The Open Mind Test – Part 3: Our Purpose in Life

Do you have an open mind?  I thought I did, and through the course of my life, I have come across three theories that challenged my open mindedness.  This is part 3 in a 4 part series.  Be sure to read part 1 and part 2 if you haven’t already.

Several years ago, I was having a discussion with my father.  We often had talks, usually while hanging out by the smoker while waiting for our lunch to slow cook.  Our talks often cover the unexplained, the paranormal, or spirituality.  We both find these topics to be very interesting, and thus many conversations end up on these topics.  On this particular warm sunny day, our talks turned to spirituality.  Specifically we were talking about our purpose in life.  Why are human beings here on Earth?  Why does our spirit enter into the physical form, and live in a physical body on this planet?   No doubt about it, this is a pretty deep topic.

As I’ve gathered from various books, and from attending church as a child, the reason we are here is to learn some lessons.  In the Christian belief, we live here for a short time, lead a righteous and upstanding life, and then move on to heaven.  Others, like Buddhists for example, believe that we reincarnate rather than going to heaven.  Yet the same basic principle of spiritual growth still applies.  In fact, I think that most major religions teach the same basic concept.  We are here to learn, to grow, to advance along a spiritual path.

The Theory

Here is where the mind opener comes in.  My father proposed a theory that we are here not to grow, but to simply experience the physical world in a physical body.  The mere act of existing on this physical plane, this planet Earth, meets our goals for existing.

Our purpose in life is simply to exist, and to experience all the physical sensations available to us.

That sounds pretty simple.  It was a little hard for me to swallow.  Could it really be that simple?

The Twist

Now, the theory has another component, a twist you might say.  If the only reason we are here is to experience the physical, then we would need to experience all the feelings available to us.  Of course pleasure is the preferred feeling, but given the theory presented, to experience all physical sensation, this would also need to include pain and suffering.  Oh, what a sad twist to this theory on existence; the need, the requirement to experience each and every physical sensation available, including pain and suffering.

Twist Number Two

Ready for twist number two?  How is it possible to experience all pleasure and pain available on this planet?  Well, pleasure is easy; we have the ability to experience pleasure every day.  But what about pain and suffering?  Yes, we all have our fair share (or what we might consider our fair share.)  But have you ever experienced extreme physical pain?  How about pain caused by traumatic injury (stabbed, shot, third degree burns?)  How would it be possible for the billions of people on this planet to experience real pain and suffering?  The only way this could be possible is if we lived in a violent, warring world.

The Unexpected Results of this Theory

Given the theory that we are here to experience the physical world and all the pleasure and pain that goes along with it, and given the fact that we must live in a violent world for this to happen, this leads to an even more thought provoking theory.  For all this to be possible, we must assume that there is no good or evil.

If our sole purpose is to experience the all aspects of the physical; pain being part of that, then good and evil as we humans define it cannot exist.

There simply is; we simply exist.  Simply living on this planet fulfills our purpose, in all its pleasurable and violent glory.  If part of our time here requires the experience of great pain, then evil (as we humans define it) is practically a requirement.  And, if it’s a requirement, then it’s not really evil at all, it’s simply part of our required experience.

Let that sink in for a minute.  No good or evil.  That seems to go against everything we were taught, but can you consider the possibility?  In spirit form, as we assume to exist prior to entering and after leaving our physical bodies, we would be unable to experience a great many feelings or emotions.  A spirit body has no pain and experiences no sense of touch. The only place these experiences can take place is in a physical body on a physical plane of existence.  If we come for these experiences, then we must be looking for experiences of great physical pleasure and great physical pain.  For so many people to experience the sensation of real pain, we would have to live in a violent society; one with war, murder, and even torture.

I’m going to stop here and let that theory stew for a bit.  I’ll wrap up this series in my next post, in which I’ll add some things I learned about myself, and some of my thoughts on these topics.

Until then, I’d love to hear from you.  What do you think about this theory?  Are you able to consider the possibility?  How do you view your open mindedness?

Other posts in this series.
The Open Mind Test – Part 1: An open minded 2nd grader
The Open Mind Test – Part 2: A Great Teacher, A Little Philosophy, and A Whole Lot of Love
The Open Mind Test – Part 3: Our purpose in life
The Open Mind Test – Part 4: Conclusions, Comments, and a Challenge

Photo by sugargrl14


  1. says

    Interesting post. Somewhat philosophical, somewhat pragmatic. Good, evil, these are concept created by our minds. They do not exist in nature. We create them, as we create the meaning for our lives. And I think this is where the potential comes in, because we have so many options of meanings we can give to our lives!


    • says

      Good point on good and evil not existing in nature. When a lion attacks another lion over territory or to challange as a dominant male, we don’t assume that either lion is evil. We just accept that as nature. It takes a human to apply a label to it.

  2. says

    The good vs evil debate interests me. I’m fascinated by depth psychology, which posits that ALL of us are both good and evil – that both exist in every one of us. That the universe operates on a cycle of light and dark: day/night, winter/spring, cold/hot. One can’t exist without the other, and the same is true for human beings. So although I don’t know why we’re put on this earth (and have decided that the ultimate human challenge is to be okay with not knowing, accept that it is a mystery) I am sure that human life is a contradiction, just as the universe is.
    .-= Patty @ Why Not Start Now?´s last blog ..Education: A Good Thing =-.

    • says

      Good theory, all of us being both good and evil. Funny thing is, if everyone is that way, then that means it’s normal. And if it’s normal, is that evil part really so bad? I wonder does the universe opperate on cycles of light and dark, ying and yang, or is it just we humans that opperate on these cycles? After all, it seems that a majority of the universe is a cold dark place. Good stuff Patty, I feel we could discuss this stuff all day long! I like the idea of being ok with not knowing. That is so very difficult for me, and I assume for most others as well.

  3. Jack says

    If evil exists in humans then it is natural as humans are part of nature. I think if we truly understood the animal kingdom we would recognize when an animal is behaving badly as opposed to “naturally”.

    I’d also point out that we do live in a world of violence, war and constant pain as well as Love and peace and happiness. However, we do not feel all the pain just as we do not feel all the joy. I’ll alter your fathers point and say we do not need to feel all the world has to offer, but rather all that OUR OWN world has to offer. In that case many of us do feel the joy and pain, some more so than others. Think of those who go to extremes from rock bottom lows to stellar successes.

    • says

      Jack, Nice addition. It is OUR OWN world that should be our focus. Wherever we happen to be, we should experience the full range of feeling that we are offered. Those that experience the extremes are possibly more fortunate than they realize, many experience a much more narrow range.

      I agree with your comment on the animal kingdom. Natural behavior is often misinterpreted as bad behavior. I like your thoughts an analysis on this topic, thanks for contributing.

  4. Cyric Renner says

    Why does the idea of a God Duality (Good and Evil) frighten people so ? When we look at life is it not very much that way ? Light, Darkness, Birth, Death, Pleasure, Pain etc.

    Even if we presuppose the concept of “Free Will” as a way to explain away evil, it is to have a source does it not ? I give God is the creation of everything………

    I rest my case.

  5. Lauren says

    There is no intrinsic or inherent meaning for being here, so we create meaning. Sometimes not being aware of what we’re doing as the creation, we think the meaning we are creating is purpose or a religious moral value espoused by a god or a religion. Even the Bible is a collection of rules, guidelines, moral stories as well as historical data created by and about human beings. The ideas of good and evil are ways of describing the states of behavior so that we encourage one and oppose and discourage the other. Your father’s and your take on it will have some contemplating it with an “open mind” and others will say you’re just playing with words and if there is no good or evil, why bother to lead a life that is fulfilling? Like everything else we create as the dominate intelligent species on this planet, we can also choose to create nihilism. Many people on this planet look to a god(no, not a higher authority or higher self ) but an entity who oversees everything people are doing “down here.” I find it difficult to believe that a being is categorizing us into “this person is good, she’s going to heaven and paradise, this person is bad/evil and she’s going to hell and eternal torment.” I would say I have an open mind: as Ron Roth, a former Catholic priest, said, “We don’t need a God to punish us, we punish ourselves enough.” I think as we discover the nature of reality more and more, we’re going to discover we have more power than we think: and that our existence and the stories we play out on Earth are part and parcel of a wider existence.


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