The goal of Life
Since the beginning of life people have always believed in a higher power. Whether it is God, moksha, karma, or jina every religion has a goal in life for its followers. Everyone is searching for the meaning of life, the greater picture, their destiny, but many people have no clue where to start. So, many seek out a religion. Religion helps people find their goal for life through a structured environment. When you examine each religion and it s goal for life it seems as if each religion has something different to say. In reality each religions goal is the same, the steps to reach the goal are just carried out differently. The common theme is that one should live a good life and eventually die and end up in a peaceful place.
Buddhism has a very structured idea of the goal of life. They have this because they believe life is in constant change and as humans we don t expect it and we settle. By settling one never can achieve the ultimate goal of life or Nirvana. Buddhist believes that people are in a constant state of Samsara. Samsara is rebirth. There is only one way to obtain release from samsara. First, one has to follow the four noble truths; to live is to suffer, desire is the cause of suffering, ending suffering can happen by ending desire, and ending suffering happens by following the eight fold path. The eight-fold path has three main goals; face life objectively, be nice, and cultivate inner peace. The eight fold path is right; understanding, intention, speech, action, work, effort, meditation, and contemplation. It is believed that by following these steps one can be free form samsara and have obtained Nirvana. The only problem is that Buddhist say reaching nirvana rarely happens.
Hinduism and Buddhism are very much alike. Hindu s believe there is Maya. Maya is something that keeps us from seeing the world as it really is. As humans we naturally assume the world is permanent, but in reality it is ever changing. Hindu s also believe in karma. Karma is what determines our rebirth. The ultimate goal of life for Hindu s is moksha. It is freedom. Freedom from rebirth. This can be achieved by devotion to a deity and finding something to do and doing it unselfishly. In Hinduism there are stages of life. By believing and following these stages of life it helps to reach the ultimate goal of life. There are four stages of life. Brahmacharin is the first stage, it is being a student. In this stage a religious foundation is created. This stage last between the ages of eight and twenty. A person studies religion and must be celibate. Grihashta is the second stage, this is being a householder. This is an arranged marriage around the age of twenty. The sole purpose of this stage is to focus on family and the children. Vanaprastha is the third stage, this is retiring. Someone is able to retire when grandchildren come along. When they retire they study religious works. Sannyasin is the fourth stage, this is renunciation. This stage can only happen after retirement. This stage is sometimes compared to being a hermit. There are four goals of life in Hinduism. The first is kama or pleasure. The second is Artha or economic security and power. The third is Dharma or fulfilling one s social and religious duty. These three goals can be achieved simultaneously. The fourth and highest goal is moksha or complete freedom. Christianity also has an ultimate goal for life. That goal is to live a good life, die, and have your soul go to heaven to be with God. There are many different types of Christianity. The Orthodox branch is centered on the doctrine of the trinity. The trinity is the father, son, and Holy Spirit. Roman Catholic is also a branch of Christianity. The pope is the head. Catholics believe salvation does not come from perfection of a person but through forgiveness. Catholics believe in the seven sacraments. These help obtain salvation. The seven sacraments are baptism, reconciliation, confirmation, marriage, holy orders, anointing of the sick, and the Eucharist. A priest administers these sacraments. Protestantism is also a branch of Christianity. It was founded by Martin Luther and his 95 theses. There is no hierarchy. Everything is based on faith. There is less of an emphasis on ritual; there is also more variety. In Protestantism each person has the ability to decide or interoperate the bible for him or herself. One thing that s unique about Christianity is that all you have to do to be free of sin is accept the Lord as your savior and ask for forgiveness. God has a guarantee. When you come to me admitting your mistakes, I, God, guarantee: loving affection, fast forgiveness, and a new start (Based on Luke 15:20-24 and I John 1:19). They also believe in predestination. That is that God has a plan all worked out for you before you are even born.
The most interesting take on the goal of life comes from the Talmud. The Talmud says there are 44 steps a person takes before reaching the ultimate goal of life. The Talmud says as a baby an angel erases everything we know and we spend the rest of our lives trying to remember what we knew. First, we come to be on earth. It does not say exactly where we come from, maybe nothingness, previous existence, and another realm. Maybe we are on earth because we want to be, or maybe it s karma and we have no choice. Second, we have tasks. We were put on this earth to perform certain specific things. We may have one task or many. Sometimes it s obvious, natural, and easy. Other times our task may be a long, unpleasant struggle. Each person s task is unique and everyone may not receive recognition. Third, we will have to work to survive. We will be born with the strong desire to survive. Fourth, we will have experiences. Each experience will be different and unique. Fifth, we will have a body, emotions, thought, and a soul. Every experience we have will be experienced physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Sixth, we will have challenges. Some experiences will be an incredible challenge that we will wish we never had. Each challenge is an opportunity to continue. Seventh, we will have to decide. Every experience has its advantages and disadvantages; by choosing we will learn to deal with the consequences of our decisions. Eight, we will grow. Every experience we have will trigger a change in who we are. Ninth, we will mature. We will experience stages in our lives; a single cell, infant, childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, maturity, super maturity, elder hood, and frailty. People generally don t know when one stage begins and one ends. They tend to merge. Once you complete a stage there is no turning back. Tenth, we will have guides. We will get help throughout our lives from parents, friends, teachers, and mentors. Eleventh, we will communicate. We will express ourselves through music, art, different languages, thoughts, and feelings. Twelve, we will gain skills. Thirteen, we will play. We will engage in games and competition at every stage in our lives. Some games will be fun and some extremely serious. Fourteen, we will learn how things work. We will study various subjects through school and life in general. Fifteen, we will do work. We will work for survival. Sixteen we will belong to at tribe. We will find people like us and experience a bond. Throughout our lives we may be in many different tribes. Seventeen, we will have God(s). Eighteen, we will celebrate. People will celebrate the special events in their lives. Nineteen, we will find friends. We will be drawn to people that share the same interest as us or those we feel strong connections to. Twenty, we will find mates. We will find someone that shares our same interest. Not only will they be our friends but our mates. Twenty-one, we will get wealth. Some wealth will be material, but other wealth may be emotional. Twenty-two, we will amass power. We will show power by what we have and how we conduct ourselves. Twenty-three, we will feel sensuality. Twenty-four, we will experience sex. Twenty-five, we will create a home. We will want to create our own space that expresses who we are. Twenty-six, we will express ourselves artistically. Twenty-seven, we will display what we have earned and achieved. Twenty-eight, we will accumulate wisdom. Twenty-nine, we will break the rules. We will test the limits and go against the mainstream at some point on our lives. Thirty, we will become parents. Thirty-one, we will teach. We will want to share what we ve learned with everyone, especially our children. Thirty-two, we will expel waste. We will need to get rid of things mentally, physically, and emotionally. Thirty-three, we will heal. Thirty-four, we will fail. Thirty-five, we will lose. Thirty-six, we will cry. Thirty-seven, we will love. Thirty-eight, we will accept others. Thirty-nine, we will change states of consciousness. Forty, we will open to new depths. Forty-one, we will write our experience. Forty-two, we will die. Forty-three, we will enter the next realm. Forty-four, we will be remembered.
My personal goal for life is similar to some religions, but also to the American Dream. I want to live a good life, be successful, die, go to heaven to be with God, and be remembered. I ve talked to other people and their goals have been pretty much the same.
By examining each religion one can come to the conclusion that the goals for life are all pretty much the same. Each religion says that a person should live a good life. Each religion has some kind of structured way to help achieve the goal for life. Whether it is the bible or the eight fold path. After you die or achieve the highest form. There is a place for an afterlife. Basically all religions have the same goal for life, just different ways to get there.