Wars have been fought, countries have been conquered and dreams have been shattered over the beliefs in religion, dogma and the truth of our existence. Why are we here? What is our purpose on Earth or in this Universe?
The one thing all of our arguing and thousand-year long discussions and triumphs and failures has taught us is, we do not know what really lies beyond our own mortal lives. Strange as it sounds, I’m not going to discuss religion, God, Buddha, Allah or anything of the sort. Not in this article. We all have our beliefs and the one truth to those beliefs is, it helps us to have something that guides us.
The very nature of humanity is that we need a purpose. Regardless of whether you’re the president of a country or a hermit living in the wilderness, without a purpose your life is meaningless. Even if that purpose is nothing more than coming up with food for tomorrow. I have talked with people who are deeply influential, wealthy people and I have talked to those who have lived in the slums of Mumbai, India. It’s amazing how alike the two classes are in terms of humanity. Both seek love, compassion a better life for themselves and their family. Reality is… all relative. The truth is, our lives are so interconnected and related that we simply cannot perceive it.
The Eye of the Beholder
I spoke with a woman in London once. She was on a once in a lifetime trip to visit her sister who had moved there from Mumbai, India. The woman, Nilima was worn and weathered, wearing sixty years of age upon her thirty year body. She told me that she lived in a cinder block room with tin roofs. They had a rug to sleep on with two old pillows. She and her three children and her husband all slept in this single room no bigger ten feet wide. Living on dirt floors and in an area where the water alone can kill you, she says that she is happy. She is happy because she has a purpose. To create the best life she knows how for her children and to hopefully lead them to move out of the area that she now lives.
I have a client that I have done some computer work for. They live in a home that overlooks the ocean on the North Shore of Boston. Their sprawling ten thousand square foot home is by all means a beautiful home to die for. However, speaking with the woman who lives there she finds that she often has a difficult time. Her children moved to California and her grandchildren are all there. It leaves her often ‘without purpose’. She wants to be a good grandmother and finds it difficult not being close to them to serve that purpose. All her life she was a stay at home mother, not needing to work because of her husbands lucrative income. So, now she looks for things to keep her occupied, bridge games, golf games or other activities with other ladies of similar lifestyles.
To be Remembered
My son asked me the other day, “Daddy, why do they put stones on people’s graves with their names?” – My instant response to which was “So we know where to find their bodies if we want to visit their graves.”
He thought about this and finally said “Why would we want to do that? They aren’t doing anything anymore. They lived their life.” It then occurred to me that his level of innocence, didn’t comprehend how we as the living cannot so easily let go of the dead.
I know it sounds like I’m getting way off base here, but bear with me…
Finally I said to him, “The truth is, I think we as people, do not want to be forgotten. It gives meaning to the life we live to have something left behind by us. Whether it’s a stone with our name on it, a painting with our name on it or children that we have left behind. Does that make sense?”
“Yes. I think so. Is that why you write? So that you leave something behind?” he asked
I said, “Partly. But, it’s also so that after I’m gone my name will be more than just an engraving on a stone. A little of the essence of who I am will hopefully exist for many centuries and people will still have a chance to enjoy it.”
This whole discussion led me to think about our mortality. It is important, at least for most of us, for all of this to be worth our being here. We are born, we live a life, we touch people and eventually we pass on. Sometimes all too soon. The question is, what do we leave behind? For Nilima, she leaves behind three children who know her well, and have seen how everything she does is for their own good. For my client, she leaves behind children who care about her but grandchildren that may never know their grandmother very well as they live so far away.
So, my ultimate question is; Is it what we do in this life from start to finish that is truly what our existence is about? Or is there more beyond this existence?
Belief in an Afterlife
Whether your belief is in Heaven and Hell, Reincarnation, Purgatory, She’ol, Jannat or some other plane of existence – it again, falls into our desire to exist beyond the mortal life. For our lives to have a purpose beyond this one.
Unfortunately, this is not a question I am qualified to answer as it brings in to light spiritual beliefs and there really are no other contexts to examine beyond our beliefs as there is no evidence one way or another.
Is there evidence that ‘happiness’ or ‘sorrow’ exist? No. There are only outward manifestations of these concepts. We cannot prove they exist yet we know they do.
I could probably write about book alone about all of this, but wanted to keep this Frankly Friday short.
Do you think there is more to our existence beyond this? What non-man-made evidence supports your ideas and theories?
Let me be clear; There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Everyone is entitled to their beliefs and it is part of who they are at the core. I respect that.