The Meaning of Life. Maybe - Just a Few Thoughts

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I recently received an email via my website from someone who said that he had been enjoying my Medium series about quantum physics and spirituality, and asked, “do you have any articles where you outline your own ideas, concepts and personal explanations concerning what the human role in the cosmos is essentially about, i.e. the purpose of our existence at the material/ physical level?”

It is flattering that someone might think I have anything worthwhile to say on such a big issue, so I feel I should offer some kind of response. I don’t believe, however, that I have anything especially original to say, since much of what I believe is in line with well-known spiritual traditions. I won’t go into detail therefore, and just mention some key ideas. (I would like to say that, even though I cannot prove the truth of anything which follows, it is not merely a matter of ‘faith’, or stuff that I’ve read in books. On the whole it is derived from my interpretation of inner experiences.)

Before it is possible to address my correspondent’s main question - the purpose of human existence - it is important to have some understanding of the nature of the universe, and how it works. In general, I subscribe to the cosmology of the traditions of the Perennial Philosophy, thus a hierarchy of levels known as the Great Chain of Being, the ‘lowest’ level of which is the material universe. Various discarnate entities, with varying degrees of consciousness, inhabit some of these other levels, which have as their source an ultimate Oneness, a creative principle which some people call God. Since this principle is pure spirit, pure consciousness, this suggests that everything in the universe, at all levels, is a manifestation of consciousness. This is the philosophical position known as Idealism. The number of levels is often given as seven, and they should not be considered as separate, rather integrated with each other, or superimposed. They are not levels literally higher than each other, but levels of progressive densification.

If all the above is true, then we can consider what it means to be human. Each human being consists of these various levels, therefore has several ‘bodies’, (with names like astral, mental and so on). To put it simply, a human being is a soul (something close to pure consciousness existing in the spiritual realm) incarnated into a physical body, having acquired various other ‘bodies’ during its ‘descent’, which at the material level appear to function as one. (This explains why many neuroscientists mistakenly believe that consciousness is generated by the brain.)

I believe in reincarnation, therefore that the soul is on a spiritual journey through the lower levels. I also believe in karma, that events and behaviour in previous incarnations are linked to the current one (we reap what we sow). Each incarnation has a purpose, decided in advance, but which is forgotten during the process of birth.

The purpose of each human life is dual. It is partly a personal journey of awakening, self-education, remembering the purpose for which one was born, and working on one’s karma. Also, since all spirituality, and therefore all true religion, is about the transformation of consciousness, all persons have the task of transforming their own consciousness, of working on themselves. The ultimate goal is the manifestation of soul-consciousness or the Higher Self within a physical body.

source Wikipedia

In Hinduism and Buddhism the material universe is perceived as lila (divine play), or maya (illusion). The material level is therefore perceived to be unimportant, and the purpose of this self-transformation is said to be to seek liberation from the need to reincarnate, freedom from the Wheel of Death and Rebirth. I believe, on the contrary, that ‘God’, or whatever name you choose to give to the higher intelligence, does consider the material world important, and is working towards its transformation, thus bringing the spiritual realm (heaven) down to earth. We should therefore see our work on ourselves as contributing to this process. Our lives at the material level are therefore important; we are here for a reason, and our focus should not be escaping this world.

Since the transformation of the material level is part of the Divine plan, the second aspect to each human’s purpose may therefore go beyond the personal, and involve some specific task or project, in order to serve humanity and the planet.

I do not wish to appear critical of Hinduism and Buddhism, because I believe that they contain much of importance. However, while their viewpoint may be appropriate for a few individuals at any given moment, I believe that it is not true for all people, especially Westerners, for whom the most appropriate spiritual journey is the Individuation Process, as described by Carl Jung, the goal of which is the Self, the God-image in humanity. (Whether this might lead on to a more Hindu or Buddhist way of life in future incarnations is an open and interesting question.)


I hope you have enjoyed this article. I have written in the past about other topics, including spirituality, metaphysics, psychology, science, Christianity, politics and astrology. All these articles are on Medium, but the simplest way to see a guide to them is to visit my website (click here and here).



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Graham Pemberton

I am a singer/songwriter interested in spirituality, politics, psychology, science, and their interrelationships.