Purpose of life
What is the purpose of your life? Why were you born? What were you made to do? Now these questions can be answered from various perspectives. based on any dreams if you have or had (in some people’s case may be none). Dream- Something (career choice, social work, spiritual path or any other activity) that is capable of taking your sleep away. Visualizing yourself in that role/roles might give you immense satisfaction, joy, even goose bumps or makes you feel on top of the world. But then the dream should also be something that makes you do anything for it or it should drive you to pursue it persistently and more importantly it should have a purpose close to you. It can also become a conscious commitment that you do to yourself or to someone most important to you. Many don’t succeed either due to lack of dedication, discipline, complete devotion of time and efforts or fear of losing. Now let’s get a little deeper here..
Let us look at what our life’s purpose is in terms of religion or more to say from a spiritual perspective (Religion and spirituality can be different when we look at it from a worldview.. But yes ideally religion should lead us to spirituality. Religion is man-made or a name given to following a spiritual leader or a particular doctrine..Unless XYZ God states it as a name in any of the scriptures which is very much a possibility )
Note: Atheists can stop reading at this point Let’s have a glance at where few of the religions in India anticipates about an individual or community’s final destination
Desired final destination in various religions
Spiritual emancipation is therefore considered the main goal of life, and other goals are necessary stepping stones towards it. Hinduism thus recommends a balanced life with an ultimate spiritual goal. The word for this process is yoga, from which we can derive the English word yoke, meaning to join. There are various types of yoga, also called different margs, (paths). There are three main ones: karma-yoga, the yoga of selfless action; jnana-yoga, the yoga of spiritual knowledge; and bhakti-yoga, the yoga of loving devotion. Some add a fourth path called raja-yoga or astanga-yoga, the eight-step path, which includes physical exercises and culminates in meditation on God within the heart The Hindu rites of passage at death, during and after the funeral ceremony, are to ensure the peaceful passage of the soul. They aim to prevent the person being “held up” in his or her spiritual evolution, and particularly to avoid the possibility of remaining in subtle form as a ghost (as yet without a new body). As the real self (atman) remains unchanged throughout life, it likewise continues after death. This soul is carried within the subtle (astral) body to its next destination. The precise nature of the new body is determined by the state of mind at death and is specifically influenced by (1) the person’s desires, and (2) his karma. Dharma also means righteousness, or living morally and ethically at all times. The ultimate end of every Hindu’s life is moksha, which can be understood in a variety of ways: liberation from rebirth, enlightenment, Self-realization, or union with God. This is considered to the be the highest purpose of life, although very few can achieve it in a single lifetime and there are a variety of paths to attain Liberation: seeking freedom from life’s limitations. What are the things we really want, we deeply want? The Hindu word for this state of being is moksa(pronounced something like “mok shah,” sometimes spelled moksha or liberation. Moksa is the complete release from the countless limitations and restrictions which impinge
upon our existence.
Christianity has its roots in Judaism, and shares much of the latter faith’s ontology, its central beliefs derive from the teachings of Jesus Christ, as presented in the New Testament in BIBLE. Life’s purpose in Christianity is to seek divine salvation through the grace of God and intercession of Christ. (cf. John 11:26) The New Testament speaks of God wanting to have a relationship with humans both in this life and the life to come, which can happen only if one’s sins are forgiven (John 3:16–21; 2 Peter 3:9). In the Christian view, humankind was made in the Image of God and perfect, but the Fall of Man caused the progeny of the first Parents to inherit Original Sin. The sacrifice of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection provide the means for transcending that impure state (Romans 6:23). The means for doing so varies between different groups of Christians, but all rely on belief in Jesus, his work on the cross and his resurrection as the fundamental starting point for a relationship with God. Faith in God is found in Ephesians 2:8–9 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” (New American Standard Bible; 1973). A recent alternative Christian theological discourse interprets Jesus as revealing that the purpose of life is to elevate our compassionate response to human suffering. Nonetheless the conventional Christian position is that people are justified by belief in the propitiatory sacrifice of Jesus’ death on the cross. The Gospel maintains that through this belief, the barrier that sin has created between man and God is destroyed, and allows God to change people and instill in them a new heart after his own will, and the ability to do it. This is what the terms “reborn” or “saved” almost always refer to. The Baltimore Catechism answers the question “Why did God make you?” by saying “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.” Catholicism‘s way of thinking is better expressed through the Principle and Foundation of St. Ignatius of Loyola: “The human person is created to praise, reverence, and serve God Our Lord, and by doing so, to save his or her soul. All other things on the face of the earth are created for human beings in order to help them pursue the end for which they are created. It follows from this that one must use other created things, in so far as they help towards one’s end, and free oneself from them, in so far as they are obstacles to one’s end. Thus, as far as we are concerned, we should not want health more than illness, wealth more than poverty, fame more than disgrace, a long life more than a short one, and similarly for all the rest, but we should desire and choose only what helps us more towards the end for which we are created.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) teaches that the purpose of life on Earth is to gain knowledge and experience. Mormons believe that humans are literally the spirit children of God the Father (Acts 17:29, Heb. 12:9), and thus have the potential to progress to become like Him (Matt 5:48). Mormons teach that God provided his children the choice to come to Earth, which is considered a crucial stage in their development — wherein a mortal body, coupled with the freedom to choose, makes for an ideal environment to learn and grow. The Fall of Adam is not viewed as an unfortunate or unplanned cancellation of God’s original plan for a paradise, rather the opposition found in mortality is an essential element of God’s plan because the process of enduring/overcoming challenges, difficulties, temptations, etc. provides exclusive opportunities to gain wisdom and strength–which is centred on learning to appreciate and choose the good, and reject evil (Gen. 3:22; Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 2:11;Pearl of Great Price, Moses 6:55). Physical separation from God is an integral part of this mortal learning experience, without which humans would never have the opportunity to learn to live by faith–which as Christ taught in the New Testament, is the key to invoking the powers of heaven (Mark 11:22-23). Despite this physical separation, God doesn’t leave humans in darkness. From the beginning, God has followed a pattern of revealing knowledge through chosen prophets. This instruction from God includes the concept of repentance as a lifelong growth process through which humankind continuously learns to make better choices by forsaking sin and learning from mistakes. Throughout this process, baptized members can regularly invoke the cleansing power of Christ’s atonement through the weekly ordinance of the sacrament (Luke 22:17-20). It is through the atonement that mortals are made worthy to return to the presence of the Father, where they can continue to build upon the wisdom gained during mortality (Doctrine and Covenants 130:18-19) and ultimately fulfill their end purpose, which is to inherit a fullness of God’s glory (Rom. 8:16-17, Gal. 4:7)—that is to say, his intelligence (Doctrine and Covenants 93:36; 50:24). Because God is just, he allows those who weren’t taught the gospel during mortality to receive it after death in the spirit world (1 Pet. 3:18-20, 1 Pet. 4:6, Doctrine and Covenants 138), so that all of his children have the opportunity to return to live with God, and reach their full potential.
In Islam, man’s ultimate life objective is to worship the creator Allah(God) by abiding by the Divine guidelines revealed in the Qur’an and the Tradition of the Prophet. Earthly life is merely a test, determining one’s afterlife, either in Jannah (Paradise) or in Jahannam (Hell). For Allah’s satisfaction, via the Qur’an, all Muslims must believe in God, his revelations, his angels, his messengers, and in the “Day of Judgment“. The Qur’an describes the purpose of creation as follows: “Blessed be he in whose hand is the kingdom, he is powerful over all things, who created death and life that he might examine which of you is best in deeds, and he is the almighty, the forgiving” (Qur’an 67:1–2) and “And I (Allâh) created not the jinn and mankind except that they should be obedient (to Allah).” (Qur’an 51:56). Obedience testifies to the oneness of God in his lordship, his names, and his attributes. Terrenal life is a test; how one acts (behaves) determines whether one’s soul goes to Jannat (Heaven) or to Jahannam (Hell). However on the day of Judgement the final decision is of Allah alone. Allah may coverup short comings and allow some people to go to heaven even though they may have some sins in the record. The Five Pillars of Islam are duties incumbent to every Muslim; they are: Shahadah (profession of faith); salat (ritual prayer); Zakah (charity); Sawm (fasting during Ramadan), and Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). They derive from the Hadith works, notably of Sahih Al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim. The five pillars are not mentioned directly in the Quran. Beliefs differ among the Kalam. The Sunni and the Ahmadiyya concept of pre-destination is divine decree; likewise, the Shi’a concept of pre-destination is divine justice; in the esoteric view of the Sufis, the universe exists only for God’s pleasure; Creation is a grand game, wherein Allah is the greatest prize. The Sufi view of the meaning of life stems from the hadith qudsi that states “I (God) was a Hidden Treasure and loved to be known. Therefore I created the Creation that I might be known.” One possible interpretation of this view is that the meaning of life for an individual is to know the nature of God, and the purpose of all of creation is to reveal that nature, and to prove its value as the ultimate treasure, that is God. However, this hadith is stated in various forms and interpreted in various ways by people, such, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá of
The Ringstone symbol represents humanity’s connection to God. The Bahá’í Faith emphasizes the unity of humanity. To Bahá’ís, the purpose of life is focused on spiritual growth and service to humanity. Human beings are viewed as intrinsically spiritual beings. People’s lives in this material world provide extended opportunities to grow, to develop divine qualities and virtues, and the prophets were sent by God to facilitate this.
In the Judaic world view, the meaning of life is to elevate the physical world (‘Olam HaZeh’) and prepare it for the world to come (‘Olam HaBa‘), the messianic era. This is called Tikkun Olam (“Fixing the World”). Olam HaBa can also mean the spiritual afterlife, and there is debate concerning the eschatological order. However, Judaism is not focused on personal salvation, but on communal (between man and man) and individual (between man and God) spiritualised actions in this world. Judaism’s most important feature is the worship of a single, incomprehensible, transcendent, one, indivisible, absolute Being, who created and governs the universe. Closeness with the God of Israel is through study of His Torah, and adherence to its mitzvot (divine laws). In traditional Judaism, God established a special covenant with a people, the people of Israel, at Mount Sinai, giving the Jewish commandments. Torah comprises the written Pentateuch and the transcribed oral tradition, further developed through the generations. The Jewish people are intended as “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” and a “light to the Nations“, influencing the other peoples to keep their own religio-ethical Seven Laws of Noah. The messianic era is seen as the perfection of this dual path to God. . The rationalist Maimonides sees the ethical and ritual divine commandments as a necessary, but insufficient preparation for philosophical understanding of God, with its love and awe. Among fundamental values in the Torah are pursuit of justice, compassion, peace, kindness, hard work, prosperity, humility, and education. The world to come, prepared in the present, elevates man to an everlasting connection with God. Simeon the Righteous says, “the world stands on three things: on Torah, on worship, and on acts of loving kindness.” The prayer book relates, “blessed is our God who created us for his honor…and planted within us everlasting life.” Of this context, the Talmud states, “everything that God does is for the good,” including suffering. The Jewish mystical Kabbalah gives complimentary esoteric meanings of life. As well as Judaism providing an immanent relationship with God (personal theism), in Kabbalah the spiritual and physical creation is a paradoxical manifestation of the immanent aspects of God’s Being (panentheism), related to the Shekhinah (Divine feminine). Jewish observance unites the sephirot (Divine attributes) on high, restoring harmony to creation. In Lurianic Kabbalah, the meaning of lifeis the messian ic rectification of the shattered sparks of God’s persona, exiled in physical existence (the Kelipot shells), through the actions of Jewish observance.
Buddhists practice to embrace with mindfulness the ill-being (suffering) and well-being that is present in life. Buddhists practice to see the causes of ill-being and well-being in life. For example, one of the causes of suffering is unhealthy attachment to objects material or non-material. The Buddhist sūtras and tantras do not speak about “the meaning of life” or “the purpose of life”, but about the potential of human life to end suffering, for example through embracing (not suppressing or denying) cravings and conceptual attachments. Attaining and perfecting dispassion is a process of many levels that ultimately results in the state of Nirvana. Nirvana means freedom from both suffering and rebirth. The eight-spoked Dharmachakra
The Khanda, an important symbol ofSikhism. The monotheistic Sikh religion was founded by Guru Nanak Dev, the term “sikh” means student, which denotes that followers will lead their lives forever learning. This system of religious philosophy and expression has been traditionally known as the Gurmat (literally “the counsel of the gurus”) or the Sikh Dharma. The Sikh Gurus say that salvation can be obtained by following various spiritual paths, so Sikhs do not have a monopoly on salvation: “The Lord dwells in every heart, and every heart has its own way to reach Him.” Sikhs believe that all people are equally important before God. Sikhs balance their moral and spiritual values with the quest for knowledge, and they aim to promote a life of peace and equality but also of positive action. A key distinctive feature of Sikhism is a non-anthropomorphic concept of God, to the extent that one can interpret God as the Universe itself (pantheism). Sikhism thus sees life as an opportunity to understand this God as well as to discover the divinity which lies in each individual. While a full understanding of God is beyond human beings, Nanak described God as not wholly unknowable, and stressed that God must be seen from “the inward eye”, or the “heart”, of a human being: devotees must meditate to progress towards enlightenment and the ultimate destination of a Sikh is to lose the ego completely in the love of the lord and finally merge into the almighty creator. Nanak emphasized the revelation through meditation, as its rigorous application permits the existence of communication between God and human beings. Meanings relating to religion
- To reach the highest heaven and be at the heart of the Divine
- To have a pure soul and experience God
- To understand the mystery of God
- To know or attain union with God
- To know oneself, know others, and know the will of heaven.
- To love something bigger, greater, and beyond ourselves, something we did not create or have the power to create, something intangible and made holy by our very belief in it.
- To love God and all of his creations.
- To glorify God by enjoying with him forever.
- To go and make new disciples of Jesus Christ.
- To act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.
- To obtain freedom (Romans 8:20-21)
- To fill the Earth and subdue it.(Genesis 1:28)
I particularly like these lines from Sikhism urging devotees to meditate to progress towards enlightenment and the ultimate destination of a Sikh is to lose the ego completely in the love of the lord and finally merge into the almighty creator. Nanak emphasized the revelation through meditation, as its rigorous application permits the existence of communication between God and human beings. So according to most religions in the world the ultimate aim for an individual or mankind is to attain salvation (Nirvana, Moksha) and to be with God. If God indeed created us, we understand his purpose for us as told by the religions we are born into or currently following. Atheists might say that is religious organisations created funda to create communities and their followers and acquire money and refute everything as they have never tried enough or more to say have ignored his presence with his materialistic needs or measuring viewpoint and hence never really experienced God. Most of the religion have the concept of heaven and hell and if you believe in some religion it is indeed necessary to read further. So if the years of wisdom through all the religions is true, then we do need to think about after life, our salvation is indeed hanging . No one can help us, until we help ourselves. So the next question that pops up is
- Who is God?
- Can God be like a person?
- What must His/her be like?
- Is he someone who replies to our prayers?
- Can we actually talk to him?
- Does he heal people’s sickness?
- Is he a distant God who is somewhere in heaven or can he be a personal God who can have a relation with men?
- How do we figure out where exists a true God?
- Can God still do miracles for us as mentioned in various scriptures?
Now the world is filled with varieties.. Where is the ultimate truth which reveals the true God or which takes you to a real living God? Now there are various concepts going around which I don’t personally hold any authority to pass any judgement on like http://listverse.com/2009/04/13/10-christ-like-figures-who-pre-date-jesus/ or http://jesus-vedas.blogspot.in/ To contradict the above I found another interesting link here http://www.wrpf.org/balan.html SO my personal thought is to be wary of what we are reading and try to be as much as unbiased as possible, do our self research from every nook and corner of every scriptural texts, scientifically, historically, logically and most importantly by faith. The above process might take months or even years..People have spent a lifetime to seek the truth and have gone in varied directions coming up enlightened or empty with partial truths. But the advantage now is there is whole new dimension, new fixations out there.. I certainly believe the truth is out there.. Just for us to open our hearts and minds to embrace it through consistently seeking the truth.
But I can think of something far simpler “Pray”
Since God is ought to be omnipresent and someone who hears our prayers can’t he lead us to the right revelations? With a sincere and open heart try to seek him .. We can pray as simple as “God, please reveal yourself..who are you?” or “God please tell me if XYZ is God?” If you get answers, then how confident are you that it was God and not-self thoughts or imagination. Then you might need to go further and make sure that it was indeed the true divine God by making it sure through prayers or through other means specified above. If it is indeed him then he will give you confirmations. Once you find God, the purpose would certainly follow 🙂 He will surely to reveal himself and show himself through a miracle or by any which way he chooses too. If you do find answers being a true seeker, then it is indeed a possibility to abandon lot of things you might be following right now. But yes the joy and fulfillment of being true to yourself and finding the true God and purpose should help you move ahead!
Happy Seeking and Happy Reading :- )
Feel free to correct me if you think anything is found quoted inappropriately
Sources : Wikipedia and ://hinduism.iskcon.org/