What is the purpose of life?

Listener: Sir, what is the purpose of our life and how can we find it?

Speaker: Why does the mind come to this question? See there is a difference in the way we approach questions traditionally given in the text books or in any examinations and the questions that pertain to our life and mind.

Why does the mind ask this question? I am asking you to find out that why does the mind ask this question? Why does the mind raise this question? Alright, we will go into it systematically, sharply, with complete attention. We said that the contents of the brain are the contents of its evolution and evolution not only since your birth but the entire journey of your DNA. All that information is contained in your brain. A very long duration of experiences. The content of your mind comes from this journey. The mind has learned in this journey, the principle of cause and effect. You have to appreciate this. These things will appear unrelated but you will see that they are one. What is cause and effect? Something happens in time and after a while its results follow.

So, what exactly is cause and effect? Cause and effect is time. The process of cause and effect is time. Something happens, so something else happens. That’s all that the brain has learnt because the brain itself is the product of time. You can look this way that from a single celled organism to this stage, your brain has travelled a very long journey and it has kept along picking things along the way, picking experiences along the way and it contains all those experiences. Right? Your body in fact, is a sum total of all those experiences. Now all those experiences are in the language of cause and effect, time. You do something and the result follows in the future.

So, mind thinks that life also must also have a result. And that result, you are calling by the name of ‘purpose’. That something is happening or I am doing something in my life and at some point in future there must be a result for this, a purpose which gives a result and upon attaining that I can say that I am successful. That is the language of the conditioned mind. Just as the mind seeks a result in every activity that it does, it also thinks that life inherently has a purpose. You see what the brain wants. Appreciate this.


The brain only wants its continuation in time. That’s why every organism is eager to ensure its own survival. How? By eating and protecting itself first of all and secondly, by proliferating, by producing more and more kids. That is what the brain wants because the brain has been travelling in time and it also wants to continue travelling in time. That is the law of duality – that the future is the projection of the past. Getting it? That is what the brain wants, to keep travelling in time. All its constituents are in time. That is why at a certain age you start feeling this impulse to reproduce. The sexual attraction is nothing but that, the tendency of the brain to ensure its survival and continuation in time. And what is time? Time is nothing but that which is contained here (pointing at the brain). Time is the human mind. All of you have cleared IIT-JEE and all physical quantities that you express do have a ‘T’ component, ‘MLT’. Right?

Do we ever bother to ask what is time and what is space? Or else you have just taken it for granted that I know time. What is time? Time is the property of the mind. Space and time is the property of the mind. You see time, you see space because your brain and mind have been configured to look at that way. They don’t exist independently of your mind. The three dimensions exist in the mind. Are you getting it?


Let me put it this way. I write a number ‘123’. What is the value of this number? This denotes a quantity. What is the value of this quantity? Suppose I feed this number into three computer systems with the query that how much is this? Do you think the response will be the same? And if you say no then tell me why it should be different? Why the response will not be the same? Because one computer may use a base 4 number systems and another may use a base 8, the third may use a base 16 number system. Can all the values of ‘123’ will be the same? Now you may think that ‘123’ is a definite number. A layman may think that ‘123’ is a definite, fixed quantity but you know that ‘123’ is not a fixed, definite quantity. It depends upon the compiler that is reading it.

The value of 123 depends upon the compiler that is reading it. Similarly, space and time don’t exist there (pointing outside). It appears that they exist there but they exist in mind. It is your brain that is configured to read space and time in a particular way. There may be life forms that read it in a totally different way. A five dimension space may also be possible but it will appear in a totally different way.

This brain always exists in time and it is always projecting the future. What basis does it have to project the future? Just the past. So, while we keep thinking that we are dreaming of a new future and that’s what all of us think, we all want a new future, a great new future and we use terms like new ideas, new future. The fact of the matter is that all timely projections of the brain are based entirely upon the past and there is no new thought, no new idea, no new future.


There can be no new idea, no new thought, no new future. The brain will pick up experiences from the past and want them again and this it calls as the new future. Is this new? The brain will pick up experiences from the limited past and want their repetition in the future. Stale experiences! Dreams, hopes, future, purpose are nothing but the craving for the repetition of the past.

Why there is the craving for the repetition of the past? The answer is simple. The brain did its journey safely till this point and the proof of that is that you are alive. So, the brain thinks that I have been able to journey till this point. The past has been alright, let it be repeated. Let the pleasurable moments from the past, let them be repeated. I have travelled here safely, I am secure. Let them be repeated. I have taken this road once and I have reached where I wanted to. I took an unknown road and I reached safely, I reached safely where I wanted to. Now what I want to do? Will I try the new road? No. The tendency of the brain will be to repeat it. I reached it once, so I will repeat it.

So when the brain thinks of all ambitions, desires, future, they are bound to be stale, old, repetitive. Now, such a mind, even if it dreams of some purpose in life, where will that person come from? From the past, from something that it may have heard, from something it may have experienced. You see all time movement is in the brain but the mind is brain plus something else, what is that?

Listener: Intelligence.

Speaker: Intelligence and intelligence operates in the present and in present there is no purpose. Do not run after purpose. Just be present.

Presence, not purpose. Presence is intelligence, purpose is conditioning.

So, there is no purpose in life except what is happening right now. And this right now is called presence. Whatever you will call as the purpose of your life will essentially be your conditioning. You may say the purpose of my life is helping others, my purpose of life is liberation and you may dream thousand other stories. The purpose of life is to create a vast empire and different people can have different thoughts and dreams about that. But whatever you will say, your purpose of life will come from your conditioning. Are you getting it? Somebody’s purpose may be to attain heaven. And what will your heaven be like? Depends which religion you follow, which religion has conditioned you. If you are an atheist you may something else. If you are deeply attached to your parents, you may say something else. If you are very patriotic, you may say something else. But whatever you will say that will come from your attachments and identities. Are you getting this?

There is no purpose, there is only this moment and living it. Those who are not living it are distracted and are making fool of themselves. Don’t do that. Be present. Don’t lose this. There’s no other opportunity. Don’t squander it.

Tell me, do you ask for the purpose of life when you are greatly joyful and immersed in something? No, because then that is it, you are done, you will not ask for the purpose. That is the real thing. Being into it.  Completely into it. Being in love with the present. That love is not the love that we feel in our families, not attachment but complete understanding, complete contact. Whatever the purpose you will come up with, will come from your past and that thinking in terms of time is the function of brain which is the product of evolution and evolution is time.

But intelligence does not operate in time. Where does it operate? In the present. Right now. Past and future, these are the doings of the brain. They are contained in the brain. The present is not the brain. In fact, the brain wants to run away from the present, it wants to take shelter in imaginations, hopes and dreams. That’s why most people prefer to be in dreams and thoughts; they are the convenient escapes from the present. They are then behaving like animals because an animal is nothing but its conditioning.

What makes you human?

Your intelligence makes you human. Is that clear? Deeply clear

– Excerpts from Samvaad session. Edited for clarity.

View the session at: What is the purpose of life?

Read more articles on this topic:

Article 1                                               Article 2                                               Article 3

2 thoughts on “What is the purpose of life?

    1. Acharya Prashant (आचार्य प्रशांत) Post author

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