The Purpose of Life Is . . .

I know, I know: When someone is so bold as to suggest they are going to take a  stab at revealing the purpose of life, you immediately get suspicious. That’s reasonable. So bring your suspicions along, and let’s talk . . .

The purpose of life, as most everyone already  knows, and the greeting card companies tell us, is simply to love and be happy, and, where appropriate,  to help others do the same.  Duh.

The purpose of life for Christians is the same, but using these words:   Love God, Jesus said, love your neighbor.  “I have come, ” he admitted, “that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full. ” So Jesus said to  love and enjoy life, in ourselves and others, is the purpose of life. (“On these  two commandments hang  all the law and the Prophets”). l Love and joy are yin and yang, heads and tails of the same coin of consciousness, which by grace or good luck, we all have in our pocket. .

Buddha came at it from the other side: “The purpose of life is to end suffering, for ourselves and for those around us.”  When we’re not loving, not joyful,  we’re suffering.

Even though to love and be happy– to end the suffering–  is the simple way of expressing the purpose of life, some of us need a little more meat and potoatoes, as it were, a little less abstraction.  I myself will often forget the over-all  purpose of life– which is to love and be happy–  and instead quickly lose myself in all manner of other, less important purposes, like emptying the dishwasher, getting the truck washed, or marching for peace and justice.

So for me, I need a more down to earth, hands-on,  more practical way of reminding mysyself about the purpose of life. The words “love and happiness” are nice, but are so airy-fairy that they have lost most of their juice, having been kidnapped by the greeting card companies and auto dealers. So I need to put “the purpose of life” into a linguistic format that is easily and readily available, no matter the outer circumstances. So, this is the format I am currently using:

The purpose of life  (pardon me for being so bold) is to intentionally experience and express the (formless) flow of Prosperity in ever deeper, ever more artful forms, in whatever way the moment inspires or requires.  Or, more simply,  our purpose in life is to intentionally experience and express Flow.

I have discovered that by intentionally putting my attention on experiencing and expressing the formless flow of Prosperity in whatever form the moment allows or calls forth, I more easily remember to be happy and loving.

This way of expressing the  purpose of life may sound unnecessarily complex and confusing, but it is no  more complex or confusing than is our contemporary lifestyle. In fact,  as we know, most contemporary folks aren’t too concerned, or even concerned at all about the purpose of life. They are more concerned with the strange noise coming from the transmission of their car, about the new friends the kids have found at school, or what the boss will say about the report being late.

However, I’ve observed that when I love myself and others, and aam happy with myself and others, then the details of my life seem to work out more gracefully, more harmoniously. So I’ve found it’s good and practical to pay attention to the underlying purpose of life. And it’s useful to talk about the purpose of life in a way that gets to the heart of life’s every moment.

That’s why for me, the formulation, The purpose of life is to intentionally experience and express the (formless) flow of Prosperity in ever deeper, ever more artful forms, in whatever way the moment inspires or requires,  — although quite heady– has been a useful little formulation. I can use it in whatever moment I remember it, or need it. It helps me relax, and love and be happy.

Clearly, for all of us, we are able to intentionally experience and express  the flow of prosperity in some moments more deeply, more artfully than we are able to in other moments. Sometimes we’re up, sometimes we’re down.

Nevertheless, . intentionally improving our daily capacity for such experiencing and expressing of Flow is the work, indeed the purpose of a lifetime! As we do so, we are directly increasing our capacity for love and happiness. So we engage the purpose of a lifetime every moment!


Why the terms Flow and Prosperity? 

Both Flow and Prosperity are sometimes, though not always,  capitalized in the New Buddhist Methodist Church and Art Studio in order to point to That Life Presence which is behind, beyond and prior to words. In various traditions this same Presence, this sane Flow of Prosperity is referred to as God, or Jehovah, Abba, Allah, Amma, Nityananda, Brahma, Sat Chit Ananda, the Buddha Mind, Ram, Da, Tao, and the list goes on and on.

In scientific terms the Flow of Prosperity is often referred to as the Zero Point, or First Cause, or the Primal Field of Potential.  I simply prefer to name the Nameless One: the Flow of Prosperity.

The term “prosperity” seems to me quite attractive, and also one of the most relaxed, more inclusive of all the terms, and thus one of the most appropriate terms for our prosperity seeking globalized modern times.The simple fact that there are so many terms for the Flow of Prosperity–so many names for God, or Truth — each of which serves so many different people, yet all the terms pointing to the same Term-Free Presence —  that so many terms exist is itself a delightful momentary expression of the Flow of Prosperity.. (Obviously, the reader is encouraged  to use whatever term for the Mystery he or she finds fits. For me, when talking about the purpose of life, the “flow of prosperity” fits quite nicely.)

The purpose of life is to intentionally experience and express the Flow of Prosperity in ever deeper, ever more artful ways, in whatever way the moment inspires or requires. In the same way that there are countless terms pointing to the background Mystery,  so too, obviously, countless ways exist to express the purpose of life. I have found that the above expression of the purpose of life is, a quite simple, useful and inclusive expression for our time.



As the reader will undoubtedly observe in his or her own mental and emotional response to my simple suggestion about “life’s purpose,” a deep resistance rises up in the contemporary collective human psyche when someone is so bold as to suggest that there even is something like  “ the purpose of life.” What has been called “the transmission of doubt” is the underlying mood or current of the Western intellectual tradition, and most particularly in our contemporary culture, although the “transmission of doubt” has roots going back to the Reformation and the Renaissance of the 15th and 16th centuries. Indeed, in our culture to even suggest that there is a purpose to life is a suggestion running contrary to contemporary social discourse. That this purpose can be summarized so neatly, so simply (“to intentionally experience and express the flow of prosperity“) automatically elicits doubts, rebuttals and charges of naivete, dogmatism, and pending fanaticism, (Let’s talk about the football game instead, okay? That’s much safer ground!)

Recognizing such resistance, we in the New Buddhist Methodist church encourage personal application of the scientific method to the stated purpose of life. The reader is invited, encouraged, to view this “purpose of life” not as a tenet of some kooky church but rather as a proposed hypothesis that can be repeatedly tested under various conditions and circumstances to determine its veracity. If, through direct personal experimentation, this hypothesis proves true– that, by gum, the purpose of life really is to simply experience and express the flow of prosperity in ever deeper and ever more artful ways– the evidence for such truth would be, will be, ever-more artful, ever-deeper, richer, more flowing and peaceful moments of life, e.g., more prosperity, on many levels. Good reason to take on the experiment, yes?

Such experimenting and testing must, of course, take place in one’s own personal, moment by moment daily life. (The easiest experiment is to simply  “remember” the purpose of life in any given moment and test its usefulness  as a guide for action or inaction, expression or no expression. More of this will be available later.)

From my own experiments with this “purpose of life” business I first quickly recognized that my deeply acculturated sense of a separate self–my personality with its histories and hoped for futures, its own assumed responsibilities ,and attractions and aversions–quite often over-shadows, or neglects or ignores– the simple flow of Prosperity. Curiously, I recognize that I am often too busy trying to get prosperous, or make prosperity,  to recognize and experience the simple flow of prosperity here now operating. Indeed, my separate-self personality is often caught up in some minor ambition for some form of prosperity (prosperity with a small “p”)–like building more bookshelves or billing more hours or vacuuming the living room rug. If I’m not busy trying to gain some little prosperity then I’m trying to avoid some kind of loss: checking my stocks or paying my bills on time or making my daily to-do list much longer than I’ll ever do today.

I know that none of these actions of the separate self– what we at the New Methodist Church sometimes refer to as the “personal prosperer“–are in themselves “wrong” or bad or without merit. However, when I forget my basic life’s purpose– or simply shove it aside for a while– my actions are most often surface actions,,without much depth or artistry, not much juice, true connection. The reason for this is because my actions– when I have forgotten my life’s purpose– are being performed, not with a deep appreciation of the moment’s richness, but rather with an intellectual and/or emotional attachment to some “end result” which may or may not come about in some future moment. But we never get to the future moment. We are always only and forever in this moment (in which prosperity is already flowing!). If we are going to fulfill our life’s purpose, we have to do it in this moment, right here, right now. We never get another opportunity. (I assume the reader right now, while reading this goofy little essay, experiences the flow of life’s Prosperity, if only a little bit. It can be as easy and as simple as  this!)

I’ve discovered that recognizing and/or remembering life’s purpose–to intentionally experience and express the flow of Prosperity in the moment in whatever way this moment allows– helps me to release my grip on “what will be” or “what has been” and simply do, and be, what this moment calls me to do and be.

And I’ve discovered that the expression, understanding and acceptance of this simple, over-arching life’s purpose (once again, to drive it home: to intentionally experience and express the flow of Prosperity) untangles and softens, puts into context my other unending myriad daily purposes–water the plants, call Evan, go to the store–which appear on my to-do list.  Without such a clear and (at least to me) reasonable life’s purpose clearly articulated in my head, I tend to get sucked down in the roaring and tumultuous waters of contemporary culture, going first this way and then that in response to momentary swirls and eddies. Knowing my life’s purpose, I recognize that my separate self– this conditioned prosperer– can relax a bit, stop hurrying,hurrying, hurrying, to the next small or large purpose. Knowing my life’s purpose, I’ve learned to more deeply, more artfully enjoy the simple chores of, for example, taking out the trash, or making dinner or talking to the neighbor about watering the lawn. For me, such evidence is quite powerful!

So, in summary,and one last time: the purpose of life is to intentionally experience and express the flow of prosperity, in ever deeper, ever more artful forms, in whatever way the moment inspires or requires.  

(I would, of course, love to hear how this little essay fits or doesn’t fit with your own understanding and experimenting with your own life’s purpose!)



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