TOPAZ Issue 11 / 2004
Sustainability and Spirituality
Self determined or determined from outside or elswhere
7 suggestions for self-reflection as a start to each new day
Mr. Green, The Greengrocer
What is honour?
Poetry - A window to mind making
Why ask questions?
The human mosaic of reponse: The purpose of human life?
Waunifor, a tranquil rural Centre in Beautiful West Wales
The "International Colourful Festival of Arts" in Cologne
Dido & Aeneas

The human mosaic of response to questions that keep us going

Each of us finds ourselves alive and participant in a great something else that was there before us and will be there after we are gone. We didn't make it, we couldn't cause it, but we are part of it and by living we cannot not affect it. There have been many before us who played their part and left their mark. In a long succession of people who have come and gone, we are the ones at the point now and who can give direction to its next step.

The direction we give it is determined by what we believe in and hold true and act upon. This has to be utterly personal, because each person's experience is uniquely and individually theirs, yet some of the underlying foundations will be the same, for we live in the same universe, at the same time, on the same planet, we breathe the same air, are dependent on water, food and impressions in the same way, and live in a body that is basically formed up in the same way for all.

How do different people put together their views on some of the core questions about life? Core questions meaning the kinds of questions that do not have a singular answer, but start up a meditative chain of thought and cause us to revisit our experience.

Topaz asked different people from a range of ages, backgrounds, professions, and countries the following question:

What does your experience suggest to you about the purpose of human life?

Angelika Bindewalt, 30 years, Munich/Germany

Answering the question about the purpose of human life I have only many, many further questions.

  1. How does what I call “my experience” come into existence? “I” think via a lot of capabilities and patterns that every person receives, on the one hand from nature, for example the perception of space and time; and on the other what is learnt from parents, siblings, parents and teachers, for example language and forms of behaviour. “My experience” then is probably the product and a mixture of these natural and learned patterns / templates by which I now perceive, filter and understand life.
  2. Does perception or thinking about targets, intentions and purposes follow a natural or learned basic pattern or template?
  3. Will this way of thinking, in ideas of purpose and reason, do justice to life as a whole? If so, to what extent? What does life - and human life specifically - actually mean?

From my current perspective, life and human life is so complex, varied and constantly changing, that it is not possible to give a general or final answer concerning its purpose, but only an answer that can be given from each individual from their own life on a temporary basis, which is dependant on the person's patterns/ways of perception of life. If those patterns of perceptions change, so will the answer. But when the understanding of the targets/purposes of life depends on our perspective, then it seems good to become clear about the patterns of one's own perception of life and to ask if they do justice to “life” and to what it means to live? - this leads to many, many further questions..

Ellen van Berkum, 50, The Netherlands

I think that this is something that slowly reveals itself during a life time. The thing is that one never knows what else is behind the curtain. It has many aspects and many levels to it - personal and non personal - and I think that to search for it actually is part of the purpose itself.

Part of this search for me has always been to look at the human design and what it may suggest, especially in comparison with other organic life. We have been given wonderful faculties, possibilities and urges in many areas. A person has the possibility to grow and develop all these special human traits. The urge to grow is something that I have often experienced in my life in various forms. It can express itself in a longing of‚ `what else is there`. So the journey of development and all those things that one meets in that: resistances to overcome, consequences of one's choices (or lack of choices), must be part of what a human is meant to be doing here. Part of its purpose.

I believe that this specific human process, this human trying, offers something back to that which made it all possible in the first place. It could be a new thought, a new insight, the radiation of care and consideration, an act of appreciation, working through a resistance, trying to stay clean in oneself etc. .

Miezne Evers, 48, The Netherlands

I think that we are here to grow things, or in other words, cause growth. Because the moment people turn their interest towards something, that thing will grow. So the first important thing to consider is what to grow, and what not to grow.

As far as my conscious goes back in my life time, I see that I always looked for beauty. Not the beauty of a perfect body or a nice car but nature's beauty. The beauty in a smile, a colour, music, a movement or in human cooperation. Later I chose this to be part of my human purpose (other parts I still need to find!). And I believe that it is part of the human purpose to spot, collect, or, if not available, make beauty and harmony. I believe that in doing so we can create a light bulb in the dark room that life experience can be. And that in the light of the awareness of beauty we are as humans more able to see what life is all about.

Another part of the purpose of human life I see to be to try to work together, to support and help each other. I do realize it might sound too easy, but to try to do this for real, I find a high human life purpose. I discovered for myself that only together we can complete the puzzle of life and solve life's issues and problems.

Willem van Gurp, 70, en Mieke van Gurp, 69, The Netherlands

To care for other people and to try to encourage them, to listen and support wherever possible. To try to mean as much as possible to other people.
To ban quarrels that could lead to wars. To take the route of talking, rather then fighting. To spare people and to try to put yourself in their place. We saw this happening in an intense way in the second world war where people tried to help each other in the most amazing and simple ways, and people found great support from one another. They knew how much they needed each other. Sometimes the purpose of human life is just to survive and to manage to get through the day intact. In earlier times it was the most natural thing to help another, when, as an example, you needed a nail to finish a job in the house you would go to the neighbour or he would come to you. Because of the attitude to be there for another, networks and friendships are built and by that smaller or larger communities of people grew that looked out for each other. And although people are more independent or at least act more as if they are, trying to help out where there is a need is still like a prosperous glue between people in many places.

From that same basis I believe that we are meant to take care of the inheritance that we found ourselves with when we were born here, the planet, the animal and plant life.

Thelma Bishop, 54, UK

To find oneself, so that all that can assist, can find you. To decide what one wants to be with, and to do, in one's life and to never give up trying, in spite of everything, including oneself.

Susanne Friis, 46, Denmark

I have always wondered about the unification of mankind, in the face of the many impossibilities and downfalls of these times. Across the world people fight each other on a daily basis about details that seem, in the end, less important: religious persuasions and translations (my God is the right one), race, colour, culture, etc. And it is an ever open question in me: What will cause people to elevate their understanding and perception towards a unified principle? And I wonder a lot about peace between all peoples within a framework that endorses all religious standpoints. I seek in myself for a development of a personal kind in the hope that some day an essence such as peace will find a home with me. Personal development seems to be the obvious quest in the runway of learning and understanding about life.

Lawrence Whitmore, 36, UK

It seems that all humans are given the permission of choice according to their development, and that all can choose to develop if they so desire. The human becomes the accumulation and result of whatever it has experienced and processed during the transit of its life, and therefore it wins its future by what it does in its present. The precise and magnificent workings of the living universe - from plants and animals to planets, suns, solar systems and our own bodies and minds - has inspired and marvelled countless people through the millenia, and confirms that life is not an accident but a highly special and valued creation.

All that is vital about human life comes from and is upheld by the natural worlds - the universe - from the air that we breath to the mechanism that sustains the heart beat. Also encoded in the human design are feelings, the ability to love and the permission to respond mindfully and honestly with the possibility of intelligence. Physically the human is one tiny speck in the vastness of the universe, but in terms of its spirituality the human can become a small universe in itself of equal splendour and variety as the large universe. It is almost as if life on Earth is, for the human, a time for becoming accustomed and coded and perhaps 'filled' with the multiple essences and natures of the Universe itself, constantly we are all nourished by the radiation and presence of the stars, of the planets, the sun, and moon.

Therefore my mindful response is to seek to 'opt in' to the natural values that the universe works by and offers in its particular contract with the human. This is generally an ongoing 'try-and-learn' affair to find and develop useful, constructive and refining Ways and Purposes and forms of application that can grow, confirm and strengthen my relationship with the living universe. A fundamental sentiment that I hold is that I want to see God's plan succeed..

In the next Topaz we will open up the question: What do you see to be the greatest challenge for mankind in the coming decade? Do you want to contribute? Send your responses to the Topaz editors.

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