The more I reflect, the more I am convinced that life is a mystery. Today, thousand of babies will be born and thousands will die. From where have these babies come and where have these people gone? The music of Mozart enchants us and the writings of Shakespeare fascinate us. But where have they gone? Still more pertinent is the question, “Where are we going?” Is there a life after death, and will our good deeds ever be rewarded?
There are no clear answers to these questions except through religion based on faith. People devoutly search for meaning through diverse religious traditions, but they are seldom fully satisfied. These traditions do not offer a genuine dialog on the purpose of life in a true ecumenical spirit. The various groups remain largely compartmentalised.
What is most needed today is compassion to understand the deep spiritual crises facing people. Much of our restlessness, even in the midst of plenty, is rooted in this spiritual crisis, and we need to lot of compassion to address it.[Buy a copy of A Book of Wisdom and Delight on Amazon]
One eminent thinker who wrestled with this spiritual crisis was Johann Goethe, the nineteenth-century German philosopher. He spent most of his life, from age twenty-five until about seventy-five, pondering the purpose of life. His ideas are reflected in his masterpiece, Doctor Faust. Goethe claimed that the purpose of life lies in the meanings we attach to life. The pursuit of power or pleasure, or the practice of virtue will dictate the type of life we lead. Life is like a journey, and we must do our best to get the utmost out of our brief sojourn on earth. During this journey, let compassion prevail.