Just saying that there is a purpose is not enough. Any teleological explanation would be incomplete if a possible purpose itself is not examined. A reasonable starting point in this case is to consider what the One could possibly seek. To address this issue adequately, two fundamental principles, static and dynamic, need to be brought to attention first. States and processes, rather than matter, seem to be fundamental properties of reality, and they are manifestations of these two underlying principles. They are widely recognised in spirituality (e.g. yin and yang in the East) and permeate every aspect of reality. In human life, for example, static and dynamic principles are manifested as tendencies towards security and freedom (but apparently even subatomic particles, such as electrons, get agitated, speed up, when they are confined to a small region of space). Not any movement, though, represents the dynamic principle. A degree of indeterminacy or change must be involved. Predetermined, regular movements are essentially static. For instance, if the rotation of a planet around a star is observed from a four dimensional perspective (including time), it will look like a relatively stable spiral (although even this movement is to some extent chaotic and not fully predictable). From this perspective, it could be said that Newtonian physics is essentially static, while modern physics takes into account the dynamic principle.
The static and dynamic principles are intrinsic characteristics of non-material energy and must be in a relative balance. This necessity for balance indicates that there are limitations to the One. The One is not born and cannot die (energy did not at one point become focused, but simply is). However, if the static principle prevails, it could lead to stagnation and uniform movement only, which would be an equivalent of death. On the other hand, if the changes involved are completely chaotic, the dynamic principle could take over, which could lead to disintegration (resembling, in human terms, madness). But everything the One does becomes straight away is, so the static principle is likely to dominate (the nearest phenomenological parallel in human life would be the sense of boredom). One way out of it could be to act in an unpredictable manner, but that would lead to chaos and the prevalence of the dynamic principle. So, in order to strengthen the dynamic principle in a non-chaotic way, something that is not the One is needed. A non-chaotic, and yet not completely predictable entity that will be able to enter into an interaction with the One. Therefore, another agency is necessary, something that can be pro-active not only reactive, something that has freedom (otherwise doing turns into being). Something that will develop its own independent awareness and intent and will eventually grow to be an active counterpart to the One. This could establish a permanent balance between the dynamic and static principle. In other words, the Other needs to become. The One is one, and the only thing that the One may seek is the Other. Thus, the purpose of life can be formulated as the development of the Other that will enable an infinite interplay with the One. From this perspective, humanity presents one form, at one stage, in this process. This purpose was already recognised at the dawn of spiritual development. One of the oldest Hindu myths (Hinduism being one of the oldest religions) is that the world was created because the original being was lonely. The ancient Egyptian religion makes a similar point.
How infinitely creative this solution is can only be grasped if it is considered that the ‘otherness' does not exist at all to start off. The question may be asked, though, why the One simply does not split into two. However, in such a case every part would be fully aware of the other (like looking at a mirror), and because these parts could only interact with each other, the dynamic principle would not be strengthened. The Other, the counterpart, must start from the state of minimal awareness and intent.
Before moving on, it may be worthwhile to briefly consider alternative propositions regarding the meaning. The most popular one, even nowadays, is the attainment of unity with God in one form or another. But this proposition neglects that such a solution still refers to the ‘meaning in life' rather than the ‘meaning of life'. In other words, even if it is accepted that such unity may provide the meaning in the lives of human beings, why would God want unity with vastly inferior creatures? And even if this question is somehow bypassed, would such a state be desirable at all? Not even Dante managed to make heaven appealing. A non-theistic equivalent, nirvana, may be free from pains, but it seems unbearably dull. It is unlikely that the end of everything is some homogeneous state. However, this notion does not miss the target completely. It may reflect the longing for lost unity, but it may also be based on a recognition that transcending the separation between individuals is necessary before The Other is fully formed.
Another proposition is linked to the idea of evolution (which existed well before Darwin). Its relatively recent proponent was a maverick theologician Teilhard de Chardin, but perhaps the best known case is the philosopher Hegel's evolution of the absolute spirit. He lucidly married the evolutionary process with dialectics (popularised since as ‘thesis - antithesis - synthesis', although Hegel himself rarely used these terms). Hegel's philosophy is too complex to be analysed here, a general comment will have to suffice. The final goal of evolution, according to Hegel, is that Geist (Mind or Spirit) understands itself, in other words, a full self-actualisation. Hegel has been often seen (by Popper and others) as overly optimistic, but the real problem is that this view is ultimately pessimistic. Even if the absolute spirit (or the collective mind) cognises itself, what then? Lacking an answer to this question renders this possibility, in fact, meaningless. However, as in the first case, it seems that the above proposition also contains something important. Where else could this evolutionary process head if not towards creating a god? But a lonely god indeed.
To summarise, although both above possibilities make some significant points, they are incomplete. While in the first case the relation is overemphasised (at the expense of the evolutionary process), in the second the relation is neglected. Perhaps combining them, the synthesis between being and doing, would be closer to the mark.
To achieve the purpose, the development of independent awareness and intent is needed. This requires alienating, separating some energy so that it can grow on its own. A direct influence would be counterproductive. If the One interfered directly, such a development would be reduced to mere conditioning, which would constrain awareness and intent beyond the pale. Aligning with the purpose must be an act of free choice, rather than the result of the fear of punishment or the expectation of a reward. Thus, the One must stay mostly hidden, providing only a possibility (symbolised, for example, by the tree of knowledge in the biblical tradition). For this reason the One cannot even be conclusively proven - that would remove the choice, which would not be conducive to the Intent. Even if the meaning of life is accepted, separateness and uncertainty are still necessary in order to recognise the ontological independence of the One (and oneself). Otherwise the whole process could amount to a blind and lazy following. The importance of separation, God's withdrawal, was already hinted at in some spiritual traditions such as the Cabalist doctrine of tsimtsum.
However, separation cannot be enough. To prevent the prevalence of the dynamic principle, to prevent freedom from becoming a chaos, the separated energy must be restricted and protected until it matures. This ‘slowing down' enables a gradual gaining of self-control. Such a restriction cannot come directly from the One though, so it must be embodied in the environmental conditions. This is the purpose of the material world: to enable the separation of some energy from the One and to provide the stage for the gradual development of awareness and intent independent from the One. As poet John Keats eloquently put it, ‘call the world if you please "the vale of soul-making" then you will find out the use of the world... How then are these sparks which are God to have identity given them - so as ever to possess a bliss peculiar to each ones individual existence? How, but by the medium of a world like this?' (from the letter to George and Georgiana Keats, 14th of February - 3rd of May, 1819).
So, in order to eventually strengthen the dynamic principle, the static principle is, in fact, first maximised by condensing and slowing down some energy to the point of nearly absolute stillness. This is the parent Black Hole that spontaneously bursts out into the physical universe (the Big Bang) following the flow determined by the Intent. The two principles (static and dynamic) can be imagined like the sides of a seesaw. Instead of adding weight to the ‘lighter' side (by increasing uncertainty and chaos), the other side is pushed down to the lowest point, so that the seesaw bounces back into a balanced position. This is why the material world, as we know it, is as it is. It is best perceived as a sheet or plane (known in physics as the M-brane) that separates some non-material energy from the rest. To use an analogy, matter is like a balloon, while the air in the balloon is energy separated from the rest (the air outside the balloon). The basic constructs of the world (its coordinates) on which all the others rely, are time and space. Time does not really exist, it is derived from the relation between the dynamic and static principle (as in the formula t = v/l). Nevertheless, time and space construct reality, and by doing so protect and at the same time limit freedom, that would have otherwise been an unbearable burden. The best boundaries are infinite boundaries.
The above indicates that not only the physical universe but also life is intended. The next chapter will examine this possibility.
- . If everything one wants immediately became reality, it would eventually lead to a cessation of wanting.
- . For the same reason, polytheism of any kind is not an option, for without a difference that can come only from different experiences or processes, it would be reduced to cloning the same.
- . The tendency of energy trapped in matter to return to its ‘natural' (non-material) state is expressed as an attempt to escape gravitational force (that is a property of matter). The weaker the gravitational force is (with distance), the stronger this tendency is, which is maybe why the universe expands faster and faster.
- . No-time is often confused with ever lasting present, but the present is still a concept of time, not no-time. In fact, a process can exist without time altogether. However, this is difficult to imagine. The best way to do so is to think that such processes happen in an imaginary time (as proposed by Hawking).