There are two questions that I think would probably top most lists when it comes to the knowledge most humans desire: “What is my purpose in life?” and “What happens after I die?” The second question is one that causes considerable tension, and anyone alive who says they have the answer is either guessing, selling you something, or basing their answer on tradition handed down through the ages. Whichever of those devices one is using, there is no tangible proof the answer is a valid one. The most common device used to judge what happens after death is religious faith, and though I possess it, I am sober enough to know that even if the tradition I adhere to is over 1500 years old, I can’t be sure where that information originated from. Hence, you will never see me arguing or gloating about how my tradition trumps yours. Unless you possess the ability to time travel, you have taken it on faith that the people who transferred this knowledge down through the ages received it from a primary source who was inerrant. And anyone making the argument that one’s tradition is correct because it is the oldest would have to bow to any number of traditions in which human sacrifice was central. Age is not an argument. All that matters is that we all die, and it is a mystery as to what comes next.
How about the question of “what is my purpose in life?” In my view, this is the ultimate mystery because while it can’t be known or proven as a fact, it can be experienced. One can perform actions in which they excel that appear to serve a purpose. But what is this “purpose” exactly? The answer to that question will obviously vary greatly. Some would say that if they succeed in raising their children in an environment conducive to safety and the children grow up to be orderly and productive adults, their purpose has been met. Others may mention service to their fellow man through innovation of various sorts or even military service as their purpose. The kind of metaphysical or existential feeling one has towards what they do and how they function is a mystery, but it can be felt on a level where satisfaction in one’s “true purpose” can be attained. While whatever purpose one feels and acts upon is individual to them, it is rare that this purpose doesn’t somehow touch the lives of others. I look upon it as the difference between riches and reputation (and will leave you to ponder my meaning in comparing the two).
Categories: Religion and Philosophy
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