What is the purpose of life? Why was I born? What difference would it make to the rest of the universe if I was not born or the humanity was not there or if there was no evolution? What difference would it make to anyone if planet earth was not there? Why are we here?
These are the questions I asked myself as a primary school student. Clueless parents and wise elderly people gave me kind answers, usually leading to the dead end of God or scientific explanations going into technicalities of life rather than purpose of life. Naturally I was never convinced with the answers. Like everyone else I got busy with the business of life, which was much easier than finding the purpose of life.
But then the question kept resurfacing. As an adult I continued asking these questions to wise people, including those educated in sciences. I read scriptures. None of the answers they attempted convinced me.
Life scientists are busy understanding how life operates, rather than why life exists. They have worked on tracing the antecedents of the contemporary human form and perhaps the circumstances of the first organism. But they have left the question ‘why life exists’ to philosophers, prophets, religions and charlatans.
After years of questioning I chanced upon an honest speculation about creation and life. It is from the Upanishads. They say, “It is just the nature of brahman to create”.
Brahman is the conceptual sole universal creative source that is unmanifest, formless and timeless; which expresses itself in manifest forms that repeatedly go through the time bound processes of creation and destruction. Brahman is the whole constant while its expressions are variable, fractional and boundless in variety and complexity. Brahman was always there and it will always remain, while its manifestations come and go like seasonal crops or waves of the ocean.
Why does brahman create? It is just its nature to create. Since brahman is constant fullness, it has no needs or dependencies; it has no purpose in creating. Brahman is the whole and hence nothing could be added to it by birth or deducted from it by death.
As a rational proposition, this ancient Upanishadic articulation of the purpose of creation can hang amusingly unchallenged in a frame on the walls of a science research centre. It teasingly reminds scientists that they are engaging with hows and not whys.
PS: I am not undermining the utility of the answers to questions how. Hows tell us how things happen, therefore what we should do for a better life. Hows tell us what should be the objectives or targets or paths of life. It is like they tell us ‘buy that stock, you will make money’ or ‘exercise, you will be healthy’. And most of us are happy to spend all of our life-time on hows.