I came across a Google+ comment from the Dali Lama (!) and since that service is a sluggish monstrosity, I decided I'm going to respond here.
"The very purpose of our life is happiness, which is sustained by hope."
With all due respect to my more famous colleague, I have to dispute him on this point. He goes on to do a relatively good job of describing what' hope' is, but it isn't his tautologies, but his teleology, that I disagree with.
It is obvious enough to say that this is meaningless and pointless quibbling about inductive abstractions, post-modernism of the worst sort, even a text-book case of Socrates' Error on my part. There are contexts in which I wouldn't even dispute the statement that the purpose of our lives is happiness. But I have to be honest, there aren't many, and this certainly isn't one of them. To say that the purpose of our existence, consciousness, or self-awareness (whatever it is the esteemed priest meant by 'life') is to be individually happy seems a little preposterous, a bit egocentric, to me. But then again, so do most things in all other religions, Buddhism is hardly notable on that count.
One of the basic premises of the religion that is the Philosophy Of Reason is the conscious, purposeful, and specific recognition of the importance of the balance between the individual and the society in which that individual exists. Outside of any society, an individual human is merely an ape, entirely indistinct, apart from the details of its appearance, from any other ape. It's physical form (notably its brain) would provide it an immense amount of cunning for an animal, but it would exhibit no metaphysical powers or even any particular talent for surviving in the wild. Each of us as individuals becomes something more than a beast only in our interactions with other individuals, and the sum of all such interactions is what we refer to as "society". In the ethical unfolding of POR, its nature as a real religion providing moral guidance to its participants and thereby promoting a moral and productive society, it is important that we pay attention to this fact of nature. Our purpose in life cannot be absolutely related to our existence as individuals, nor can it be absolutely related to our participation in society. We must be "designed", by evolution or God, to be neither solitary nor communal creatures, because that is the method of our existence that we inherently and naturally engage in.
So happiness is the "me" side of the equation, it is what we call that apparent motive force that provides cheerful acquiescence to the vicissitudes of daily living. But if that were the ultimate goal, with hope being just a means to that end, we would be the failed creatures that the Bible, IPTM, and Buddhism all claim that we are. And when we see our own lives that way, we embody that failed creature, we do in fact fail, and happiness becomes the unachievable, the dangling carrot that we "pursue" without enjoying through our whole stupid dumb useless lives.
If we can achieve happiness, find it and pursue it as a livelihood, it is only so that it benefits the other side of that equation, the "we" part. If my happiness cannot only be increased by helping others achieve happiness, then it isn't happiness so much as it is just contentment. It is based on ignorance, and so is hope, if we think of our personal "joy of experience", our personal happiness, to be the final goal of our existence. 'True' happiness can't be found for just ourselves, if it doesn't inform you on how to spread it to others, there isn't anything 'true' about it. That's why I respect the Dali Lamas attempt to educate others about the inner peace they may be searching for, but I also have to point out that he has it backwards. I think he reversed his teleology because he can't explain exactly what 'happiness' is, but he can explain hope, and so by way of pretending to instruct people he describes hope, and hopes that happiness follows if you can manage to do that. As someone who survived on nothing but hope for decades, I can tell you it does not sustain happiness.
The very purpose of our lives is hope, which is sustained by happiness. It isn't caused or created by happiness, it is caused or created by hope, that's what makes hope fundamental, and makes our personal happiness existentially unnecessary. Which is what makes it happiness.
I hope some of that made at least a little bit of sense, to somebody. I'm happy to have written it, either way.