What is the Point of Living?
I have been reading what you’ve been writing for a long time now. And I do agree with the majority of what you say, especially about logic. Lately I have become a very reason oriented person (this is in general and not due to your site). For about a year now, I have been out of college and been working for a year now. I’m finding out that everything I have been told is a lie. Not all religions are good. Women don’t really want nice guys. An Education won’t necessarily make your life any better. Good doesn’t always conquer evil.
Life is pain. Everything that you love just goes away. And good things that’ll come to you in the future will go away too. If there is no god, then what’s the point? The logical thing to do is to just end your life and save yourself from pain that is to come. What’s the point? Honestly, I don’t see it. I just want to hear your take on it.
Upon reflecting on what you wrote I ended up agreeing with you. What is the point indeed? I go even one step further and ask:
- What is the point of finding love when all relationships end, either in death or they break up?
- What is the point of bringing to the world a child when eventually they will die?
- What is the point of planting anything when one day they will whither?
- What is the point of building a house when one day it has to be demolished?
- What is the point of taking a bath when you’re going to be dirty again?
- What is the point of eating, when you’ll get hungry a few hours later?
- In fact what is the point of this earth or this universe when they too will come to an end?
Yes what is the point? And yet, despite all these pointlessnesses, life goes on, people fall in love, children are born, trees are planted, houses are built, people eat and wash…. and guess what? They also dream, laugh, sing, play, produce art and enjoy life.
Maybe that is the point. Maybe life is a journey without destination. The only certainty about life’s destination is death. So why hurry? Why go so fast? Why not go through the road of life ambling, enjoy the sceneries, behold the flowers, befriend the fellow travelers, joke with them, have fun and give a hand to those who are tired and limping and make their journey pleasant too?
Yes, most of the things we were told were lies. Every day we discover new things and realize what we knew before was a lie. Up and down, east and west, truth and falsehood, good and bad, are all illusions. Your up is down to someone else. Your east is west to another person, your truth is falsehood to your neighbor and what is good for you can be bad for the next guy. But there is one thing that is not an illusion and that is the fact that we exist.
Descartes concluded that if he could think, he must exist. But we also exist because we love. Love is real and if we can love, it follows that we exist.
Doubt is good. Doubt everything and particularly the commonly held beliefs. Doubt your senses, your beliefs, the science, and even God. But there are some things that are beyond doubt. You cannot doubt love.
If you have ever loved you know that love is real – just like thought. Thoughts are real, even though their content may not be. Love is also real, even though its object may not be.
You feel alive when you love. Love is what makes life meaningful. It encompasses everyone and everything.
The object of your love can be
- real, like people;
- lofty, like knowledge and service to humanity;
- mundane, like power, fame and wealth;
- or imagined, like God and religion.
It is not the object of love that matters; it is its exercise that makes you feel alive. To make life meaningful you have to find the love of your life.
One of the most inspiring lives is that of Professor Steven Hawking. He is a theoretical physicist known for his contributions to the fields of cosmology and quantum gravity, especially in the context of black holes. He has also achieved success with works of popular science in which he discusses his own theories and cosmology in general; these include the runaway best seller A Brief History of Time, which stayed on the British Sunday Times bestsellers list for a record-breaking 237 weeks. Hawking was a professor of mathematics for thirty years. He retired on October, 2009.
Professor Hawking has a neuromuscular dystrophy – a condition that has progressed over the years and has left him almost completely paralyzed.
But Hawking loves life. Why? Because he is passionate about his work! His mind is busy decoding the secrets of the universe. He has no time to dwell on his handicap. He is not just happy, he is productive and perhaps the greatest mind alive.
On the other hand, there are so many healthy bodied people who find no meaning in life, give in to depression and despair, and often at a young age, end their lives.
What sets Hawking apart? What makes a man condemned to wheelchair that needs assistance for everything, including for his bodily functions; a person who cannot use even his vocal cords and has to communicate through a voice simulator, so alive? And why some healthy people are so worn out and so depleted of life?
The difference is in love. Hawking has a great love in his life. He loves knowledge. He is passionate about learning and poking his nose into the mysteries of the universe. This is what makes life meaningful for him. He wants to live in order to discover and to share his findings with others.
Hawking lives for his passion. He is not an exception. Everyone can find his or her passion and feel the same vitality and zest for life.
Love is the elixir of life. The secret of happiness is that you find the love of your life. “Find your own Calcutta,” Mother Teresa responded to a woman who wanted to join her in ministering to one of India’s most crowded cities.
Suppose you are a tree and pose the same question. What it the point of living for a tree? Its life depends on circumstances that are beyond its control. It can wither in a drought or break in a wind, animals eat its brunches and fire can devour it. It endures cold and heat. At the end it will be either chopped, burned or fall to the ground and eaten by insects. Is there any point to the life of a tree? From the perspective of the tree, there may not be one. But we know better. Trees provide shelter for countless animals, birds nest on them and eat their fruits, bees collect their pollen, insects make home in them and humans built their houses with them. They provide the oxygen that all living creatures depend on for their lives. We know that trees are invaluable. Their existence is not pointless at all. Trees also benefit from others. Bees pollinate their blossoms. Animals spread their seeds and humans plant them everywhere. We’re all interconnected. We all benefit from each other.
Maybe that is the point of living. All humans, all animals, all plants and all insects make this world go round. We depend on others just as others depend on us. Your parents, your children, your friends, your loved ones, your country and the world depend on you. The life or the death of one insect may have little impact in the world, but if all insects were to perish, there would be no life on earth. What is true for insects and for trees, is also true for us humans. The point of living is in sharing our being with others. It is in giving. Nothing is more joyous than sharing and giving.
We live individually, but we are not alone. We are part of a whole. We are genetically related, not just to each other, but to all living creatures. We are chemically related to the earth and atomically related to the universe. In this tapestry called existence, we are a pixel. All pixels are important. The point of their being is to be and to form the picture of life.
In the road of life, there are thorns and thistles. There are cliffs and precipices. There are hardships to overcome. And at times, the journey can become tiresome. But there are also flowers that grow alongside the road. There are beautiful sceneries to see, interesting people to meet and good companions to cherish. The journey can become joyous when you walk in good company, and when you are surrounded by people that you love and who love you. It is also joyous when you have a purpose to live for.
We have been put here without our permission. We don’t know wherefrom we come and whither we go. Since there is no way of knowing, there is no point in asking. It is also foolhardy to believe in fantastic tales of prophet pretenders whose own credibility is dubious and whose outlandish claims are unproven.
Maybe there is nothing but the road! Maybe the journey is all there is. For all we know, this journey is real. Its origin and destination may not be. So what is the rush? Why to overrun others? Where do you think you are going so fast? What if the road of life is to nowhere? Why inflict so much pain on ourselves and on others for a fantasy? Why not enjoy the journey instead and make it pleasant for our fellow travelers?
Each one of us can find the love of our life – something that excites us and kindles our passion, that makes us feel alive, and gives purpose to our existence.
The point of life is in living it, not in ending it. Those who tell you otherwise are charlatans and liars. These conmen promise an afterlife and disdain the one we have. They eulogize death and disparage life. They say this life is a testing ground. They lie! This life is a living ground. What test? Test of blind faith? Test of stupidity? If they are so ignorant of this world, why should we believe in what they say about the next?
The difference between successful people and losers is not in their talent or in their intellect. It is in their love. Successful people are great lovers. It is the greatness of their love, their passion and their dedication that make them great. Not only these people live a life full of joy, they spread joy and they leave joy behind.
Yes, great people die too. But their lives are not pointless. They are immortalized in what they leave behind.
Women want nice guys. But what attracts them first, are tough guys. They are attracted to men who are not needy – men who have a purpose in life and know where they are going. They want someone to lean on and not someone who wants to lean on them. This is the result of millions of years of evolution. Be a man and women will find you attractive.
Education won’t necessarily make your life better, but it improves the odds drastically.
Good does not always conquer evil, but evil prevails when good people do nothing.
Life becomes a pain if you have nothing to live for. If you find the love of your life, ‘your own Calcutta,’ it can be full of joy.
Life is what you want it to be. You are the architect of your destiny, the designer of your own life. It is up to you to find the point of your life and give meaning to it. Find your Calcuta and experience a life full of joy.
Edit: In 2013 I started watching videos and reading stories about near death experience. These stories changed my views completely. Now I believe in God and afterlife. I wrote a new article on the same subject, this time taking into account my new understanding. You can read it here.