Why are we here? A question that everyone has asked themselves. The journey towards answering this question is truly a lifelong journey, and we embark on it in a singular, internalized fashion.
I recently became acquainted with a follower of the Vedic Philosophy. Not having any idea about the history of this belief system, I googled it and discovered that Hinduism was born from the fundamentals of this philosophy, as well as many others in India. I have a minuscule knowledge of Hinduism, just enough to get by, so, learning about the relationship of the two helped me to understand the implications of this philosophy.
This woman that I refer to just returned from a spiritual trip to India to further her intrinsic understanding of Vedic Philosophy. As a lifelong follower of no religion, I find it admirable and noble for a person to desire mastery in an established belief system, with a willingness to travel across the world to achieve it.
Despite my complete independence of, if not detachment from, all structured religions, I understand, and in fact support, the fundamental purpose of them. It’s really quite simple, and ingenious in fact, that religion was created as a method of teaching the principles and morals of that particular society. If I led a society and needed to enforce a universal set of rules for the purpose of enabling that same society to proliferate and strengthen, creating a religion would be enthusiastically received.
Then, to take the idea of religion a step further, a person trying to better understand the randomness of life can defer to religion as a method of confronting the truth of tragedy: suffering isn’t necessarily our fault or anyone else’s for that matter. It’s simply an integral part of the human condition, and should be accepted as such in order to move forward. Unless acceptance is somehow achieved, suspicion and cynicism augments in its place, discouraging any future relationships.
The truth is, our interdependence has been the foundation of mankind’s success. The term “society” is derived from “social”. From an evolutionary standpoint, we lack the physical attributes to hunt alone. We are relatively slow, but have the stamina and intelligence to compensate for it. Consequently, hunting prey occurred more efficiently in groups. Communication and trust are an integral part of cooperation, and what better way to achieve this than through a centralized belief system, also known as religion?
What if we were magically able to wipe away all of the transgressive tendencies of human beings? How would we distinguish between who we want to spend our time with and who we don’t? Philosophically speaking, how can we identify and define loyalty in the absence of betrayal? How can a person identify the color blue if everything seen on earth were blue?
There must be a way to differentiate good from evil, beautiful from aversive and black from white, in order to define what we want near, and what we want far away.
Returning to my original question of “Why are we here?”, although I recognize the usefulness in religion, I don’t believe that we are born with a pre-determined purpose. Our reason for being here must be defined and pursued during the brief period of time that we exist on this earth. With or without religion, it’s our responsibility to carve out our purpose. If we surrender to complacency, we jeopardize any chance we have of achieving our single opportunity of being immortal through our legacy.