The meaning of life is a philosophical question concerning the significance of life or existence in general. It can also be expressed in different forms, such as “Why are we here?”, “What is life all about?”, and “What is the purpose of existence?” It has been the subject of much philosophical, scientific, and theological speculation throughout history. There have been a large number of proposed answers to these questions from many different cultural and ideological backgrounds. The meaning of life is in the philosophical and religious conceptions of existence, social ties, consciousness, and happiness, and borders on many other issues, such as symbolic meaning, ontology, value, purpose, ethics, good and evil, free will, the existence of one or multiple Gods, conceptions of God, the soul, and the afterlife. Scientific contributions focus primarily on describing related empirical facts about the universe, exploring the context and parameters concerning the ‘how’ of life. Science also studies and can provide recommendations for the pursuit of well-being and a related conception of morality. An alternative, humanistic approach poses the question “What is the meaning of my life?” The value of the question pertaining to the purpose of life may coincide with the achievement of ultimate reality, or a feeling of oneness, or even a feeling of sacredness.
governs the universe. Closeness with the God of Israel is through study of His Torah, and adherence to its mitzvot (divine laws). In traditional Judaism, God established a special covenant with a people, the people of Israel, at Mount Sinai, giving the Jewish commandments. Torah comprises the written Pentateuch and the transcribed oral tradition, further developed through the generations. The Jewish people are intended as “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” and a “light to the Nations”, influencing the other peoples to keep their own religio-ethical Seven Laws of Noah. The messianic era is seen as the perfection of this dual path to God. Jewish observances involve ethical and ritual, affirmative and prohibative injunctions. Modern Jewish denominations differ over the nature, relevance and emphases of mitzvot. Jewish philosophy emphasises that God is not affected or benefited, but the individual and society benefit by drawing close to God.
The rationalist Maimonides sees the ethical and ritual divine commandments as a necessary, but insufficient preparation for philosophical understanding of God, with its love and awe. Among fundamental values in the Torah are pursuit of justice, compassion, peace, kindness, hard work, prosperity, humility, and education. The world to come, prepared in the present, elevates man to an everlasting connection with God. Simeon the Righteous says, “the world stands on three things: on Torah, on worship, and on acts of loving kindness.” The prayer book relates, “blessed is our God who created us for his honor…and planted within us everlasting life.” Of this context, the Talmud states, “everything that God does is for the good,” including suffering. The Jewish mystical Kabbalah gives complimentary esoteric meanings of life. As well as Judaism providing an immanent relationship with God (personal theism), in Kabbalah the spiritual and physical creation is a paradoxical manifestation of the immanent aspects of God’s Being (panentheism), related to the Shekhinah (Divine feminine). Jewish observance unites the sephirot (Divine attributes) on high, restoring harmony to creation. In Lurianic Kabbalah, the meaning of life is the messianic rectification of the shattered sparks of God’s persona, exiled in physical existence (the Kelipot shells), through the actions of Jewish observance. Through this, in Hasidic Judaism the ultimate essential “desire” of God is the revelation of the Omnipresent Divine essence through materiality, achieved by man from within his limited physical realm, when the body will give life to the soul.
Zoroastrianism is the religion and philosophy named after its prophet Zoroaster, which is believed to have influenced the beliefs of Judaism and its descendant religions. Zoroastrians believe in a universe created by a transcendental God, Ahura Mazda, to whom all worship is ultimately directed. Ahura Mazda’s creation is asha, truth and order, and it is in conflict with its antithesis, druj, falsehood and disorder. (See also Zoroastrian eschatology). Since humanity possesses free will, people must be responsible for their moral choices. By using free will, people must take an active role in the universal conflict, with good thoughts, good words and good deeds to ensure happiness and to keep chaos at bay.