Gradually I gained
the insight that a reference frame of beginninglessness and
endlessness shifts the type of pressure one feels to find
a purpose in life. The materialist feels a logical pressure
to resign her or himself to meaninglessness and purposelessness,
and the Western monotheist feels a kind of pressure to abandon
logic and find faith in God, in whose beginninglessness and
endlessness she or he then feels the grace of meaningfulness.
The Buddhist beginninglessness and endlessness embeds a commonsense,
logical imperative to participate in evolution, which does
not contain meaning or purpose in itself. Howefver, at the
same time it presses one to make God's or Buddha's purpose
one's own; that is, to work toward the perfect happiness of
self and all other beings, with an infinite plenty of time
to get the job done!
Somehow this all clicked together for me at one point in
those early studies, and was, I think, religiously "formative"
in a very concrete sense. My life since then has unfolded
within an underlying reference frame of what I would call
"infinite consequentiality," in that whatever one
does, even the slightest good or bad thing, has endless consequence.
This framework, as I understand it, gives one a commonsensical
imperative to be mindful that one's acts, words, and thoughts
be always a bit better than a bit worse, without requiring
one to adopt any sort of nonrational belief.