Saturday, May 12, 2007

“He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how” - Friedrich Nietzsche

Someone asked me why I think so much of such things concerning my belief. Why not? I myself was surprised to be asked such a question. Why wouldn’t we think of things that matter to our future, even if we might consider it beyond our knowledge? Should we go on living life as if we are just passing by? If that is so, then we are no different from a headless chicken running around without any direction, without any goal.

Isn’t it a dreadful idea to think that we do not have any purpose or meaning at all? Why, even those who don’t believe in God or a creator have sets of ideas, theories or philosophies, and what-have-yous. And to me, however one might put it, that in itself is also a belief.

Neurologist and Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, a holocaust survivor, attempted to find meaning in life while he was in a Nazi concentration camp. He developed the term logotheraphy or “will to meaning” which states some basic principles that life has a meaning, even the most miserable ones, that our motivation to live is to find a meaning in our life, and that we have freedom to find that meaning in whatever circumstances we are in.

“It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather Cover of Viktor Frankl's book Man's Search for Meaning.  Published by Washington Square Press.  Revised and released October 23, 1984.what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our answer 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.”
What then is the meaning of life? This has been one of the most frequently asked question, which developed different approach and variations. For Frankl, to have a meaning is to have a reason or an object to live. For some scientists, the meaning of life would be to find out where or how life originated. Philosophers and those concerned with ethics ask how we could make this life better, or what is the most virtuous way to live. Religion and spirituality is of course concerned with how we must live this life, and where we would be after this. Thus, I’m surprised at those who either ignore the question or doesn’t even ask it at all. This then leads me to the question of life after this. Or is there such a thing?

I used to memorize Epicurus’ philosophy that “death does not concern us, because as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it does come, we no longer exist.” I thought it was cool not to be concerned about what happens next. But deep within me is a mixture of wonder and curiosity, fear and doubt. I wondered what must it be to experience death? So I was curious how such an experience could be. But of course I wouldn’t know. Who on earth would know? I didn’t dare attempt to find out either because I was afraid that somehow, something is wrong or missing from Epicurus’ statement. And so I doubted my own doubt. Death does concern me after all.

Again, I’ll borrow from Epicurus’ words but take license to alter it. “Death does concern us, because while we exist, we won’t know when it comes. And when it does come, where are we?”

Think about it.

Going back to my original question, what then is the meaning of my life? What is my purpose? Rick Warren opens his best selling book “The Purpose Driven Life” with the question “What on Earth am I here for?” But the basic tenet of his book, if I may phrase it loosely, is a that God has a generic purpose for us all. That we are designed to worship God, to belong to God’s family of believers, to become like Christ, to serve God and to fulfill God’s mission for us. I do not attempt to disagree with Warren’s model. But not only am I concerned with the “generic” purpose God has designed all of us for, but I am also concerned with the “specific” purpose God has planned for me.

My story is not yet done.

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