Is There an Ultimate Aim for Life?
Let me see how we would have arrived at this question. I think the first question that would have perplexed mankind is, what make beings alive, or what is the purpose of life. So that one may know, what to aim for. We can see everywhere, the joy our young ones keep getting while learning the nuances of things one comes across. And we can safely conclude, our past heroes also would have been mastering everything that came on their way, while leading a joyful life. The only questions that remained without any resolution would have been the ones related to the aim, one should be striving to meet. And it would have been giving them a really tough fight, given the popularity of religious organizations and movements that are primarily meant for answering it, even now.
While getting exposed to new and varied situations and encounters with things living and nonliving, our forefathers would have learned to look for a cause, for whatever they saw or experienced. Which would have would have enabled them to make things happen, as they chose, paving the way for an inquisitive mind. Possibly this is the first step of enquiry, both what our ancestors learned, and where they met success the most. And in that process, it seems they understood this as true for of all things in nature, that things will continue as they are, till something made it to do otherwise. Which later came to us as Newton’s first law. Now, since any living thing will look for a reason to discontinue what it is busy with, it is natural that the earliest question that vexed our ancestors was, why am I living, what for? This, for two reasons. One, they would have been meeting great success in finding an answer to such questions, as far as nonliving things go. Two, death would have been catching them unaware, and it would have been natural to experiment about extending life, the leftover signs of which we diligently classify as remnants of say, pagan ceremonies.
Why Search for a Meaning for Life?
Now, I think all the imponderables of human society can be condensed to this particular question. For, mankind’s foray with knowledge, by now have succeeded in answering almost all the other ones. And also, having been coming across fresh insights, while shaping many and varied answers since long, only a few facets of it is still remaining unanswered. Hence the original question regarding the nature and constitution of life has taken a turn to the abstract, as, one seeking the ultimate aim in life. Or, this is one of the odd questions that remains to be answered, having understood much about the nature and constitution of everything that meets the eye.
Ease of Re-definition Leads to the Spiritual
There are already many answers, each of those giving a fresh meaning to life. Also, every new one turns out to be a little more abstract than all the earlier ones. Many more are in the making, again of course, of the same vein.
But I think this question is not a difficult one to solve, and the clear answer is the desire to have a comfortable life, whether it is in this world, elsewhere, or both. However, it is impossible to have a life that is generally at ease and comfort, since one facet of it will be leaving us, more or less perpetually, in dismay. What do we do? We constantly redefine life, and to overcome the limits of a language or its vocabulary, we let the same words taking fresh meaning, and at will. Which is not possible in the material domain, where meanings can’t change arbitrarily. Hence humans embraced spirituality, which makes it easy to accord whatever meaning one may find fit, wherever. As a result, one can say, each and every one of us leads a life fitting to one’s own definition, which for convenience, we have come to adopt from our parents. And, I am sure, an answer appropriate for the redefined one is on the tip of every tongue, for, nobody loses an opportunity to pontificate on such matters. Except that all those answers suggest quite complex and time consuming observances, ceremonies and other imponderables that can hamper one from seeking other pleasurable experiences that occur naturally. Won’t there be a short cut to it, which perhaps can save us from such a loss? (In fact the particular dismay mentioned above, which is a part of all forms of life, is the theme of my book, The Unsure Male)
Search for a Shortcut
Yes, I feel there is room for one. I also think, none of us have tried for it, so far. Reason is rather simple. In fact, irrespective of one’s leaning, whether it is towards the spiritual or the material, all of us go ahead with one’s own life, more or less in the same manner. Since the actual manifestation of the events and occurrences of life, the priorities, or the living style that controls the way we perceive it, vary greatly, we think of the spiritual and the material as vastly different. But the gains both the paths lead to are more or less the same, since the end result is a comfortable life, one without incurable troubles or worries. Hence, depending mainly on one’s broad understanding of life, we can group all people into two. Those leaning towards the material, where life is predominantly a predictable one, and the other that could include the many shades of the spiritual, where it is essentially something beyond our senses.
Why Commotion, when Humans Interact?
In each, the very definition of life changes appropriately to accommodate whatever observances, ceremonies and other imponderable that get added routinely. And commotion is nothing but a result of such imponderables, the real cause of which is the redefinition, and the new entities that get added, or the old ones that get removed, as a result. The type, nature, and depth of all these entities differ, and can take any combination or form, which are nothing but random events or occurrences with contextual relevance. For those oriented to the material, it normally is in the various manifestations of whatever little unpredictable is left, which generally take the shape of abstractions like prestige, honour, style, etc. For others, a wide canvas of impressions and experiences that are dependent on nothing else but how creative, imaginative, or with ingenuity, one is, provide unlimited scope. By now, we are all so accustomed to these meaningless (remember, there is no direct link between these and life) activities of life, we accord them the highest status. In short, what we celebrate as the essential and unique elements of human race, and what we time to time figure out as just commotion, are not much different.
The short cut, if found, would release the human race of such an infructous load, and should work for both the groups.
In any case, the current thoughts about having a comfortable life, I think veers around one point. Maintain a healthy society consisting of good individuals.
Which opens up two questions. What is the best society, and what should term an individual as a good one. Since answer to the former question depends a lot on whatever answer, the second one fetch, let me try to answer that.
How can we define a good individual? Though so far I have not come across a clear and concise definition in this regard, I am seeing our world flooded with opinions, advices, or instructions on how to become a good human. Everywhere those happily issuing such a recommendation are doing so, with reference to their own definition of such a one.
Why it Does not Happen with Other Things
While for everything else, lifeless objects, plants, or animals, there is a definite yardstick, one that that has universal agreement. And the yardstick is contextual in nature, and automatically occurs to one, wherever such an entity’s name comes up. The mechanism of making an actual measurement varies, and it differs for each circumstance of its link with human race, however remote. And, whatever conforms to the yardstick being used currently, is the good one. We then adjust ourselves to utilize whatever benefit it could be of. In fact this is the main criterion to judge an individual, that is, how well one is able to get the best services from the things that are in one’s control. Over the years we have been finding such an approach as the above yielding worthwhile results, and continuing with it, while being ready at all times to make any alterations, if current experiences dictate so.
How Commotion Remains with Us
Quite in contrast, while judging humans, an established yardstick plays only a less significant role. Rather than following a well known standard, we choose the one which satisfies the current requirement the best, as the one to use. Then comes another complexity. The additional issues due to memory. Which I think can be reduced to another variable parameter, namely, reputation, which is nothing but an image, derived primarily from the record of past accomplishments that are still in memory. It colors all experiences, mostly boosting the effects of various actions, and, it affects the one judging, and the one being judged, more or less equally.. Like amplifying or playing down the outcome of one’s deeds, or the impression it makes. Now, the ones selected as the good ones are the ones who successfully go through this contextual sieve. Neither good deeds, nor a worthy reputation, can facilitate this without the help of the other. Over the years we have been finding that such an approach as the above leads to frequent skirmishes or other unpleasant experiences. Sill we are continuing with it, while being ready at all times to make any alterations to our life, and let the above approach stay.
..Even After we Try our Best
My doubt is this. Why do we choose this complexity? Why don’t we pick up the habit of judging each one based on one’s inherent worth, and then mould ourselves to extract the desirable? In which case all those engaging in communication will be generally at ease. You see, the side that starts the exchange has already confirmed the appropriateness of the other side, and is already in a receptive state. And for the other side, since the questions that come to them shall be only from their core areas, they shall only be happy to answer them. Needless to say, such a scenario leads to better exchanges and a serene society.
Whereas, where are we? What is preventing us here? We have no ways of establishing suitability of participants, before an exchange actually take place. We keep facing issues of communication constantly, and for which, we have many a dedicated branch of knowledge in existence. Where, instances of inadequate or inappropriate exchanges and the related destructive effects are analyzed, mostly for offering corrective solutions. We incorporate those, and perhaps because of the additional complexity that gets introduced, find ourselves in the same boat once again. That calls for more corrections. A vicious circle has come into existence.
I think we need to look for a solution that does not introduce any fresh variables, computations, intricacies, or other complexity.
Supposing we all are named intuitively. The name is chosen in such a way that effectively broadcasts the salient features of the owner that could be of current interest, at any instance.
Say, we think of rolling names. One is given a name at birth, which could point to the salient features that are of significance, at that age. Like the kind of entertainments or games that can make an instant connection, or the type of foodstuff that one abhors, etc. And all those who transact can find a perfect match, whatever be the need. The name can thereafter undergo changes at every stage that necessitate addition or deletion of features, like completing education, gaining experience, or other eventualities of interest. At every stage in life, whether it is of a commoner, or one of authority, name could divulge one’s qualities, orientation, temper, and other features of relevance in a society.
Now see the benefits. Whenever there is a need to communicate, one can choose to initiate one only when the other end is an appropriate one. And we can expect both the sides to be equally clear about the nature of an exchange, or the aim thereof. As a result, each of us would be automatically assuming relevant roles, for example, one of authority or submission, one of regulation or receptiveness, or that of substance or playfulness. In which case, there is no chance of any loss or error, whenever exchanges take place. And, each and every one will feel encouraged to live up to one’s name, making peace only, to prevail. You see, nothing will transfer in excess, nor will something in deficit. The desired results will be met, every time.
And, if there is an ultimate aim, this is a short cut to it.
Well, it is an easy short cut.