Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Prison of Purpose

In this life, weather we know it or understand it, our mind splits the world into its infinite objects and subjects, each with a purpose. If we don't know its purpose, we seek it out, place it in a generalization or categorize it into some logical box. The grass grows because of some seeds were sewn in the soil, nurtured by minerals and water, trimmed and maintained.

The tree roots into the soil, and is imbibed with the rays of the sun, transformed in the chlorophyll of the leaves. It grows and over time it shades this chair we bought, which is made from plastic, which is derived from some fantastic chemical composition. The chair allows us to rest under the shade of the tree, with the carpet like silkiness of the grass under feet, to ponder the meaning of the universe and ask over and over why we are here.

Our condition begins with our conscious mind, moving to and from, always labeling good or bad, purpose and reason for all the things around us. Somehow in this realization of being, we are aware of our mind, these thoughts, this ever changing body. We put a name to this being, give it titles, goals, ambitions and drives. We delve into this flesh, learn its parts, understand its manners and actions for each blood, tissue and bone that makes it up.

The tendency of the mind is to seek these purposes out, to search for those wonders that bring us pleasure and to avoid those dreadful things that bring us pain. Our mind objectifies anything and everything, viewing from the points of form, color, sounds and functions, to which we create its purpose.

Its the question that drives us mad, spurs humans to create even grander beings and notions of the divine, spawn beautiful prose about love and life , celebrates its beginnings and laments its end. You know the question just as I; for what is our purpose? Our mind just can't seem to view itself, to find its reason other than to place purpose on everything else. I see this as our prison, our exhausting human condition. The inability to place a purpose on mind and the reason of me, confuses and confounds us to no end.

Perhaps, our real problem is that the universe, this oneness, God or what not really isn't asking any question. We know reality, we are inexplicably immersed in it, part of it, forever embedded in this infinite moment. It seems to free ourselves from this this prison of purpose, we feel we need to find some logical answer to this question.

What if there is no question?


  1. Its not reality or the universe that has a need for meaning and that asks questions, its just human beings (under certain conditions). Questions about purpose are endless. Even if we say the meaning/purpose of existence is X, we then have to ask what is the meaning/purpose of X. Everything just is what it is. The meaning of life is itself.

  2. "Everything just is what it is.The meaning of life is itself."


    Thanks Justin!

  3. For you progressive Buddhists:

    There is just something magical about this project....very cool.

    I'm not sure how else to recommend it to you guys. Check it out.

    I'm not advertising anything, just brought up some interesting thoughts on impermanence.




  4. Thanks for that - interesting and poignant - I enjoyed it.

  5. To ask "what if there is no question?" is simply to beg the question: "If there is no (objective) question, what am I going to do?" There is always the question, what, creatively, am I to do with my capabilities?

    It is no coincidence that it was Braham, a Hindu creator God, that mythically approached Buddha and exhorted him to teach.

    If western Buddhism is to become progressive, it needs to leave behind the notion that the path it sets out for seekers is extinguishment. Nirvana is an explanatory hypothesis that follows from an analysis. It is not something that can be realistically suggested as an endpoint for a spiritual practice.

    This is not least because to achieve it, one would have to step outside all considerations of universality, including the fundamental wish of human beings to reach out to others which leads us to volitional action. After all, is a compassion that does nothing for the object of its compassion not simple self indulgence? Is not active compassion a volition?

    Purpose in this respect is about communication and its content.

    The theory of dependent origination simply allows us to understand all the potential pitfalls of this challenge, and a chance of doing it better.

    Buddhism should be a guide to a fuller life, not an invitation to voluntary narcolepsy.

  6. I don't think that anyone is recommending "voluntary narcolepsy" rather just less of a goal-fixation in our activity. Yes I agree there is a danger of interpreting Buddhism as an ideology of passivity, but I think it's a mistake.

  7. Thank you Spring for your comments, sorry its taken me a bit to get back to it.

    I think Justin answered this well by saying "...rather just less of a goal-fixation in our activity."

    Voluntary Narcolepsy is not a goal nor a practise of Buddhism. We must be awake to this moment, to see the world in all its flux and change.

    I was asking, what if there is no question, not because I advocate a mindlessness of some sort, but to just realize our minds constantly drill down into detail of this world. Once we begin this fracturing of reality in our minds, it doesn't seem to have an end. We always end up drilling deeper and deeper.

    Perhaps, if we can begin to see our mind for what it does first rather than what it is, we can begin to see the unnatrual course of Dukkha.

    I agree, Extinguishment should not be a goal, nor even Enlightenment. As for extinguishment, it all depends on the oh so variable definition one puts upon it. As for enlightenment, well, maybe we will never be in the hall of fame in professional baseball, but I don't think that should stop me from playing catch with some friends.

    Thank you for your very insightful comments!