FOR GOD'S GOOD PLEASUREAs creatures, human beings are created with a purpose that is determined not by themselves but by their Creator. This understanding is particularly well understood in the monotheistic religions, which recognize that God's purpose for creating human beings is to find those creatures who would recognize, serve, glorify, and love Him. Therefore, human beings can find fulfillment in the service of God.
In the Jewish tradition and in some new religions, the loving God Himself rejoices when He is glorified and adored by human beings reflecting His image; thus we can speak of the purpose of life as fulfilled in returning joy to God. God's love for humankind blossoms into divine ecstasy as that love is multiplied and happiness spreads throughout the human race. (On the other side of divine passion, namely God's sorrow over the evil plight of mankind, see God's Grief, pp. 457-62.) Analogously, in Mahayana Buddhist texts the Buddha rejoices as sentient beings are enlightened by the Dharma. In Hinduism the embodied Self within stands as the Enjoyer of all phenomena. The joy of God may be recognized as the divine counterpart to the quest for human happiness described in the previous section.
On the other hand, in religious conceptions which lack a personal God, or which stress God's absolute sovereignty, Ultimate Reality is already perfect, beyond desiring, impassible, and without need of anything. In Islam, God is often conceived of as the Sovereign Lord, high above the world and unilaterally enforcing His will on mankind. In Hindu Vedanta, God's apparent motivation for activity in the world and among human beings is nothing but lila, divine play. Several passages teaching the divine impassibility are given at the conclusion of this section.
I have created the jinn and humankind only that they might serve Me.
1. Islam. Qur'an 51.56
How then to become true to the Creator?
How to demolish the wall of illusion?
Through obedience to His Ordinance and Will.
2. Sikhism. Japuji 1, M.1, p. 1
Do not try to develop what is natural to man; develop what is natural to Heaven. He who develops Heaven benefits life; he who develops man injures life.
3. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 19
If it be your wish, O people, to know God and to discover the greatness of His might, look, then, upon Me with My own eyes, and not with the eyes of anyone besides Me. You will, otherwise, be never capable of recognizing Me, though you ponder My Cause as long as My Kingdom endures.
4. Baha'i Faith. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah 127
There is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist.
5. Christianity. Bible, 1 Corinthians 8.6
All that God created in His world He created only for His glory, as it is said, "All that is called by my name, for my glory I created and fashioned and made it" (Isaiah 43.7).
6. Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 6.11
O Lord of all, hail unto Thee!
The Soul of all, causing all acts,
Enjoying all, all life art Thou!
Lord of all pleasure and delight!
7. Hinduism. Maitri Upanishad 5.1
I was a secret treasure, and I created the creatures in order that I might be known.
8. Islam. Hadith
Qur'an 51.56: Cf. Qur'an 9.72, p. 200. Japuji 1, M.1: Cf. Yasna 34.12, p. 771. Chuang Tzu 19: On how developing man injures life, see Chuang Tzu 17, p. 294. 1 Corinthians 8.6: Cf. John 6.38, p. 770. Hadith: Cf. Qur'an 89.27-30, p. 552.
God's purpose in creating the universe was to feel happiness when He saw the purpose of goodness fulfilled in the Heavenly Kingdom, which the whole creation, including man, could have established.... The purpose of the universe's existence centered on man is to return joy to God, the Creator.
9. Unification Church. Divine Principle I.1.3.1
O Son of Man! Veiled in My immemorial being and in the ancient eternity of My essence, I knew My love for thee; therefore I created thee, have engraved on thee Mine image, and revealed to thee My beauty.
10. Baha'i Faith. Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah, Arabic 3
Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love. It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but requires all mankind to share it.
11. Christian Science. Science and Health, 57
God longs to hear the prayer of the righteous.
12. Judaism. Talmud, Yebamot 64a
When all human beings have accomplished the purification of their minds and come to lead a life full of joy, I, Tsukihi (God), will become cheered up. And when I become cheered up, so will all human beings. When the minds of all the world become cheered up, God and human beings will become altogether cheered up in one accord.
13. Tenrikyo. Ofudesaki VII.109-111
Those who can hold to this scripture
Shall cause me and the emanations of my body,
As well as the Buddha Many Jewels, now passed into extinction,
All without exception to rejoice.
The Buddhas of the present in all ten quarters,
As well as those of past and future,
They shall both see and shower with offerings,
Enabling them, too, to gain joy.
14. Buddhism. Lotus Sutra 21
Divine Principle I.1.3.1: Cf. Sun Myung Moon 2-12-61, p. 117; 6-20-82, p. 146; 10-20-73, p. 197. Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah, Arabic 3: Cf. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah 27, p. 311. Science and Health, 57: Cf. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.17 and 1.4.3, p. 252. Yebamot 64a: Cf. Hosea 11.1-9, pp. 460f.; Matthew 23.37, p. 458. Ofudesaki VII.109-11: Cf. Ofudesaki XVII.64-70, p. 460. Lotus Sutra 21: The 'Buddha Many Jewels' is the Buddha called Prabhutaratna, who symbolically represents the Dharma. The Buddha and his emanations will enjoy ecstasy, which is an element of the latter stages in the Noble Eightfold Path--cf. Majjhima Nikaya iii.251-52, p. 170.
You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate;
but you shall be called My Delight is in Her,
and your land Married;
for the Lord delights in you,
and your land shall be married.
For as a young man marries a virgin,
so shall your sons marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you.
15. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Isaiah 62.4-5
Ever is He in bliss, ever fulfilled.
16. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Japuji 3, M.1, p. 2
O mankind! It is you that have need of God: but God is the One Free of all wants, worthy of all praise.
17. Islam. Qur'an 35.15
Brahma's creative activity is not undertaken by way of any need on his part, but simply by way of sport.
18. Hinduism. Brahma Sutra 2.1.32-33
We created not the heaven and the earth and all that is between them in play. If We had wished to find a pastime, We could have found it in Our presence--if We ever did. Nay, but We hurl the true against the false, and it prevails over it, and lo! [the false] vanishes... To Him belongs whosoever is in the heavens and the earth. And those who dwell in His presence are not too proud to worship Him, nor do they weary.
19. Islam. Qur'an 21.16-19
Isaiah 62.4-5: Cf. Revelation 21.1-7, pp. 1118f. Japuji 3: Cf. Majh, M.5, p. 198. Brahma Sutra 2.1.32-33: Cf. Chandogya Upanishad 7.23-25, p. 95.