Here’s a big, thinky-thought question for you… when we’re skipping down a spiritual path, what is the ultimate goal in doing so? What is it that we seek to achieve by participating in a religion or spiritual search? Is this something that comes from the religion itself or do we decide for ourselves what the ultimate purpose of our path will be? Is having a spiritual/religious goal even important or does it distract from the process itself, by focusing too sharply on the destination rather than the journey itself?
I asked the first of these questions of a few more freely-sharing friends and acquaintances and some of their answers follow. Today’s disclaimer: this is by no means a scientific poll, of course, and probably not representative of the full spectrum of possible answers. Your miles, as always, may vary greatly.
- “To be at one with everything; to know I belong.”
- “Learn to submit to Christ’s will and serve Him humbly.”
- “Understand the universe.”
- “Go to Heaven when I die.”
- “Improve myself.”
- “Avoid pissing off my deity ever again.” (!)
- “To know God.”
- “Be a voice of the goddess.”
- “Experience God’s love.”
I’ve pursued some of the goals on this list myself. I’ve realized that no matter how close I come to feeling the interconnectedness of all things, a part of me will always feel a sense of isolation. I think this is just part of what it is to be human. I’ve also realized that to a great degree, deity in any guise is unknowable, as is our universe. We do not have the capacity as humans to grasp all of the secrets that this world holds… and even if we could, do we really want to remove all of the mystery from our lives? As for a goal of paradise in the afterlife, I’m not convinced that such a thing exits. One of my deepest fears is that the afterlife will just be more of the same… a struggle for understanding and acceptance, an unceasing quest for knowledge, and a continuation of answers that simply create more questions.
There was one answer, though, that made me smile. When the question of an ultimate goal was posed, one of my quirkier friends began singing the last few lines of Ingrid Michealson’s “Be OK”: “I just want to know today, know today, know today, Know that maybe I will be ok.” I’m giving this answer kudos for being both simple and profound. Really, can I ask for much more than that on this journey… just the knowledge that I might be alright in this crazy world of ours, to know that even in the darkest of moments I am going to be ok? I may change my mind tomorrow, but for this moment, that answer is good enough.