People throughout the ages have wrestled with the question of our purpose in life, why do we exist, what are we here to do, why are we self-aware in the first place? Numerous answers have been given, including simply enhancing one’s enjoyment of physical and vital pleasures with no thought for the future or some other deeper significance, as well as the idea that this is a testing ground for advancement to some better other existence, whether this is in a heaven beyond, or in some higher form of existence, here or elsewhere. The use of the faculty of reasoning has always met a dead end where it cannot see what lies beyond its own limited scope. Much of the debate between religion and science which we have seen in the last several hundred years is due to the idea that science can only deal with the physical world within which we live and the powers active here, while religion provides a window, based on faith, into a higher meaning of life.
Sri Aurobindo observes: “It would seem then that reason is an insufficient, often an inefficient, even a stumbling and at its best a very partially enlightened guide for humanity in that great endeavour which is the real heart of human progress and the inner justification of our existence as souls, minds and bodies upon the earth. For that endeavour is not only the effort to survive and make a place for ourselves on the earth as the animals do, not only having made to keep it and develop its best vital and egoistic or communal use for the efficiency and enjoyment of the individual, the family or the collective ego, substantially as is done by the animal families and colonies, in bee-hive or ant-hill for example, tough in the larger, many-sided way of reasoning animals; it is also, and much more characteristically of our human as distinguished from our animal element, the endeavour to arrive at a harmonised inner and outer perfection, and, as we find in the end, at its highest height, to culminate in the discovery of the divine Reality behind our existence and the complete and ideal Person within us and the shaping of human life in that image. But if that is the truth, then neither the Hellenic ideal of an all-round philosophic, aesthetic, moral and physical culture governed by the enlightened reason of man and led by the wisest minds of a free society, nor the modern ideal of an efficient culture and successful economic civilisation governed by the collective reason and organised knowledge of mankind can be either the highest or the widest goal of social development.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 13, Reason and Religion, pg. 124