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What is the purpose of life?
Latter Day Buddhism


What is the ultimate purpose of life? There is a great ship that will bear us cheerfully across life's sea of ceaseless suffering, and our mission is to board this ship and live in eternal happiness.

-- See: You Were Born For A Reason, The Real Purpose of Life
by Kentetsui Takamori, Daiji Akehashi, Kentaro Ito, Chapter 2, page 51, Shinran's Answer.


"The purpose of life is neither to amass money and treasure, nor to win honors and status. It is to have the source of suffering eradicated and be filled with joy, rejoicing that you were born human, and live in never-ending bliss." (Shinran's answer)

Once the essential dignity of human life is understood, people should see ... why suicide is never a good option, why every human life is infinitely precious. Then, with doubts over the meaning of human existence resolved, each one can go resolutely forward to work on whatever beseting problems there may be.

Once life's true purpose is known, all trouble and suffering acquires meaning. Live for life's true purpose, and all your efforts are sure to be rewarded.

-- See: You Were Born For A Reason, The Real Purpose of Life
by Kentetsui Takamori, Daiji Akehashi, Kentaro Ito, Afterword, pages 199-200.


Most of us, most of the time, tend to act with intent, trying to bring about some desired end. But nature doesn't act with intent. A buddha doesn't either. Acting without intent means acting out of Wholeness -- out of seeing the Whole.

-- See: Buddhism Plain and Simple
by Steve Hagen, 1997 Printing, pg 42, paragraph 1.


Just as no one in his senses would look for the morning news in a dictionary, no one should use speaking and thinking to find out what cannot be thought. Logically, then, the question, "What is everything?" has no meaning, even though it seems to be profound.

-- See: The Book, On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are by Alan Watts, Vintage Books Edition, August 1989, Ch 6, page 141, paragraphs 1.


It is just unbelievably odd that anything is happening at all. Yet how am I to express this feeling in the form of a sensible question which could have a satisfactory answer? The point is, perhaps, that I am not looking for a verbal answer, just as when I ask for a kiss, I do not want a piece of paper with "A kiss" written on it. It is rather that metaphysical wonder looks for an experience, a vision, a revelation which will explain, without words, why there is a universe, and what it is -- much as the act of loving explains why we are male and female.

It could be said, then, that the best answer to "What is everything?" is "Look and see!".

-- See: The Book, On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are by Alan Watts, Vintage Books Edition, August 1989, Ch 6, page 142, paragraphs 1 & 2.


What is the purpose of life?
Whose life?
My life?
The life of any human being?
Life in general?
The life of an animal?
The life of a plant?
The life of the universe?
The purpose of existance at all?

-- Brian William Drisko, 27-Nov-2007 1748


Human beings have both the gift and curse of not having to live in the here and now. Once our mind goes beyond the here and now, how far can it go? This power allows us to look for the purpose of life beyond the hear and now. When we reach as far as we can away from the here and now, and still can't find a purpose to life, we have to invent one: God.

Before modern times, man did not know the extent of time or space, so he had to invent them. He had to create a beginning and an end to existence. He created various myths about the beginning and end of time. For the extent of space, he invented the myths of heaven above and hell below. These would serve as the mythical bookends of the everyday world that we are familiar with.

But as science expanded our knowledge, these myths had to be pushed further away to stay beyond our boundaries of knowledge. The beginning of time had to be moved back to the big bang, and the end of time to the final cold dispersion or the big crunch. Or the religious could continue to believe in their creationism and apocalypse theories in defiance of the laws of physics. Airplanes fly into the sky and rockets into space, so we now know that heaven is not located there. Thus, man had to move heaven off into another dimension where science can never challenge it again. Having not found hell in even the deepest of caves or mines, that had to also be moved off into another dimension safe from the reaches of science.

-- Brian William Drisko, 28-Nov-2007 0917


Life is like a sports car. The purpose is just to enjoy driving it around (though some people may get more joy out of just being seen sitting in it). Sometimes we need to drive it to the gas station to refuel. Sometimes we need to drive it to the market to buy groceries. And sometimes we need to drive it to and from work to earn the money to make the payments on the car! But the purpose of the sports car is not to get to the gas station, the market, or work. The purpose of the sports car is just to enjoy the ride.

-- Brian William Drisko, 07-Dec-2007 2250


Just as "color" is not a characteristic of a musical note, "purpose" is not a characteristic of life. To ask "What is the purpose of life?" is like asking "What is the color of B flat?"

-- Brian William Drisko, 07-Dec-2007 2254


What is the purpose of life and what should I be doing?

To ask what is the purpose of life, or what is the purpose of anything that exists, may be similar to asking what is the smell of blue? It isn't exactly correct to answer that blue has no odor. Rather, odor just isn't a characteristic of blue. Take a look at any tree. Tell me the color of its eyes. To say that it doesn't have any eye color isn't exactly right, since a tree has no eyes. Since trees do not have eyes, eye color is not a characteristic of trees.

In a similar way, purpose is not a characteristic of life. Purpose is not a characteristic of existence. It is not exactly correct to say that life has no purpose. It also is not quite right to claim that there is no meaning to existence. It is just that purpose is not a characteristic of life and meaning is not a characteristic of existence. Thus, these questions are meaningless and have no answers at all.

But isn't it important to know the purpose of life for us to go about out daily living? Don't we need to know why we are here for our lives to have any meaning at all?

Obviously, that is not true. Most people go about their daily lives without ever thinking much about the purpose of their lives or the meaning of existence. Certainly animals and plants go about their daily living without ever giving thought to the purpose of their lives or the meaning of existence. And most definitely rocks do what they do and planets orbit the sun without any thought to why they do that. It seems that existence does not require you to understand its purpose for it to just go on existing and doing what it does.

So existence will just go on regardless of what you think about the purpose of it. Your understanding or lack of understanding of the purpose of life or the meaning of existence has no significant impact on existence itself. You will contribute what you must to existence, regardless of your understanding of your role, just like every human, animal, plant and rock.

What should you be doing? Just keep doing whatever seems like the right thing to be doing. That will be your contribution to existence. Some paths lead to less suffering than other paths, both for yourself and for others. It may be sensible to follow a path through life that will lead to less suffering for yourself and others. Why suffer needlessly?

-- Brian William Drisko, 17-Dec-2007 1447


If you have a DVD and a DVD player, can you find the purpose of the DVD? This is not unlike the situation we have with LIFE and SELF. You can examine the DVD as much as possible and examine the DVD PLAYER as much as possible. You can even put the DVD in the DVD PLAYER and play it. But unless you connect a monitor and speakers to the DVD PLAYER and watch the movie, you'll never understand the purpose of the DVD or the DVD PLAYER. By the same token, you can never understand the purpose of LIFE or the nature of SELF if this is all there is to examine. And maybe that is all we can ever see from where we stand.

-- Brian William Drisko, 00-Dec-2007 ????


... there is behind the multiplicity of events and creatures in this universe simple one energy -- and it appears as you, and everything is it. The practice of Zen is to understand that one energy so as to "feel it in your bones."

The nature of this energy is that it is unformulated, although it is not formless ... It simply means that at the basis of everything, there is something that never could be made an object, and discerned, figured out, or explained. ... you might never become aware of the structure and the nature of the basic energy of the world because you are it, and in fact, everything is it.

... the world itself is -- from the point of view of strict logic -- quite meaningless in the sense that it is not a sign or a symbol pointing to something else. But while that is all taken for granted, it nevertheless makes a great deal of difference to how you feel about this world, and therefore, to how you act. If you know that there is just this; and that it is you; and that it is beyond time, beyond space, beyond definition; and that if you clearly come to a realization that this is how things are, it gives you a certain "bounce." You can enter into life with abandon, with a freedom from your basic fears that you would not ordinarily have.

But if you realize this fundamental energy, then you know you have the prospect of appearing again in innumerable forms. [Brian William Drisko: Actually, it is not a prospect of appearing again in innumerable forms. You actually ARE appearing RIGHT NOW in innumerable forms!]

You really have no need to believe in this, and you don't need to formulate it, or to hang on to it in any way, because on the one hand you -- that is, you in the limited sense -- will not be [BWD: ARE NOT] there to experience it. So there is no need to believe in it, and if you do believe in it that simply indicates that you have some doubts in the matter!

[Brian William Drisko: Words have definitions. Words have meaning because they point to something else. Existence does not point to something else. Existence does not signify something else. In these terms, existence is "meaningless." But existence is still itself; its "suchness."]

-- See: What Is Zen? by Alan Watts, New World Library, Copyright © 2000 by Mark Watts,
A Simple Way, A Difficult Way, pp 21-25.


In the words of a Chinese Zen master, "Nothing is left to you at this moment but to have a good laugh!"

-- See: The Book, On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are by Alan Watts, Vintage Books Edition, August 1989, Ch 6, page 156, paragraphs 1.
























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