A Desperate Search for the Purpose of Life
WHERE did I come from? Why am I here? What purpose really is there in life? I wondered deeply about such questions. And somehow a saying had stuck in my mind that encouraged my search, “Keep on seeking, and you will find.”
In an attempt to find answers I began taking psychedelic drugs, to open my mind and gain insight. I also delved into Eastern religions. Such studies convinced me that we have an immortal soul that survives the death of the physical body.
Accepting this belief, I found logical the teaching of certain religions, that we have lived before as other people. Our souls, according to this teaching, have experienced a series of reincarnations. I wanted to know about my past, and I was led to believe that the use of “mind-expanding” LSD could help me to investigate.
After taking the drugs, I would be drawn to a mirror where I peered for long periods of time into the pupils of my eyes. Under the influence of the drugs, the pupils would increase in size to almost the size of the iris. After many minutes of intense observation, I began to hallucinate and see what I believed were previous incarnations of myself. For instance, I saw myself as an evil warlord and an egocentric dictator who were responsible for the deaths of thousands of people.
Once while observing such an evil person in the mirror, I heard a voice saying: “You’ll have to suffer for these evils that you have done!” It was terrifying.
As a result, I felt I was destined to suffer and die, and then suffer again and again in successive reincarnations. I wished it could be avoided! But how could I deny what I had seen and heard when peering into the mirror? Other persons I knew were also led to believe in reincarnation by such experiences, for, as they say, “seeing is believing.”
I felt myself in a terrible dilemma, with no way out. Yet I kept searching, traveling to distant places and consulting reputedly wise men. Eventually, deeply depressed, I attempted to kill myself.
Then something occurred to change my outlook. Despair turned to hope. Why? Details of my search for the purpose of life may help you to understand.
Looking for Something
I was born in Edmonton, a good-sized city in western Canada. My parents seldom went to church. And the few times I went proved disappointing. Even as a youngster I wondered about the purpose of life, but the church failed to provide the answers.
I left high school in grade eleven, and opened up a small porcelain-repair business. I was just sixteen at the time, but I enjoyed considerable financial success. However, in less than a year I became dissatisfied and began looking elsewhere.
Hippies seemed to have something new, and they were springing up all over in the 1960’s. So I decided to “drop out” of the establishment, and get involved in something “meaningful.” In a short time I changed into a long-haired hippie. Psychedelic drugs became a major part of my life.
After taking LSD and using marijuana for a few months I became convinced that a “high” society, a society in which everyone was under the influence of psychedelic drugs, was the solution to man’s problems. To me, the hippies were the “love” children—full of peace and happiness.
Since I thought psychedelic drugs were a panacea, I began supplying drugs to others. Also, I vowed to deal only in psychedelic drugs, which affect the mind, and not in hard drugs that addict the body. Psychedelic drugs, I thought, could help a person to gain enlightenment.
With the money that I had made in the porcelain-repair business, I bought large quantities of drugs. Realizing that what I was doing was illegal and could cost me many years in prison, I took no chances. I hired conservative-looking girls to transport the drugs for me, and I made it a policy not to handle the drugs directly. Soon I was making about $2,000 a week.
Money was not my goal, however. I was really interested in becoming enlightened as to the purpose of life, but drugs did not seem to be helping me.
Search in Eastern Religions
I started to investigate Eastern religions, spending entire days reading about occultism, astrology, palmistry, I Ching, Buddhism and other Eastern thoughts.
Convinced by these studies that the soul survives death, I took a dose of LSD seven times as potent as the regular dose, with the hope of peering into my past. It was then that I saw the visions that I considered to be scenes from previous lives and heard the voice saying that I had been a vicious killer.
This horrifying experience marked a turning point in my life. From this time onward I felt uneasy with myself. I could not understand why I had been so wicked. To comprehend this, I decided to get a guru who could teach me the deeper things in life.
Pilgrimages to Distant Places
Early in 1970 I shaved my head and took a flight to India. The first place I went to was Bodh (Buddh) Gaya, where Buddha supposedly attained enlightenment. Here I met a French Hindu named John, who was deeply engrossed in Eastern thought. He became my first guru.
Together we traveled on pilgrimages to Srinagar, Benares, Katmandu and many other places. John taught me a basic knowledge of the Hindu faith. I changed my way of life and appearance. I lived now like millions of Indians, and dressed in Eastern garb. We would often meet sadhus and yogis on our travels, and while we listened to their stories we would smoke marijuana together.
After traveling together for four months John decided that I should progress by getting a more knowledgeable guru. However, I was not satisfied with the Hindu faith. So I went to Dharmsala, where the Tibetan Dalai Lama and High Lamas resided.
Here was a monastery where other Westerners were studying Tibetan Buddhism. I decided to join them. However, I was struck with a severe case of dysentery. So I changed my plans and set course for Europe to receive better medical services.
Arriving in Greece, I was admitted to a hospital. I weighed only a hundred pounds and was in terrible shape. But soon I recovered and from there I traveled to Holland.
Deeper Involvement with Spiritism
Once I left India, I thought that my days of dabbling in spiritism were over. But I was wrong. In Holland I met an Indonesian man who had supernatural powers. He told me he was a guru, and I accepted him as my teacher. Through him the spirits worked amazing feats, such as mind reading, precognition, telepathy and hypnotism. Soon I totally believed whatever he told me, because he appeared so wise. I was convinced that spirits really exist since I could see evidence of their power.
My guru offered these powers to me, saying that he had connections with the spirit realm. But I had not been searching for power. Rather, I wanted to know the purpose of life. I told him that I must first find this out.
However, he was not pleased and tried to discourage me. He reminded me of what I had seen in the mirror a few years before while under the influence of LSD. He said that now, in this life, I would have to reap all the evil that I had sown in past incarnations. He embedded this thought so deeply in my heart that I could not forget it. I felt haunted by spirits and was in a state of terror and utter confusion.
Early in 1971 I left this guru and joined the Hare Krishna Temple in Amsterdam, shaving my head for the second time. Every day I studied the Bhagavad Gita and chanted the Hare Krishna mantra (prayer) for a few hours with the hope that this chanting would purify my soul and provide relief from the spirits. But, instead, they intensified their haunting of me. At times I begged only to die and never be born again—to become nothing.
All my searching seemed in vain. A great many of these Krishna worshipers were self-seeking and selfish, offering me little consolation and comfort. So, finally, in the spring of 1971 I decided to return to Canada.
No Relief at Home
Arriving home, I was overjoyed to see my family again. But to them I appeared very strange. I saw my brother for the first time in a year. He, too, had changed greatly.
Before I left for India I had told him about reincarnation, and in the meantime he had delved deeply into such studies. In fact, he now believed that he had been an angel in his former life, and in his present incarnation had come down to earth to help mankind with world problems. He received these “revelations” while under the influence of LSD.
I still felt haunted by spirits. They tormented me to the point that I thought I was losing my sanity. I was terrified. Desperately, I kept searching for a way out. As my depression grew, I never smiled or had a happy moment for weeks. Finally, I made several attempts to commit suicide.
About this time I came in contact with Dale, who had also gone through the drug experience and was involved with spirit powers. We were living together in Edmonton when something occurred that pointed me toward the answers I was seeking.
A Basis for Hope
It happened one morning in June 1971. Dale and I had been smoking marijuana, when a middle-aged lady called at our door. She was quite brief because, I think, she must have smelled the drugs. She spoke about God and that it was his loving purpose to establish a kingdom for the blessing of mankind. It was not so much what she said that impressed me as her sincere attitude, her obvious desire to help me. She offered the Watchtower and Awake! magazines for ten cents, and I accepted them.
Impressed by her sincerity, I began reading one of the magazines. Slowly a wonderful feeling came over me; I started to feel relief. Why? Because for the first time I began to believe there was hope.
The magazine spoke of God’s kingdom, which the lady had mentioned. It showed that under the rule of the Kingdom there would be no human suffering. But what really impressed me was the indication given that all persons could have opportunity to attain to the blessings of God’s kingdom, regardless of the wrongs they had done in the past.
What a wonderful thought that was to me! It meant, as I understood it, that the loving Creator would not hold against me the terrible things that I thought I had done in previous lives. You cannot imagine my relief! I was determined to investigate further.
On the back of one of the magazines was an advertisement for the book The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life. I filled out the coupon and was ready to mail it. But before I did I learned from the people downstairs that they had obtained the very book I was about to order and that I could have it. As I began reading, every chapter strengthened my hope and relieved anxiety, especially chapters five and seven, “Where Are the Dead?” and “Are There Wicked Spirits?”
From the teaching of the churches, as well as Eastern religions, I was convinced that death was only a separation of the soul from the body, and that the soul was released by death to take up life in some other living thing. But the Bible did not say that. I obtained a copy and checked for myself.
It says, for example, at Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10: “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing . . . Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” (Authorized Version) But does not the soul survive to carry on a person’s conscious existence? Not according to the Bible. I was referred to many scriptures similar to the one at Ezekiel 18:4, which says: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.”
If this is true, I concluded, a person could not have had past lives. So this meant that I could not have committed those horrible deeds that the voices said I had! And, therefore, I did not have to pay for those deeds! But what, then, was the source of the voices and the supernatural powers some persons exercise?
Source of Mankind’s Troubles
I, of course, believed that spirit creatures exist. I felt that some were bad but that most were good spirits that look after the affairs of earth. But now, from reading the chapter “Are There Wicked Spirits?” I realized that there are many wicked spirit creatures, or demons. Also, I learned that the wicked spirit person, Satan the Devil, is identified in the Bible as “the ruler of this world,” as well as “the god of this system of things” who is blinding the minds of people. This helped me to begin making sense of things.—John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 2 Cor. 4:4.
The voices I heard, as well as the supernatural powers certain acquaintances exercised, clearly originated with the demons. I started to discern that these wicked spirits had been blinding me, and even trying to drive me to self-destruction. It also began to become clear to me that they were not good spirits, but Satan and his demons who are controlling the world of mankind.—1 John 5:19.
As understanding of these things set in, it was as if heavy weights were lifted from my mind and heart. I quit taking drugs and destroyed all my books dealing with occultism and began to study only the Bible.—Acts 19:19.
Finding God and His People
A few days later some of us moved away from Edmonton to a forest area near Hinton, where we built a log cabin. Here in these peaceful surroundings in the wooded foothills of the Rocky Mountains, I absorbed myself in reading the Bible as well as rereading the book The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life.
Now I realized I was coming to know the true God. For the first time I prayed to him by his name Jehovah. (Ps. 83:18) Several times a day I prayed, asking Jehovah for more understanding of the truth concerning life and its purpose. I began to appreciate that the very purpose of life should be to serve our Creator. But how?
I noted that the Truth book pointed to the need for association with God’s people. And the book said that these people are the Christian witnesses of Jehovah, providing a number of reasons for claiming this. Dale observed that Jehovah’s witnesses often offered magazines on street corners in Edmonton. So the next morning we were on our way to find them.
Locating an elderly Witness on the street, we learned from him the address of the Kingdom Hall, where Jehovah’s witnesses hold their meetings. The following day we attended the meeting. I could not help but be impressed by the genuine interest the Witnesses had in us. They surely did manifest the love that Jesus said would identify his true followers.—John 13:35.
One of the Witnesses offered to study the Bible with me free of charge on a regular basis. Gladly I accepted.
Fulfilling the Purpose of Life
In these studies I soon saw how I could serve God. It is simply by doing out of a willing heart what God says. For instance, his Word the Bible urges: “Become kind to one another, tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another . . . and go on walking in love.” (Eph. 4:32-5:2) Now, would not life on earth be grand if everyone made it his purpose to do this?
Obviously it would. Many of us hippies had also been urging people to love one another, but something basic was missing in our concept. What was that? Practicing what Jesus pointed to as the principal requirement of God’s Word, namely: “You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind and with your whole strength.”—Mark 12:30.
Yes, we had left out love of God. Yet this should come first in a person’s life. And proof that it really does is shown when a person obeys God’s laws. (1 John 5:3) But we hippies did not do this; in fact, most of us never knew what the laws of God were. And so we commonly practiced things that God condemns in the Bible.—1 Thess. 4:3-5.
However, I also came to appreciate that more is involved in serving God than simply refraining from breaking God’s moral requirements. I learned that a world change is at hand, necessitating special service to God. The time has arrived for God to fulfill his purpose to destroy Satan and this entire wicked system of things, as the Bible foretells: “The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself . . . will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.”—Dan. 2:44.
We hippies had seen a need for such a change. And now I was delighted to learn that God did too! But God’s crushing of all present-day governments must be announced. That is why Jesus said: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end [of this system] will come.”—Matt. 24:14.
But who will do the special work of preaching this message? Why, those who have found the true purpose of life! I quickly saw this, and so right away began sharing in the Kingdom-preaching with Jehovah’s witnesses. In time I dedicated my life to serve Jehovah, and in August 1972, along with my friend Dale, symbolized my dedication by being baptized in water.
Many young persons were in the habit of coming to our house. So Dale and I would invite them to the congregation meetings. Sometimes a dozen or so would come along with us to the Kingdom Hall. Eventually most of them quit coming, but others continued to respond to the Kingdom message. Among these were my brother and sister. They have since both been baptized, and they are now serving as regular full-time preachers of the Kingdom good news.
Many times over the years people would tell me that I should not be so concerned with the meaning and purpose of life, but that I should just live it. However, rather than listen to them, I would remember the words, “Keep on seeking, and you will find.” By heeding this sound advice, not only have I come to realize true happiness, but I have had the privilege of helping others to appreciate the purpose of life and thus to realize the blessings this brings.—Contributed.
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Bodh (Buddh) Gaya, India
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Hare Krishna worshipers chanting the mantra (prayer)