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The “Why?” Of It All December 19, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Magick & Mystery, People.

Milkfever raised an interesting question the other day:

Does anyone know what we are doing here?

When I read her post, my mouth fell open due to the symmetry and synchronicity between her question and my thoughts this week.

I immediately posted the following comment:

This post is exactly what my BFF and I have been discussing for the past two days ~ the why for mankind eludes me.

I can’t think of any way that we’ve advanced the ball for the planet and its other inhabitants. If we’ve made our lives “better,” we’ve done so at the expense of everything else.

The water, the air, the earth, the trees, the birds, the bees, and all manner of flora and fauna fared better before we arrived.

Maybe the Universe wanted an audience to applaud its creation?

Maybe it’s a huge ant farm and we’re the ants?

On an individual basis, I have no problem seeing the meaning for life since  I agree with the Dalai Lama:

We are here to be happy and to make others happy. 

But having something to do WHILE we are here is NOT the same thing as having a REASON for being here in the first place.

It’s that larger question, the “why?” of it all ~ the raison d’etre for mankind ~ that eludes me.

In response to Milkfever, a fan of the “Good Book” offered the following:  “[A]s for mankind in general, I would say that we’re here to be God’s representatives on earth. I mean, after all, we are made in his image and carry dominion here over the animals etc.”

Frankly, that Biblical rationale for mankind’s existence on Earth makes no sense to me whatsoever:

If God (as you’ve personified “him”) exists . . . why would “he” want us to represent “him”?

And if “he” wanted mankind to represent “him,” why give mankind free will . . . knowing we would screw everything up?

Why not just send a few Christ-like beings down and leave “sinners” out of the equation entirely?

So, I’m back where I started a few days ago, wondering about the “why?” of it all, and coming to no satisfactory hypothesis, conclusion, or explanation.

From my (albeit limited) perspective, the world would be better off if mankind had never been . . .

If the Universe wanted an audience to applaud creation, why didn’t it create a more appreciative audience?

Related posts:   The Third JesusWhy I Speak of Spirit, Not God * God Is Not A Christian, Jew, or Moslem * A Golden Ticket To Heaven * A Reason to Be Alive (Think Simple Now)



1. aardvarkian - December 19, 2010

Food for thought, Nancy. Thank you.

nrhatch - December 19, 2010

It’s not the first time I’ve pondered the big “Wny?” . . . and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

Let’s just say that the last few days have been rather “unsettling.”

2. Joanne Fruin - December 19, 2010

The point is… There is no point…
Maybe for the sheer entertainment of playing a part — big or small — in a huge ongoing Universe (“One Verse”… or script…?):-D

It wouldn’t be entertainment if it didn’t include all of the elements of good scripting… Yes, villains included… Characters of all types welcome here… Pre-auditions are held on the Other Side (of the curtain)…

Audition for the role you’d like to play and when the right costume (body) is designed for you, jump in with amnesia into this virtual reality game and BE ONE with your character… and character IS our destiny 😀

nrhatch - December 19, 2010

Joanne ~

That explanation would be more satisfying if we weren’t destroying the planet and its other inhabitants a bit more each day.

That said, all week we’ve been quoting that exact line from Home for the Holidays:

“The point is . . . there is no point!” 😉

3. Joanne Fruin - December 19, 2010

Agreed — if that meant there is no way to reconstruct that which we have destroyed… I’m not a scientist, but isn’t it true that all matter cannot be destroyed…? It simply takes on new forms… Ok, enough philosophying for now… I’m going to go enjoy one of the reasons I’m here… It’s the cheese 😀

nrhatch - December 19, 2010

True . . . but tell that to the extinct animals that are “gone for good” and to those on their last legs, like the Florida panthers.

At this point, the estimate is approximately 100 Florida panthers left in the wild . . . and two were turned into “roadkill” just last week. This year, alone, 10% of the population died in impacts with cars.

And that’s just one species on a collision course with mankind.

4. Carol Ann Hoel - December 19, 2010

Why, Lord, why? We always ask that question. I’ve learned a lot of answers to a lot of whys, but there will always be another why. I thank God that He is higher than we. His ways are not our ways, so He says. Someday I think we’ll know all the answers. Until then, … Blessings…

nrhatch - December 19, 2010

That reminds me of a Sunday School poem:

Ours is not to reason “why?”
Ours is but to do and die.

Until then, embrace the uncertainty. 🙂

Carol Ann Hoel - December 19, 2010

My grandmother used to say that little motto when I’d keep asking why about everything. I don’t think God is offended when we ask why. I think we should. He may not give us an immediate answer, but over time may unravel a mystery or two for us.

nrhatch - December 19, 2010

When I stopped practicing law, I kept asking what I was supposed to do next.

{{no response}}

I decided that meant that I needed to figure it out for myself.

“Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.” ~ The Buddha

Stated differently, our purpose is to discover our purpose and then pursue it with passion. But that’s still work and purpose at an individual level.

My present concern is more global ~ it’s the forest, not the trees, that I’m wondering about:

Does mankind need to be here at all?

Would the world benefit if we were the next species to be extinguished?

5. milkfever - December 19, 2010

Perhaps there are as many reasons for being here as there are people here? Perhaps we all need to find our individual reason. I like your idea of embracing the uncertainty. That sounds like a good plan.

nrhatch - December 19, 2010

On an individual level, I see that we all have a part to play in the unfolding drama . . . but that doesn’t answer the larger question:

Why Mankind?

We seem to be a species without a purpose ~ unless, of course, our purpose is to destroy the underlying creation.

6. linda - December 20, 2010

Scripture says in Genesis 1:26 that God made man to be Master of the earth. Right away though man just had to screw things up. We just had to know everything. Hmmm thats an interesting thought. We often ask why are we here amoung other questions that aren’t easily answered. Adam and Eve were thrown out of the garden for wanting to know too much. If they had been happy with what they had instead of “reaching” for more we would all be living a charmed life. Some things we just aren’t supposed to know. We are just supposed to do the best we can with what we have, not be greedy and help others all we can.

nrhatch - December 20, 2010

Well, the Garden of Eden is one explanation that’s been proffered by the ancients ~ it’s not one that I can accept given the evolutionary nature of man.

7. 4minutewriter - December 20, 2010

Can’t get any deeper than a discussion on the meaning of life.
The ‘why’: If I may offer a quote by John Piper:
“The chief end of man is to glorify [could we also read this as applaud?] God by enjoying him forever.”
What I like about this quote is that it captures the enjoyment/happiness aspect which, as you point out, is a drive we all come with. It also suggests a path through which to find that enjoyment,and finally, points to something other than our own selves.
Of course, again as you point out, as a human race, we are not doing very well at fulfilling this purpose on the whole. But I imagine that even the tiniest of tiniest ways in which we do fulfill the purpose makes it all worth the rest.

nrhatch - December 20, 2010

Many accept a paternalistic view of God as a Father who created Mankind to worship him and glorify his name.

I don’t share that view.

If Man is here “to glorify God,” that’s analogous to parents “creating” children not for the children’s benefit, but for the parents’s sake ~ so they would have “little beings” to look up to and applaud them.

Rather a narcissistic reason for bearing offspring, eh?

I do agree that, as long as we’re here, we might as well dance. 🙂

Keith Shields - December 20, 2010

Great quote Zoe. John Piper is of course quoting from the historic church document known as The Westminster Larger Catechism: “Question 1: What is the chief and highest end of man?
Answer: Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.” This document was written around 1647.

nrhatch - December 20, 2010

I am disinclined to worship (or glorify) any entity who created me for such a single-minded purpose. 😉

8. Cindy - December 20, 2010

I’m too flabbergasted by the synchronicity of this post topic and my early morning thoughts to comment, much to think about.

nrhatch - December 20, 2010

It’s going around this week, isn’t it? I felt the same what when I saw Milkfever’s post two days ago.

Please come back if you have any insights to share.

9. kateshrewsday - December 20, 2010

The common thread through many disciplines and religions is the joy we find in one another. There’s something to be said for process and end result here: some people love the process of things as they are played out, others just want and end result. Well, believe the scientists and the end result could well be a big red ball of fire.
But the process: the creation and working-out of human beings and their companions on this planet: does the fact that it is transient mean it has any less value?
True, conflict and death are an integral part of our life. But surely the fact that we all create while we are happy, and create while we are here, is too glorious for words. Look at Mozart, or Turner, or the words you write every day, or the notes I get from my flute. We are here to create, for however little a time.

nrhatch - December 20, 2010

I agree, on an individual basis, that we are here to share joy with others ~ and assist in alleviating suffering.

That I can accept.

But that doesn’t answer the larger question about why any of us need to be here at all.

If “God” created Mankind to be Master of the Earth (as espoused in Genesis 1:26) . . . God did a terrible job of checking our qualifications for the position. 😉

10. Sibel Catana - December 20, 2010

I should comment as an atheist, because that’s what I am. I don’t think that there is a reason for us, is there a reason for the existence of the Universe itself?

I believe that we are an accident, but the beautiful part of it is that some of us have consciousness, we are aware of ourselves, of existing, and we try to make sense of it all, we try to explain the things around us and the things within us. Science does a hell of a job at explaining or sometimes trying to explain (cutting edge science).

Maybe life wouldn’t be so great and rare if we knew the “why” of it all.

When it comes to humankind and the rest of the species, yes I would say we did a pretty good job at fucking the planet up.

nrhatch - December 20, 2010

At this point, I tend to agree with you.

I’m not an atheist, because I’ve perceived a “higher power” (and a Spirit within) operating behind the curtains, but I am more and more convinced that the “why?” of it all is sheer accident.

We evolved from the Apes and the smarter (and more arrogant) we became as a Species (for example, by creating “God” in our image), the more unintelligent our long range planning and our Ego-based decisions.

And the planet and its other inhabitants are paying the price for our greed.

Sibel Catana - December 21, 2010

I agree with you, we are arrogant and we don’t take responsibility for the power we have.

11. Keith Shields - December 20, 2010

Namaste (or nrhatch) wrote: “On an individual basis, I have no problem seeing the meaning for life since I agree with the Dalai Lama: We are here to be happy and to make others happy. But having something to do WHILE we are here is NOT the same thing as having a REASON for being here in the first place. It’s that larger question, the “why?” of it all ~ the raison d’etre for mankind ~ that eludes me.” – Spirit Lights the Way, December 19, 2010 https://nrhatch.wordpress.com/2010/12/19/the-why-of-it-all/

It seems to me we need to think through the distinction between “the meaning of life” and “the why of life.” Is there really any distinction at all? If I find myself at a triathlon, I know the meaning of a triathlon is an event in which people swim, cycle, and run for fun, fitness, and competition. Why I am at the triathlon? I am at the triathlon to swim, cycle, and run for fun, fitness, and competition. There may be other reasons for being at a triathlon. One might be a spectator, a volunteer, an organizer, or a merchant promoting their product. As we add in these other possible “whys,” we also add to the “meanings.” A triathlon is indeed an event in which people spectate, volunteer, organize, and promote. These are part of the why and the meaning.

Now, let us go back to the question of the existence of humans. If the meaning of life is “to be happy and to make others happy” (a premise with which I disagree but about which I will not argue for the moment), then could it be that the reason why humans exist is “to be happy and to make others happy?” The problem does not lie in the distinction between “meaning” and “why.” The problem lies with needing a place to which to ascribe the “meaning” and the “why.” We can ascribe the meaning to the universe as Namaste has done by saying that “Maybe the Universe wanted an audience to applaud its creation?” (note the capital U and the question mark in the original text). But this is problematic. With a triathlon, we can trace the meaning and the why back to an event organizer or the person or persons who chose to have a triathlon. By establishing the triathlon they gave it meanings and whys. A triathlon cannot give itself meanings or whys just as a universe cannot give itself meanings and whys.

We may not know all of the meanings and whys of our existence. There will always be mystery with regard to the existence of humans and indeed the existence of the universe. For this I am thankful. I like some mystery in my life. For me, the bigger question is, “To what or Who will I ascribe this mystery, these meanings and these whys?” (note the capital W and the question mark in the text).

nrhatch - December 20, 2010

Interesting comment. You obviously subscribe to the notion of a personified God, a “Who.” I don’t.

When I refer to the Universe (with a capital “U”), it’s because I see the higher power as a “What,” not a “Who.”

I agree that everyone at the Triathlon has to “do” something while they are there . . . even if they choose just to stand on the sidelines and spectate. But having something to do while they are there is not the same thing as having a REASON for being there in the first place.

We can choose NOT to attend the Triathlon at all.

It’s not a differentiation between “the meaning of life” and “the why of life” that I’m questioning ~ it’s the differentiation between the trees and the forest.

As long as the forest (mankind) exists, the trees (individual men and women) arguably have a purpose . . . that of contributing to the good of the forest as a whole.

But that begs the question . . . why have a forest at all?

Namaste = the Spirit in me bows to the Spirit in you.

12. Keith Shields - December 20, 2010

If there is no Who, there is no why.

nrhatch - December 20, 2010

I disagree ~ if God is a “What” rather than a “Who” there may still be a “Why.” 😉

13. lumi - August 17, 2012

To answer such question, one should study great masters. Earth is the place where our souls are sent to to work out our flaws, by going through hardships and inner struggles. There’s also many incarnations and role playing involved. Since human by nature do not see his own flaws, we are presented with situations where we are forced to face them, if needed, again and again. To say simply, we are here to evolve.

Dali Lama’s advice to be happy and make others happy is very thoughtful, since on this path we need to make every effort to keep our spirits up. It’s easy to fell under pressure. Dance is a very good idea too!

The thought that Creator is “narcissistc” is simply childish… As well as an idea that we are “representing God”. Any one of us can be squashed like a bug and taken away at any moment. And since we are all made after the creator, according to you, nrhatch, we are also a “What”, only in dense-matter costume…. right?

nrhatch - August 17, 2012

Thanks for your comments, lumi. But, to clarify, I certainly do NOT believe that we are “all made after the creator.”

Nor, for that matter, do I believe there IS “a creator.”

14. nrhatch - April 22, 2013

An interesting post about well-being which ties in here:

15. aawwa - April 23, 2013

Very well put Nancy! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on my “well-being” blog. My husband recently commented that perhaps intelligence of the human race may be our downfall – not the evolutionary gem that we usually see it to be! Lorraine

nrhatch - April 23, 2013

Yes. I think he’s got a point. If we were still wandering barefoot and living in caves, it would limit the devastation we cause and havoc we wreak. Imagine . . . no guns, no planes, no cannons, no politicians, no TVs, no cars, no advertisements. Just a daily mindfulness and attention to THIS moment. 😎

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