Type to search

Arts & Culture

The Purpose Of Life And Old Age

The  purpose of life?

What is the purpose of life?
why are we here?

the answers are all around us

the Greeks  aimed for  happiness

Aristotle even
listed eleven  virtues
that would help  achieve happiness
he pointed to the Golden Mean 

the Abrahamic faiths
Jews, Christians and Muslims
believe it is to worship
the Abrahamic God 

to be good and pious people
to do unto neighbors
what they would do unto you 

the Jews
emphasize tikkun olam
to heal a fractured world
the Christians are inspired by Jesus’ commandment
to love one another
even on the cross
crucified, tortured and taunted

Jesus still had it in his heart to say
forgive them for they know not what they do

Islam’s message is defined by
the two greatest attributes of God
compassion and  mercy
the Prophet was called

a mercy unto mankind
the spirit of Islam is contained in God’s  message 

“My mercy prevails over My wrath”
Muslims aim to achieve Rida
others too sought the meaning of life

some searched for
dharam-ahimsa in non-violence in India 

some sought nirvana in the jungles
yet others 
found joy in the peace, beauty and quiet
of the mountains and streams
through silence, meditation and withdrawal
one Zen master spent ten years staring at a rock
weren’t the mystics and yogis practicing similar methods?

the philosophers of atheism
sought to kill God
but in the vacuum stepped  monsters
 like Mao and Stalin
who demanded the blood sacrifice of millions
in the end the eudaimonia of the Greeks 

or the nirvana of Buddha
or the fulfillment of the Abrahamic faiths
all point to the same direction
an attempt by us
in this brief span
to answer the question
what is the purpose of life?


Old age

A blessing,
A  curse
Squeaking and squawking
all day
Short of breath
And patience.

With the trips to the doctors
And restroom
The high bills for medicines.
As if nature is
It is time to go.
You begin to wonder
Maybe Mother Nature knows best.
But in the grey dullness of the day

There are moments
When dozing in the afternoon

Images from the past

Bathed in a golden glow
Come glittering
Seeping  through.
At those moments
My mind is then crystal clear
and my limbs supple again.
Other memories come flooding in
from my school days in the hills
of north Pakistan
of the laughter of class fellows
after a successful prank
or creating an awkward moment for a teacher
the physical exuberance

after a hard game of tennis
the joy of hitting a boundary
or scoring top marks.

The world was young
and the future limitless.
The  beautiful face of my bride,
The radiance  of my children,
The undulations of a long life
Are with me.

But now
I am confused
am I seventeen again
or over seventy?
I am no longer sure.
Which one is  reality

and which one illusion?
And does it matter?
Those images from the past

Float about me
And as they evaporate
They leave me faintly smiling

With moistness
Around the edges of my eyes.
And I hear the distant voices
of my grandchildren

asking is gran’pa alright?

(and when did I suddenly become gran’pa?)
He hasn’t moved for a while?

He couldn’t be …?
And somewhere
Suspended between 17 and 75

I chuckle gently
With compassion and love

And say to myself.
You too my dears

Will be exactly
In my position

When the cycle of life

Picks  you up.

They say

Those golden moments

Will  never return.

They are wrong.

Those moments have  never left.

And I can say

“I’ve seen things
You people wouldn’t  believe.”
And do I have any lessons for you?

Only this: You must live your lives
With compassion, commitment and integrity.

In the end

Nothing else matters
Money,lands and properties
Will be left behind

But savor the passing moments
For they will return

Unexpectedly and blissfully
To be your companions,

Not “lost in time,
Like  tears in rain,”
As you prepare to sleep.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *