Why are we living? LO30783

From: AM de Lange (amdelange@postino.up.ac.za)
Date: 11/14/03

Replying to LO30761 --

Dear Organlearners,

Jan Lelie < janlelie@planet.nl > wrote:

>I feel relieved to hear that you've recovered and i'm glad to have
>the opportunity to share some thoughts with you again. Although
>the question deserves an answer, I cannot give one. I've always
>had trouble answering "why" questions. Why is that?

Greetings dear Jan,

Thank you.

Your reply, as usual, compels me to think deep and wide.

Answering "why" (3rd loop of learning) questions are also for me more
difficult than answering "what" (1st loop) or "how" (2nd loop)
questions. But have managed to come up with a reason for it. The
"what" and "how" questions are asked frequently and answers to them
abound in literature. So we may easily take the answers formulated by
others and think of them as our own.

However, i think that "why" answers depend on a personal world-view.
Personal experiences have an immense bearing on this world-view. My
experiences gained in my "space-time slot" differ from your's gained
in a different "space-time slot". Therefor we can expect that our
personal world-views will differ so that i cannot use your "why"
answer as mine because our world-views are different. Furthermore,
making a clear account of one's world-view is a complex task. Thus
formulating the "why" in terms of this world-view becomes difficult

>The most important reason i can think of is that it belongs to
>the class of undecidable questions. Every answer one
>chooses - and you give some - works up to a point and
>then - when put to its extreme, or after some time, or in
>hind sight - breaks down.

You have described perfectly what happened to my thinking in that HCU
(high Care Unit) of the hospital. I did not actually choose any
answer, but figured it out. Nevertheless, each answer soon began to
break down upon further reflection. Despite the lack of finding a
fitting answer to "why are we living", i was deeply impressed that
"living" was the key issue in that HCU. This was highlighted most with
death of two patients while i was there.

>An external being, Gods - later reduced to one - seemed a
>very good answer, but it broke down. Now for many people
>one God is a very good answer, but it is braking down.

This a very important observation. Wherever the answers to whatever
questions found in traditional religions begin to break down, it is
because the thinking of people advanced as a result of learning not
chained to tradition. The reaction of most people to this is to either
give up on religion or to live with this schisim between tradition and
non-traditional thinking. I am one of the few who tries to find a
harmony in both. This made me aware that a grand paradigm shift is
involved -- the temporal facet (past, present and future) of
relationships with God.

>At, you call yourself reborn, many happy returns of the occasion,
>because you have made an important choice: it is your choice, and
>yours only. My question to you is, in this light, "why are you asking
>the question "why are we living?"". Please also give an answer to
>the question: "why did you give this answer to the question "why are
>you asking the question "why are we living?""". Und so weiter, until
>you reach the turtles.

Jan, mentioning the turtles made me smile ;-) Dear fellow learners, i
cannot remember it well, but someone long ago told on this list how
some lady, involved in answering "why" questions, found that at some
stage she finds turtles and from there onwards only turtles all the

Jan, to be honest, i did not choose to become reborn. I was rather
getting increasingly dissatisfied with my life in general and the
religion i followed in particular. I also felt increasingly sad about
all the things which i did wrong because of not knowing how to do them
right. One evening my spirit was so agitated that i began to cry, the
first time as an adult, thinking how worthless my living has become.
(I cannot remember whether i then contemplated the question "why am i
living?") I went to sleep and the next morning when i woke up, it was
with incredible peace. It suddenly struck me that i was reborn during
my sleep! I have to admit that since then i had many times to choose
"shall i stay on this path as a child of God". But as for the rebirth
itself, it was no choice of mine.

>A few weeks ago i was driving to a session and heard on the
>radio tell somebody that, in order to survive, we have to
>co-operate. If we must or want to co-operate, we have to
>have a purpose - keep on living will do - and we have to
>assume that the behaviour of others also has a purpose.

In life other than that of humans, this co-opration is known as
symbiosis. In my desert wanderings over dozens of years nothing struck
me with such awe as observing symbiosis in action. I know of many
desert "societies" which would have become extinct were it not for
different species in any such a society living symbiotically.

>The question "why are we living?" is - in my eyes - a result of
>our way of living: co-operating.

This co-operation or symbiosis was one of the many answers which i
contemplated to fit the question "why are we living". But as for the
others, i eventually felt that it rather answers the question "how are
we living".

>I've been busy preparing a number of axioms - or paradoxes -
>on learning. Learning is - i think - a kind of behaviour aimed at
>changing behaviour. Life is behaving is living, for practical
>purposes. Behaviour, as everything in nature, tends to develop
>routines. Life is a routine.

You are right -- learning is aimed at changing behaviour. However, i
think that behaviour ends in a routine when we do not learn about
learning. In other words, the learning of learning is aimed at
avoiding routine behaviour.

As for myself, I cannot agree that life is a routine.

>We're now entering the third stage of learning: learning to
>learn learning. That's about the meaning of learning and life
>and so the question "why are we learning?" comes up
>naturally. Remain practical: choose life, change your routines
>daily - an answer a day keeps the doctor away - and support
>others to make their own choices, what else is there?

I think that learning about learning requires that the learners should
reflect upon ALL his/her past learning. In other words, i think the
learning of learning is impossible without some degree of wholeness.
It is because of this wholeness that change and change of change
cannot be avoided.

>I must say that i agree with Jung who writes - i think in his
>autobiography - that our purpose, our goal, our destiny,
>our reason for being there is to bring consiousness to this
>world. Why are we living? To pose that question.

Consciousness has been a hot topic the twentieth century. I myself had
to admit hundreds of times that i would not have become consious of
something were it not for my capacity to learn. It was about twenty
years ago at a place called Pella in the Bushmanland desert where i
first became conscious that my capacity to learn depends on my
capacity to live. The temperature that day was 52C -- everything
seemed to be white hot. I wanted to flee away, but i had this nagging
suspicion that a succulent species thought to be extinct was growing
there. So i stayed and searched for it, drinking 500 ml of water every
twenty minutes. Eventually i found it with great excitement. Again i
gazed with awe how it seems to live effortlessly while i was living
close to the edge of life and the abyss of death beyond. My respect
for living that day knew no bounds.

>Have to attend to routinezed behaviour, all my love,

You are definitely one person for breaking routines, especially those
which curtail thinking.

With care and best wishes


At de Lange <amdelange@postino.up.ac.za> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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