfish, but serve creation by living selflessly as a service or sacrifice. This is the message we find in every important scripture, sect and teacher tradition of Hinduism. It is the most emphatic and fundamental teaching of the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Bhagavadgita.

It is for the same reason they repeatedly emphasize the need to overcome desires and cultivate detachment. Implicit in these is the concern that human beings might succumb to selfishness and upset the balance of creation. The primary message of Hinduism is one should not live selfishly but as a service to God or the entire creation. It is a different matter, a large number of Hindus practice their religion purely for selfish purposes. They go to a temple and pray to God that he should give them money or remove their problems or provide them with some comfort, luxury and so on. This is not the real purpose of religious practice. This they do because they are largely ignorant of the underlying philosophy of their religion.

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