Steph, Many minds better than mine have pondered this question. Once you get over the notion that the universe cares about us, you are confronted with pure existence: we are here, we have these bodies with their limitations, we are social beings and do things, good or bad, to or with others...and by chance some of us get to produce more (innovations, ideas) than others. But nobody gets out alive. There is no meaning or purpose to your life except what you give it. People invented gods because they were flummoxed by the foregoing facts and had no good answer. From there it was a short step to "no meaning without God." But that's backwards!
Seriously! That is so true, and it appears most vividly in all the crap about end-times, Rapture, etc. "Great things will happen during my lifetime, and I will be a part of it." Get real and grow up.
I confess to fantasizing about "Earth After Humans", and I fantasize about the rivers running clean again, and all urban smog not existing, and no papermill stench next door, and no synthetics in my food. I also fantasize I'm among the only survivors who'd survive long enough to see Earth ecosystems reestablish themselves. Yup, some people fantasize about sexual positions, but I've done them all, so I fantasize about a clean earth.
Will an eventual end to humanity happen during my lifetime, no likely, unless it's a major rare cosmic event. Would I be among the sole survivors, even less likely. But I can still fantasize :)
Lots of deep thought here from comments of Michael OL and even into replies by Mindy and Alan Perlman.
The "you are special" thinking that creates our narcissism comes often from adults lying to children, but then goes right back to the Buybull where Jebus taught that "every hair of your head was numbered." (Evidently they had mirrors in those days and he knew some older men.) LOL
Yes, the day will come when the graves will be opened and the dead will be caught up to meet him in the air. Governments of the world will make up lies to cover this great event. What? Now you say it's not our body that is going. (Damn those christian apologists. I wish they would make up their minds.)
Yes, the end times. Here is my old stepfather telling me about how we are now into "the very last part of the last days." He has no purpose because he is old and my mother and sister are now dead. He would love to see me "saved" again and take up my Buybull. What he misses is the fact that I am where I am today because I studied it too much!
Your purpose in life. It can be many things, but maybe we should just live it.
Alan, very well said, and clearly too.
PS. Two quotes:
"In this world, we eat, shit, sleep and wake up. After that, all we have to do is die."
(Zen master Ikkyu)
"There is no enlightenment outside of daily life."
(Thich Nhat Hanh)
Alan, Zen master Ikkyu has little imagination and maybe terminal depression.
Thich Nhat Hanh sounds like a good guy to have nearby.
Tom...I think he was only saying that most of life is up to us to make something of it.
Some of my Buddhist friends accuse me of having Buddhist ideas. My opinion of Buddhism is as low as my opinion of Western religions. The grass is not greener on the other side. But of course both sides do occasionally come up with a good line.
Can a non believer`s life have purpose? Of course it can. Albert Camus addressed this question.
bobh, in 25 or fewer words, how did Camus address it?