Forgetting life and its tragedies for a while one is really awe-struck by the sheer magnitude of the universe. Billions of years and light-years; this cosmos is difficult to conceive and a good interpretation is still harder to come by. Nevertheless it out there majestically spread over infinite time and space. Perfect to the point of madness. But is it purposeful?
Men have expended their time and energy searching, proving and disproving the creator. Metaphorically speaking it is like looking very hard for the artist's signature in a grand canvas without it. Yes, the Artist has left it unsigned; may be because there isn't any corner in the cosmos; though his genius is radiating through it.
Today it appears so funny to inquire whether this cosmos is purposive, too. Created or evolved this perfect cosmos could not be accidental or without a grand purpose. Transient humans, the stardusts, doubting the purpose behind an eternal, perfect cosmos is sheer impudence in polite language.
Actually this human doubt is caused by the vagaries of life. We find life, human life in particular, a huge imperfection. There is so much pain and suffering all around us. We are ready to concede that life is the only jarring note in this otherwise perfect symphony of matter.
Is life, human life in particular, so terrible? What stops us from getting rid of our lives? Why nobody wants to die under normal circumstances? Aren't we, ourselves, responsible for most of the pain and misery suffered by men, animals and plants?
Poverty and hunger are man-made and so are the wars and environmental degradations. But, why an imperfect man, in the first place in animal kingdom, in a perfect cosmos is the core of moral philosophy.
Let us consider the shortcomings of life. What we grudge most about human life is its very short tenure. A mere blink of an eye! Death terminates it suddenly. But, could there be any life without death? Certainly not! Organisms need space, air, water and minerals. The old and unproductive must die and make room for the young. This is how this earth has sustained and multiplied life for the last three billion years.
Though death is essential for life, the quality and span of life is improving over the centuries. And the death, too, has been made easy. It is a fact that this imperfect and fleeting life is evolving with time. Life is neither static nor immutable. There is infinite scope for improvement.
In our part of the universe, on this earth, life has a modest range of temperature, between 0 and 100 degrees of Celsius. So, life could not evolve on stars. It had to evolve on a planet with the energy supplied by the star. And the star, the Sun in our case, just couldn't hang out in space. It had to revolve around a galaxy, the Milky Way in our case, for stability and longevity. Otherwise it would have been a sitting duck for passing galaxies.
Retrospectively, material organization on such a gigantic scale created the right conditions for life to evolve on earth. It would be a cosmic blunder if this perfect organization accomplished over billions of years didn't also have a beautiful purpose.
What is the purpose behind the cosmos and, by extension, why an imperfect man in a perfect cosmos? Let us first consider the various answers supplied by the different schools of thought. God needed worshippers. Human misery is for testing the souls. Those who pass go to the paradise or dissolve into god. Almost all the solutions are linked with god.
God is, by definition, without attributes. No shape, no size and no color; imagine him you can! In fact all secondary characteristics attributed to god belong rightfully to the spirit of cosmos ' the nature. Omnipotence, benevolence, love, truth; you name it, the nature has it.
There are chiefly two viewpoints on life. First through god' s mind, second, the human viewpoint. We have, therefore, either a religious philosophy or downright atheism. The religious philosophies have divine communications as their foundations. These divine communications are heavily allegorical. Their true literal interpretations are not possible.
Indian philosophy or Darsana to be precise has gone deeper into the problem. It says that each soul is a divine spark and strives for union with Brahman, which it attains after realizing the self. Here the emphasis is on knowing the true nature of one's self or soul.
All these solutions have two elements in common. First, life is full of suffering so detach yourself as much as possible and prepare for the next life. Second, we are, at least we humans are, accountable for our actions.
All these solutions were arrived at in the geocentric age and perspective. Atheism is the product of modern heliocentric perspective. It threw out the baby with bath water- god, soul, purpose and all such lunatic notions.
The need of the hour is enlightened human viewpoint. Enlightened about the beauty and sanctity of life. a positive outlook on life is a precondition for a meaningful inquiry into the mystery of life. OK, life is precious and sacred. So what?
Life differs with matter in many ways. What concerns us most is consciousness. There was a grand cosmos but no consciousness or awareness about it until life evolved with it. Metaphorically, the canvas created the admirers, too. Human art howsoever perfect can never duplicate this feat.
A nagging doubt about life still persists. If the nature is so impartially merciful why is it so selective about the quality and duration of life? Why some souls should die in infancy while some live to a ripe age? The nature is very whimsical if there is only one life for each soul. There is another doubt accountability.
Indian Darsana reconciles both these doubts in the transmigration of souls through rebirths. The perishable body is the abode of an immortal soul. The enjoyment and suffering is experienced by the soul. It goes on reaping what it sows till it realizes the true nature and bearing of the soul. It also says that souls come from and go back to god. Which does not say much about the origin and destination of souls.
Since we are not interested in yet another theory linked with god, we can only say that from and to of souls is a mystery.
The immortal soul comes from some unknown world, unites with a body, gains experience then gets released to a more exciting world. In other words the earth is a natural spaceship where souls develop consciousness slowly and painfully. Life as we know it is merely a vehicle for the development of consciousness.
In one masterstroke every doubt and dilemma ' accountability, inequality, pain and purpose ' falls into a grand scheme. Moreover, the nature turns out to be more generous and loving. May be the nature is creating super conscious souls to reveal its hidden beauty and mystery. Dear life, you are full of surprise everyday.
The existence of soul cannot be proved or disproved by arguments, people in love experience it everywhere everyday. Those unfortunate persons who didn't experience love for another living being would not buy soul easily. They will dismiss it as man's wishful thinking for immortality.
If the nature took so much trouble to evolve consciousness, would it let it perish with body? Where ordinary matter is preserved so religiously, would consciousness go waste with the expiry of our Sun or extinction of life? Knowing the magnanimity of nature, the answer to these queries cannot be yes.
We are familiar with three dimensions of space and the fourth dimension of time. The souls may belong to the unidirectional fourth dimension. Coupled with time, the souls must move only in the forward direction, from lesser consciousness to higher consciousness. One is tempted to suggest that there must be an infinite series of worlds the soul must travel infinitely. In other words the soul is on an eternal adventure in the cosmos. Bon voyage! Happy Journey!