This morning, while walking with one of my friends, she asked me, “What is the purpose of life?”
“I remember once in high school,” she continued, “I joined one extracurricular activity in martial arts. On one day of reflection, my guru asked to us, ‘what is the purpose of our life?’ Every student can only keep silent and my guru continued, ‘I think the purpose of life is just to die.’”
And I asked her what happened next and she said “Nothing. The discussion ended and then we continued our training as usual. I never know such a question can stay in my mind this long especially when you start questioning everything in your life.”
I asked her back, “so what is the purpose of your life?”
“I cannot say he is (the guru) wrong though. As I reflect further, every human being is born just to die. I only believe two things in this world: uncertainty and human’s death and I think he is right at some point. You were born to die and then why you have to be born? And having been born, what is the purpose of you in this world?”
We just agree at some point that we were born to die, the purpose of life is then: to die.
While we were walking our way down the path, we realized one thing: nothingness in this modern era or probably with us who can only think about dying as the only answer for the purpose of life. By knowing nothing what is the purpose of our life, we basically have gone into a nothingness. Religious people might say that the purpose of their life is to serve God and to obtain an eternal life after their death. A very good ethical person might say that the purpose of her life is to cultivate her virtue regardless of what others think about it. A rational person could say that the purpose of his life is to be constantly curious about things and thirst for knowledge. A philosopher might say that they live to cultivate and bring wisdom to the world. While all these people can satisfactorily answer their purpose of life, my friend then does not know what is the purpose of his life and we just ended up one answer: to die.
When philosophers in enlightenment era tried to kill gods, especially Nietzsche, they probably thought about celebrating the human beings as they are: as a free being who does not have any value at all. The human beings without having something to rely on since the death of gods will start a new era when human beings no longer need an omnipotent creature to be afraid of and by so, they have just have to sail the sea of life. But is this kind of thing actually involves adventurous and bravery, some values that has to be cultivated? Does it mean the purpose of life is the cultivation of bravery to face the sea of life? But in this case, the life itself is not free from value since we are actually trying to cultivate a bravery ethic in life. And thus we are just creating new gods while at the same time we have to pronounce the death of them. And then we think and discuss again: when we killed gods, have we really tried to make new gods? If not, is it true that this is just the beginning of nothingness that my friend was feeling, the nothingness that is left from killing gods, values or anything which human beings can previously rely on?
As we discussed and walked further, we still could not find a satisfactory answer for this nothingness and emptiness. It does seem that the answer is somewhat subjective, depending upon what a particular person is really aiming at and only by starting from that point could we derive the values that we would like to adhere.
“But it does contradict my mind that says that there must be a universal value, like why you are not allowed to kill a person out of nothing? Why we, at some point, always have a feeling that we are bound by a universal value like that killing? Does it mean that we can actually achieve a simple conclusion to this meaning of life that everyone can agree?”
“You remind me with Kant,” I said to her, “But if we start from the beginning, we are complaining about nothingness and emptiness. Why we should be bothered with universal value then?”
“Because if we can find it, then everyone should aim for that and thus destroying the nothingness and emptiness. We are still going to die for sure but at least we are not going to die in emptiness,” she answered.
As we were about to have a separate direction, she showed me a sunshine coming out from the horizon.
“I do not know yet,” she said to me, “I still live to die, but I want to enjoy every sunshine”.”
Then we moved to our own path…..