Is There A Purpose to Life?
When we use the words ‘meaning’ and ‘purpose’ we tend to give the impression that life is an intellectual problem that requires ideologies to make sense of life. In very broad terms I think that the purpose of life is found in living it. It needs no other purpose than that. It requires no further explanation. It is one of these dishes that is spicy enough and requires no further spices to enhance it.

I start with the raw fact of our biological experience of being a living organism. When we reflect on our biological experience of being alive, we realize that we are interdependent with all other life forms. We are part of the life-network of the Earth. There is no such thing as a non-contextual aliveness. Further, this reflection leads us to experience a deep oneness with this community, so that each one of us becomes aware that we are part of the community of those who bear the mark of pain and death. And these realizations go a long way to weakening our addiction to manipulative self-centredness. This problem is all too rampant in our human population. So these realizations lead us to let loose of rampant self-centredness and individualism.

Then reflecting further on the raw fact of our biological aliveness we discover that life sacrifices itself to life, in order for life to continue. We all are somebody else’s food. This self-sacrifice is inherent in the community of living things. It can develop into the heart of spiritual awakening, and even blessings. As we mature in life, we come to understand what this means. Thus we come to manage and give direction to this sacrifice. This experience tempers our addiction to hedonism, which is also something far too rampant in our community, our consumer way of life.

The third awareness that emerges from our raw experience with being biologically alive is a growing awareness that we as large-brained self-conscious beings have a special role in the community of living beings.

Our purpose is to work in partnership with nature to enhance the variety and quality of life as long as possible. By not maturing as a species and taking responsibility for our own planet, and for our own membership in the community of living beings, we have abandoned our purpose for being. Then we fall prey to nihilism. Our economies become life hostile, even planet hostile. Our life styles destroy the network on which we ourselves depend. Our ideologies become nihilistic. And we tend to treat Earth as a cigarette that we fire up, enjoy and then dispose of. The only problem is that we ourselves are riding on the butt we are tossing away. So it is that we victimize ourselves and our planet with a kind of superioristic, ignorant disconnect with the network of living beings. Such are the far-reaching effects of nihilism.

So, in conclusion, these reflections of our experience of being alive lead us to discover the purpose of life in our very own bodies. The truth of our own profound self-addiction is mitigated by our awakening to oneness. The profound experience with the sacrifice that lies at the heart of life and our experience with the pain of life lead us away from our addiction to hedonism. And the experience with our large-brained role in the community of life leads us away from nihilism.

Thus I come to believe that the basis of religious awakening is disclosed to us as a kind of emergent quality of the living experience itself.

Sensei Ulrich
Recorded on God Talk forum, CJOB

March 4, 2007