clbent04

The Purpose of Life: To Learn to Love

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Whether you’re religious, not religious, or kind of religious, I’m convinced this is the purpose of life for all:
 
To learn to love.
 
We start off in life, hopefully, with a good set of parents who give us their unconditional love as an example of how to love others.
 
We progress to love those in our immediate circles be it family, friends, or someone you love for the love they share with you. We have kids of our own and love them as our parents loved us.
 
And from there a few of us advance beyond to love those outside our inner circles who don’t provide us with anything in return other than the sense of joy that can come from service.
 
Regardless of how advanced we are along the path of learning to love, whether we’re still crawling as an infant or at a light jog, we are all learning and hopefully increasing our ability to love step by step.
 
Personally, I feel like I’m barely learning how to walk when it comes to loving others outside my inner circles without expecting anything in return. I have, however, been fortunate enough to cross paths with a few exceptional people in my life that exude love. These people I think of often and hold in high regard as examples I look up to.
 
Being someone who believes in God, I believe our life experiences are designed to allow us to develop empathy for one another and help us advance from a state of self-interest to selflessness. And even if you don’t believe in God, you might agree life has a way of molding us in this regard if we allow it to.
 
Why is mankind prone to limit its love to its own inner circles? We often reserve love for family and friends only, exclusive to our little empires.
 
For one, all of us are in the process of learning to love, and no one in this life, besides Jesus Christ, has ever mastered love. We need to start with the inner circles we have as building blocks preparing us for further advancement.
 
We need to start somewhere and hopefully someday be able to begin walking in the Savior’s footprints He left as an example to us, and embrace a higher way to love.
 
To those who have set a lasting impression on me of this type of love in my own life, thank you for showing me it’s possible. It inspires me to do the same even in my own limited, finite ability.
 
Love is connection we all seek and transcends any one specific culture, religion, or ideology.
 
Mark 22:37-39
 
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
 
John 13:34-35
 
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

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3 hours ago, clbent04 said:
Why is mankind prone to limit its love to its own inner circles? We often reserve love for family and friends only, exclusive to our little empires.

This is why I love this verse in the Book of Mormon, (Jacob 2: 17), "Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you."

Imagine if everyone on earth truly looked at their brethren like unto themselves and desired -- truly desired -- to know everyone around them. There would be no racism. There would be no hate.

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11 hours ago, Anddenex said:

Imagine if everyone on earth... truly desired -- to know everyone around them.

If this were the case then introverts like me are doomed to outer darkness. 😃

I don't know if I would say learning to love is the one sole purpose of life. There are things like gaining bodies and learning to master them. But love surely does encompass a great deal of our purpose here including the motivation behind our obedience to all of the commandments so in that respect I think you have a good case to make.

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11 hours ago, laronius said:

If this were the case then introverts like me are doomed to outer darkness. 😃

I don't know if I would say learning to love is the one sole purpose of life. There are things like gaining bodies and learning to master them. But love surely does encompass a great deal of our purpose here including the motivation behind our obedience to all of the commandments so in that respect I think you have a good case to make.

I wouldn't say learning to love is our sole purpose, but it's the primary objective.

Obtaining a body is a far distant second to learning to love in terms of what our purpose is here on Earth.  The body is a vehicle that helps make the primary objective possible.

Edited by clbent04

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14 hours ago, laronius said:

If this were the case then introverts like me are doomed to outer darkness. 😃

I don't know if I would say learning to love is the one sole purpose of life. There are things like gaining bodies and learning to master them. But love surely does encompass a great deal of our purpose here including the motivation behind our obedience to all of the commandments so in that respect I think you have a good case to make.

I'm an introvert, and yes introverts need to get to know everyone around them -- and they can. The Atonement can make weaknesses strong. 😀

I'm not sure, if a person doesn't have charity he is nothing. That makes "love" the top of the line attribute of Christ.

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On 7/21/2021 at 8:18 PM, clbent04 said:

Obtaining a body is a far distant second to learning to love in terms of what our purpose is here on Earth.  The body is a vehicle that helps make the primary objective possible.

How is a person obtaining a physical body better able to show or experience love than another person
who only has a spiritual body?  Or let me rephrase  - did you love God more or less in your pre-mortal
life than you do now in your physical body?

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2 hours ago, romans8 said:

How is a person obtaining a physical body better able to show or experience love than another person
who only has a spiritual body?  Or let me rephrase  - did you love God more or less in your pre-mortal
life than you do now in your physical body?

We were limited in our ability to love as premortal intelligences. We had never experienced physical pain and we could not fully process the concept of sacrifice to the extent God needs us to. We still have very little understanding in these matters, but with bodies we are progressing in the right direction.

Edited by clbent04

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On 7/24/2021 at 8:36 AM, clbent04 said:

We were limited in our ability to love as premortal intelligences. We had never experienced physical pain and we could not fully process the concept of sacrifice to the extent God needs us to. We still have very little understanding in these matters, but with bodies we are progressing in the right direction.

I think @romans8 has a point.  Love is the first learned trait of a being of light and intelligence - which is obtainable as a spirit in the pre-existence (examples Jesus, the Son) and the Holy Ghost).  This leaves the primary focus of mortal life to obtain a physical body and to learn by experience the good from the evil.  Those that did not properly learn (discipline) the first lesson of love in the pre-existence were unable to have (excluded from) a mortal experience.

 

The Traveler

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On 7/25/2021 at 1:37 PM, Traveler said:

I think @romans8 has a point.  Love is the first learned trait of a being of light and intelligence - which is obtainable as a spirit in the pre-existence (examples Jesus, the Son) and the Holy Ghost).  This leaves the primary focus of mortal life to obtain a physical body and to learn by experience the good from the evil.  Those that did not properly learn (discipline) the first lesson of love in the pre-existence were unable to have (excluded from) a mortal experience.

However we experienced love in the pre-existence doesn't mean by any means that we mastered love ourselves.  The only beings with mastery of love in the preexistence were God the Father and Jesus Christ.  

Do you really think we live here on Earth for an average of 70 years primarily just to check mark a box that says "Body obtained"?  Obtaining a body is important, but it serves the purpose of enabling us to develop love, a process that has proven to take its time when it comes to the stubborn likes of us.

Edited by clbent04

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7 hours ago, clbent04 said:

....

Do you really think we live here on Earth for an average of 70 years primarily just to check mark a box that says "Body obtained"?  Obtaining a body is important, but it serves the purpose of enabling us to develop love, a process that has proven to take its time when it comes to the stubborn likes of us.

I once calculated that the universe has existed for about 13 billion years.  This means that as spirits we have been around for a long time.  If we look at just the time since the universe was created and think of a foot being like 1,000 years then we have been in existence for about the distance from Salt Lake City to Los Angles California.  The 70 years you are talking about would be about (not quite) one and a half inches.  So if you are on a journey from Salt Lake City, Utah to LA - what would possibly change your arrival in the last inch and a half of your journey?

I would also point out that there are millions of soles that die as infants before accountability or any possibility of even being exposed to the love of which you are speaking.

It is my understanding that the experience of death is the experience of evil and to experience the Atonement is the experience of good - both of which are spoken of in scripture as the purpose of morality.   I agree than only those that have the Love of Christ (charity) will obtain the Celestial Kingdom.   Also keep in mind that the plan of salvation is for all G-d's children that accepted that plan in the pre-existence - not all of G-d's children that become mortal will be Celestial.  That such things can only be completed by faithfulness in the pre-existence, in mortality and in the spirit world after this life.  Our learning of love extends beyond this life but no one - not a single sole will have any opportunity to perfect the love of Christ that does not experience morality - which all (without any exceptions) will obtain a body and experience the good from the evil.

 

The Traveler

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11 hours ago, Traveler said:

I once calculated that the universe has existed for about 13 billion years.  This means that as spirits we have been around for a long time.  If we look at just the time since the universe was created and think of a foot being like 1,000 years then we have been in existence for about the distance from Salt Lake City to Los Angles California.  The 70 years you are talking about would be about (not quite) one and a half inches.  So if you are on a journey from Salt Lake City, Utah to LA - what would possibly change your arrival in the last inch and a half of your journey?

I would also point out that there are millions of soles that die as infants before accountability or any possibility of even being exposed to the love of which you are speaking.

It is my understanding that the experience of death is the experience of evil and to experience the Atonement is the experience of good - both of which are spoken of in scripture as the purpose of morality.   I agree than only those that have the Love of Christ (charity) will obtain the Celestial Kingdom.   Also keep in mind that the plan of salvation is for all G-d's children that accepted that plan in the pre-existence - not all of G-d's children that become mortal will be Celestial.  That such things can only be completed by faithfulness in the pre-existence, in mortality and in the spirit world after this life.  Our learning of love extends beyond this life but no one - not a single sole will have any opportunity to perfect the love of Christ that does not experience morality - which all (without any exceptions) will obtain a body and experience the good from the evil.

Ever since God organized us, His plan has always been to help us develop love.  This is the primary objective and always has been.  However long our mortal experience is or whatever else may be accomplished on Earth doesn't change that primary objective.

Literally everything God has designed and commanded of us in the life is for the higher purpose of us developing love.  The scriptures, the format of a husband/wife, having children, the gospel, work, life challenges, our health....

When examining the 10 commandments, each of the 10 commandments serve as a basic framework on how we can begin to develop love, from the obvious "thou shalt not kill" to "thou shalt not have strange Gods before me."  God knows if we are to worship anyone or anything other than Him, it impedes our ability to develop love.  Why?  Because the very core of our souls is compelled to acknowledge that it is God and God alone that deserves our praise and worship.  Any deviation to that is dishonest, and love requires truth to abound.   

To suggest the primary objective of this life is to obtain a mortal body is ignoring life as we know it to be.

Edited by clbent04

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12 hours ago, clbent04 said:

Ever since God organized us, His plan has always been to help us develop love.  This is the primary objective and always has been.  However long our mortal experience is or whatever else may be accomplished on Earth doesn't change that primary objective.

Literally everything God has designed and commanded of us in the life is for the higher purpose of us developing love.  The scriptures, the format of a husband/wife, having children, the gospel, work, life challenges, our health....

When examining the 10 commandments, each of the 10 commandments serve as a basic framework on how we can begin to develop love, from the obvious "thou shalt not kill" to "thou shalt not have strange Gods before me."  God knows if we are to worship anyone or anything other than Him, it impedes our ability to develop love.  Why?  Because the very core of our souls is compelled to acknowledge that it is God and God alone that deserves our praise and worship.  Any deviation to that is dishonest, and love requires truth to abound.   

To suggest the primary objective of this life is to obtain a mortal body is ignoring life as we know it to be.

Does it surprise or interest you that the war in heaven (that is still going on) was not fought over if man should be allowed to love  but rather the war was about agency and if man (children of G-d) should be allowed to exercise their agency?

 

The Traveler

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To quote Joseph Smith: "Happiness is the object and design of our existence..."

To quote Lehi: "Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy."

To quote Guide to the Scriptures: "The purpose of mortal life is for all people to have joy."

Love is a divine attribute, incredibly important to be sure. But we do not develop divine attributes for the sake of having divine attributes. We do so because they allow us to experience a greater fullness of joy. It is the same with physical bodies.

D&C 93:33-34 For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy; And when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy.

So if we want to narrow the purpose of life to a single reason it would be our happiness/joy, making everything else only a means to this end, including love. 

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22 hours ago, laronius said:

To quote Joseph Smith: "Happiness is the object and design of our existence..."

To quote Lehi: "Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy."

To quote Guide to the Scriptures: "The purpose of mortal life is for all people to have joy."

Love is a divine attribute, incredibly important to be sure. But we do not develop divine attributes for the sake of having divine attributes. We do so because they allow us to experience a greater fullness of joy. It is the same with physical bodies.

D&C 93:33-34 For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy; And when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy.

So if we want to narrow the purpose of life to a single reason it would be our happiness/joy, making everything else only a means to this end, including love. 

As long as we are quoting prophets and apostles:

Franklin D Richards, "What, then is the purpose of life? To be proved, to grow, to develop in accordance with the principles of the gospel, and to prepare ourselves for the next estate. Each of us has the capacity to achieve worthwhile objectives, and we should never forget that we are actually spirit children of our Father in Heaven and that every person is given a gift by the Spirit of God (see D&C 46:11)."

To quote Alma, "therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of by us, which is after the resurrection of the dead."

To quote Abraham, "And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;"

To quote Christ, "Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect." (Unable to be perfect like Christ and the Father without being tested)

To quote Joseph Fielding Smith, "Though we may face trial, temptation, and distraction, let us not lose focus: the purpose of mortal life is to prepare for eternal life."

To quote President N. Eldon Tanner, "Let us consider … the purpose of the creation of the earth. The scriptures make it clear that it was … to provide a place for the sons and daughters of God to dwell in mortality and prove themselves worthy, through keeping the commandments, to return to the presence of God from whence they came."

And in order to be proven worthy a person must keep the first two great commandments, which are to love God with all our heart, might, mind, and strength. The second is to love our neighbor as ourselves. Without charity we are nothing. Without charity we will not find joy, true joy.

So, if we really want to narrow the purpose of life to a single reason it is that we are here to be tested, to be proven, if we are coming unto Christ and becoming like him -- which can only be accomplished via love -- charity. Which all true disciples of Jesus Christ have. 😉

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29 minutes ago, Anddenex said:

Without charity we will not find joy, true joy.

Exactly. We love because it makes us happy.

😐+💓=😀 (See how happy Mr Emoji is)

Is love vital in this formula? YES! But it is not the ultimate goal. Happiness is.

If 😐+💓=😐 then what would love's purpose be? It probably wouldn't even be a commandment. (Mr Emoji is thinking right now he might as well believe all those bar commercials he sees 😐+🍺=😀  only to discover 😐+🍺=😡 because Mr Emoji is not a funny drunk he's an angry drunk) 

In the "plan of happiness" the fruit on the tree of life brings happiness/joy and that is what everyone on the straight and narrow path is seeking. Love may be the vehicle that gets us there but happiness is the destination and the reason we agreed to the road trip called life in the first place. (Thankfully Mr Emoji knows that 😐+🍺+🚙=😵. Instead he's blazing down the highway of life in his Lamborghini of Love with the stereo blaring If you're happy and you know it 👏👏, 😀)

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8 hours ago, laronius said:

(Thankfully Mr Emoji knows that 😐+🍺+🚙=😵. Instead he's blazing down the highway of life in his Lamborghini of Love with the stereo blaring If you're happy and you know it 👏👏, 😀)

Or it puts you on the path to becoming a superhero :D 

https://marvel.fandom.com/wiki/Stephen_Strange_(Earth-616)

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On 7/27/2021 at 10:21 PM, laronius said:

To quote Lehi: "Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy."

There's a correlation between love and joy.  Taking what you quoted here, do you think Adam fell solely for his own joy?  Or did Adam transgress for the benefit of all mankind?  If for all mankind, he had to of been motivated not solely by joy, but also by love.

God's formula is, the more love you have, the more selfless you are, and the more selfless you are, the more joy you receive because true joy is being in the service of God and saving souls. 

Back to the purpose of this life --

Can we save souls without having developed love?  No.

Can we experience joy without having first developed love?  No.

Does God want our primary focus in this life to be saving souls? Yes, but that's only possible if we develop ourselves into instruments that He can use.

If the majority of us in this life are still learning how to love others outside our inner circles without expecting anything in return, ask yourself if the majority of us here on Earth are ready and actively saving souls, or if the majority of us are more largely involved in developing ourselves for that to be possible?

The majority of us progress slowly in this life when it comes to developing love for others, maybe more so than we care to admit. Very few of us arrive to the level of someone like Paul or Ammon who dedicated their lives to loving others. 

Understand that what God wants for us in this life is different from how life actually is, and once you understand that, you can better assess which step we are on in our pursuit to obtain joy.

Edited by clbent04

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On 7/27/2021 at 8:43 PM, Traveler said:

Does it surprise or interest you that the war in heaven (that is still going on) was not fought over if man should be allowed to love  but rather the war was about agency and if man (children of G-d) should be allowed to exercise their agency?

I would say the fight for agency goes in line with my belief that the primary objective in the life is to learn to love.  Having agency is critical to the foundation for love to be possible.  Love cannot be forced and must be freely given.

Edited by clbent04

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3 minutes ago, dprh said:

a little girl sitting on a table: Mia became famous for asking 'Why not both?' in an Old El Paso ad. It upended her life.

Because we all are still infants learning how to crawl when it comes to developing love which is a prerequisite to embracing the greater joy God wants us to have.

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7 hours ago, clbent04 said:

There's a correlation between love and joy.  Taking what you quoted here, do you think Adam fell solely for his own joy?  Or did Adam transgress for the benefit of all mankind?  If for all mankind, he had to of been motivated not solely by joy, but also by love...

Understand that what God wants for us in this life is different from how life actually is, and once you understand that, you can better assess which step we are on in our pursuit to obtain joy.

There's no attempt on my part to argue against the essential aspect of love in the plan of our Heavenly Father. I agree with you wholeheartedly when you speak of it's motivational role in everything we do in the gospel. My point is that our joy is what God ultimately wants for us. That's the bottom line of everything He does, our happiness. If something leads to our eternal happiness then he commands it of us. If love did not lead to eternal happiness it would have never even been a commandment. So that is why I speak of joy as being the ultimate purpose. Now if you want to approach the discussion from the standpoint of which godly attributes will ultimately result in our greatest happiness and call the development of that attribute the purpose of life then I'm cool with that. Though in answer to your question I believe that Adam definitely had more than just his own happiness in mind when he/they fell. Love may have been the motivation but it was ours and their happiness that was the ultimate goal.

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1 hour ago, laronius said:

There's no attempt on my part to argue against the essential aspect of love in the plan of our Heavenly Father. I agree with you wholeheartedly when you speak of it's motivational role in everything we do in the gospel. My point is that our joy is what God ultimately wants for us. That's the bottom line of everything He does, our happiness. If something leads to our eternal happiness then he commands it of us. If love did not lead to eternal happiness it would have never even been a commandment. So that is why I speak of joy as being the ultimate purpose. Now if you want to approach the discussion from the standpoint of which godly attributes will ultimately result in our greatest happiness and call the development of that attribute the purpose of life then I'm cool with that. Though in answer to your question I believe that Adam definitely had more than just his own happiness in mind when he/they fell. Love may have been the motivation but it was ours and their happiness that was the ultimate goal.

It's the execution of The Plan of Salvation that brings us happiness. Work is an eternal principle. Love is work. 

It's through loving others that we experience the happiness God wants for us. 

So when we ask ourselves what's our primary objective on Earth, is it to be happy?  Well that's a nice thought, but how do we get there?  We achieve happiness by loving others.  

Happiness is the end result we want to achieve, but love is the action that makes it possible for us to get there.  Learning to love is our primary objective in this life, not basking in our joy on a hammock for something we've already done.  God wants us to always be active.  Love is a verb.  Joy is a noun.

I agree with you that God's ultimate goal for us is happiness, but I see that differently as to what our primary objective is on Earth even though the two are correlated.  One is actionable, the other is merely a state of being.  It's more practical to say our primary objective on Earth is to learn to love. 

Edited by clbent04

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