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Veronica Sun

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For what purpose we live?

How many routes really belong to us? How many scences were really symbolic of our lives? Sometimes I ask these to myself. When I have a dream, I think I live for the dream; when I fall in love with someone, in some degrees, I think I live for him. But the dream may disappear one day and the one I love will pass away one day. I image the day that I lose everything. All I have is just myself. Are we live for ourselves? Someone stand up again, but there are so many people give up. It's really hard to find out what the purpose is, especially for the people who don't have religious belief or something.
Maybe different people have different answers, so for what purpose you live and in your opinion for what purpose we human live?

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    Jul 18 2013: .
    .
    We live to keep our DNA alive.
    Otherwise, there is no humankind in the world.
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      Jul 19 2013: Keeping our DNA alive is really a great cause.
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        Jul 19 2013: This one makes me happy too! I don't think my DNA knows that it is alive. But I do.

        Every time I sneeze or scratch or go to the water closet (bathroom / lavatory / latrine / out house) I leave my DNA behind - everyone does every time. So now no one can say that I have not made a significant contribution to life. I had aspirations of doing something much more substantial with my life. But at least the basic contributions are there for me to continue with.
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    Jul 29 2013: The purpose of life is to enjoy life.
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      Jul 29 2013: I agree Frans.....as long as our enjoyment is not at the expense of others. I believe we can all contribute to enjoyment in our own life, as well as enjoyment for the whole:>)
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        Jul 29 2013: But Colleen, what enjoyment could there be as it doesn't include the wellbeing of all and everyone?
        The more all flourishes the better we feel unless someone is hurt and will need some healing first.
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          Jul 29 2013: Oh I agree Frans, and I understand what you were saying. Some folks, when presented with the idea that life is to enjoy, will immediately say that is selfish. I felt like clarifying:>)
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    Jul 19 2013: Everyone has her/his own purpose . Even same person may have different purposes at different stages / times of life to live for.
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    Jul 19 2013: Hi Veronica,

    you are here and so your purpose is already fulfilled. The details are up to you.

    I live for music. It is the one thing that can touch everybody and I am lucky enough to be able to play music and perform my songs.

    Peace, love and music.
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      Jul 19 2013: I love music, too. But I can't play it. I like listening it and it always makes me relaxed. It's really lucky for you to do things that you want to do.
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        Jul 19 2013: I didn't pick up a guitar until I was 18 and didn't form a band until I was 27. Up until then, I just listened and sang along too.

        It's never too late to start :)
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          Jul 20 2013: Wow, it's wonderful. I always appreciate the person who thinks he is ready, then he start something new. Can I find your songs in Internet?
  • Jul 19 2013: I don't know if this is my theory or if it exists already but I thought it on my own. I believe there is two innate traits in humans. The first is the desire to control. The second, that is meant to assist the first, is the desire to learn. You need to be able to learn the environment before you can control it. I believe we live to control. Whether its controlling your income so you can control luxuries life experiences, controlling where human growth might be in the future after you die, controlling the opinions of others (politics), or controlling the emotions of others (musicianshipartwork).
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      Jul 19 2013: But knowledge is infinite; and environment,future or something are too strong to control. In my opinion "control " is a word contian offensive.
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          Jul 19 2013: Well, maybe because I'm young, I pay more attention to the freedom. One day when I become a parent, I think I can understand it better.
        • Jul 19 2013: I feel my statement was misinterpreted. I mean control as in controlling your life. Taking control. And of course the world is too big to control. People create boundaries for themselves when they feel they lack control. defense mechanisms. For example: habitual actions. you're only controlling the things you have a very good understanding of. Feeling a lack of control and understanding of new things from the past has the mind create a habitual boundary to keep control. I'm not trying to be offensive saying things like control a human like a slave. Not at all. Its pretty much another word for living how you want to live and acting to your environment in ways that it will respond to how you desire.
    • Jul 19 2013: "Control" is a primary symptom of the psychotic personality.
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    Jul 18 2013: In this talk (something like "The Inventory of the Invisible"), the talker quotes a poet who says somthing like (sorry for lack of specificity haha), "Our purpose in life is to help others. What the others are here for, I have no idea!" The main purpose for life in any kingdom is to survive and reproduce. Now because we are more complex animals and have a pretty nice lifespan, our lives can extend beyond survival (which is fairly easy for us now) and reproduction. Now, I think our purpose is to help others just like the poet humorously stated. Helping other live and survive seems to be our new purpose. This could be just functioning member of society. Helping the day-by-day continue year after year. It depends on your skill set, but you could help people survive either by invention, donation, or being a volunteer for certain programs. There are many ways to help society and other people, but what really matters is an altruistic outlook and action upon that attitude.

    Hope that helped and thanks for the question!
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      Jul 19 2013: It's so kind of you to give me your answer. It reminds me of the speech topic in my univercity's speech contest: Giving is receiving-- personal growth in the volunteer work. Living in the world, we can't be selfish. Trying our best to help others is a good choice.
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    Jul 18 2013: I think the purpose of life differs for different people. But most of us are trying to be acknowledged in this world, to leave a mark, to contribute. But we cannot compare different people's purposes because we are all different and we have various values and standards.

    And I believe that the purpose changes too. It is not important to keep only one purpose for a whole life. As life goes on, our experience and interaction may shift the way we think, and our goals change accordingly. It is a fact that your personality can change in a 4 to 7-year period. Or maybe we have reached that purpose, now we move on to another one.
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    Aug 1 2013: Rather than give you my answer, which is found in many of the comments below, allow me to give you this thought. Life does have meaning and purpose. Perhaps the search for meaning is a part of the purpose. Perhaps you create and give meaning and purpose to your life. Perhaps God has a plan for your life that will give you meaning and purpose. Try this - tomorrow find a person in need. Do what you can to meet that need. You will find purpose.
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    Jul 29 2013: "To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget." - Arundhati Roy, The Cost of Living

    Best wishes, Veronica, thanks for your question! :)

    I would add one thing to the quote above - to try not to be forgotten while still not forgetting your own insignificance.
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      Jul 29 2013: Thank you for the answer, I like it.
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    Jul 29 2013: You won't find a purpose by searching for it, but by deciding on it.
    That said, there's room for many purposes in a life.
  • Jul 20 2013: You were endowed with 5 senses, indulge them, be a hedonist and live out life. I feel that even thinking about such things is a waste of the time in your life. I'm not saying you just do things without thinking, you should always weigh your options when making a decision and not be extremely spontaneous all the time, but when it comes to those existential philosophical questions that are extremely difficult to answer and are pretty much unanswerable because there are so many ways to go about it, just don't think about them, because you will never find a provable answer, and instead just enjoy the time while you have it. After all, you wouldn't want to spend all your vacation wondering what you want to do, right?
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      Jul 22 2013: But for someone, someone like me, we need a reason. Maybe someone like you think it's meaningless.
      I think we should have goals, even we can't meet the goals or we always change our goals, we still need it, to remind us of want we want to do or where we want to go. And these goals build the purpose. Maybe we can't give it a certian name, but we can feel it, it makes us keep going on.
      • Jul 23 2013: I used to be like you, but honestly, you'll never be able to find a reason, there is no hard evidence that you should be living a certain way, sure there are religions and philosophies but they base their beliefs on assumptions about what's right and wrong as well as on other things.
        Your goal should be to do whatever you want to do, to pursue whatever path you naturally want to in life, not to follow someone elses path because society has said that path is "good". I don't find life meaningless at all, I find life an opportunity to be happy, just because you aren't following something else doesn't mean your life is meaningless.
  • Jul 19 2013: Honestly, I haven't a clue what I live for.

    I'm an atheist, so its not religion.
    There's the evolutionary process and its 'purpose' I suppose, but that's more of a guideline which tells us why life develops the way it does (those which are not fit, are eliminated, and only the fit remain)--its a mechanism, not a reason. It simply tells me that those who don't follow the guideline don't make more young, and their model goes extinct.
    Pleasure and enjoyment are essentially evolution's way of guiding you down certain behavioral paths. Again, mechanisms, compelling as they are, but not reason. The same could be said for those who make it their purpose in life to seek beauty or love.

    I'm actually pretty convinced that there is no reason for life. Its all an accident of physical laws which created a certain situation--it is because it is, it doesn't need reason to be there any more than an inanimate object needs reason to exist. In fact, as far as I know, that inanimate object has no reason to exist either, its just there.

    A clear objective in life would have certainly made it simpler. Unfortunately, as far as I'm aware, one doesn't exist. So I do like the inanimate objects do. I'm here, and I don't need a reason (even if I would have liked one--I prefer having no reason to a false one).
  • Jul 19 2013: This is a very difficult question to answer as each person may have differing answers. I am content with accepting that some questions may never be answered. For me, a central goal in life is happiness and this largely depends on one's relationships with loved ones. But to those who have no one, I would say that my goal would be to live life as honorably as possible, to continually grow and learn and to objectively love oneself.
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    Jul 19 2013: Our biological purpose is the reproduction for the continuation of our species. If there is a higher purpose in that, I don't know and can only speculate about.

    Regarding my personal purpose, I am working on regaining, as those I once had vanished.

    Sometimes it isn't hard to find purpose, as it just happens and we directly know. Those moments are nice and vitalizing. :o)
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      Jul 19 2013: Yes, most of us are free-thinker.
      Well, I have some misunderstand on "Rajyog ", we don't have this word in Chinese.
      Language is really a difficult thing.
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      Jul 19 2013: Well, in Chine, we respect people who have religious belief, but most of us don't believe it.
  • Jul 19 2013: Humanity was created to be fruitful and to have dominion over nature. But such dominion has to be according to God's purpose for it to be benefitial to individuals and society as a whole.
    • Jul 19 2013: I believe this is very egotistical; to possibly believe that we are superior to Nature's plants and animals show a lack of realistic humility and puts yourself at the pinnacle of life.
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    Jul 19 2013: Is there any higher purpose than just survival?

    Mrityorma Amritam Gamya ( Sanskrit)
    From Mortality to Immortality(English translation)

    To live forever in heart and minds of people and become immortal.
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      Jul 19 2013: I agree, survival is the basic thing we should do. Human always pursue becoming immoral.
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          Jul 19 2013: Well, I'm not a native speaker...Talking wihout mother tongue is really a difficult thing. I'm sorry to make this mistake, but it can make you laugh makes me feel better.
          In my opinion, "Why we exist?" "What can prove the trace that we had once lived in this world?" People always ask these questions. Hundreds years ago, a great writer in my country named Su Shi, he wrote an article to share his opinion. And he wrote: The water seems flow away, but actually it’s still there. The moon sometimes is wane, but it’s never reduce. If you consider the changes, everything in the world aren’t remain same. But if you see things in case of constant, things like us are never, what can we envy about? In the world, everything has a owner, if something is not belong to us, don’t take them even a little. Only the wind on the river and the moon between the hills, you can hear the sound and see the colour. They are the treasure of the nature, no one can stop us, we can have them forever.(Well, putting the ancient Chinese prose into English is really a difficult work.)
          I agree with him.
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          Jul 20 2013: I'm very happy that you like Chinese and I'm glad to teach you our language. My major is English, as a freshman, we,ll I think l'm not really good at it. So maybe we can help with each other. My teacher always says: We should have an open mind.
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          Jul 20 2013: I agree with you, very simple sentence has there deep meaning.
          And the translation, well, I don't know the certain way, you can ask Google.
  • Jul 18 2013: This is a question many people have tried to answer. Here is a neat wiki that talks about some of the philosophies.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purpose_of_life

    I think we live to discover, to love, to propagate, and to learn. Along the journey, we learn how to survive, how to love, how to learn, and how to function in society. Some are high functioning, and learn these lessons well enough to help others, teach others, and find new ways to accomplish the tasks. Some are low functioning and barely are able to survive. When you can no longer survive, you die. Life is a choice and an on-going struggle. However it is filled with many wonderful, beautiful, and interesting things. It is also filled with many unpleasant, ugly, unfair and boring things.

    Every person is different and has an opinion about what is beautiful, and what is unpleasant; about what is interesting and what is mundane. Everyone needs to meet the struggle and successfully survive if they are going to win from life the opportunity to experience some of the wonderful things. This is a personal quest as well as something that needs to be done in groups of all size.

    Perhaps part of the purpose of life is to be driven to survive so you can experience some of the wonderful things in life. Perhaps part of the purpose of life is to help other people survive in life and share some of these wonderful things with you. Perhaps part of the purpose in life is to live a life that enables you to improve the quality of life for all people or creature that follow you in time.

    I think finding your personal purpose in life might involve finding the proper balance of some of these purposes with your abilities, lifespan, resources, and situation. Your purpose may change over time. In the beginning, it might be just to survive. In the middle, it might be to help your family survive. In the end it might be to help everyone survive, and find inner peace for your self.

    Nature is a good place to look for inner peace.
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      Jul 19 2013: Prosperity and decline, withering and blooming, love and hate, and even humility and pride-- our lives today are associated with all of these. Your opinion remind me of a Chinese proverb: 穷则独善其身,达则兼善天下。(the traslation is:The poor are spared, to benefit all the people in the world . But I think if you know Chinese you can get more from it)
      And nature is really a good place to look for inner peace, just as Wang Wei's ( a Chinese poet in Tang Dynasty) poem:
      On Drinking Wine
      I have built my cottage amongest the throng of men,
        
        And yet there is no noise of horse and of carrige.
        
        You ask me, how can it be? and I reply:
        
        When my heart is absent the place itself is absent;
        
        For I pick chrysanthemums under the eastern hedge,
        
        And far away to the south I can see the mountains,
        
        And the mountains mists are lovely at morning and evening,
        
        While birds keep flying across and back again.
        
        In all these things there lies a profound meaning.
        
        I was going to explain…but now I forget what it was.
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          Jul 19 2013: Ooops, I put the wrong writer here, the real writer is Taoyuan Ming. He wrote it after the age of 41( maybe, I've just googled the certain time but failed)
          Because he had been disappointed by the reality, he retired. After it, he buried himself away in the country.
          In some degrees, I think he was young when he wrote this poem. With a heart of loving the nature, we are always young.
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    Jul 18 2013: I don't think there is a general purpose...
    but that doesn't mean that I don't give meaning to my life
    and it doesn't mean I don't feel compelled to do things.

    I think it is useful to know what you think is important in your life (yourself, family, friends, humanity, life,... to name a few).

    my personal purpose (or my main purpose) is to understand this reality as good as possible before I die. This might be a post hoc explanation for my hunger for knowledge or my enormous curiosity...
    Another thing is that I think we should pass on a world that is better (at least not worse) than the one we found. (Thanks Baden Paul for putting that as a guideline in Scouts ;-) ).

    You will lose everything, as well as your memories... but while you are alive, creating good and happy memories are a nice thing. As well as good experiences - I don't want to sound melancholic-
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    Jul 18 2013: To draw breath is to live, to live is to be alive, one cannot continue here if one does not breathe. Breathe.
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    Jul 18 2013: Your question is asked here often. As you write, different people will let a different value or idea guide them in how they live their lives and in the goals they set for themselves.

    I recommend to you this TED talk about happiness, because I think Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman identifies some key issues that govern how people think about their lives both in the moment and in retrospect.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/daniel_kahneman_the_riddle_of_experience_vs_memory.html

    He and Martin Seligman, arguably the most influential scholars out of the many dozens who study happiness, both now believe that the concept of happiness is too broad to be useful. Many scholars are shifting their language more toward the idea of fulfillment, which connects, I think, to your question about purpose.