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Understanding Scriptures

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 Blooming Stars

Purpose of Life

            What are we in this world for? What is the purpose of our life? These questions have absorbed the minds of scientists and believers all over the world from the beginning of conscious, human life. Science really has no answer. Purpose of life does not fall in the purview of science. Faith provides answers for the believers. Faith and science can work in harmony as the whole human endeavor is to find meaning for life.

            When I left home at the age of 17 to become a monk (sanyasi) in a religious order, I was motivated by accomplishing my salvation. More concretely, I wanted to become a saint and bring others to God. Examining and analyzing my motive in becoming a monk year later, I came to the realization that death anxiety among other considerations may also have played a major role in my decision. Existentialist psychologists consider death anxiety to be a great motivating factor. Bringing philosophy, theology, spirituality, and psychology to throw light on the purpose of life, ultimately the blind leap of faith alone can make any sense out of life. One has to believe in some kind of organizing intelligence or higher power (God) to explain the universe.

            Indian scriptures state: Ajnanenavrtam jnanam: Knowledge is covered by ignorance. The Hindu philosophy which is also theology holds that a human is born in ignorance, lives in ignorance, and dies in ignorance. Ignorance is the chief enemy. Information from the outside world is subjected to experience and processed to acquire knowledge. Knowledge percolating into life through experience acquires insight and becomes wisdom. Wisdom through a difficult process of discernment removes avidya (non-knowledge) that are really different layers of maya (illusion) to attain moksha (liberation). This long and tedious process, of course, requires much transmigration of the soul or rebirths.

            Christianity holds humans, except Christ and his earthly mother, Mary, are born in original sin and suffer from the terrible effects of original sin. Christ came into this world to liberate humans from the devastating effects of the original sin. Belief in Christ as the savior who mediates between God and human is necessary for the sanctifying grace that paves the way for salvation.

            Both Hindu and Christian explanations and speculations are not satisfactory to the human mind in that both require faith. Should we then look for a third explanation that is related to conscience (antaryamin) that is in every human?! Here the formation of a conscience absorbing the best from every religion acquires supreme importance. Conscience formed by the best in all religions, and guided by a harmonious, blissful, universal value system headed by truth can set us free from all that prevents us from reaching the fullness of being (God). Here then Truth is God as Mahatma Gandhi surmised, nay, concluded from his experiments with truth in his final stage of life. We may not have much here, but this is all we have if we do not take the blind leap of faith. Yet once we take that leap of total surrendering, we can be like the baby in the hands of a fully trusted father, who is tossed in the air and enjoys the thrill and excitement of that bounce without any care in the world. We can also think of the Supreme Being (God) as the full reality reflecting in our consciousness as a good and clean mirror.


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