Q.345 – The Purpose of Life, part 1

Here is a very basic question about purpose and faith. Five of our bloggers have provided answers and these are being posted in 5 parts.

Part 1 – Ramesam’s answer to this question

Q345: What is the purpose of life?

 If, as stated in Advaita, we are actually in a state of sat-chit-Ananda and we are actually this ‘Self’ already, why have these ‘illusions’ and this ‘ignorance’?

 How can we believe in lila? What could be its purpose? There is no convincing answer – I am sure you will concur. This then raises my more fundamental query. This ‘Self’ on which reams have been written – what is the proof that such a ’Self’ exists?

 The root problem is that in the end, even Advaitic teachings finally rely on ‘blind faith’ to put their point across. There’s nothing wrong in having faith. All religions ask for blind belief in the almighty to get you your promised ‘Kingdom of God’. It’s only in Advaita that folks try to push their case by saying: “No, it’s not pure faith, it’s by reason and discourse that we reach the truth etc”.

 To quote Gaudapada in his Mandukya Upanishad kArikA, “That which is stated in the scriptures ‘and is supported by reason’ is true  and nothing else”. The ‘reason/discourse’ argument for following Advaita is pure bunkum, in my opinion. It relies on blind faith not on a deity, but in an obscure ‘Self’.

 And even if reality is non-dual, why this seeming duality? Why does this mithyA of life exist?

 A (Ramesam):

 Q: What is the purpose of life? 

A:  The question betrays the fact that you are assuming that there has to be a purpose behind everything and life (which, perhaps, you presume to be something very lofty) should have an exalted purpose. Why is it so? 

Can’t  things “just be” purposelessly? 

Sometimes you might have caught yourself whistling or humming. Did you ask yourself for what purpose was it? Certain things just happen as a celebration. Purpose is a later attribute, a second-guess most of the time, or an attempt at explaining away things.

 Q:  If, as stated in Advaita, we are actually in a state of sat-chit-Ananda and we are actually this ‘Self’ already,

A:  This statement of Advaita is valid if and only if you have “Realized” it by yourself. It is not a dictate to be taken as a dogma or a command to be accepted.

Q:  …. why have these ‘illusions’ and this ‘ignorance’? 

A:  If one has really understood Advaita, a statement like, “these are illusions” IS itself illusory.  To say, “this is ignorance” IS ignorance. There is NO scope for any other thing like illusion or ignorance – what ALL is Brahman and Brahman alone!

 Q:  How can we believe in lila? What could be its purpose? There is no convincing answer – I am sure you will concur.

A:  Yes, there is no convincing answer. “Lila” is an explanatory artifact for someone who is interested to appease his/her mind with such fictitious artifacts.   That is NOT the ultimate teaching of Advaita.

Q:  This then raises my more fundamental query. This ‘Self’ on which reams have been written – what is the proof that such a ’Self’ exists? 

A:  There is no need to aggrandize or demonize “Self.”  Let us keep it simple. 

Whatever you are conscious of has to simply “be”, that is to say, it has to be present and existing.  Even if someone says, “there is nothing”, nothing has to ‘exist.’ If nothing exists, how can he say “there IS nothing”?

Or, say, you fantasize in your mind something which is not physically present in front of you. That means there is a ‘thought’ and you are conscious of your ‘thought’ mentally. Do not worry about what that thought is concerned with (i.e. the content of the thought). The thought itself is existing and present and what you are conscious of is that thought only.

Thus existence or beingness IS fundamental to everything and can never be denied.

So “Existence” or “Beingness” is the one common denominator for all things. And that’s all what Advaita speaks about  – there is “Existence” and It is the only One thing that exists and eternally present.

Or look at this way. Can you say that ‘I do not exist’? Even to say that, someone who says so has to exist!

Therefore, there is no requirement of a faith in some other person’s word or belief in some handed down wisdom to say that you exist and that you are conscious of your existence.

And examine a little more closely to see if there is an additional ‘you’ other than existence and the knowing of your presence.  You will not find any other entity than just your beingness and knowing that you are.

And that’s all what Advaita teaches. You exist (sat) and you know (chit) that you exist and ‘you’ are not different from that Beingness and Consciousness.

 Q:  The root problem is that in the end, even Advaitic teachings finally rely on ‘blind faith’ to put their point across. There’s nothing wrong in having faith. All religions ask for blind belief in the almighty to get you your promised ‘Kingdom of God’. It’s only in Advaita that folks try to push their case by saying: “No, it’s not pure faith, it’s by reason and discourse that we reach the truth etc”. 

A:  Your contention is wrong about the role of ‘faith’ in advaita.

We have proved the Advaitic teaching with reason in the answer given above.

Let us see what role ‘faith’ plays in Advaita.

Any transaction that takes place between two individuals requires mutual faith in one another until at least the transaction is completed.  For example, when you go to pick up a can of soup from a store, you have faith that what is described on the can is truly present inside it. As you pick up the can and walk, the shop-keeper has faith in you that you will make a payment.  After that, it is up to you to “experientially realize” that the claim made on the label of the can (about what the soup is made from and its taste) is true or not.  Neither the can nor the shop-keeper can a priori make you feel the taste without your own effort and experience.  Right?

Similarly, Advaita wants you to have faith in what it says and the teacher only till the transaction of the teaching is completed.   If you have posed the question here on this forum, it shows that you have come with some faith on the web site. Will you raise your questions here if you have no faith at all in this transaction of Questions and Answers?

Now is it unreasonable to require this sort of faith to complete the transaction?  Can you bundle this faith with the sort of ‘faith’ demanded as a pre-condition by the religious philosophies asking you to blindly believe in their savior who is projected to be the only one you can depend on?

Actually Advaita makes you independent. It asks you to examine it by your own analysis and understanding by a thorough reflection on what it says and deeply contemplating over it.

 Q:  To quote Gaudapada in his Mandukya Upanishad kArikA, “That which is stated in the scriptures ‘and is supported by reason’ is true and nothing else”. The ‘reason/discourse’ argument for following Advaita is pure bunkum, in my opinion. It relies on blind faith not on a deity, but in an obscure ‘Self’. 

A:  You will  not be faulted if you say, after a thorough study, “It is bunkum.”  Why?

Advaita is all inclusive. It does not exclude anything.

How can anything be outside Advaita when all that IS is One and nothing else exists?  Therefore, a statement ‘that it is bunkum’ also falls within the domain of Advaita!

If you did read and understand fully Revered Gaudapada, the Acharya himself said, “there is no bondage, no liberation, no seeker nor any salvation; this is the final Truth.”

 Q:  And even if reality is non-dual, why this seeming duality? Why does this mithyA of life exist?

A:  Who says that duality exists? Only “you” say it if you think you are a separate self.  Advaita teaches that it is ALL one thing only (including you).

The world you see is your own creation, like the dream world you create when you go to sleep.  And is your dream different from who you are? Whom can you blame for what you dream?

(Please see: http://www.advaita-vision.org/eka-jiva-vada-i-am-alone-part-vi/ )

Go to Peter’s answer to this question.

One thought on “Q.345 – The Purpose of Life, part 1

Leave a Reply