Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Life's Purpose Here And After We Die

Another trigger point from my original blog on my conversion to the LDS Faith.  This has to do with the philosophy class I took at the University of Illinois in the early 1960’s.  i mentioned the “Myth of Sisyphus” and the struggle of this man pushing a boulder up a hill.  It made me start thinking about life in a very deep and meaningful way.  I could not help but feel that there had to be more to life than being born, live a certain number of years and die.  I had this feeling that there had to be a purpose to life much deeper than that.
One of the thoughts that came to me had to do with Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.  As I understand this, matter is neither created nor destroyed.  It will always exist in some form.  I was somehow thinking that we as human beings have always existed in some form.  For some crazy reason in this class I was getting a very different idea.  Whether the professor or my fellow students were thinking differently I am not sure.  However, I had the distinct impression from this class of this idea of “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we idea.”  I said to myself.  Is that really it?  I could not believe that,  I somehow felt that there had to be a purpose to our life here that neither began nor ended with our time here.

So here I am.  I have had two experiences at this point in my life which caused me to think in a deeper way about religion: The Trinity and The Myth of Sisyphus.  Two very different experiences and yet maybe somehow related.  So I graduate from the University of Illinois and start working for an architectural firm in St. Louis.  I then serve my two years in the Peace Corps and attend the University of Oregon all of which I have already mentioned in previous blogs.  I am going to skip over the third experience with Machu Picchu and come back to it either later in this blog or in a separate one.

As I began the missionary lessons I was introduced to a topic referred to as “The Plan of Salvation” which answers the three questions I had back when I was contemplating this idea of a purpose to life.  Those three questions are: 1. Where did I come from? 2. Why am I here? 3. Where am I going after this life?  As they explained this to me it was like pieces of a puzzle fitting together,  It was one of those “aha” moments for me.  It was like a familiar concept I had heard before.  Could it be that I knew about this before I was even born?  Could this thought of meeting people for the first time and not making the connection could possibly mean that I knew them before I was born?  That I knew them as spirits before being born into mortality?  What a crazy idea and yet it made sense to me.  Just like Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.  Yes, there is a purpose to life.  Yes, there is something i need to do while I am here to prepare me for the time when I leave this mortal life and die.  Death is not the end but a new beginning.  

I remember having a talk with one of my older brothers about this.  We loved engaging in talks from time to time.  He had an idea about what we are supposed to do while we are here in mortality.  If I remember what we talked about it was this idea of coming here to build on what we had before we came here.  Like a series of experiences that we collect in our brain that we learn from and make them part of our memory.  The idea of storing these so we can take them with us.  The idea of making a contribution or somehow improving or making better the ideas or things that we are exposed to.  
Just recently here in Costa Rica we were talking with some dear friends of ours.  She shared a concept that resonated with me.  She referred to it as “puzzle pieces of love”.  The idea that each of us have our unique set of experiences that we need to share with others.  Those unique puzzle pieces are needed by those we meet to fill the gaps in their own “puzzle pieces” to make them better or more complete.

I am absolutely convinced that there is a purpose to life.  We are here to make a contribution.  We are here to have a positive influence on those around us.  We are here to learn from each other and thus make each of us better because of that precious association. …..because of that connection we made. I absolutely cherish these opportunities to share feelings and serve others.  I love the opportunity to lift others and help them feel better about themselves.  Somehow, these good feelings that come as we are engaged in such acts of service seem to confirm the fact that we are doing the right things.  Is not that what love is all about?  This idea of putting the welfare of others ahead of our own desires.  It is interesting to see what happens as we do so.  We feel good.  Whatever was bothering us seems to disappear.

Now moving forward with this idea.  Someday we leave this life.  What we have made of it in a positive way we are taking with us.  We have become better people because of these experiences where we have shared and served others.  What awaits us in the life after this one has much to do with what we did while we were here.  It will become a beautiful experience and only becomes possible because we had a Savior to guide us, pick us up and fill those gaps in our limited capacities.  A Savior who made it possible for us to correct our course and lift us up when we are down and feel defeated.  Yes, “men are that they might have joy”.  ETERNAL JOY  

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