Meaning / Purpose / Happiness.

This Mark Twain quote was shared by a friend on facebook and led me to muse over it and the result is this post.

In Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search For Meaning, Frankl often quotes Nietzsche: “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.” The “why” is what he calls the meaning of one’s life, which according to Frankl is the patient’s will to strive, succeed, and to live.

Man can also find meaning by suffering. When one is faced with suffering, and there is nothing he can do to change his predicament, the only remaining option is for him to change his perspective, to change the way in which he views the situation. An example that Frankl gives is of a story of a grieving widower who had lost his wife. The man came to Frankl to ask for advice. Frankl asked the man, “What would have happened…if you had died first and your wife would have had to survive without you?” Through this question, the suffering the man was enduring gained a new purpose, he was mourning, but his wife would not have to mourn him.

This story of the widower helped me overcome my own grief of losing my wife and friend of 48 years, but understanding that the relationship was because I was happy in it and the grief was in losing that state of happiness, came about by my study of Vedanta about which I shall elaborate a little later.

I had posted a video post of the Dalai Lama and in commenting on it, Monk had given me a link to one of her old posts that is very interesting on the subject of finding meaning.  She had written it before I started visiting her blog and so was not aware of that post.  Having read it, I was inspired to include the link here for reference, as the subject matter is the same as that of this post.

My regular readers will remember that I am a student of Vedanta. For a Vedantin, ie one who is a follower of the Vedanta system of philosophy, the purpose of one’s life is to find Moksha (Liberation) which is to get released from the cycle of births and deaths. A student of the system, tries to achieve jivan mukti, which is to find the liberation in this life itself. What this implies is that he finds and abides in the happy himself during this life itself. So, the purpose of finding out why he was born is to recognise that he was born to become a jivan mukta.

If all that sounds very mumbo jumbo, simply stated, it is to reach that inner space which is naturally a happy state, but which has been overwritten by other impressions which need to be discarded. The process of discarding those impressions and abiding in the released state is the purpose of, at least, my life.

If you are interested in probing further about your own purpose / meaning, you can try the twenty minute formula that Cheerful Monk shares in her post a link to which I have given above.

8 thoughts on “Meaning / Purpose / Happiness.”

  1. Incidentally, this is my subject of keen interest, of late. Just touching the tip of the iceberg of inner non- dual personality..

    1. After a long gap after the departure of Swami Vivekananda, a star rose from your part of the world and from your community, to carry the message of Vedanta and Advaita to the world: Swami Chinmayananda. If it is your subject of keen interest, his set up flourishing in Mumbai should offer you a lot of information and assistance in advancing.

  2. I’m in a “gap” place – it’s not a bad place – as it’s giving me some time-out. It’s not that I don’t have a purpose, it’s just that a purpose has come to it’s end. Note at this point is “a” purpose although there is another “purpose” but it’s not quite the time to deal with it…

    I kind of have to get the next purpose completely underway – so that the secondary “purpose (actually person)” can be asked to go away… I know if I’m not precise in my being, I will feel sorry for said person and allow them to do something for me!

    1. I like the way you use “gap” place. In context, it is a nice place to be in as it offers one what Viktor Frankl calls the power to choose one’s response.

      ““Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Victor Frankl.

  3. Hi Rummy,

    Even though I am not a Vedanta student, I agree with its philosophy not only because it goes well with Kabbalah teachings but also because it is the Truth, no matter what some religious philosophies may say (I quote the City of Angels “Some things are true whether you believe them or not”). We are here to purge our souls, to learn something, to help others, etc, according to the purpose of our birth. Once we understand that purpose, we can indeed cope with almost anything, with any challenge that Heaven may throw at us.

    The ‘Why’ is intimately related to Purpose. Loved this post, thank you.


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