The Search for Our Purpose

The Search for Our Purpose


B: So, continuing on with purposes.  Let’s talk about the purpose…uh…of…

A: …Of?…

B: Well, of existence.  Usually it seems people want to talk about the purpose of life, which is a fine thing to talk about, but in case there’s a life after this one – and a lot of people think there is – it might do us some good to talk a bit more generally, extending to how the two lives, or however many lives there are, relate.  What’s the purpose of our existences in general?

A: To find happiness, I suppose?

B: Sure.  Sounds about as good an answer as any.  So then what’s happiness?  Is it relative to each person?  I suppose it is, to some degree at least.  If a person has determined within himself that he’s happy, then nobody can tell him otherwise.  Even if he really is miserable, he may be able to convince himself in some twisted way that he actually prefers things that way.  Such a person you might call “happily miserable.”  There’s not much you can do with somebody like that.

Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of people are not happy being miserable.  I say this is fortunate because otherwise, the state of our society would be pretty sad and pathetic indeed.  Nevertheless, I think it’s instructive to mention such woebegone souls because of how they got to be what they have become.  It may be different for each of them, of course, but I imagine in a lot of cases it may have been because they went about seeking happiness in their own way, as everyone does, but after innumerable disappointments with things not providing happiness in the way they’d hoped they would, instead of changing their approach to or outlook on life like most people do, they decided to be stubborn and insist that they were happy, even if the reality is that they were miserable.

A: Um, what?

B: I want to focus on the part about finding happiness in our own way.  Those unfortunate creatures have chosen to be happy where they’re at, wallowing in their misery, but most of us, as I said, occasionally adjust our “approach to or outlook on life.”  It’s frustrating to have to keep doing this every so often, actually – so much so I expect that’s the very reason there actually are people who are happy being miserable, because they’re sick of always having to change their philosophy of life.  Wouldn’t it be nice to just pursue a course of living that will always keep me happy, no matter what happens?

The problem comes in knowing whether whatever course we choose will always provide happiness.  Some people think they’ve already found such a course, but do they necessarily know that it will always keep them happy?  (In fact, there’s no way to know that, as it requires knowledge of the whole of the eternity of the future, unless it’s possible to find it out from Someone Who somehow already knows that – viz., God.)  Furthermore, who knows how things will change for those people when they die?  Why must it necessarily be that those things that satisfied us in this life will continue to do so in the next?  They may not even be available to us in the next life.  We don’t even know if there is a next life, much less how long it’s going to last.  The duration of eternity might put a damper on some of those things from which we find satisfaction.

A (impatiently): Buddy, what’s your point?!

B: The point is still that we may as well believe in God.  Even if one lived forever –

A: I thought you already said that it’s impossible to live forever.

B: I did indeed.  So what I say may not be applicable until the existence after this life.  Remember, I was considering the case of this life and afterwards together.    So even if one lived forever, he doesn’t necessarily know of himself what way of living would give him eternal happiness.  But if he looks to God for help, He can help him find that way with the greatest of efficiency.

A: So what’s the purpose of our existences, dagnab it?!

B: Buddy, chill!  We’ll get to it evench.

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