(Minghui.org) What is the purpose of life? Different people have different answers. They might say making more money, becoming a high-ranking official, having a successful career, or living a good life. Some may have even pursue loftier goals, such as creating outstanding artwork to enrich society or to work hard toward advancing mankind’s happiness.
American psychologist Abraham Maslow developed a five-level pyramid-shaped hierarchy of needs, from the most basic physiological needs (food, water etc.) to safety needs (security, safety) to love and belonging needs, followed by esteem needs, and the highest-level self-actualization needs. People at different levels of needs will in turn have different goals in life.
Traditional Chinese culture looks at things from a different angle. “With a righteous mind, one can improve his character; once character is improved, harmony in the family will be achieved, which then leads to a well-governed state, which in turn will result in a peaceful society,” states Da Xue (Great Learning) in a Confucian classic Li Ji (Book of Rites).
As people work hard to meet their needs and reach their goals, they are bound to face an inevitable issue, that is, their own mortality. No matter how much they have in life, once they die, they cannot take their wealth or fame with them to their grave.
Duke Jing of Qi was a major power during the Spring and Autumn period of Chinese history. One day he suddenly cried of sadness and his ministers asked why.
“Look, I have everything I wanted, but my life is limited,” he explained, “All these will be gone after my death, so I am so sad.”
The ministers agreed with him and they cried together.
Yan Ying, an adviser of Duke Jing, laughed. “If a person does not die, all you have would have belonged to your father,” he said, “so death is part of life and we do not need to worry too much about it.” Duke Jing was relieved and stopped crying.
This story tells us that fame and fortune that we have are transient. Even with today’s modern technology, there is no guarantee of eternity of life.
Does this mean that mankind will never have hope for eternity of life?
Across different cultures throughout history, there were legends and fairy tales that one could become immortal through cultivation practice. In other words, the real purpose of life is to return to one’s heavenly abodes through self-cultivation. In Journey to the West, Monkey King left his Mount Huaguo to seek a path to return to his origin. Shakyamuni gave up being a prince and started to cultivate Buddhahood. There are many more stories like these.
How do we return to our origin in modern society? Finding the way back is not easy.
I once explored Buddhism, Taoism, and other religions. While they all helped me rid the atheism instilled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), I was still lost in my pursuit of the way back to my origin. As I understood it, Buddhism asked one to forsake all desires and enter a state of “emptiness” to reach the “other shore” through nirvana. I tried, but it still left me with many unanswered questions.
Similarly, Taoism talked about “nothingness,” a way for an earthly person to transcend towards the divinity. But it did not happen for me. I also tried believing in the Lord and was willing to turn the other cheek if someone slaps me in one cheek, but I did not enter the kingdom of heaven. Meanwhile, in my mind I could not understand it: why do I have to be bullied to get to the kingdom of heaven?
It was not until I read Zhuan Falun that all my questions were answered. In addition, I learned many things that I did not know. Finally, I was able to follow the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance in my daily life. Everything is now much more clear and every incident encountered is an opportunity for me to look within for areas that I could do better...
I am grateful to Falun Dafa for enabling me to understand the purpose of life and showing me a way back to my heavenly home. I also recommend it to you, my friend.