Friday, December 14, 2007

What is the Meaning of Life ?

When the weather is cold and it gets dark by 4:30 PM at the end of the year, thoughts turn to the meaning of life.

Does the universe have a purpose or is it a random collection of sentient organisms with no higher purpose than being born, living, reproducing and dying ?

From an engineering point of view this seems to be a very inelegant solution and a colossal waste of resources for no perceivable returns. And in financial terms, what is the return on investment for the Creator ? Why are we here and what is our objective ?

Saying that we are here to "realize God" seems a very facetious answer which raises more questions than it answers. Why did "God" send us here ?

Over the years, I've seen many explanations.

The answer is 42 says the computer Deep Thought in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
"I checked it very thoroughly," said the computer, "and that quite definitely is the answer. I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you've never actually known what the question is."

While the Hitchhiker's Guide is good for few chuckles, this is a question that's been addressed by many of the greatest minds in India.

Swami Sivananda says:

"This is an Ati-prasna or transcendental question. You will find this question coming up to your mind in
various forms: When did Karma begin? When and why was the world created? Why is there evil in the world? Why
did the Unmanifest manifest itself? And so on. The same question is asked by Rama in Yoga Vasishtha and
Vasishtha says: "You are putting the cart before the horse. You will not be benefited by an enquiry into
this question at all. Meditate and realize Brahman. You Will then know the answer to this question. The
problem itself will have dissolved by then". No one can answer this question. When Knowledge dawns, the
question itself vanishes. Therefore there is no answer to the question at all.

The Brahma Sutra says: Lokavat Tu Lila Kaivalyam. It is only to pacify your doubt. It is really not an
answer; for, there can be no answer. Yet, the question will arise in the case of every seeker after Truth.
You cannot help it. You will have to use your discrimination, pacify the doubt, and then through
intense Sadhana and meditation, realize God. Then the doubt will vanish. A great Yogi was worried with this
doubt for twelve years. Then he told me: "The worry is over now. It troubled me for twelve years. I could not
find an answer. So I have given up that pursuit and have taken to meditation, Japa and Kirtan. Now I find
peace and progress". Faith in the Guru, in the Grant Sahib, Kirtan, Japa, meditation and practice of
righteousness— these will enable you to progress in the spiritual path and will take you to That where
there is no questioning possible."


According to Swami Ashokananda

If you ask, 'But how did this illusion come about originally? If there is only one reality, how could there be an illusion of manifoldness?' then they answer, 'In ignorance there is no consistency'. How do we mistake one thing for another ? Do we do it rationally ? If it were rational, then we would not have made any mistake. That we have made a mistake means that it is an irrational, an inexplicable something. If you then say, as some have, 'The illusion always exists as opposed to pure divinity,' then you are forced to accept the position of a dualist, although of a different kind, it is true. The answer is simply this – when you find the truth, ignorance vanishes. Then you do not say ignorance is one reality and truth is another reality; you never think that. Ignorance is ignorance, and you never put it under the same category as truth or the real.


Swami Vivekananda's Paper on Hinduism at the Parliament of Religions in September 1893:


Why should the free, perfect, and pure be thus under the thraldom of matter, is the next question.

How can the perfect soul be deluded into the belief that it is imperfect? We have been told that the Hindus shirk the question and say that no such question can be there- Some thinkers want to answer it by positing one or more quasi-perfect beings, and use big scientific names to fill up the gap. But naming is not explaining.

The question remains the same. How can the perfect become the quasi-perfect; how can the pure, the absolute change even a microscopic particle of its nature? But the Hindu is sincere. He does not want to take shelter under sophistry. He is brave enough to face the question in a manly fashion; and his answer is: 'I do not know.' I do not know how the perfect being, the soul, came to think of itself as imperfect, as Joined to and conditioned by matter.' But the fact is a fact for all that.

It is a fact in everybody's consciousness that one thinks of oneself as the body. The Hindu does not attempt to explain why one thinks one is the body. The answer that it is the will of God is no explanation. This is nothing more than what the Hindu says, 'I do not know.'


1 comment:

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