Purposeless on Purpose

There are a lot of things we “know” but don’t know.Sometimes,thoughts have to be framed just the right way to start making perfect sense and for us to experience that ‘Aha’ moment.A thought-provoking article from Brain Pickings helped crystallize a lot of my loosely framed thoughts.

Alan Watts, the British philosopher stated –

“Money is a way of measuring wealth but is not wealth in itself. A chest of gold coins or a fat wallet of bills is of no use whatsoever to a wrecked sailor alone on a raft. He needs real wealth, in the form of a fishing rod, a compass, an outboard motor with gas, and a female companion. But this ingrained and archaic confusion of  money with wealth is now the main reason we are not going ahead full tilt with the development of our technological genius for the production of more than adequate food, clothing, housing, and utilities for every person on earth.”

When we become willing slaves to the money-making machinery and devote every moment of our lives to the blinkered pursuit of money, every voice that detracts us sounds irritating.As we run our race, all we can think of is reaching the finish line. At times we are at a loss to remember why we started running in the first place or why we were still running and what would we do when we reached the finish line, if there was one. We shudder to lose that one goal that threatens to leave us rudderless in the world, without a sense of purpose.

“Wealth” as Watts defines,is anything which enables us to live a fuller life.Going strictly by that definition, the meaning of wealth could vary vastly for different individuals.However, it would be reasonable to assume that some things might more or less be broad enough to be considered as contributors to a fuller life ; for instance spending quality time with loved ones, bringing up a child to be responsible and a confident adult, savoring good food etc. Wealth could imply enriching one’s own personality in terms of creating works of art, beauty, literature etc and could also be inferred as enriching one’s life by supporting other lives.”Some” wealth could be enabled by money.

When we disassociate ourselves from a money-based evaluation system and wait for the haze to settle down, we find new roles which hitherto didn’t figure anywhere in the leaderboard. Many homemakers who have had to struggle with a sense of purposelessness or have had to ward off uncomfortable questions, suddenly find themselves well-placed in a wealth-based system. It all starts making perfect sense, when you view that each homemaker is creating wealth for the family by supporting other members in differing capacities and roles. Many people in their pursuits of art, literature, theater, academic research etc are creating wealth, though they sometimes might not be making too much money.

The importance of viewing money as just an enabler and not an end-goal marks an important step,in how we perceive others and evaluate our own self-worth.

Whether it’s creation of wealth or money, we are inclined to look at both as fulfilling a sense of purpose – the reason we were born and what we were meant to do. Some of us keep looking for that elusive purpose all our lives. Some of us get dispirited when it doesn’t turn up in an all-encompassing magnificent vision and tragically spiral downwards in an existential crisis.

Considering the bigger scheme of things, we are an infinitesimally minute part of the cosmos. Nothing we do today, is going to live after a 1000 years or 10000 years.For all we know, humans might have long vanished off the face of the earth. What is the purpose of life of an ant or a bee ? It lives and it dies. Was it’s living and dying purposeless. And would we as humans, be able to live with that sense of purposelessness or the apparent randomness of the whole thing. Wouldn’t life come to a grinding halt ? So we indulge ourselves by our prescribed sense of purpose, that which will enable us to live a fuller life.

Now let’s change that logic to see things in a radically opposite manner.What if, right from the day we were born, to the day we die, we have fulfilled all our purposes. All that was ever destined for us. No life was,is or will , ever be purposeless. No bee or ant died a purposeless life.Every life is meaningful and is being lived the way it was always meant to be. So when one’s life is over, one should always be able to look back at it,as having done exactly what one was supposed to do, fulfilled everything that one had been born for. Does that mean that we don’t look for and try to pursue things that makes us happy or increase our self-worth or our wealth. Of course not, because that too is a part of living but that doesn’t change the intrinsic value or the bigger purpose of our life.

So, either our lives are completely purposeless or each and every one of our lives has a very deep sense of purpose. Whichever way we choose to look at it, we are all, definitely, in the same boat and if there’s really a race, we are either all winning or all losing. I would prefer to think we are all winning  🙂