Our youngsters and the meaning of life

by Dr. Parviz Dehghani​

One of the most fundamental questions that our teens and College students often ask concerns the meaning of life as if life already has a meaning. Our Religions in general claim they have the answer to this question. This reminds me of what the great Greek philosopher Socrates said regarding the Truth. The difference between Philosophy and Religion, he argued, is that in the former(philosophy) Truth is pursued whereas in the latter(Religion) Truth is possessed. Thinkers restlessly seek the Truth and the meaning of being while the people of revelations do not have to exert themselves to achieve this goal because they know the answer already. Buddha, on the other hand, seems to have had a different approach to this dilemma. He knew an intellectual response would not satisfy our curiosity. He also was aware of the fact that unaided reason always asks questions it cannot answer. He felt we need to detoxify our reason so it can see the Truth clearly. In the midst of this chaos and confusion of uncertainty he used the patanjali Yuga for his meditation. He taught unless we try to sink into the depth of our being we are not going to know the Truth for ourselves. Let us not forget that Buddha was not a Buddhist. He came from the Hindu tradition and used the Yoga method available to him in order not to possess the Truth but become one with it like 0+1=1. The Truth for him was not an object and he the subject. But it was vice versa, namely, the Truth attracted him to itself just as when the light of a candle draws a moth to itself. Therefore, he did not possess the Truth rather the Truth like the Sun connected with its ray. The best proof of his experience with the Truth was the fact that he began glowing and illuminating the world around him. He never discouraged his followers from thinking for themselves through the use of logic and rationality. However, he made sure to warn them against the excessive use of the unaided reason for fear that it would lead to division among his followers. Jesus once said: “And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. (Mark 3, verse 25). Abraham Lincoln also said the same thing in regard to the civil war which had divided his people. Buddha was not divisive in his attitude but a unifier. As long as we do not know the Truth we are not free. Our strength is in unity in the middle of diversity. Buddha reached that knowledge and he wished for us to have it too.