Farrukh Yakubov

Student, Purdue University

This conversation is closed.

How would you describe the purpose of life in one sentence?

What is the purpose of life? This is kind of a question where there is no exact answer, and it differers from one person to another. What is the purpose of life in your own understanding, from your own point of view? The answer might be a complicated and long, or concise and short. But how would you state it in one single sentence?

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    Feb 25 2011: I find it interesting how you have started and open ended conversation on a question about the purpose of life.

    We may all sit here and deliberate until we find that our lives have passed!

    Less thinking about the purpose and more living. That is the purpose of life ;) (or maybe it isn't :P)
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      Feb 25 2011: You bring up an interesting theory Sei Shibahara, which is reinforced with a quote by Ernest Holmes in "Science of Mind".
      "One of the great difficulties in the new order of thought is that we are likely to indulge in too much theory and too little practice". Perhaps we are seeking the balance with pondering, knowing and "being"?
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        Feb 28 2011: Nice quote Colleen. Thank you.

        I think people should try to seek, and strive for, a balance in most things. If we do not have balance, there will always be something we are neglecting - the 'other thing' to which our attention is not focused on. In this case: missing out on living life by thinking too much about it. I quite like thinking a lot myself, but I try to find a balance.
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    Feb 25 2011: An inspired man in the great era of about 600 B.C. already answered that question. he said:

    "Men are that they might have Joy."

    Certainly there are other purposes for this specific existence (earth life) but I think a fulfillment of joy is at the core of our reason for existing.
    • Feb 25 2011: I'm glad you brought this up.

      Having fun is the only reason anyone 'stays alive' really.
      Even in the most difficult times, people don't quit, and it's because at some point in their lives they experienced some form of 'joy' and THAT is what they either know will come or hope for, so it's subconsciously what keeps them going. If there was no idea of 'joy' to live for, they wouldn't.

      This could be simply my opinion so I won't elaborate, but of the lives I've tried to lift, this has always been the deepest reachable understanding. It seems to be what makes us 'human' more than give credit for.
      Though I'd credit a balance of practicality and empathy to answering the questions 'Who am I and how do I be me/be happy with me?' and 'How do I be happy?' more than anything. :)
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        Feb 28 2011: good point. and I think we both believe that as people grow (grow up, and mature and grow spiritually) they find "joy" in different things.

        as children they find joy in childish things - selfish things - and as adults hopefully they put away those childish things and thereby naturally find joy in lasting things such as joy in a happy spouse and joy in growing children.

        yes people exist to have joy, and as you said that joy is a powerful motivating force but true joy is achieved by looking outside one's self - almost pretending one's self doesn't exist. ironic isn't it?
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          Mar 1 2011: very ironic but also very truth
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    Feb 25 2011: I"m going to go with complicated and long. :)

    The purpose of an individual life is to be in service of and a part of the totality of Life which crawls through Time like a vine driven by a purpose which is beyond human cognition, but ultimately is aligned, more than not, with what we call the good, true and beautiful.

    Or maybe Life is just a simulation game with no purpose other than to be entertaining.

    Good question.
    • Feb 25 2011: Steve, I love your (first, ;-) ) answer and the wonderful imagery it brings to mind.

      Thanks!

      b.
    • Feb 25 2011: I would go with your second one:

      The purpose of life is to experience as much as possible : good, bad, hot, cold, exciting, boring without discrimination, judgement or attachment.
      Really like a long day at the theme park from which we hopefully wake up on the other side richer for it
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    Feb 22 2011: 42
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    Feb 25 2011: I believe the purpose of life is to bring purpose to life.
  • Feb 22 2011: Happiness. Sorry, only had one word.
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    Feb 21 2011: There is no inherent purpose to life that we know of, so it would be up to the individual to find direction and then to choose.
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    Feb 27 2011: The purpose of life is to experience. Is too...well, live it! Is to experience each momment wether is good or bad and learn from it.
  • Feb 27 2011: To enjoy what you have and like who you are.
  • Feb 27 2011: Dream big, try hard, fail... or don't, but try to enjoy the ride.
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    Feb 26 2011: To find out your purpose and to pursue it, to be whole, you, happy and love.
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    Feb 26 2011: To make a difference.
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    Feb 26 2011: The purpose of life as I see it is to grow, to learn, to experience, to share, to dream, to love, to have fun, put whatever energy you can into the greater human machine, and hope for the best.
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    Feb 26 2011: To become the best person possible
  • Feb 26 2011: Oh c'mon, we're supposed to be scientists here, thinkers! I love the 42 responses. But you have to understand that when you ask a question, you always presuppose a good deal in the asking of it. The list goes on and on, but the greatest, most precocious thing you supposed here, was that there is a purpose to life in the first place! This is a remnant of Christianity, this idea that life must necessarily have a purpose, a telos, to make it enjoyable. Perhaps a better question would be: "How should we live?" or better, "what way of life brings the greatest fulfillment/happiness?"
    Then, we'd be getting somewhere.

    Remember, "we're here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you any different." - Kurt Vonnegut
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      Feb 26 2011: First of all, Thank you for your comment.
      When it comes to understanding, I do understand what my question asks and what is it for. Moreover, I did not presuppose that there is some kind of a right or wrong answer. Therefore, every answer is correct, even if it says there is no purpose at all. And I have to remind you that, this is not a religious question.
      If you think you have a better or more meaningful question which will get everyone somewhere, why don't you just ask them from everyone instead of stating them as better than some questions, and telling that some question is not useful and getting nowhere.
      Of course your mind is yours and I'm not trying to criticize what you think. But I have to tell you, as a scientist or a thinker if you want me to be so, that there is no way that you can read my mind and tell what I was supposing and what I was thinking when I asked this question, and why I asked this question.
      I'm glad that you have decided to take part in this conversation.
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    Feb 25 2011: Life. That's one word even!
  • Feb 25 2011: The purpose of life is to evolve to your highest human potential - consciously, emotionally and with maturity - thereby expressing love and wisdom into the world.
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    Feb 25 2011: Question everything.
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    Feb 25 2011: it's 42.
  • Feb 25 2011: That Man may know joy!
  • Feb 25 2011: The purpose of life is to insure the success of future generations (on or off of this planet) for an infinite period of time.
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    Feb 19 2011: Live and let live
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    Jun 26 2011: The purpose of life is to serve life..the life of all living things..those with us on this earth now..thpse who will inherit from us.
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    May 2 2011: to serve with no boundaries, no bargains, no pre conditions..just to serve
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    Apr 19 2011: Life offers some simple and wonderful opportunities, among them being to find inner strength, to enjoy inner peace, to achieve compassion and to share these gifts with others....anytime anyone feels or thinks a need for a purpose, these are several very good ones....but we can also just enjoy them and share them from the heart from the simple pleasure of 'being' without actually any need of purpose per se...the idea of purpose can actually cause suffering and have a tendency to create dogma built around some idea of the purpose of life.
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    Mar 4 2011: I would like to say there is no purpose...........
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    Feb 27 2011: Purpose of life -- to create God. Think about it. :-)
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      Feb 27 2011: singularitarianism?
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        Feb 27 2011: Not necessarily... (Could be a new God)
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        Feb 27 2011: My mistake -- singularitarianism seems to be the belief in the singularity where something "beyond" human is created. However, this does not seem to be the creation of a new God (ie. one above all with powers of omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence).
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          Mar 5 2011: I don't understood the debate behind the existence of a god which is "omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence". If we define god as such, isn't god just another word for "everything"?
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      Mar 1 2011: you and no person can't create God
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        Mar 4 2011: u just take the first part. the second one is "think about it"!!
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    Feb 27 2011: Find your own (or possibly 42)
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    Feb 27 2011: Life is dance. Purpose is the dance people dance. People are confused because we think everything must dance the way we dance... but when you go to dance, what is the purpose of that?
  • Feb 27 2011: To improve the human condition
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    Feb 26 2011: I have found that the purpose of my life is to seek and understand joy.

    (I'm not a hedonist. i find that joy in the dismantling of social wrongs, and the advocating the spread of knowledge.)
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    Feb 26 2011: There is no purpose...Life just is.
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    Feb 26 2011: I'd say it's to choose a purpose in life. For one's life to be meaningful one must take full responsibility for it - including deciding on what direction to go.
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    Feb 26 2011: Learning.
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    Feb 26 2011: The purpose of life is to share who you are with as many people as possible and to meet as many people as possible,

    so you may know for certain what there is in life that will make you happy.
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    Feb 26 2011: The purpose of life is searching and not finding
  • Feb 26 2011: The purpose of life of the sentient is to invent, develop and socialize meaning.
    Meaning is a cultural artifact. It is what the sentient bring to reality. It is subjective, relative and ever-changing. One meaning contradicts another. The dynamic of interacting meaning is the purpose of life. Without meaning life is meaningless.
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    Feb 26 2011: "I placed a jar in Tennessee,
    And round it was, upon a hill.
    It made the slovenly wilderness
    Surround that hill.

    The wilderness rose up to it,
    And sprawled around, no longer wild."

    -Wallace Stevens

    Did the jar actually tame the wilderness or did it just create a virtual reference point for a structure? Is "purpose" any different from Steven's Jar?
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    Feb 26 2011: One sentence? The purpose of life is to love.
  • Feb 26 2011: The purpose of life is to love.
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    Feb 26 2011: Continued from my previous comment.........

    To reach super-awareness, one needs the ability to objectify the very life itself and observe it from outside. Saying life I mean to life as form, as quality, as process, as what really differs it from the inanimate world. This is not merely an intellectual ability, although one can begin this inquiry with intellectual probing.

    To demonstrate what this could mean, the following example might be helpful.

    Suppose one asks: What is the purpose of dreaming ?? I think all would agree that it’s impossible to answer this question within any dream itself. Because inside a dream, the very level of the dreamer’s awareness and his ongoing experience in the dream are completely unsuitable even to be asked such a question, let alone to answer it. Only when the dreamer exits his dream, wakes up, objectifies it and observes the memory of it from outside, he might find an answer to the purpose of his specific dream or to the purpose of the entire phenomena of dreaming, if any at all.
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      Feb 26 2011: There are people who can control their dream within a dream in real sense, therefore they can ask questions and get answers if they wan to. I would never say that something is impossible in a dream. :)
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        Feb 27 2011: I too have heard something like this. But actually, it is said that they are not really dreaming.... I don't know how to say it precisely in English... it is what is called "Guided withdrawl into yourself", something like that. They are not really sleeping.

        But If you mean to some rare mystics who can do it as you say, then they have actually gained the unique capacity of the super-awareness as I described.
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    Feb 26 2011: I, for one, am looking forward to an excellent lunch.
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    Feb 26 2011: In a nutshell I can distill down into three organizing values which have given meaning to my adult life. They are: 1) I am my brothers keeper 2) I must leave the world a better place than I found it and 3) if I see a problem I should try to fix it.
  • Feb 26 2011: I agree with Mackenzie Lee. But also i might add that life is what you make it about, it's subjective not objective.( That is if you want to live for a central goal or reason.)
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    Feb 25 2011: That's an easy question: ;-)
    The purpose of life is to make the best out of it.
  • Feb 25 2011: Goethe said that (and this is a translation from the German) "to strive is the highest aim of mankind". [Streben ist des Menchens hoechste Ziel.' (Rather than reaching any goal.)

    Also, how about this aim: 'an end to suffering'.
  • Feb 25 2011: It is to become increasingly aware. The learning process for this often includes making mistakes, being confused, and suffering, in order to progress in enlightenment.
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    Feb 25 2011: The purpose of life is to keep searching for a purpose and stay open regardless of what you have found so far.
  • Feb 25 2011: life is jst makin things better ..
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    Feb 25 2011: Be all that I can be while contributing to the whole.
  • Feb 25 2011: oly thing s love....if we love al ..we can lead our life in success
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    Feb 25 2011: 'Specifics' are infinite. But from a broad perspective, the purpose of life 'is' to search your purpose of life.

    My idea might sound vague, but if you think about it, from the day that we are born, we are looking for a purpose to live. Even when we grow old, we are still looking for a purpose to live on.
    I think that's how it's supposed to be. Because if purpose of life were specific, then the moment we achieve it, LIFE would no longer be.

    And of course it is along the journey where we get to do the sightseeing i.e. all the experiences we have in life.
  • Feb 25 2011: Farrukh, I'm enjoying the responses to your question. Each answer gives me cause for reflection and enriches my own perspective on this important timeless question. Well done :-)

    If I were to take your question literally, I'd probably respond objectively with what I observe: Once I factor out subjectivity and inconsistencies among answers, what's left for me is a single empirical fact that separates life from non-life: To grow... In every sense of that word.

    However I assume that you're open to a broader, more subjective, interpretation of your question which leads me to speculate that perhaps the purpose of life might ultimately be to use our best capabilities to define for ourselves our own answer to that very question, and then to try our best to live with our answer recognizing, of course, that as we continue this journey, that our own answer will continue to evolve.

    I love James Taylor's answer: 'The Secret to Life is Enjoying the Passage of Time', and for the longest time my own response to this question was to 'Live, Love, Laugh, and Learn' (a phrase which I had engraved and still carry around).

    For awhile, Robert Heinlein's fictional character Lazarus Long inspired me with his quote that 'a human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet...Specialization is for insects'. This led me to the conclusion that the Leonardo da Vinci Renaissance Man approach to ultimate adaptability best reflected the purpose of our/my journey through life.

    My current life compass, and personal one sentence contribution to your query?

    The purpose of (my) life in one sentence is to 'Live life to the fullest, and to help others to do the same'

    Cheers

    b.
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    Feb 25 2011: The purpose of life is for spiritual growth.
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      Feb 25 2011: I'm curious as to how you define spiritual growth.
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        Feb 26 2011: Spiritual growth is to step out of self centeredness and become aware of the innate value of all people. I don't know what Erin Harvey means by it but very interested in her answer. Life is meant to be lived, not understood.
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          Feb 27 2011: "Life is meant to be lived, not understood." Can't a person aspire to understand while living?
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          Feb 28 2011: thanks, I believe thats a fine definition of spiritual growth. and looking beyond one's self is what spiritual people throughout all time have found is needed for true happiness.

          and I believe life is meant to be lived, and meant to be understood through hard work, and I don't see a direct connection between the two.
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          Mar 1 2011: you can't live your life without understand it ( at least just a bit) .....the knowledge gives us value ....................without knowledge we would be just anothers animals
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      Feb 25 2011: I second Jordan here and I also would like to know why spiritual growth should be the purpose of life.
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    Feb 25 2011: I feel the most accurate way of lucking at the purpose of life is to find your own personal freedom, finding a place where you may have pain and suffering but you learn to rise above the event.
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    Feb 25 2011: The purpose of life is to fully realise our potential as human beings and embrace that which we are best suited to; and in doing so, give something back to the world that made us.
  • Feb 25 2011: To live with purpose
  • Feb 25 2011: Be brief, be bright, be gone
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    Feb 25 2011: To live a meaningful life.
  • Feb 21 2011: Re-invent and Invent meanings which are shared with the aim of enhancing life of self, others, all.
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    Feb 19 2011: Give me life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness or give me death!
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    J J LEE

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    Feb 19 2011: Having and realizing one's own meaning of life.
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    May 2 2011: To get through it..
  • Apr 6 2011: The purpose of life is to find purpose. The meaning of life is to find meaning.

    All of these ideas we have are manifestations of their own definition. Auto-manifestation. Self-creation.
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    Mar 19 2011: Does anyone care to tackle my question as presented to Mr. Strobl. Do youunderstand infinity and how far do numbers go ?
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      Mar 24 2011: I think it is obvious to understand infinity. Infinity is a feature, which means if something has that feature it never ends.
      Numbers keep going forever, there is no end of them. In other words there is no last or first number.
      If you still want to find out "the number at infinity", here is it: [sum of i, for i = 1 to INFINITY]. 'INFINITY' is not a number where u stop, but means that you will never stop calculating. The same way you can count down to negative infinity. This is true due to very simple concept, for every number that exists there is a bigger number and a smaller number. The number of 'numbers' is infinite, but the total value of all numbers if finite and is 0.
      [sum of i, for i = 1 to INFINITY] + [sum of i, for i = -1 to NEGATIVE INFINITY] == 0
      Moreover, human mind might be limited, but anyways, if it can come up with anything it knows or does not know, that concept is within capacity of human mind. If something was out of capacity of human mind we would have no idea about it, even how it is called. It is true that there such things, but we have no idea what are they. But to understand concept of infinity, all that it takes is a little bit of logic.
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        Apr 6 2011: Farrukh...I missed your post until today. Your last paragraph says exactly what I meant to convey. You cannot get to the end of knowledge. In other words you cannot know infinity. It simply does not exist in your mind. Peace
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    Mar 18 2011: Strobl.....Do you think you can understand infinity with your finite mind ? Sure learn all you can but remember that you are limited !! How far do numbers go....Can you give me a number ?
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    Feb 27 2011: We are not the creator of life?
    How can we guess?
    if life has any creator, he/she should have had a purpose to make it.
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    Feb 26 2011: People around me are beautiful and happy and i try to keep them intact :-)
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    Feb 26 2011: I don't know whether the life has purpose or not but know what is my purpose in my life.every people have their own purposes in the life depend on their belief and attitude.it's a different question.
    if life has any creator, he/she should have had a purpose to make it.
  • Feb 26 2011: To enjoy the chaos that surrounds us and blow the froth off a fine ale
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    Feb 26 2011: OK, that’s a truly meaningful question, even if finally the answer would be that there’s no purpose at all.

    As it’s generally accepted, in the level of experience and understanding which most of us have, there’s no definite answer to this question.

    However, given the above point of difficulty, it might be interesting to begin the inquiry with something else which might be easier to grasp.

    By this, I mean to understanding the mechanism which might be required if one aims to figure out any reliable answer to your question.

    It should be noticed that your question arises, first of all, from self-awareness. I discussed about self-awareness few days ago in another conversation. I argued there that the self-awareness is what actually differs us from the animals. I think also most would agree that animals do not ask themselves what’s the purpose of life.

    The self-awareness gives rise to the “I” or “I”-ness. Let’s try to analyze briefly the sense of “I”-ness. Why the humans are able so easily to think or say “I”, while the animals cannot ?? When one thinks “I”, he/she actually objectifies himself very quickly & shortly and then observes from outside on this self objectification. This ability to objectify oneself and then looking on it, turns out to be a tremendous leap forward relatively to the rest living world, although we take this ability for granted and treat it trivially.

    All this implies that to ask your question, it needs to possess self-awareness.

    But my next argument is that to know the absolute answer to this question, self-awareness is not enough. Then what required is super-awareness, or as it is more commonly known as super-consciousness.

    Continued on my next comment……..
  • Feb 26 2011: To ask questions like this.

    (Loop, loop, loop, etc.)
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    Feb 26 2011: to be like noone else
  • Feb 26 2011: The purpose for life in general:To stay put by any means. Therefore to stay healthy by any means, and to feel good by any means. That is the recipe for growth and infinite fysical, biological and mental evolution. Untill the end of time. No questions asked, and no goal...
  • Feb 26 2011: E V O L V E!!!! One word is enough.
  • Feb 26 2011: To experientially (not intellectually) understand that this is illusion and to return to God, while undertaking a fearless and creative path. OK, that was my sentence. Now my question is: If there really is a God behind this mess, whatever you may call Him/Her/It, then don't you think a prime purpose for us here is to answer Farrukh's question for ourselves? We are the most creative, clever beings imaginable, so why do we seem so incapable of answering or even addressing the fundamental question of our existence? Have you ever thought that God is more clever than us, and we haven't even realized yet that we're supposed to try to figure this out, let alone actually do it? Just a thought...
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    Feb 26 2011: To be a physicist.
  • Feb 26 2011: Well, try my best to get money and spend them in the best way.
  • Feb 26 2011: Well I would agree with the first rule of the Way of the Peaceful Warrior: Life is a mystery, don't waste your time trying to figure it out.
    It's an excellent question though; I just simply feel that I would rather enjoy my life rather than trying to figure out why I am here or what my purpose is.
  • Feb 26 2011: i don't believe there is a purpose, nor do i think we should even bother to learn what that purpose is. Even if there does happen to be one, simply because life's too short and too varied of opinions to even attempt to think about a purpose to life itself.also because that would imply that there is some reason that we are here which i dont know if there is some higher being but as for myself i dont like to think about it too much because generally we all get to wrapped up in what happens after we die when we think about faith religion and higher beings and we forget to actually live life so as for a general purpose to life who really cares and as for a personal purpose to life me personally my purpose i don't really know nor do i car but i plan on enjoying the ride.

    ps-i know there are so many grammar and possibly spelling an punctuation mistakes but i hope people understand what im saying and are'nt too picky with grammar but honestly its like 1.30am and i really couldnt care less as i'm tired and i was never really any good in english class.
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    Feb 25 2011: The purpose of life is to give purpose to the universe.
  • Feb 25 2011: certainly acomplished !! = )
  • Feb 25 2011: someone told me 'it is to live', it's a bit obvious but honest. maybe its that simple?

    maybe what you do with your life is another question?
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    Feb 25 2011: Carrot
    Stick

    Choose one.
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    Feb 25 2011: Purpose to life.

    Honestly I don't think life has a purpose, in terms of the purely physical definiton of a living thing it's just a complex bag of molecules with very complicated interactions. Single celled organism don't exprience or at least there is no positive evidence that they experience purpose in their existence.

    But humans do experirnce purpose and it would be wrong to say human life doesn't have a purpose, but due to the nature of solipsism I believe purpose is experienced individually.
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  • Feb 25 2011: Purposeful
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      Feb 25 2011: Type of this question is a question as what is means. I just let people decide what kind of question is this, and let them interpret it in their own way.
      Each person has unique mind, therefore I do not expect answers of some specific kind or category.

      If you are curious about why I asked this question, there are two main purposes of this question.
      One of them is that while observing answers, I will get to know a little bit more about what kind of minds do we have in this world. Second one, and most important one is that, if people see this question and if they take a moment or even an instance of time to think about their purpose of life, it may change their life.

      No one has ever asked me this particular question. Therefore, I wanted to ask it from everyone.
  • Feb 21 2011: Life is the animating principle of the Universe, and personally it provides the vector for conscious experience and expression; it's purpose is self evident - creation and vitalization, also we derive understanding of life through it's absence, as death of the organism, is grounded in the loss of a layer of life.

    (Notwithstanding this the substances of the so-called dead organism's carcass undergo life-sustaining processes in decomposition.)
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    Feb 21 2011: We choose.
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    Feb 20 2011: I no longer live to survive, because that is trivial. I live to prosper.
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    Feb 19 2011: Propagate.
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    Feb 19 2011: Enriching Gene Pool and enjoying the incredible turmoil between the metaphysical existence and constituent biology.
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    Feb 19 2011: Inclusive fitness - increasing the number of genes like mine in future generations