For me the purpose of life is central to being and doing. My purpose is to continually strive to evolve – to become a better human, to make a bigger difference to my family, my community, my world and myself. Thinkers over the years have proposed various motives for the human purpose. Freud believed in the ‘will to pleasure’, while Adler believed in the ‘will to power’ as the force that drives human actions. For me Victor Frankl’s premise that the ‘will to meaning’ provides the central purpose to human life, resonates strongly. Frankl states that, “Human existence – at least as long as it has not been neurotically distorted – is always directed to something, or someone, other than itself – be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter lovingly.” He calls this self-transcendence, and contrasts it with self-actualization as Maslow uses the term. Self-actualization, even pleasure and happiness, are side-effects of self-transcendence and the discovery of meaning. He quotes Albert Schweitzer: “The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”

The Hindu concepts of ‘Dharma’ , ‘Karma’ and ‘Moksha’ are very appealing. Dharma is defined as the ‘right way of living’, ‘proper conduct’, ‘duty’ or ‘righteousness’, ‘the means through which humans approach the desired goal of human life’, ‘that from which results happiness and final beatitude’.Karma is usually understood as a sum of all that an individual has done, is currently doing and will do. Karma is not about retribution, vengeance, punishment or reward; karma simply deals with what is. The effects of all deeds actively create past, present and future experiences, thus making one responsible for one’s own life, and the pain and joy it brings to them and others. Humans therefore have the power and responsibility to shape their lives by focusing on their present behavior that can shape their future. Moksha is seen as a final release from one’s worldly conception of self, the loosening of the shackle of experiential duality and a realization of one’s own fundamental nature which is true being, pure consciousness and bliss an experience which is ineffable and beyond sensation.

* * *

Advertisements