This article is about the idea of purpose: Why am I here on Earth, and what should I be doing in order to “fulfill” or “perfect” my existence here?
This article is about how to understand our own situation in everyday life: What am I doing here? Am I engaged in the “wrong” activities, or am I doing all right? Is there anything I should be doing, that I do not currently do? And is there something I am doing, that I should not do?
In this article, as in so many other blog posts of mine, my “touchstone” here is the Abraham-Hick’s account of the all-pervading Law of Attraction. Their description of the universe and all things in it is, in my view, the most comprehensive and believable account of any school of thought, including Christian, Hindu, Muslim, and Buddhist schools of religious philosophy.
The important thing about this article is that it might really turn your life upside down, if you have a religious background and are accustomed to thinking about “purpose” in the way that many religions talk about it. For Abraham-Hicks’s perspective is radically different.
This blog post, of course, cannot “prove” anything conclusively: it cannot prove that Abraham-Hicks’ philosophical account is right (or wrong), or that any of the religions’ account is wrong (or right). The only thing it “proves” is that there is a radical difference in terms of how we might understand our situation in the world.
And it is up to the reader to make his own decision about what to do with his or hers life. But it is nevertheless my hope that these different views of the world and our place in it may be helpful for the reader, in highlighting the idea that we all really do have a choice, when it comes to how we plan to live our lives here on Mother Earth.
The Purpose-Driven Life
To illustrate some Christian ideas related to the idea of “meaning of life” and “purpose of life”, I decided to pull out my old book The Purpose-Driven Life: What On Earth Am I Here For? by Rick Warren.
According to the front cover, it was once “The #1 New York Times Bestseller,” and might therefore represent a view that was, and still perhaps is, palatable to many readers.
In fact, many of its philosophical points and general recommendations are also found in other religions. So I think it may serve well as a “religious representative” in this discussion of ideas.
A Christian View
The first sentence (which is also its own paragraph!) in Chapter 1 of this book sets the stage for this Christian philosophy (p. 17):
“It’s not about you.”
And because the first sentence is typeset in this way (i.e. dedicated to its own paragraph), the reader should most probably understand that this is meant to be an extremely important sentence.
Then, in the next paragraph we encounter the following sentence:
“The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness.”
So the idea here, in these first two sentences, is that your purpose of life has basically nothing to do with you, as an individual. This point is then accentuated even further by adding other things:
“It’s far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions.”
As if that wasn’t enough, the real meat comes here, finishing off the second paragraph:
“If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by his purpose and for his purpose.”
And then, on page 19, the idea of “purpose” is presented, as an opposite to “self-help”:
“The Bible says, ‘Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self.“
There are of course many, many other points in this book to talk about. But in order to keep this blog post of reasonable length, I will stop here, in terms of presenting the Christian idea. Now, let’s look at some of these points in more detail.
My Evaluation (1)
Personally, I think these quotes are fantastic, in a sense. I mean, one has to be a pretty bold writer in order to try to convince anyone else that the purpose of their lives is not about themselves, or their career, or their family, or any such thing. Instead, their purpose should be God, a person or personality whom no-one has seen.
Note here that when I say that no-one has seen God, I do not mean Jesus. Many modern people believe that Jesus is God. But both Jesus himself, and others, have, in the Greek Testament, addressed Jesus as the child of God (as opposed to being God himself). The word for child in old Greek is the noun huios (nominative, masculine, singular).
So for instance, in Matthew 8:29, Jesus is addressed as son of God: “…Jesus, son of (the) God”, (Gr. “…Iesou, huie tou theou”) (Iversen-Norman 1976, p. 24), where “huie” is the vocative form of the masculine noun huios.
And in Mark 14:62 Jesus answered “I am” (Gr. “ego eimi”) to the question “Are you…the son of the Blessed [God]?” (Gr. “su ei…ho huios tou eulogetou?”) (Iversen-Norman 1976, p. 153).
And it is also relevant here to point out that Jesus innumerable times is speaking about the Father, indicating that he himself (Jesus) is the son.
My Evaluation (2)
In any case, whether Jesus was the child of God, or not, the idea of Rick Warren in his The Purpose-Driven Life is that “self-sacrifice” is the way, as he quoted the Bible. But the question is, which Bible?
Well, it isn’t one of the usual editions of the Bible, for sure. According to the references in his book, it seems to originate from a translation called “The Message”, published in 1993 by Navpress, Colorado Springs.
So let us compare that “self-sacrifice” quote to a more standard edition, namely the authoritative King James Version. It’s Matthew 16:25, and the KJV version reads radically different than the Navpress version (Editors 1970, p. 27 NT):
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”
And the New Revised Standard Version also reads very different compared to the Navpress edition (Metzger 1991, p. 25 NT):
“For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”
The important thing here is that the KJV version is the version that is the most literal and closest translation to the original Greek when I compare them. And the Navpress edition is very different.
So for example, in the Navpress edition, the sentence “Self-help is no help at all” is just not there in the Greek. And the words “self-help” and “self-sacrifice” are also not present in the original Greek text. So the English in the Navpress edition seems be some very loose paraphrasing of the original Greek.
My Evaluation (3)
In any case, the philosophy of Rick Warren (even if it perhaps isn’t in the original Greek Testament words, in a strictly literal sense) is that we should sacrifice ourselves, instead of pursuing selfish goals.
So the overall idea is that we should abandon our own intuition and senses, and our own desires, and instead sacrifice ourselves, on the basis of an ancient text that was written two thousand years ago.
This idea is problematic for many people (including myself). For why is it that my purpose is not about my own personal life? Why should I listen to some ancient text message instead of to my own internal intuition and thoughts and desires?
So all in all, my personal view is that this sounds very uninviting. But I do understand that some people still are attracted to it (for, as I see it, we all have free will).
The Abraham-Hicks Version (1)
Now let’s talk about the other alternative, the alternative that Rick Warren dismissed on the very first few pages of his book: that we embrace self-help, and our own guiding senses.
According to Abraham-Hicks, the whole deal is to experience happiness. Our purpose coming here is to explore this world, and find new things to be excited and happy and joyful about.
Another way to phrase this would be to say that we are here to find more to appreciate and more to experience. And to search for new desires that we can manifest and enjoy.
This planet Earth is the Leading Edge, the further-most frontier of All-That-Is. This is the frontline, where enthusiastic and energetic souls are constantly incarnating in order to be part of this wonderful opportunity to create new desires and experiences, and, simultaneously, to be actively involved in the expansion of the universe, towards more and more happiness and bliss.
The Abraham-Hicks Version (2)
So in the Abraham-Hicks version the idea is that we must follow our senses, in order to find out what is most desired for us, at any given point in time. Only I, as a perceiver of the world, with a unique point of view, can decide what is best for me. Only I can decide what feels best to me.
Therefore, in the Abraham-Hicks version we do not suppress, or ignore, our senses, feelings, and desires. We have our senses, feelings, and desires for a reason. It is by using them, from our unique vantage point, that we are fulfilling our purpose. And what is that purpose? It’s the manifestation of more happiness and joy. That is the purpose and meaning of life.
As Abraham-Hicks say in The Amazing Power of Deliberate Intent (p. 13):
“And, most important, you knew (and your Non-Physical part still knows) that the reason for all of all of all of that–is joy!”
So the main two alternatives in terms of “Purpose of Life” presented above are more or less opposites.
Rick Warren prescribes that we basically should give up all, or most, of our selfish desires (career, family, etc.), while Abraham-Hicks proposes more or less the opposite.
Whichever alternative you choose, best of luck!
Editors at the Cambridge University Press (undated; 1970?), The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments. Authorised King James Version. First published by Cambridge University Press in 1611. Cambridge: At the University Press. [Link to book]
Hicks, Esther and Jerry Hicks (2006), The Amazing Power of Deliberate Intent: Living the Art of Allowing. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc. [Link to book]
Iversen-Norman (1976), Today’s Parallel Greek-English New Testament. King James Version. Greek Interlinear. Today’s English Version. Richmond, Virginia: The Commission. [Link to book]
Metzger, Bruce M. and Roland E. Murphy, eds. (1991), The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocryphal / Deuterocanonical Books. New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford University Press. [Link to book]
Warren, Rick (2002), The Purpose-Driven Life. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan. [Link to book]
NOTE: All links are clean (i.e. NOT affiliate links).
Leave a Reply