What is life all about?
What are we looking for?
We all have an unanswered question that stays with us all our life. What is the purpose of the human live on earth? It is one of our many taboos. Universities don’t have lectures about “The purpose of the life of the Homo sapiens on earth in the past 300 000 years”. We don’t talk about questions for which we don’t have an answer. Let’s break up the taboo and get some fresh air. This question is at the center of our life. Any answer would help us reorganize our life around that center.
A stone in a garden was engraved with: “God smiles through the flowers”. This gardener was looking for answers in his flowers. Astronomers look for answers in the sky. Philosophers look in philosophy. We all are in the same predicament. The human brain is very limited compared with the complexity of the vast universe. We don’t even know what is going on inside our own body. We don’t know all the chemistry necessary to digest a simple meal. We don’t know why we need to sleep eight hours every day. We don’t know that every second we make 500 trillion faultless copies of hemoglobin, a protein containing 10,000 atoms in 574 amino acids. This world is way above our head. How can we survive?
Before we ask for help, we are expected to do whatever we can to find our place in the vast universe. It may not be pleasant to feel like an isolated individual facing the whole world but this is part of our life and we cannot delegate our life to someone else.
Are we conscious of life?
We cannot tell the difference between a stuffed cat and a real cat sleeping on the sofa. We need to see the consequences of life - such as heat, movement and noise - before we can assume that there is life. We have to accept the idea that we are not directly conscious of what life is. To elucidate the purpose of our life is even more problematic. The Homo sapiens are not the first living organism on earth. Life started about 3.5 billion years ago. Click here for a picture of our family tree.
Stephen Hawking predicted that humans will need to find a new planet in the next 1,000 years. The time has come to start traveling outside our solar system and be ready to emigrate. Before we say that humans are going to dominate the universe, we should keep in mind that modern humans are 98.8 % genetically similar to chimpanzees, 75% genetically similar to chickens and 60% genetically similar to banana trees. Let's be humble.
In those conditions we should not expect to find the purpose of human life by exploring the lives of individuals. We need a more general view. The purpose of individual lives may be to serve the purpose of the species.
The first step is to face reality and make an appraisal of our predicament.
Our body belongs to the physical world where everything has a shape, a weight, a color and everything can be measured. However, it is in the soul that we find what is most important in our life, such as love, ideas, values, life, freedom… They don’t have a color, a weight, a shape and cannot be measured. This is the domain of the non-physical.
Our life also is divided in two parts: awake and asleep. When we are awake, we live in our body – in the physical world. We get conscious of the universe through the signals that we receive from our sense organs. They are not perfect but that’s all we have. We know that our vision is limited between red and violet. We cannot see the infra-red and the ultra-violet. That does not prevent us from placing what we can see at the center of our life.
Our senses are like the sun that prevents us from seeing the stars.
When we are asleep… we have a problem. We leave our body in bed like we leave the car in the garage. We don’t know what happens to the driver. We know that sleeping is important but we can’t explain why. Our eyes are close. There is no noise and no light. We would wake up if any signal from our senses would get to our brain. We have entered the domain of the non-physical. This domain seems to offer new possibilities. When we cannot solve a problem during the day, we ‘sleep on it’ and wake up the next morning with a solution. To solve a problem, after all, is to become conscious of its solution. What happens at night could be an increase of consciousness. We don’t know! If we could remember what happens during our sleep we may decide that it is the most important part of our life.
At night, there is no sun preventing us from seeing the stars.
People who got close to death say that they had an overview of their life. They remember experiences long forgotten. They see their mistakes and the consequences of every mistake. They live in a domain where time does not matter. They seem to get access to a different type of memory. It seems that the notion of time is different for the body and for the soul. Maybe the body is temporary and the soul is immortal. The ‘time’ that we use during the day could be a small interval in a more general “Time” like the colors that we can see are in a small interval between infra-red and ultra-violet.
Some birds can fly using only half of their brain. After a while they switch side and keep flying. The human brain also is made of two hemispheres. How come we can’t switch between them? That’s not fair. What we do, by day, in our physical world could be the implementation of decisions made at night in the soul’s world.
Our soul is treating life on earth as a part time job.