The Purpose of Life
HUMANITY HAS TAKEN its active and noisy world into the twenty-first century. Hundreds of interests fragmentise our lives; advertisements and merchandise seduce us. Progress and wealth seem to offer us everything for a fulfilled life. Many of us enjoy a life of wealth and great comfort, but others barely eke out a living, and live in poverty and misery. We are all constantly seeking to improve our lot. Then why are we still dissatisfied? Is there something still missing in our lives?
We are beginning to realise more and more that we lack time as well as serenity. Exhausted and tense we return from our holidays, and a feeling of great disappointment catches up with us again. Time, serenity and contentment have almost totally disappeared in this restless world of power and money. They can be found only if we succeed in withdrawing from the noise and the bustle of the world and even then only for a fleeting moment. Only then can we begin to reflect and think about the cause of our life and begin to recognise the lines of demarcation of our existence separating us from other dimensions. Only then do we hope to escape a world which can provide us with such meagre joys.
Progress and wealth cannot eliminate the emptiness we feel within; at most they can ease it temporarily. We experience this over and over again without being able to solve the problem. We begin to experiment. We imagine that we could be happy if only we could unveil part of the mystery of life. And as long as we are not successful, we continue to experiment.
But it is the very realisation that we are obviously not capable of filling this inner void which drives us to find our true purpose. The Austrian author, Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) wrote: "The purpose of life is more than life itself". What is that ‘more’? Maybe it is that which goes beyond the daily worries of our own well-being. Maybe it is that which does not merely concern itself with the possibilities of our external growth but rather with the possibilities of our inner development. The philosophy of Stefan Zweig demonstrates that he looked for a higher purpose in life. Nevertheless, disappointments and despair destroyed his illusions, and when he saw in 1942 that Europe had become an enormous slaughterhouse, he committed suicide.
It is the living soul nourished by the Gnosis which can create room for the development of the Spiritual Being for which many despairing people were searching in Stefan Zweig’s day. Only the soul detached from Earthly violence and clamour knows our real Goal and leads us on to the Road to our true purpose of life.
REFLECTION ABOUT OUR SPIRITUAL HERITAGE
The purpose of life becomes clearly recognisable for those who look for it in their deepest, innermost being. The soul hopes to be discovered under the thick layers below which we have buried it. To discover the soul in our own being is a radical, creative process which demands great courage. In order to accomplish this, a totally new way of thinking is needed which reflects upon our existence and its roots. We must dig deep into our own being if we want to find the Light that can chase away the darkness of every-day banality.
WHERE DO WE COME FROM AND FOR WHAT PURPOSE WERE WE CREATED?
For us human beings, life on Earth is only a stage in our development. Humanity is on its road through the cosmos and now has reached the nadir of its materialisation. This is a turning point. As soon as our soul knows how to free itself from matter, it steps upon the arc of Evolution. Then we stand on the lowest rung of the ladder which leads through all the areas of creation back to the Spirit.
We once were creatures of a higher world and lived in unity with the law of the Spirit. But, of our own free will we separated ourselves from our Creator, to build our own and ‘better’ world in which we could be immortal. The three lower dimensions of this Earthly life - physical, astral and mental - however, dictate the laws according to which we must live our lives whether we like it or not.
Slowly matter drew us into its spell and is holding us fast as long as we do not recognise our higher goal in life. Until then our lives are determined by opposites and by perishability. Everything we can perceive with our eyes and even with the most sensitive telescope belongs to the dimension of space and time and to the cycle of birth, development and death. Therefore our existence is very limited indeed. We imposed these limits upon ourselves at the same moment as we rejected the Spirit in our own lives and wanted to go our own way.
Only one spiritual heirloom from our original, divine life has remained in us. It is a spark of that Fire in which our origin as well as our future is contained. If we choose the Road shown by this spark of Light, it will lead us back again into the Kingdom of the Spirit. In order to find the door to this Path a long road of experience is necessary, but above all a readiness to abandon the pride of our own knowledge and to turn toward the Light. This is the step which gives life a purpose. This is our goal of life.
FIGHTING FOR SELF-PRESERVATION OUT OF IGNORANCE
What prevents us from going the road to the Spirit, to the Gnosis? It is possible that we hardly feel the impulse of the Gnosis. It is also possible that we do feel the stimulus, but unconsciously react the wrong way. Another possibility is that we are consciously very aware of this inner call, but ignore it willfully and knowingly.
Especially in countries where material prosperity reigns, a seeker has greater problems to keep the inner thread firmly in hand. So many interests hold him so firmly imprisoned in his daily routine that he hardly perceives the Gnostic impulse, let alone recognises and follows it. Because of this, his seeking for fulfillment lacks direction. His blind pursuit of happiness and a better life becomes a caricature of the search of his soul, which remembers its origin.
We human beings are conscious of our own physical world, because we think, we plan, we elaborate our plans with self-interest, and then realise these plans with great ambition. The realisation of our ideals in the external world gives our lives a goal and our existence a purpose.
Does not everyone try to assert himself in this world? But dispute and restlessness are the natural consequences of self-assertion. Thus we exhaust ourselves in a life-long battle with our environment whereas the world in our soul lies fallow and neglected. Billions of human beings build a fortification around their 'I' and struggle for their 'I' to be better off than the other person's.
No one but we ourselves put on those chains which tie us to the laws of this Earth. Laziness and habits determine all our actions, thoughts and feelings. Our striving for power, our greed and our excesses reflect our limited and clouded consciousness. We have created our own values to replace the longing of our soul. No wonder we can no longer hear its voice.
TO STRIVE FOR THE SPIRIT MEANS FULFILMENT
Jacob Boehme said: "The world with its busy-ness is a veil for the spiritual world, just as the soul is covered by the body."
The purpose of existence is to recognise these veils and to shed them. That means to recognise the world for what it is: a place of transience for the human being on his way to the Spirit. From that point of view the world is a mirage, a shadow of the original field of life. The sensory world is like a veil which covers reality and prevents us from seeing Eternity.
The soul knows Eternity. Eternity is its real nature. Its potential, however, can unfold only at that point when the 'I' realises that it can never enter Eternity because it has been born out of that part of nature which turned away from God. Therefore the Spirit, the Gnosis, speaks to the soul so that it may wake up, shake matter away from itself, push aside the veils and receive the Light as its source of life.
As long as we do not open ourselves to the Gnosis, all efforts to improve our life cannot lead us into the New Field of Life. We cannot become better, happier or more spiritual by our own power. The Gnosis can fulfil us only when our life's structure is no longer based upon pride, willfulness and our temporal talents which rest upon the deceptive perceptions of our sensory organs. First we must realise and recognise that there is a higher purpose in life, which is worth following. First we must recognise that the only thing worth living for is the striving for the Spirit.
THE FACULTIES OF THE SOUL AND THE POWER WHICH CHANGES EVERYTHING
A human being is a reflection of the entire Creation - a microcosm, a mini-dimensional cosmos. In our own being we contain heaven and hell, the Eternal and the temporal, Freedom and imprisonment. Everything created lies within us on a small scale, and looks for possibilities of expression.
Our desire and longing attract their corresponding forces. If we turn our attention to temporal values, we will attain them. If we turn toward the Spirit, the Gnosis, we will participate in the Spirit, Whose power, wisdom and love will be given to us. These will then continue to grow stronger and more effective as we open ourselves more and more to them.
Thus so, our soul gradually frees itself from the material world. The faculties of the soul develop to the extent that the soul frees itself from the demands of the body until it can eventually become a perfect instrument of the Spirit. The soul resembles a vessel which not only receives the emanations of the Spirit, but then pours them into our entire being. Because of this, it can fundamentally change our entire being and lead us into the process of transfiguration.
SELF CONQUEST AND ABSTINENCE FROM THE WRONG NOURISHMENT OF THE SOUL
A human being who surrenders himself to the Gnosis steps on to a road on which the influences of the ego-self are reduced more and more. "He must increase and I must decrease". A human being who, prior to that moment, was totally focused upon himself, now makes an about-face. His egotistical aspirations are extinguished and his interests in temporal possession and power disappear. His life contains a clear and well-structured goal, which is free of fear of illness, suffering and death.. Pride, ambition and the longing for power separate us from the unity with God. If we shed these attributes, humility and a deep sense of unity take their place. Impatience, resistance and anger make our soul callous and ailing. If we free ourselves from that scourge, we develop patience, serenity and happiness. Greed, haste and jealousy are fetters which drag us into the world of clamour. If we free ourselves from them we create room for stillness, peace and harmony. Then we also refrain from longing for superficial happiness, success or recognition from others. We come into contact with our Self.
Once our thoughts and actions are no longer determined by egocentricity, we can learn to act according to the principles of the Gnosis. Then we search for the Truth, and try to live accordingly. We also learn to accept the limitation of a world which is unable to reveal the purpose of our existence. And we will be able to value the world for its purpose. We will realise that nature and the limitations of our mortal life always cause suffering and pain. They are accents of the imperfection of the contemporary human being.
THE CHRIST POWER REVEALS THE TRUE ESSENCE OF A HUMAN BEING
Possessions and power are meaningless to the soul. Only when we discover the Path of inner liberation and pursue it, do we have an intrinsic value in Creation. Only when we come to terms with the meaning of our lives, discover our goal and draw the consequences thereof, do we begin to be of value to our fellow creatures. Self-reflection and self-knowledge are therefore indispensable. They lead to the discovery that we possess another Self in addition to our 'I' which pushes itself into the foreground. It is a Self, which does not respond to the selfish, undivine personality and its interests.
When we become conscious of our Self, we create room for our true inner being which has to be born anew. It follows the path of our inner development, through which the Christ in us can become manifest.
All of us who become conscious of our spiritual heritage, all of us who become aware of this inner essence of Light from which the Spirit-Man must be resurrected, can pursue this Road. All of us who have stepped upon this Road have recognised our Goal, the purpose of our existence. Our life has thus received a profound meaning.
© The New Call, 2004