April 2010

Fundamental Guide to Living: The True Purpose of Life

   In the previous issue of Theosophical Independence, we considered the fulfillment of desire. We examined the human principle of desire in the light of universal truths. It was proposed that a self-evident truth regarding desire is that not all objects of desire, even when pursued unselfishly for the benefit of others, are in the highest interest and service of humanity. In order to exercise discrimination in choosing what desire to fulfill, one needs to understand the true purpose of life. Ideally, this overriding purpose in life should be obtainable from the fulfillment of everything we do. It should be in harmony with the purpose of life of all other human beings so as to minimize conflict and the opportunity for selfish behavior. In other words, the true purpose of life should be self-evident and based on universal truths of human nature.

Assuming that it is a universal truth that human beings desire happiness for themselves, it soon becomes clear under close self-examination that there are defects in most human beings that have the potential to interfere with the attainment of personal happiness. Human nature is tainted in varying degrees by fear, mistrust, anger, doubt, and envy. Whether we desire happiness for ourselves or for others, one universal truth shouts out for recognition. We all have a common purpose in life to repair our nature and eliminate these defects. We might even say it’s a duty we owe our self and others.

Unfortunately, we don’t usually recognize our defects - instead we blame others for our failure to reach our goal of happiness. These defects may be called blind spots, even though our friends and enemies can see them clearly enough.

This leads us to another universal truth regarding our true purpose in life. Happiness is not a sufficient purpose in life. In fact, if we want happiness for ourselves and others, it is necessary that our purpose in life be to learn. First we have to learn which defects we have that are obstacles to happiness. Ironically, we learn about our defects through suffering. It is suffering that prompts the question, "Why me?" Then we have to learn how to overcome our defects. In order to learn how to overcome defects, we have to learn what is the cause of our defects. The cause does not lie outside of us in the environment, rather it is within. The cause is selfishness, born of an idea and belief that we are fundamentally separate from others. The idea of "self" as a separate entity from other "selves" is our own worst enemy. That which observes the ways

of the lower personal self is higher and is the same "Self" in each and all. The closer we draw to identifying with the "Higher Self" and acting from that basis, the more free we are from the influence of the "lower self."

The third universal truth regarding the purpose of life is that in order to achieve our purpose in life – to be happy and to learn – we have to help others achieve happiness and wisdom. This is the most practical way we can overcome the selfishness of personality and act for and as the "Higher Self." All the time we are trying to gain a truer realization of the "Self" and a profounder conviction that universal brotherhood is a fact in nature.

Quotes on Purpose

That man possesses an immortal soul is the common belief of humanity; to this Theosophy adds that he is a soul, and further that all nature is sentient, that the vast array of objects and men are not mere collections of atoms fortuitously thrown together and thus without law evolving law, but down to the smallest atom all is soul and spirit ever evolving under the rule of law inherent in the whole. And just as the ancients taught, so does Theosophy; that the course of evolution is the drama of the soul, and that nature exists for no other purpose than the soul's experience.

Conversations on Theosophy

How man has come to be the complex being that he is and why, are questions that neither Science nor Religion makes conclusive answer to. This immortal thinker having such vast powers and possibilities, all his because of his intimate connection with every secret part of Nature from which he has been built up, stands at the top of an immense and silent evolution. He asks why Nature exists, what the drama of life has for its aim, how that aim may be attained.

What then is the universe for, and for what final purpose is man the immortal thinker here in evolution? It is all for the experience and emancipation of the soul, for the purpose of raising the entire mass of manifested matter up to the stature, nature, and dignity of conscious god-hood. The great aim is to reach self-consciousness... The aim for present man is his initiation into complete knowledge, and for the other kingdoms below him that they may be raised up gradually from stage to stage to be in time initiated also.

Ocean of Theosophy

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