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The Japanese have a word for this – Ikigai.
Try as I might, I cannot find this particular type of Reason For Being at my present age of three score and fifteen. What possible reason can motivate me to get up in the morning to face another day? I often write about the impact that Viktor Frakl’s book Man’s Search For Meaning had on me some decades ago, and now struggle to find some meaning to his conclusion of the Western kind. He concludes “it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our question must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”
Truth be told, what gets me up in the morning is simply that I cannot sleep after 5.00 am no matter how late I go to sleep because of habit ingrained from boyhood when a martinet of a father insisted that we got up when the crows cawed which was inevitably well before sunrise and day break.
Subsequently, I got into the habit of meditating and yogabhyas in the mornings which continue to occupy my time in the mornings but, those two activities are not the reason for my being.
I look forward to reading the morning newspapers and solving the crossword puzzles in them. Is that the reason for my being? Once I finish those very likeable activities at around 12.00 noon, what will keep me going? The prospect of lunch, the siesta that inevitably follows, the session at the computer to catch up with mail, facebook posts etc?
I wonder what the Japanese will suggest as a word for someone like me!
Which wondering brings me to the Indian philosophical approach to the same situation. It is called Purushartha or The Object Of Human Pursuit. Please do spend some time on the Wikipedia exposition on this concept so that, you can follow my take on life’s purpose in my current stage of development.
The four components, Dharma, Artha, Kaama, Moksha can be compared to a bracelet of three beads with Dharma being the holding string that holds the three otehr beads together. In other words, a morally lived life of acquiring means to enjoy the pleasures of life which hopefully will take one to a stage of satiety and the last stage of seeking freedom from the very essence of life, wanting! Moksha is the ultimate goal for Indians which can be obtained by learning and understanding the highest philosophical ideas. This process is called Shravanam, mananam, nidhidhyasanam, or, learining, understanding and reflecting on the knowledge gained. Quite a bit of my time is taken on this activity and so my Ikigai may well be Moksha!
19 thoughts on “A Reason For Being.”
So what are my reasons for being? All sorts of things. To enjoy Jenny’s company, to find out what happens next (to my neighbours, to my friends, to the world and its goings-on), to enjoy blogging and Facebook, to enjoy delicious food and wine, to start or finish a good book. I don’t know what word would encompass all that.
“Vapid” is the word you are looking for.
offering nothing that is stimulating or challenging; bland.
“tuneful but vapid musical comedies” (example of usage)
synonyms: insipid, uninspired, colourless, uninteresting, feeble, flat, dead, dull, boring, tedious, tired, unexciting, uninspiring, unimaginative, lifeless, zestless, spiritless, sterile, anaemic, tame, bloodless, jejune, vacuous, bland, stale, trite, pallid, wishy-washy, watery, tasteless, milk-and-water, flavourless
Thank you for jumping into the breach, Ramana. Your list is rather more exhausting than my dictionary’s offering which simply states “lacking interest, intelligence or originality”. The latter (originality) to my mind the most important.
I expect more substance, more insight from a man Nick’s age. How can “reason for being” be that you enjoy someone’s company? Or waiting for the next piece of gossip?
Anyway, I am sure Nick won’t hold it against me sharing my view as he shares more than unfavourable ones about me on a third party blog; at every opportunity and, so it appears, with relish. Quotes on request.
That will do nicely!
Your Ikigai is most definitely Moksha, You have overcome ignorance and desires? I doubt that things you desire are anything but beneficial to you and others with whom you interact. I know very few people as accepting of their place in this world as you.
Thank you Shackman. I am on the journey and that is quite enjoyable in itself and moksha if I get it will be a bonus!
You just answered my question which I posted in this blog:
ekoshapu recently posted..Thought of The Day
Entirely my pleasure Ekoshapu. I went to your post and find that it was written long before I started to follow your blog.
I’ve long thought you have a book in you Ramana. Called “Conclusions”. You have thought long and hard on life and overcome obstacles that we have shared.
Naturally they would be your conclusions but shared with many to further enlightenment. It does not come easy as we well know.
Thank you WWW. I suspect and others have said this that just about every one has a book in him/her. It takes the kind of application and enthusiasm that you possess to get down to writing it. I simply don’t have those traits. On the other hand, many of my friends and relatives have been exposed to my stories in the oral tradition and I am content that they have been shared. I have also shared many of my stories about people and places in my blog posts and I am content.
On a mischievous note: Some wit, can’t remember this minute who, observed that: “Everyone has in book in them. And that’s where, in most cases, it should stay.”
Well said Ursula I can think of a few but I hope I’m not amongst them, then again 🙂
“A reason for being” is attributed to many different spheres of life – and the Japanese ideal has much bearing within the Blue Zones method of life. You can pretty much find it anywhere if you look and your own way of living fits in as well.
Now at the beginning of your post you talked about reasons you do certain things…which is great.
Let’s turn that on its head: what if you didn’t get up at all, you stayed prone on your bed, didn’t deal with your personal daily commitments or interacted with anything including food – you would soon be dead…and that is no “reason for being”
Catherine de Seton recently posted..Friday again —- what a week!
I most decidedly do not want to live the life of a Blue Zone resident. Not at my present stage of life any way. I am ready as it were, to simply disappear. And, no, the turning on its head suggestion does not appeal either. So, I shall simply plod along and quietly live one day at a time. That is reason enough I think.
I agree with Shackman that Moksha is your reason for being. Or so it appears to me, from what I’ve gleaned by following your blog. There are some aspects of Ikigai that beg for more discussion—especially the grey area (what the world needs). Imagine the condition of this sorry world if everyone put that ‘reason for being’ first and foremost!
Thank you. It indeed is. It however sounds esoteric to most people who are still deeply involved in the hurly burly of daily life. They usually think that I am just being facetious.
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