Mar 3, 2014

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MEDITATION: On the purpose of life

MEDITATION: On the purpose of life

Gather the people to me, that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children so (Deuteronomy 4:10)

The other day while travelling I listened to an interesting programme on the radio. The listeners were asked to phone in and share their opinion on what they see as the purpose of life.

A stream of interesting and divergent responses followed.

One listener, a woman, had her own strange theory. For her the purpose of life is all about increasing our natural energy levels, or what she called: the vibrations of our life. Doing this will align us with the natural rhythm and flow of the universe.

It will also put us in touch with God.

Someone else remarked in a similar vein:” I am here to make sure that I shall one day get to heaven. Also to ensure that I take as many people as possible with me.”

Others disagreed with this take on the purpose of life. For them the challenges and richness of the earthly life is much more important. “We are here to fill the earth and subdue and enjoy it”, one remarked.

Still another one was of the opinion that the purpose of life is to provide for our daily needs. “We have to produce and eat and also feed the others. Without this, nothing can really happen.”

During the programme the need for proper education, that we should increase our knowledge and broaden our scope of life, was also mentioned.

While listening with growing interest to the variety of philosophies, views and proposals on the purpose of life, there was one contribution that especially touched me.

One listener proposed that we should care for the next generation – that through our words, deeds and actions we should erect and leave behind a monument which could serve as an inspiration for our children and grandchildren – reminding them of the struggles their ancestors had, but also showing them a way forward.

During the chaos and decline that resulted from the Second World War the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer made a similar suggestion. That we should care for life in such a way that a next generation can also live.

This indeed sounds  like a meaningful purpose for life – especially for us in South Africa today.

Carel Anthonissen

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