The purpose of life

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The purpose of life
I had pondering on this for a very very long time. I'm sure you have at some point in time or now are thinking about it too. If you have found the out already then good for you but it has taken me a very long time to find it.

The purpose of life is to seek happiness. While this may sound shallow initially, it really isn't.

Do you want to be happy?
The answer is obvious.
Of course, you want to be happy!
(What true and lasting happiness is will be discussed later.)

We know that life is full of hardship, suffering and sorrow but we endure those difficulties for the hope of being happy in the future. We study hard because we think having an good education will increase our chances of finding well-paying jobs that would pay for happier living. We've had our hearts broken seeking life partners because we hope to find that special someone who would increase our level of happiness. We go through the pain of childbirth and the headaches of raising children because we think they can bring us happiness more.

Therefore, our goal is to be happy.
Even in Christianity, the goal is to enjoy eternal happiness with God in heaven.

What is happiness?
To simplify this, I'd say true long-term happiness is of the heart whereas the illusionary momentary "happiness" is of the ego. [From discussion in Nobody gives something for nothing] For example, Mother Teresa devoted her life to her charitable works. I believe that the happiness that she gained is of the heart. Although she was awarded the Noble Peace Prize, I don't think the happiness she gained from that surpassed the happiness she gained from simply doing charity. After all, recognition and awards can only give a people egoistic happiness.

Happiness vs Pleasure

I'm guessing the first thing that comes to your mind is sex. I shall leave you to think about that. I would like to discuss the less obvious. I would like to talk about work.

Let's consider this example:
Suppose a doctor is trained in plastic surgery. Initially he is posted to work in a hospital where he performs surgery on children who need it. He loves working with children and finds his job very fulfilling. Some years later he goes into private practice. He performs surgery mainly on adults - celebrities and wealthy people - who want to enhance their appearance. He now earns ten times more than his salary at the hospital. He gets first-class treatment wherever he goes because of his connections. He is rich and famous. But he has no job satisfaction. He keeps thinking of how he used to enjoy his work at the hospital but he is enjoying his wealth too much to give it up.

His new work gives his pleasure but not happiness. [Can money buy happiness?]

The greater good
Sometimes we need to do certain things for the greater good, which brings us happiness ultimately. For example, many of us do not like to work but we have to because we need to support our families. This is personal suffering for the greater good.

Application of happiness as the purpose of life: Terrorism
Terrorist attacks like the September-11 attacks have brought death and sorrow to many people. However, I think the terrorists did it because they are under the impression that they are fulfilling what God wants them to do, and what they do is for the greater good. They think it will bring them true happiness. Therefore, they are as human as we are - they seek happiness too. (I can only say "I think" because I've never spoken with one).

Most people all over the world stand united against terrorism. (Note: It is terrorism we are against, not a particular religion or groups of people).
But we must ask ourselves: is there any willingness on our part to see them as human beings and to try to connect with and understand their opinions and beliefs?
I've noticed that there is a very strong urge and emphasis placed on making other people understand our point of view rather than to seek to understand someone else's point of view with an open mind. E.g. Some Christians quote the Bible to Atheists but, in the first place, they fail to understand that Atheists do not see the Bible as the Word of God so any attempt to convince an Atheist by quoting the Bible would be futile. Some Atheists insult Christian beliefs so obviously the willingness to connect and understand is absent.

You might think it's easy for me to suggest mutual understanding because none of my family or friends died in terrorist attacks. Perhaps you are right.
But think about what brings us true happiness. In this case, it is in:
- eliminating hatred in our hearts,
- doing our best to help those in need,
- knowing that we tried our best to connect with and understand other human beings.

16 comments:

David said...

Yu-Kym,
Thank you for remembering September 11th 2001!

No residents of Singapore perished that day, neighbors from Malaysia, Indonesia, and other Asian nations, were murdered in cold blood.

You state- “However, I think the terrorists did it because they are under the impression that they are fulfilling what God wants them to do...”

Your blog, your freedom of expression, the manner of your dress might mark you for death in the homeland of the 9/11 attackers. Your ability not to believe in any religion has sharing an important distinction, we are both infidels.

You know that I am a Christian and a member of the same faith you have left.
If you or anyone is against terrorism, you must stand against the group(s) and individuals that support terrorist efforts.
Fact, not all Christian’s, all Muslims, Hindus or Buddhists ‘are evil or completely good.

As a Christian I must love my enemy’s. Loving a fellow human does equate with approval of that person, or affiliated groups actions. Part of living happily means one must recognize evils and wrong and call such actions out and not approve of such actions.

What can we do as a people?

Read what I present below, and yes there a references from the Bible.

1-Love so genuinely that the seeds of hostility are never planted.

Test what you say this coming week (before you say it!) with this question: “Do these words display or hide the love of Christ for this person?” (1 John 3:18)

2.Work to keep the peace God has given us.
Do not argue with anyone over anything. (Philippians 2:14-15)

3.Strive to be Christians first & patriotic second, not the other way around for there is only one sort of Christian — a “world Christian.”
Be careful in your display of patriotism to not confuse patriotism with the expression of your Christian faith. (Matthew 28:18-20; Galatians 3:26-29)

4.Pray for all the nations, friend & foe alike.

Pray briefly each day this coming week for: the righteousness of your nation, your nation’s leader, his / her advisors, the future leadership of the Iraqi people, adequate provision for all refugees & prisoners of war, and peace between the neighboring nations of the Middle East & across the globe. (Matthew 5:43-48)

5.Respect individual freedom & conscience.
Deliberately show espect to everyone you meet this coming week, knowing full well that not all agree on the justness and prosecution of this present war, as well as knowing that you disagree on a host of other things. (1 Peter 2:17)

6. Stand up for the weak and vulnerable.

Though you cannot prevent the loss of innocent life elsewhere, you can help the weak here. Donate something (time, money, whatever you can do) to someone you know to be in difficult straits. (James 1:27)

7.Support all who serve your nation for her safety and for the blessing of all.
Give an encouraging word to any security personnel you meet this coming week. They help keep evil from you; give a good word to them. (Romans 13:1-7)

8.Refuse to be an accomplice of pride or hate.

Do not forward any e-mail you receive which speaks ill of the people of other nations or which seems to gloat over human/military/political power or success. (Psalm 101:5; Proverbs 16:18)

9.Seek God’s rule in your own war with sin.

Conduct a surgical strike on a personal sin in your life and decapitate it! Flee from all that has the appearance of darkness and run toward the light. (Matthew 6:10,33)



Enjoy the remainder of this solemn weekend. Do not forget that as you go about your daily activities a war between the forces of freedom and the forces of submission rage. Terrorist are plotting and planning, where will the next attack occur. . . . . .

Yu-Kym, I stand with you as an individual, I pray that your freedoms will never be diminished.

That your ability to chose your path freely will always be available. That includes your ability to disagree with me.

David
U.S.A.

Gumpher said...

Hello Yu-Kym.

I found your blog by clicking on the 'interests' part in the profile. We share a love of the same film.

You are right.

The purpose of life is to seek happiness. As adults it's fairly simple.

Do you love, adore, feel rejuvenated by your husband/wife ?

Are you fulfilled in your job ? Does it give you the renumiration you want and deserve ?

Are your children the joyous fruit of your loins, and are you proud of them ?

Are your friends, loyal, true, witty and fun.

A few to ponder.

Gumpher said...

Yu-Kym,

I found your blog as we share a love of a certain film.

Happiness is not quantifiable, only objective, discuss.

Hayabusa said...

"The purpose of life is to seek happiness", man i couldn't agree more with that =)...

& here's my thought about happiness, mostly based on my buddhist upbringing. happiness' categorized largely into 2 types, relative happiness & absolute happiness.

Relative ones, mainly like those you said from the ego, are tied to worldly matters & highly conditional. for example, i want a car, i get no car, i'm not happy. or i want sex, i get sex, i'm happy. when the conditions're fulfilled, one's happy, or else one's not. as conditions can't be fulfilled most of the time, & humans're born greedy, many ended up not happy most of the time.

So then the absolute. in this case, it's far easier. this' one happiness no one can take away, it stays with one forever, provided that one has a strong heart. to live a life with absolute happiness, is to be glad that you're alive, have hope always, & keep striving to make life better for yourself & for others.

About terrorists, i do hope that we can understand them more, but also note that their actions cannot be tolerated or justified no matter how they defend it, or how much we understand them.

David said...

Yu-Kym,

Hayabusa makes a good point regarding the fact that one can seek to understand terrorist, but not tolerating terrorist actions.

If one understands that terrorist abhor the freedoms women have in Singapore, or other free nations, would you condone a terrorist attack in Singapore? Most terrorist want democratic nations to cave into radical Islam's desire to establish sharia law every where.

Life under the Taliban, think about that.

Davod

Yu-Kym said...

Gumpher, welcome to my blog! :)
I think about my life, job, family and friends. I'd say I'm 90% happy. The rest of the 10% that I'm not totally happy about, is caused by my own expectations about what everything "should" be.

Hayabusa and David, thanks for sharing your thoughts based on your religious views.
About terrorism, by stating that we cannot tolerate their acts before hearing what they have to say, we are already building barriers to communication and understanding. In the past, many have killed people in the name of religion. Now many people have "progressed" from killing because of greater understanding of their religious teachings. It can be seen as a progression or regression depending on how you look at it.

David said...

Yu-Kym,

I am have a hard time understanding why you fail to answer the question, are you willing to give up your freedoms as demanded by most terrrorist, and live by thier belief system. Or would you be willing to die for your way of life since you underdstand that they (terrorist) cannot abide by the life style of most people living in democratic socities enjoy.

You seem to be placing many shades of gray between what is wrong and what is right. Killing innocents simply because they choose to live freely is WRONG. I can understand that most terrorist are opposed to the systme I choose to live under. The terrorist choice to attack democratic socities I can understand, I can also state the killing of women, men and children indiscriminatley by terror bombings is WRONG on most any ethical level.

Now my friend, what do you think?

David

Yu-Kym said...

David, different people see freedom quite differently. I shall use Singapore as an example. People complain of not having freedom of speech. The press is controlled by the government. People can even go to jail for trying to spread their religious beliefs in a manner that is not acceptable by the general public or by law. Do I want total freedom of speech and total religious freedom? No, I don't. Although it may seem to some people that I write very freely in my blog, I really don't. I do consider whether my blog is going to get me thrown into jail or cause me to lose my job. I wrote about difference in wants here:
http://yu-kym.blogspot.com/2009/06/what-you-want-is-not-what-we-want.html

About killing "innocents", didn't Christians do it too?

As much as I do not like killing, I cannot say for sure that they are 100% wrong in their thinking without full and complete understanding. Who knows the truth? If you believe God exists, then only God knows. But God's ways are not our ways, so we do not understand, and we cannot apply our own judgment so quickly.

Understanding does not mean succumbing. For example, for parents to understand why their teenage child behaves in a certain way does not mean having to give in.

David said...

Yu-Kym,

While Singapore may not permit complete freedom of the press, you do have freedom of expression. . There does not appear to be many restrictions on internet based opinions.

Understanding does not meet succumbing. Does that mean you and your friends would defend your self’s if attacked by those who find your life styles unacceptable?

Christian's killing innocents. Since Sept. 11, 2001, the number of Christians who have attacked or injured people of the Islamic faith remain very small. I am not aware of any children purposefully attacked within the United States. Although I must point there have been a number of "honor killings" of young muslim women by parents over here and some in Canada.

As for Christians rising up every time a Christian is killed by a terrorist, there is no such killing for revenge. Most Christians will turn the other cheek, and give our enemies another change.

Remember that the World Trade Center suffered an attack by a truck bomb in 1993. This failed to destroy the twin towers. Hence the attack on Sept. 11th. There is no organized uprising in the Christian world against those who do no believe as Christian believe.

We believe in the freedom of will, and that includes the right to make wrong choices. Christians do not convert by force or with a gun pointed at a non-Christians head.

The Crusades from the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries cannot after hundreds of years be justification for the attacks of recent.
The moral equivalency you basing your opinions on gave rise to some of the world's greatest mass murderers.

The question remain, is the killing of innocent men, women and children right?
What guides your moral compass? When is killing allowed, if ever ?

David

Yu-Kym said...

David, if a non-anonymous Singaporean's blog is deemed offensive religiously or politically the blogger can be brought to justice according to the law here.

There's nothing about my lifestyle that I need to defend. I don't need to explain anything to anyone if I don't want to.

I'm not saying the killing of people in the Crusades is fine with me. I'm not even saying what's morally correct or wrong because it changes all the time. How did the Christians come to believe that killing is ok, and how did they now realise that it's wrong?

It's through education, reflection, sharing etc that we learn. If the developed world claims to have better understanding and morals, we must then seek to be the ones to first try to understand, connect with and help those who come from a different background instead of expecting them to understand how we see things. The more we force them to subscribe to our beliefs, the further we push them away and the more extreme they can become.

From the prayer of St. Francis:
"...O Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be... to be understood, as to understand..."

Are you sure that the suicide bombers are not rewarded by Alah? You can't prove that they are wrong and they can't prove that they are right. It's only their belief. In the same way, Christians can't prove that they are right either.

As for when killing is ever allowed, I believe there are more abortions in a year worldwide than terrorist killings.
As human beings, we have so much to work on.

David said...

Yu-Kym,

Thank you for informing me about Singapore’s regulations. Consider however, that you live on a great micro-state.

You thoughts regarding murder border on noble, then fall when you fall back on moral equivalency.

Here is my root belief regarding the right to live.

The right to life is intrinsic to life itself. The right to life begins at the moment of conception and continues until natural death. The right to say who can be born belongs to life itself and is not the decision to be made by any man, women, or governing agency.

Life is a gift.

On the right of legitimate self defense. Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one's own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:
If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful. Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one's own life than of another's.

Infanticide, fratricide, parricide, and the murder of a spouse are especially grave crimes by reason of the natural bonds which they break. Concern for eugenics or public health cannot justify any murder, even if commanded by public authority.

The fifth commandment forbids doing anything with the intention of indirectly bringing about a person's death. The moral law prohibits exposing someone to mortal danger without grave reason, as well as refusing assistance to a person in danger.

The acceptance by human society of murderous famines, without efforts to remedy them, is a scandalous injustice and a grave offense. Those whose usurious and avaricious dealings lead to the hunger and death of their brethren in the human family indirectly commit homicide, which is imputable to them.

Unintentional killing is not morally imputable. But one is not exonerated from grave offense if, without proportionate reasons, he has acted in a way that brings about someone's death, even without the intention to do so.

In other words a drunk or drug impaired person who kills someone while driving a car in guilty of an offense.

The history of our time has shown in a tragic way the danger which results from forgetting the truth about the human person. Before our eyes we have the results of ideologies such as Marxism, Nazism and Fascism, and also of myths like racial superiority, nationalism and ethnic exclusivism.

Continued in next response.

David

David said...

Response Part 2:

No less pernicious, though not always as obvious, are the effects of materialistic consumerism, in which the exaltation of the individual and the selfish satisfaction of personal aspirations become the ultimate goal of life. In this outlook, the negative effects on others are considered completely irrelevant. Instead it must be said again that no affront to human dignity can be ignored, whatever its source, whatever actual form it takes and wherever it occurs.

“Are you sure that the suicide bombers are not rewarded by Alah? You can't prove that they are wrong and they can't prove that they are right.”

You are partly right with the above statement. I am not, nor aspire to be any persons final judge, only God has the role. I am called upon, however, to recognize evil, and the killing of innocents by indiscriminate suicide bombers is WRONG! Nothing in Christianity has ever attempted to justify such an action. There is only one religious faith I know of that condones suicide bombings.

Still you will not answer this question. If threatened with loss of your life. Would choose to die freely, or submit to a totalitarian dictated life style.

The ideology of the nations/religions that are havens and home for terrorist would not accept your statement; “There's nothing about my lifestyle that I need to defend. I don't need to explain anything to anyone if I don't want to.”
The question is what if you had no choice but defend yourself, die or submit?

This is not an easy question.

BTW, how can one make terrorist who kill and murder indiscriminately more extreme. They have already stated they will use nuclear and bio weapons when they come to possess such weapons.

David

Yu-Kym said...

David, you and I are emphasizing 2 different points. Your concern seems to be differentiating what's right and what's wrong. It's definitely a valid question to ask ourselves all the time. However, what's regarded as right or wrong varies according to the time, situation and place. Therefore, I cannot answer your question with the directness that you expect, i.e. is it right or wrong? My answer is: it depends. I have a friend who sometimes get frustrated at the way I answer moral questions because I never had a direct answer.

I don't disagree with what you say about life being precious. The society we live in and religion has taught us so, but society have come a long way.

To answer your other question about defending my beliefs, die or submit, I have the same answer: it depends.
Most of the time it is about hope and survival. Women and children sold/tricked into prostitution submit to it in order to survive and their hope of a better future helps them to endure their suffering.

I think terrorism can get more extreme, e.g. larger scale operations, increased frequency of bombing, increased recruitment activities.

David said...

Yu-Kym,

It is getting late in SG, and I want to thank for taking so much time and thought.

We may not agree on every thing. I do however respect your right to your own opinion.

Societies continue to evolve. Slavery in most nations is now a lesson learned. The rights of women, at least in most democracies gives women the same rights as men.

You are right about human trafficing, child prostitution and abortion.

To many young people in poor nations are tricked into prostitution.

Abortion is a crime against humanity. I am not proud of the United States stance on legalized abortion.

Helping our neighbors in every nation will help all grow, and learn to work togehter.

I am not nearly smart enough to know where to start in helping to eliminate intolerance, and hatred.

My Chritianity has been my guide and moral compass.

Being a better person each day in little ways more than big is what I aspire to achieve.

The freedom we share over the internet is a great opportunity for people to share and learn together.

I trust I give ideas to reflect upon.

Have a good night rest.

I just noticed your latest post, sweating, exercising and the choice of clothing color.

Talk about provactive....! ;-)

David

Yu-Kym said...

Thanks David. I appreciate and value all your comments,especially your opposing views which are something for me to think about :)

Anonymous said...

Hi All,
Reference is made to Mr David's points (4), (5) & (6).
Does it trouble the citizens of USA, their country is the world's largest exporter of armunitions?
Prior to 2nd World War, Japan was embargoed from purchasing steel, oil, etc; supposely to prevent her from building an industrialised economy with military ambitions.
Why do the western nations and USA think they are the only ones entitled to a powerful military? Because they are more civilised. They dont use sumurai swords, dont butcher prisoners-of-war & dont gas the Jews.
BUT; Western nations has systematically raped Africa economically. England practically lived off the backs of colonies. England was so desperate to sell opium to China, she was prepared to use gunboat muscle to ensure the Chinese authorities could not prevent its sale.
The Western citizens are either ignorant, blind or just plain hypocrites; or all of the above?
USA can shut down North Korea's nuclear ambitions in a matter of weeks. I'm sure Hillary Clinton is not that dense - shuttling about preaching about peace.
BUT IS IT TO YOUR INTEREST ?
North Korea's militancy is convenient for USA's justification to "protect" Japan.
To put it more accurately, Japan has to buy Patriot missiles from who else? Fighter Jets ? Aegis missile Frigates? Japan can never be allowed to design or manufacture such weapons. Her testicles were removed after her defeat in WW2.
In the interest of "containing" communism, Japan was allowed to prosper economically. She can make cars, washing machines, TVs, anything except arms. In exchange, she must buy arms from WHO?. Ditto - South Korea.
Who else will buy Toyotas or Hyundais Russia?
To think that we can "pray" or even hope for peace is naive. The citizens of pre WW2 Japan have as much hope of peace as we do now.
The interests of their Mitsubishi and other industrial conglomerates were so entrenched & powerful, Japan was inevitably put on a collision course with the next most powerful Pacific nation; USA.
Your President can talk peace for all he wants. You think thr barons of Westinghouse or GE would allow him to shut down their factories? It was a farce; to award him the Nobel Peace prize.
If there is peace in the world, half the working population of USA will have to re-learn how to make cars & washing machines, instaed of Fighter jet engines, missiles and steath radars.
Food for thought - how many Toyota Camrys must Japan make to buy one F16 Fighter Bomber?
Ever since the end of WW2, the brains behind the think-tanks of USA have carefully caliberated a suitable level of tension between warring nations. And sell arms to both sides.
Sorry Russia, you need to learn the fine art of getting your blondes to sleep with your equivalent of USA's Tom Cruise - in a movie - to glamorize your MIG fighter jets!
* And stop selling arms to all the sides who lose military battles!*
Heh! Heh! Heh!
Mr David and your articulated compatriots, any comments?

Regards - Leo