What is the Meaning and Purpose of My Life?

Everyone who comes into this world must have pondered this question at some time of their life. Except for the few great minds, most of us have failed to probe deeper into this question for a specific answer.

Four hundred years before Christ, looking at the suffering people faced in their lives, Buddha meditated: “Why do we suffer?” Desire is the cause of all sufferings was his simple conclusion.

One hundred years after Buddha, a Jewish teacher named Qoheleth pondered the same question. (In Hebrew, his name means ‘teacher’.)

In today’s first reading, we find some of Qoheleth’s piquant questions while searching for the meaning for our existence. His intention was not to give a philosophical solution to such queries, but to bring an awareness to the people of the importance of their lives. To put a positive side to what the great philosopher Socrates had said negatively, “Only the well-reflected life is worth living”. Qoheleth also wants us to reflect on the very meaning of life.

Qoheleth was living in Israel when it was booming with prosperity. Wealth brought about a lot of changes in the lifestyle of the population. Individualistic and materialistic attitudes took sway over peoples’ minds. The poor and people of low status were totally neglected. Instead of going after accumulating riches, young Qoheleth spent his time making people aware of the purpose of their lives.

However, Qoheleth does not provide us with any answers to these fundamental questions. But the answers are found in the Gospel. It is in Jesus that we can find the answers. Our lives become worth living when we live not for ourselves, but for God who created us and for our fellow people who are our brethren on earth.

-Fr. Ranjan D’Sa, OCD

Category Reflections