Who Am I and What is My Purpose in Life?
I am currently reading Sadhguru’s book, Inner Engineering, where he deals with two
questions: Who Am I and What is My Purpose in Life? Since people are born twice: once physically, and a second time when they realize why they were born, when they realize the purpose of their existence. The questions posed by Sadhguru and occupied the thinking of philosophers for ages is worth addressing. What can I add? Well, let me try.
To start, can we agree the world is one huge system? If we can agree on that, then by default we also agree that each part of the system is interrelated with the other parts of the system. None are in isolation. And we do not interrelate only with each other as humans but with the trees that give us oxygen to breathe and the oceans that enable fish to breed, multiply and feed us. Everything you see is interrelated with everything else you see and not see, but it is there.
So, who am I? I am what I do to others. I am a father if I perform the role a father should perform in parenting. Or as the Serbian expression says, a mother is not the one who gave birth but the one that raised the child. So instead of saying, “I think, therefore I am,” I would say, I am what I do to others. That is who I am.
How about the purpose of life?
Our interrelationships are not benign. We are interdependent too. A child is dependent on his parents to survive but the parents depend on the child to satisfy the need of parenting and to continue the bloodline. Every part of the system benefits from other parts of the system in one way or another. That is called ecology. In this interdependence, we either enrich or damage each other.
We enrich each other when we are constructive and destroy each other when we are destructive. Love is constructive. Hate is destructive. (You can, however, destroy the old to build a better new—that is tough love.)
The purpose of life is in the choice we make on how to interrelate with others. Do we want to do what we do out of love or out of hate? Out of faith or out of fear? Is it to love, to build, to contribute—to leave a world at least a bit better than the one we found when we were born for the second time, or to destroy it. Yes, some have destruction as a purpose of their life. The racist, the rapist, the self-indulging, exploiting person who only takes and never gives.
Ichak Kalderon Adizes