Q. I cannot understand how impressions can be food?

Taking in impressions means that a certain energy comes in with them. All energy that you receive is food. The food you eat is coarse material, air is finer, impressions are the finest and the most important food. Man cannot live a single moment without impressions. Even when he is unconscious there are impressions.

— P. D. Ouspensky

Q. What is the purpose of man’s existence?

A. Man and even mankind does not exist separately, but as a part of the whole organic life. The earth needs organic life as a whole — men, animals, plants. The Ray of Creation is a growing branch, and this communication is necessary in order that the branch may grow further. Everything is connected, nothing is separate, and smaller things, if they exist, serve something bigger. Organic life serves planetary purposes, it does not exist for itself. An individual man is a highly specialized cell in it, but on that scale an individual cell does not exist — it is too small. Our ordinary points of view are very naive and homeocentric; everything turns round man. But man is a very insignificant thing, part of a very big machine. Organic life is a particular cosmic unit and man is a unit in this big mass of organic life. He has the possibility of further development, but this development depends on man’s own effort and understanding. It enters into the cosmic purpose that a certain number of men should develop, but not all, for that would contradict another cosmic purpose. Evidently mankind must be on earth and must lead this life and suffer. But a certain number of men can escape, this also enters into the cosmic purpose.

So individually we are not important for the universe at all. We cannot speak even about humanity in relation to the universe — we can only speak about organic life. As I said, we are part of organic life, and organic life plays a certain part in the solar system, but it is a very big thing compared with us. We are used to thinking of ourselves individually, but very soon we lose this illusion. It is useful to think about different scales; take a think on a wrong scale and you lose your way.

— P. D. Ouspensky