Friday, July 18, 2008

The purpose of life

What exactly is the purpose of life. Why do we exist? This question recently came to my mind while watching Discovery the other day. It was about the BIG BANG. The scientists made it seem as though all the conditions for life on earth were just a chance affair, the sight tipping of matter over anti matter, energy converting to mass, planet earth at just the right distance and just the right temperature. So from what I understand, science says that life just came about, as in there were chances that it wouldn't have.. but lucky for us, it did.

So what is it that makes us different from say a rock or a puddle of water. Even they are basically made up of atoms and molecules. We are fortunate enough to have just the right amounts of that stuff in just the right places. So when you talk of such a large number of 'just the right amounts', such a large number of seemingly chance events one cannot stop oneself from thinking that there is something divine about life. I believe that there are no coincidences, everything happens for a reason. So the engineer in me, albeit not a really good one began to question, why the FUCK are we here? :)

And I specifically dug a little deeper to ask myself about us humans, as a blog of the purpose of the jellyfish or the lion tailed macaque would surely fall on deaf ears(or blind eyes).

So we humans who consider ourselves to be the the ultimate survivors, the top of the food chain, the final product of evolution, with large brains(...though this claim seems inapplicable to most people, it is in fact true). So why do we exist?

So I thought that one must delve deeper into what effect we have on the earth. Just as finding the purpose of an ingredient, requires comparison with a control curry (prepared exactly but without the ingredient in question) I tried to think critically about what effect one average human has on the curry of the cosmos. By average I mean, a typpical typical guy,(joke to be understood only by EEEites of BITS-Pilani before 2006 batch) about 30-35, office goer, with many friends, not too affluent but able to subsist, with a family, living alone, friends ad relatives visit often, wife, divorced once, with 2 kids, one from previous wife.... you get the picture right?

I realized that this guy is useless, I mean seriously, critically speaking he could well have not been born, and nobody would give a tiny rat's ass. He is born, lives, has friends and family, he loves, he hates, and one day he dies. What I mean to say is, his life has meaning only in the eyes of others like him, as in humans. He is incapable of causing any substantial change whatsoever.

So I upgraded from the average Joe to someone we humans consider one of our best. Say Bill Gates(for his philanthropy..mind you) or Mother Teresa. These personalities too aren't any different. Sure, they made a big difference to humanity. But the argument remains.

This, I argued was not so for others, that is other fauna. For one, they all play a role in balancing the ecosystem(we(continuing the argument) have done anything but that), and more importantly, they are not conscious enough to really care or even understand the meaning of purpose (this conclusion may remind most of a very famous Calvin & Hobbes cartoon strip). So basically the discussion is moo.

Now this line of thought was getting very depressing! :( We're all useless! So I know why we shouldn't be here, but that still doesn't tell me why we're here. And I'm already so far along into my post, that half of my readers, will have pledged never to return. But I've come so far along and I'm not gonna back out. The scroll will be mine, I will discover the secret ingredient.

Next I thought about what we humans usually run around for. Fame, money, lust, love, success, comfort are what come to mind. But these too were a dead end. We all know that famous people needn't be happy or satisfied, there are too many examples and way too many movies about this. Money, I don't even need to talk about. Nor about lust. Both are shallow and hollow and don't bring in happiness or satisfaction by themselves.

Love was a serious contender, but doesn't really fit the bill. Take my example, I haven't found real love in my life. This is not to say I'm a loner, who hates everyone. I have the most loving parents and some ammazing great friends, but the kind of 'soul-mate'ish, made for each other, Jaane tu waala pyar, I don't have yet. But that doesn't mean my life has no meaning.

Success too doesn't satisfy. Anil Ambani may be more successful than the fourth son of a tribal farmer in Andaman, but that doesn't mean he's happier. What is success, but the feeling of achievement, and that is not restricted to people who have the power to change the stock market to suit their needs.

Comfort also crumples, under scrutiny. Now this deep search got me even more depressed. And coupled with the previous depression, I became one sad guy.

So I gave up, and decided to take a walk. It started to drizzle, and the cool rain drops felt wonderful. After a while it rained harder, but I kept walking. I noticed everyone running for cover, and I was puzzled. Same rain, same water, but different perspectives. It then dawned upon me.

There is no 'one' purpose in life, no 'one' thing that makes us happy, or gives our lives meaning. We all need to go about life and do things that need to be done, just because they need to be done. Not just because they may or may not make us happy. A soldier knows that he may die, that killing another man will bring him sadness, that war itself sucks, but he still does it, because he has to.

The things we do need not necessarily make us happy... meaning that happiness too isn't the ultimate goal. However if you feel that yo want to be happy, and that earning money gives you that, go ahead and do it. If you feel that you need to do something bad, or against your conscience, just do it. But only if it needs and begs to be done. Now this is the hard part. We all know what needs to be done. But we often ignore this calling, because we think too much about it. We weigh its risks and benefits, and often decide against it.

The confusion between what we want and what we need, is what makes us take so many wrong decisions. We often do things, without really thinking about why we're doing them, and we don't do a whole lot of things that need to be done.

Tony Stark first thought that making weapons, and sleeping with sexy journalists made him happy and satisfied, but he realizes that he needs to stop making weapons and make an Iron Man suit. Now wasn't that a purposeful ending?


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I am Arjun P. Kamath, and I am a nice guy to know.