What is the purpose of life, according to Buddhism?

The Buddhist purpose of life has to do with the meaning of the word Buddhi. This word means to be awakened. So, we can say the purpose in life for a Buddhist is to become awakened, or to reach enlightenment. But what motivates Buddhists towards this direction is not the final destination. It’s the beautiful unfolding journey that frees people from suffering.

Enlightenment is the goal

When we reach enlightenment, we’re able to see the truth about life. We recognize what is real, and what is eternal or infinite. This ability allows us to identify what is perishable and why we should be careful with it, without any sense of attachment.

Being awake allows us to establish what the priorities of our lives are, and to value the permanent relationship we have with the unity that permeates us all. When you wake up you no longer see suffering as an unjust pain inflicted on us by fate. You acknowledge that your suffering and the suffering of others happens only because there’s a deviation from the path towards light and unity.

We’re left with a wide path, which gives us a large margin for error. However, as we grow and learn, this path becomes narrower as we learn about what is right and wrong. The road becomes clearer, as more is asked of us to become morally superior.

After some time and turbulent personal experiences a person attains Nirvana, or enlightenment. Their suffering ceases to exist as we’ve said, some attain this state easily, whereas others go through traumatic experiences which eventually allows them to let go.

Acknowledging suffering, and recognizing its origin, can go from humiliating to really hard to admit. It might even seem to be the hardest part, because gaining control of that information and putting it into a new perspective is tough.

Waking up the world

Once we acknowledge that we’re all part of a greater whole, we realize that there is no development worth going through if we’re not able to light the way for others. This happens because we realize that there is no true happiness when another human being is in pain. 

Each one of us evolves at his own pace, and we contribute to the overall growth of humanity. We do this with our teachings, examples, and in any possible way that respects the limits of the individual. It’s not possible to force someone to a real or permanent development if the person is not ready. Nature does not evolve in leaps. 

After achieving enlightenment, which means freeing ourselves from suffering, we face another disquieting truth: there is no joy in it unless we can spread it. This is because the one suffering right beside us is just a part of our own self immersed in an unconsciousness which leads to more suffering.

So what then is the purpose of life?

As we can see, a Buddhist’s purpose in life is not restricted to his own life. There is no joy in being happy alone. In watching the person next to you live a lie that brings so much pain into their life.

With all these explanations, what I mean to say is that for Buddhists, when asked about their purpose in life, they answer by saying that “It is to live in harmony with all beings, this drives humanity to a final state of unity. And the way to achieve this is through enlightenment and a strong sense of brotherhood”

All the other specifics about Buddhism only exist as tools to make it all possible. Buddha has developed the Middle Way with its eightfold path as tools for enlightenment. Once a person reaches enlightenment he dedicates his life to human kind, he works to ease the suffering of others and to guide them on the same path. 

This then can be summarized; To produce an inner balance which leads to an external balance. Once this harmony is established we become one with the infinite and eternal, with the Unity, with the Divine. It is about tuning our inner instrument and then helping others do the same so that the Orchestra will be able to execute a perfect symphony.