Enough! Stop for a moment and breathe a sigh of relief. Break the day-to-day grind to consider your minute position as a resident of this cosmos. You manifested into existence within the barest instant—a tiny speck of time in comparison to the history of this universe. The quest to find your place and discover relevance can seem like a monumental joke. Could there be an essential purpose for you in this macrocosmic web of matter?
Existentialists such as Sartre and Kierkegaard tackle this issue by presenting two questions: Does existence precede essence, or does essence precede existence? In other words:
1) The universe is randomly generated and created with no inherent meaning, leaving it for you to define and substantiate your own significance in a purposeless world.
2) The universe is systematically generated and has a fundamental meaning, and it’s your objective to realign yourself to that original purpose.
Consciously or not, most people live their lives according to the former proposition. Popular scientific theories will reinforce this notion by proclaiming the world to be but a random occurrence, originating from a loud noise in some cold and dense part of the universe, where chance itself haphazardly gave birth to the foundation of existence.
Scientists declare that 96 percent of the universe is composed of dark matter and energy that no one can see, detect, or comprehend; still, they claim the universe to be but an arbitrary phenomenon, despite being baffled by its very fabric. In any case, whether you can believe this empirical gospel or not, you’re left to assume you are the generator of your own purpose, in a universe of apparently no purpose, and to struggle to find meaning in a meaningless world.
As the saying goes, “life is just like a dream”—the world is unreal, with no foundation or intelligent designer in control. For this reason, life is conveniently an individualistic embarkation on an imaginary quest, as society applauds you forward deeming your attempt courageous. Although you say life is a dream, you still try to enjoy that fantasy. Boldly trekking where no person has gone before, your quest for purpose is expressed through work, study, travel, relationships, sports and all kinds of concoctions your mind can muster.
Moreover, we attach great emphasis on living the dream, but fail to see the destination of our bravado—being bedazzled the same way an insect summersaults into fiery oblivion. We witness individuals and society collapse under the weight of our proud attempt to crown ourselves with this burden of being a purpose-generator. The pressure of time slowly crushes our venture, as the scourges of disease, debility, and death become the reality. Our struggle for existence will only contribute to increasing mental illness and depression, which are quickly becoming the foremost problems in the modern world. Research shows that despite technological and economic advancement, more people than ever are becoming destitute. We become deluded, fatigued and defeated while intoxication becomes our solace. As the moments go by, we see life is but a useless passion, a laborious endeavour, chasing a dreamlike purpose that is bound to end in dissolution.
It may appear difficult to accept our insignificance in creating our own purpose, but perhaps the scientific credo may put our presumptions into perspective. Astrophysicists will illustrate our precarious position as a dwindling entity on an insignificant planet orbiting a single sun—that is one of some 200 billion stars in the colossal swirl of matter that makes up the galaxy. Our galaxy is just one of an estimated several hundred billion such structures in the known perceivable universe, a volume that currently expands in all directions for more than 270,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles.
As said by world travelling monk and author Devamrita Swami: “We are too tiny to generate our own purpose and by trying to do so, we create our suffering. And if life is ultimately meaningless, what does it matter if you really live a driven purposeful life or a haphazard, chaotic one? We all return to cosmic stardust anyway.”
Enlightened sages propose that there is a purpose in this world and it is our duty to realign ourselves to that inherent purpose. That purpose is love. Your heart is parched like a desert and you seek to fulfill its demands for nourishment and reciprocation. You may vigorously try to claim meaning for yourself in this cosmic jungle, but simultaneously wither in feelings of loneliness and isolation. We can even imagine propriety over the entire world but evidently agonise due to want of real love and devotion.
Let us consider that before the beginning of time there was only life or a primordial consciousness, and from that primordial entity came all material elements and beings of diversity. Logically, it makes more sense that life would come from life. For example, from a woman comes a child and from the seed of a tree comes another tree; indeed, we are still awaiting the day to witness dead matter manifest life.
Opposed to the theory of a primordial material cause for existence, the ancient yoga texts of India recognise the pop notion that “the universe is love.” This can be given some credence, but to go deeper into the subject and its meaning, it can be said that love has three principal aspects:
Love implies personalities. Without personality there can be no reciprocation, therefore, love will have no medium for expression. Dull matter cannot emanate love. Furthermore, if there is no attraction and pleasure in love, then affectionate attachment and connection cannot manifest for the object of love. Evidently, love implies the exquisite personality who is the reservoir of all attractiveness and pleasure. That exquisite personality who is the goal of the yoga system and realised by pre-eminent masters of enlightenment is Krishna .
The yoga texts explain that the source of the cosmos and all energies is a supreme absolute person who is both within and without our experience, otherwise that primordial personality could not be absolute. Krishna is that source. From Krishna, the original seed of existence, comes all beautiful and glorious creations. These are only a fragment of his magnificent and diverse energies. (Bhagavad-gita 10.41).
So, to find your purpose in this cosmic jungle means to find Krishna, and to connect with that source through love and devotion is the highest mystic attainment of the yoga system. Nonmaterial scientists can systematically prescribe a lifestyle of yogic disciplines to elevate your consciousness to the utmost level of perception, and with your senses, you can experience the source of all attraction and pleasure.
We all crave pleasure. What’s the use of a purpose in this world if it is devoid of pleasure that comes from a genuine love— love that fills the heart with nonmaterial bliss? Realigning yourself to this original purpose of love is the real meaning to your bold struggle in life. There is no need to generate your own meaning in this universe. To recognise that you are a tiny part means you have a connection to the whole, and being an infinitesimal part of Krishna, you already have a purpose to your existence.
So, you can choose to keep your breath of relief and reflect on your delicate situation in this world. Before you dive back into the daily monotony, ask yourself—how long will it take before the burdensome weight of our fabricated purpose in this universe flattens us into oblivion?