Buddhism and the quest for meaning and purpose

In my experience and understanding, such questions as ‘Why are we here?’ ‘What my ultimate purpose in life?” can’t be answered definitively.

I don’t need the consoling beliefs offered up by other religions like theism. Such views are always metaphysical (Place your faith in God).

I looked into metaphysics and concluded it’s a waste of time. Such quests always descend into chasing our tails, fruitless debates on semantics or questions like ‘what does truth mean, or meaning even mean?’

Our desire for finality, what I call the ‘Last word mentality’, points out how desperate we are to feel safe and secure. It’s as if we have this to-do list of questions to answer, once ticked of we can feel confident and secure enough to live life.

I looked into philosophy to find a solution, a fix to my suffering. I realised I didn’t need to find the answers (There is no secret ingredient). Uncertainty and mystery don’t stop you from living a happy and rewarding life.

I also find it in my art practice, as I ask myself what’s my Artistic Voice. Or who I am as a person, my true self. that way, I can be authentic and not phony.

Our emotions, our desperation, colour the quest for answers. We attach ourselves to clarity, certainty, like clinging to a cliff face. Too afraid to let go.

People don’t notice how much their biases and neediness govern their quest for truth.

Buddhism points out our intellectual thinking mind can’t find answers. Buddhism is lived no believed. Life is all in flux; there’s no bedrock upon which to build. 

Some philosophies like Buddhism, Stoicism, Existential are more practical, more focused on living in a changing reality. It’sIt’s to say they’re more intimate with the reality they face. It’sIt’s less philosophical truth and more of an attitude, a stance towards life.

In a changing reality, there’s nothing to hold onto. A life of meaning and purpose arises in the day to day living of life—the work, the play, nature, connections, people.

I find it bizarre that some people can only accept meaning and purpose if it’s permanent and unchanging.

Does a sunset mean less, us uglier because it doesn’t last?

In the quest for happiness, we can get too far too head driven; we search for and expect ‘intellectual nuggets of certainty and truth‘. Or hold to beliefs they exist which make us feel better about ourselves and life. Buddhism is there to try and drag us out of the intellectual pursuit of certainty and teach us such surety isn’t possible in a world that changes.

My attempt to find answers and failing is when I understood Buddhism better. It’sIt’s not about answers, but instead, not being so needy for them. 

Such a truth that there is no ultimate truth made me less head driven and more focused on living. It’s a perpetual engagement with the mystery of life without clinging to it, like a surfer on a wave.

Buddhism and life are participatory sports; the answers come through practice. Experience teaches us more than theory. Being connected to the life you lead, the reality you face.

This type of engagement doesn’t ask what life means to others but what I mean to ourselves. I find it odd that people would spend so much time asking others what life means instead of seeking the answer for themselves. Like asking someone what they think of a painting instead of seeking to discover their position.

It situating ourselves in the world, not trying so hard to find an objective, ”view from nowhere’ place.

To find meaning and purpose, we need to go into the world and find it there. To create and laugh, suffer, and fail because it’s all part of the dance.

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