In each age, people have reflected on the nature of their existence. This reflection has often been expressed in the question:
Why are we here?
In trying to determine the purpose for their individual lives, people have usually attributed their existence to the intent of a God or the Cosmic. Human beings in their various religions have become accustomed to thinking of themselves as images of God. This image which they have had was usually conceived in the narrower sense.
It was the anthropomorphic transference of human qualities to the Divine image.
One of these qualities of human nature which was transferred to the Divine was determinism, the belief that all creation is by Divine intent, the exercise of a Cosmic will.
It’s plausible for us to think that we’re the product of purpose. We know ourselves to be causative. We bring about a series of events daily, numerous changes by imposing the conclusions of our reason and by our willpower.
We are however causative in a dual way.
We can, by the unintentional application of force, cause changes in things and conditions of our world. To use an example, by merely stumbling against an object, we can cause that object to move or in some way change its appearance. But we can also through volition, the exercise of our will, so direct our physical powers as to move an object and in some way change its appearance and relationships.
This latter kind of wilful causation is determinism. It’s the serving of a preconceived purpose. Those then who think of human beings as being a kind of image of the Divine, believe that the Divine too is purposeful.
They are not inclined to believe that human life is a caprice or that it’s merely the consequence of some natural forces or conditions. Rather, they believe that humankind is the consequence of a specific design.
They even believe that their lives, all their phases, are the result of Divine intent.
Our main question must be: Is such a commonly held belief false, or on the other hand, is it irreverent for us to deny that reality has a purpose, and to deny that there is a purpose behind human existence?
It’s appropriate first to give a little thought to the nature of purpose. We must inquire whether it’s reconcilable with the generally held belief in the Divine and of the Cosmic. Purpose is not merely the end or conclusion of some activity. It’s more than the effect that follows a series of causes.
Purpose is a conceived objective.
It’s a planned action to achieve a specific result. Determinism or purpose implies something else as well. It implies that there’s an insufficiency, an inadequacy or lack of something.
Purpose then has as its function, acquisition, namely, the acquiring or bringing about of a non-existent thing, state or condition.
Now, can we attribute these qualities we’ve associated with purpose to a concept of God or the Cosmic?
The Divine or Cosmic, we must presume, is infinite in its attributes, as the philosopher Spinoza said. Therefore, the Divine or Cosmic is potential with all things. Sciences such as astronomy, geology and zoology tell of the many particulars of the universe, the various manifestations of these infinite forces. They describe animals, plants and even stars that come into existence.
It might then be asked: Were these particulars planned to be as they seem? Do these things that seem to come suddenly into existence indicate purpose?
Our answer is that more than any specific purpose, they reveal the necessity of the Divine nature which brings them into existence.
The Cosmic or the Divine, by its nature, must have in its existence certain positive qualities.
Logically, to be, the Cosmic must be ever active and ever becoming. However, as an active being, it couldn’t be moving toward any specific end or objective, because that would imply that it would be moving toward finality and an ultimate limitation.
This type of movement would signify that the Cosmic, as of now, was imperfect and had to attain ultimate perfection in a so-called future. This concept would be inconsistent with the perfection which every religion and mystic is inclined to attribute to the Divine or Cosmic.
The Changing Expression of Oneness
The powers and forces of which the Cosmic being consists, are not generated in one line.
In fact, direction doesn’t exist to the Cosmic. There’s neither up, down, advance or retrogression. Furthermore, if we think of it for a moment, we can’t say that there’s any unity in the Cosmic; for after all, unity denotes separate things or conditions which have become united.
We can’t have a conception of unity before we have the conception of those things which can be united.
In the Cosmic there’s only a changing expression of the oneness of its nature.
Though the Cosmic contains no real diversity, there must occur that simple state where its qualities are more distinctive.
From this relative simplicity, there’s a surge again toward the complex. In the so-called complex phenomena the powers and forces of the Cosmic are so interrelated that they constitute what we consider the developed expression of it. We call these developed expressions the evolutionary processes in nature.
The Cosmic cycle of activity is ever complete when its phenomena reach a state of complexity. Then it returns to condition of relative simplicity. Thus there is a continual oscillation of the Cosmic being.
What is humankind then but one of these infinite complexities? Humanity is the integration and the coordination of the lesser manifestations of Cosmic action. We are not so by design but rather because we couldn’t escape the inherent function of the Cosmic to be.
The human body is a matrix or mass of atoms and their nuclear forces.
However, we are also vital beings, animated with Cosmic qualities that manifest as the phenomenon of life. This vital force is cohesive. It binds the phenomenon of matter to a specific pattern. This pattern is the organic process of living matter.
Matter, when it’s imbued with life, changes its form.
But living matter never changes its basic qualities. All living matter, regardless of its form, has similar basic functions.
However, life has a primary attribute that relates it more to the whole scale of Cosmic action than any other phenomenon.
The most elementary living things exhibit this attribute, demonstrating that the living organism responds to its own nature. It’s the continual striving of life to be what it is. This struggle of life is to retain the composite oneness of its nature.
Though life undergoes changes, it is ever fighting to confine these changes within the limits of its own organic processes. Life opposes every tendency toward a return to the relative separateness of the forces of the body of which it’s composed on the one hand and the vital force on the other.
This characteristic of life we call consciousness.
It is also the essential attribute of the Cosmic to be and to respond to the nature of its being. The Cosmic is conscious, therefore, because it responds to and preserves its own nature. The Cosmic is infinite in the changes which its action undergoes. Nevertheless, the Cosmic is limited to that which it is.
When a living thing is aware of its striving to be, then it is not just a complex organism. It has become at that time a complex or developed consciousness as well.
This we know as the phenomenon of self-consciousness.
Each human being having self-consciousness is aware of its self-existence, as well as having the realisation of other kinds of reality. But the consciousness that causes us to see the universe as a myriad of separate things or phenomena is diametrically opposed to Cosmic oneness.
There would be no monistic state such as the Cosmic, no oneness, if each phenomenon were just to respond to its own nature.
Consequently, there is an accord between the apparently separate things of reality although the fundamental quality of Cosmic being is that it is a greater self than any number of its particular expressions.
A Self-Conscious Entity
From the foregoing it must be apparent that humankind has a higher state of consciousness to attain.
This consciousness would approximate the consciousness of the Cosmic. This state goes beyond an awareness of the things of existence, and even beyond our awareness of ourselves.
It is that consciousness which we have when we begin to realise the abstract binding factors of the Cosmic. This awareness of the oneness of reality brings to us greater satisfaction than any number of particulars which we can conceive.
It constitutes a consciousness of the universal, which is more gratifying than any forms it may assume.
For analogy, to the music lover music, as an emotional expression, transcends any single musical composition which they have ever heard. In other words, they love music more than any particular expression of it. To the music lover, music is generic; it’s a class, not any particular selection.
So, when we seek to find a psychic, spiritual or intellectual consciousness of the Cosmic, by that act we’ve returned to the Cosmic.
As a self-conscious entity, we are not really of the Cosmic until we make an attempt to attain this oneness with it. Until this time all the elements of which we are composed are of the Cosmic; however, it’s only the forces of our physical being and vital life force that are of the Cosmic.
The self, that which is conscious of our nature, is not of the Cosmic until we realise that it is.
Cosmically, there’s no purpose for humanity, in the way we might think of ‘purpose’.
We are not a Cosmically conceived objective. Rather, within the necessity of the nature of the Cosmic there arises such complexity, of which we’re a part.
We are not conceived by Cosmic intent but by Cosmic necessity.
Consciousness, just as all other phenomena, passes through a greater complexity. Thus Cosmic consciousness isn’t limited to an indwelling blind striving to be. It also consists of the awareness of its own infinite oneness.
For the Cosmic to have this realisation of itself, one of its myriad manifestations must glean an awareness of it, must be able to reflect the Cosmic.
We are that kind of manifestation, and this consciousness of the Cosmic is possible with us.
Whether other beings elsewhere possess this developed consciousness or awareness, we don’t know with certainty. All highly conscious beings, wherever they may be, are a microcosm. They reflect within themselves the macrocosm, the great Cosmic, and the singleness of its nature. Beings such as ourselves thus become the self-consciousness of the Cosmic.
The Cosmic realises its own nature through the phenomena which develop out of its infinite changes.
The scientist, the philosopher, the mystic, each within the limits of their own approach, is conceding, by their interests and declarations, to the Cosmic necessity of their being.
Each one is seeking, in their own way, to go beyond the separateness of appearances. Each is trying to attain a harmony with the whole of reality, by being drawn back, through their research and studies, into the harmony of the formless one.
Those who deny this aspect of their consciousness are opposing the very Cosmic complexity of their nature.
By doing so, they’re clinging fast to the lesser stages of their consciousness. They’ve become physically evolved by Cosmic necessity to assume their present status, but functionally, however, they reside on the level of a lesser living organism.
It’s futile for us to know why we are, but most fruitful for us to know what we are. Only by knowing this, does the self attain its true stature as an exalted state of consciousness.
Adaptation of ‘Why Are We Here?’ by Ralph M Lewis from the Rosicrucian Beacon, December 2012