Why are we?

A forum for beginners and members of other Buddhist traditions to ask questions about Theravāda (The Way of the Elders). Responses require moderator approval before they are visible.
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Re: Why are we?

Post by alan » Thu Jan 20, 2011 4:49 am

Hi Goof. Are you sure you know the meaning of the word redundant?
Your statement is illogical.

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Re: Why are we?

Post by ground » Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:06 am

Tragition wrote:If I understand correctly, we are in a cycle of birth and death in samsara until we reach nibbana. But why?
Because we perceive in this way.

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Re: Why are we?

Post by Viscid » Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:51 am

A "meaning to life" would suggest existence has some extrinsic finality to it, when it could very well be that we exist to exist. You do not listen to a composition simply to hear its end.

We pull ourselves through our existence by way of ignorance of our own constant suffering. In hindsight, I think it's worth it. Existing is better than not existing, even if it implies living with dukkha.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James

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Re: Why are we?

Post by pegembara » Thu Jan 20, 2011 7:48 am

This life has purpose, it is not pointless. Some people like to
say that life has no purpose because they do not know how to give
it purpose. If we known how to use this life as an instrument for
finding out about the world, about the causes of the world’s aris-
ing, about the complete cessation of the world, and about the way
of practice leading to the complete cessation of the world, then this
life does have purpose. Life, then, is a means of studying, practising,
and obtaining the fruits of practice. It is a means of coming to know
the best thing that human beings can and ought to know, namely,
nibbāna. So remember, this life does have purpose, although for
the fool who doesn’t know how to use it, it has no purpose at all.

But even though our mind imagines the world and everything in it to be other than the way it actually is, the reality of existence remains eternally untouched by our misperception of it. This is both relatively good and bad. It is good in that existence is eternally what it is. We need not worry about reality becoming something other than reality. But it is bad in the sense that the world we imagine to exist is always colliding with the world as it actually is. This collision is the cause of immense human suffering and conflict.

And when all the struggle ceases, we realize that the prison of our mind cannot hold us in anymore, because the prison was all along something we imagined into existence. And imagined things aren’t real, they don’t exist. But we could never really see this as long as we were fighting the phantoms of our minds. We needed the one thing that our imaginary minds could not bring about, could not fake or create: the genuine surrender of all struggle.

The purpose of life is to find true peace and
freedom ie. nibbana
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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Re: Why are we?

Post by rowyourboat » Thu Jan 20, 2011 8:47 am

Goofaholix wrote:
rowyourboat wrote:The purpose of life is to find happiness. The only lasting happiness is nibbana.
That's a bit redundant isn't it, if weren't alive we wouldn't need happiness. It's a bit like saying the purpose of having a car is to find the gas station.
Yes, it is all a bit pointless. :smile:
With Metta

& Upekkha

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Re: Why are we?

Post by Goofaholix » Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:27 pm

alan wrote:Hi Goof. Are you sure you know the meaning of the word redundant?
Your statement is illogical.
Redundant means among other things "surplus to requirements; unnecessary or superfluous".

When a question is answered that is different from the one asked that is redundant.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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Re: Why are we?

Post by householder » Thu Jan 20, 2011 7:31 pm

Is the question even valid? As any response would be couched in humanised terms.

One argument could be (without couching it in Theravadan terms):

The world existed before humans;
Humans are born and continue to exist in dependence on conducive conditions/circumstances (in the physical conditions/environmental sense);
When those conditions/circumstances no longer conduce (either to one being or more) then that particular human is no longer able to physically exist; and
that is all.

I've not couched the above in the paticcasamuppada sense, because my (potentially rudimentary or wrong) understanding is that when one sees DO, and thus it ceases, one realises (if that's the correct term) Nibbana, but the physical body continues to exist, sustained by conducive physical conditions/environment as above.

Another argument could be:
Any ultimate purpose must be universal;
it is unlikely that the human race as an entirety would ever be able to agree upon such a universal purpose; thus
there is no universal purpose to existence.

Could be arguments couched as biological or evolutionary impetus'.

Or one could argue that one defines ones own purpose in life, which won't necessarily accord with someone else's view of their purpose. And thus we each make of our existence what we are content with and can reconcile our understanding with.

If, after thousands of years of human thought and investigation, the matter still hasn't been decided to any level of settled acceptance, I'd wager whether the question is inherently unanswerable objectively, and/or invalid in the first place.

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