For some of us, we may question the point of existence, yet there are different layers—an extrinsic (spiritual) layer, and an intrinsic (materialistic) layer. So while some deep thinkers may come up with theories as to why humans exist, why pain, happiness, and other emotive responses occur, the vast majority will only focus on the intrinsic layer—what they can see, feel, understand, relate to and can touch. This is however superficial and is created my humans, but do we all enable it and therefore are responsible for how it has evolved?
Consider the goals one has in life on a superficial level that society has created and framed:
- Get a good education
- Have your own home
- Marry an attractive partner and have children
- Find a well paid job
Who says we must have these to exist? The irony is that people subconsciously believe they must do these and that is what existence is about. Yet if you look at someone who lives in a remote village in Asia, with no contact with the western world, few of these goals will apply, but they are still humans that exist on this planet.
If we move on, other superficial goals that society has created and enabled are the following:
- Go on holiday several times a year
- Buy a flat screen television
- Wear designer clothes
- Get the latest smartphone or laptop
- Own your own company
- Dine out at least once a week
Have these been created to advance humanity, or are they superficially meant to classify people from those who have succeeded and those who have not in the eyes of society? You only have to look at lifestyle surveys to see what marketing companies are deeming successful, and if you don’t fit into their niche they reject you. The question is; are you a failure if you don’t go abroad or on holiday, if you don’t eat in a restaurant once a week, or if you don’t own a smartphone? The answer is a realistic ‘no’ yet in the eyes of many who are brainwashed into superficiality they would deem that to be the case. So, are we as a society enabling this superficial existence based on material goods, appearance, and status by subconsciously conforming to the goals the media promotes and that society aspire to and accept as goals for success?
Look at tabloid types of magazines, websites, and shows where people focus on appearances, and what kind of lives alleged beautiful and successful people are living in a bid to promote aspirations. Is that a realistic or practical type of existence? Is that what life is about? It’s worrying that an emerging generation look to celebrity gossip as inspiration, and websites that promote egos, status, and shaming as the norm. Magazines thrive on trivial gossip, boosting those without merit and embarrassing those in the public eye when they make an error. Again, think about it and consider is that what existence is about and if so, why do you strive to be like that?
Let us look at the extrinsic layer of existence, which is intangible, and unproven but does make logical sense. People can’t always relate to these theories, and many prefer not to, simply because they can’t see the endgame as in ‘what’s in it’ for them.
- We exist to learn from our mistakes and be a better person/soul.
- By existing we are helping others learn their lessons, through support and advice.
- Existence has a purpose to help mankind and society to evolve.
Many may struggle with the above and wonder how and what do they need to learn, how can they help others (and should they), and why does mankind need to evolve? Now, I’m not talking about human rights or charity work here, because these are remedies for man made problems. Yes, there maybe starvation in some countries, but look at the corrupt governance there and why it exists, then there are cultural differences in laws that may need to evolve, but one must still respect the choice of different laws and cultures in society.
The extrinsic layer will rarely bring about immediate results, and that can deter people because human nature likes to see progress as it motivates them. Also some will want to see the rewards, or want to know how they are doing. Unlike a scale of wealth you cannot measure how you have progressed in terms of learning from your mistakes, as there is no limit. Some may ask, “How can anything I do help mankind evolve?” and the simple answer is that we all do without actively thinking about it.
In what ways to we enable a superficial existence? We do it by placing importance on transient and trivial matters—why is it important to hail a previously unknown celebrity spouse as a fashion icon because designers give them free clothes knowing they will be photographed, do we care who a Prince or Princess is dating, and why would what the public (a handful of people in a poll) think have any credence or relevance? Why are we made to feel or look inadequate if we don’t have a social media account or know how to use one? Why do we judge others on where they live or where they went to school? Materialism is superficial and people become materialistic without realizing it because others validate it and make it seem normal, hence these attitudes and behaviors enable a superficial existence.
People aim to go to a college that will make them look good in society, to use the latest smartphone in public so others will think more highly of them, or they emulate celebrities in what they wear and use in a bid to feel superior to others. Does any of the above actually matter extrinsically? No, because people are conforming to what others have created as the purpose of living and existing. You have to ask yourself what is that all for? Who gains pleasure from any of it and did you enjoy it? One may enjoy watching a film on a large flat screen television, but that lasts a couple of hours, and they may proudly brag about their possession. However, it can breakdown, and eventually it will become outdated. It’s transient. What about wearing designer clothes, or the same outfit as a celebrity in a bid to feel good? You wear it for a day or on several occasions, but you have to take it off to go to sleep, to wash it, and it can get torn or stained. Again, it is transient.
I recently stopped reading many magazines because rather than read articles that explore issues I have found the recent generation of writers (sorry millennials) who boast, brag, and who praise their peers for pretty much anything. There is no real substance in most of the media, yet it has the power to brainwash the weak-minded and impressionable into thinking that is the point of existing—to earn enough to go on holiday, to pay a deposit on a flash new car, to buy shoes that a film star wore, or even to follow a cause because someone said it was a good idea. It’s not only the media that enable this, but those who choose to take note and blindly conform.
Are any media outlets promoting extrinsic concepts of existence? Usually they are seen as the loony websites, cults, or religious crazies, but you don’t need to read or listen to any of them. Simply ask yourself when you are at the end of your life, what was the point of your existence? What did you learn, what made you happy, sad, and when you had to make difficult choices how did you do that? That is the real purpose of existence, not to have children, a mansion, a highflying job, and to look immaculate. These elements may have helped you find out things about yourself (strengths and weaknesses) and others, such as children may teach you how to love, or be responsible, a house may teach you what is it to feel secure and safe, and a job can teach you about interacting with others (good and bad). They also teach you that they are fleeting, and come and go and there is no continuity.
Instead of waiting until your golden years ask yourself the important questions of what your aims are for your existence. What do you wish to achieve for yourself and no one else. The truth is no one will really care if you went to Harvard or if you did an online degree (there is still snob value where Harvard Extension is considered low class even though it’s the same courses taught on campus), no one will care that you lived on the most expensive street in town, because none of those things have defined you as an individual.
We do have the ability to think for ourselves and that seems to have been forgotten. Don’t get me wrong, I like nice clothes, but I choose colors, fabrics, and styles I like and that suit me, and I also opt for practical technology that I am comfortable with and can use. I like to travel, and go to places that inspire me or that I wish to visit to explore rather than others who like to boast where they have been to look glamorous. I’ve been there and in a circle that behaved as such, and it really is a façade most of the time, and then some believed in it and tried to be something that they weren’t because they thought that is who they could become. The problem is they weren’t do it for themselves, but for others acceptance and validation.
So why do we exist? It’s not to upgrade to a new smartphone every couple of years, to go on holiday each year, or to buy a new wardrobe each season. If that is your existence (and that’s what some people aim and for live for), then maybe you need to think about why you feel the need for any of the above? The fact is you can exist without them, but what can’t you exist without? Humanity; morals to know what is right or wrong (and to act accordingly), humility, the ability to forgive, love, and most importantly know who you are and that it doesn’t matter what others think. It’s nice to be liked and loved, but that doesn’t make you a good or enlightened soul, because you, whether you want to believe it or not chose to exist, and you do know the reason or reasons, you just need to discover them in your own time.