Of course one wishes to have success in whatever cosmic purpose chosen and factors in that success come down to: (1) an optimal selection process, (2) commitment paired with extraordinary patience, (3) flexibility, (4) enjoyment of role, (5) realistic expectations, and (6) relentless focus. Analysis of persons with successful cosmic roles reveals they have one or more or even all of these elements in play.
The rewards are of several orders starting with individual ones particularly self-fulfillment and legacy including anticipation of a kind of immortality through accomplishment in the highest realm accessible in life. But the purest benefit is external – participation in and advancement of the designs implicit in Nature and the universe. As a bonus, there is an immense opportunity for work in these areas to benefit humanity as well.
In a greater sense, success is secondary; the simple decision to further the ‘goals’ of Nature and of the universe coupled with sincere effort qualifies one to a place on the roster of significant persons who have ever lived even if one’s efforts are never publicly recognized. When one considers whether there is a meaning to life, the most defensible stance for an answer in the positive is having attempted or, better yet, fulfilled a self-defined cosmic role. Human agency transcends human finitude in cosmic purpose. We may all end up cosmic dust, but the significance of our existence is forever affirmed in our voluntary contributions to cosmic destiny.
I close by returning to Jonas Salk’s powerful synthesis presented now more fully:
“He [Man] has not yet seen the importance of understanding life’s ‘purpose,’ and therefore, his purpose individually and collectively, and of understanding where he fits into the evolutionary scheme of things. …If human life is to express as much harmony, constructiveness, and creativity as are possible for fulfilling the purpose of life, as ‘required’ by Nature, and the purposes in life, as ‘chosen’ by Man, an attitude will be needed, not of Man ‘against’ Nature, but of Man ‘inclusive with’ Nature. A more reasonable attitude would be for Man to ‘serve Nature’ in order to serve himself…”1
Plenty to think about.
1Salk, Jonas, The Survival of the Wisest. Harper & Row, Publishers, New York, 1973. ISBN 0-06-013738-X, pages 3-4. ( His italics and quotation marks.)
2 Replies to “PURPOSE AND COSMIC REALITY – SYNOPSIS (continued)”
Lovely prose, Mr. Ciliberti. I am enchanted by the thoughts. Enchanting, though they are, I just don’t know what cosmic purpose and cosmic destiny may be. The cosmos is vast. We do not know, nor can we estimate that vastness. But, it is cold, and in itself, lifeless; does not plan or calculate; could not care about OUR purpose or destiny. You have talent and compassion, I think. Keep writing. We desperately need such sentiments. This world, in itself, is too, cold and lifeless. Best wishes.
Welcome to philosophicalguidance.com and thank you for you kind words.
It is difficult to tell if you had a chance to read any of my earlier posts on the purpose of the cosmos, on teleology, and on the destiny of the universe.
While a snapshot view of the universe does suggest vastness, coldness, and overall lifelessness, the chronological picture is more hopeful. As I understand it, the amorphous universe immediately following the big bang, progressed (in rough order) through stages of subatomic particles, low atomic elements, superstructures (stars) in which larger elements formed, then stellar explosions from which still larger elements formed, followed by star systems (some with habitable planets), increasingly complex molecules, unicellular then multicellular, and finally (to our knowledge) intelligent life. This horizontal description of the universe suggest a trajectory which we could call ‘purposeful.’
Now this ‘purpose’ appears to be due to the emergent properties intrinsic to complex systems. However this same explanation seems to apply to life and consciousness as well. Therefore I think it is premature for us to conclude the universe has no ‘intentionality’ (or even consciousness) just as it would be unreasonable for a cell in one’s body (if it had reasoning powers) to conclude that a person has no intentionality or purpose in his or her behavior because it is simply too small to perceive it. In the case of the cosmos, its complete historical unfolding may instantiate its purpose.
I am reminded of Laozi’s words: “All things in nature work silently. They come into being and possess nothing. They fulfil their function and make no claim. All things alike do their work, and then we see them subside. When they have reached their bloom each returns to its origin. Returning to their origin means rest, or fulfilment of destiny. This reversion is an eternal law. To know that law is wisdom.”
Whether the universe cares about our purpose or destiny seems irrelevant – the important question is reciprocal – should we care about the purpose or destiny of the universe? I would argue we should, even if this is based on our finite understanding and capabilities. Human life seems more meaningful if it is aligned with the trajectory of the universe and fills some small role in its course.
Last I would counter the tendency to pessimism with contrary experiences – seeing the tiny tree hidden in a maple seed under a low power microscope, the blossoming of a flower, the pure joy of a running puppy, the perception of sublime majesty atop a mountain in Colorado, the unforgettable image of Earth from space, an almost spiritual awe on seeing Saturn through a backyard telescope, the indescribable beauty of cosmic structures presented by the Hubble space telescope, and many more.
At the end of the day, all purpose is the subjective experience of an individual and one we choose for ourselves.
Again thank you for your interest in philosophicalguidance.com.