What is the Meaning of Life?
The mere accumulation of the intellectual understanding of spiritual knowledge cannot heal what’s wrong with your life. Only changing what’s wrong will heal what’s wrong in your life.
Q: What is the meaning of life?
On what level would you like the answer? On an individual level, there are infinite answers because for every life form, each experiences a different meaning.
Q: Is it natural for people to want there to be meaning? Or is that something that religion has given us a need for?
Religion isn’t the entire culprit. When someone starts to wonder how to make their way in the world, or what they could do for a living, they naturally begin to ask these kinds of questions. But this was not always a prominent question. Only in more recent times, as we’ve become more disconnected from the greater self, have we lost the answer. Like so much in the modern world, what we once knew and could take for granted many centuries ago, we now lose at an early age. And, at some point in life, wind up spending the rest of our lives playing catch up trying to remember or find the answer.
The problem with questions like these is that the answers are so unsatisfying; they’re not what you expect, or want to hear. The answer to “What is the meaning of life?” is life. That’s not a good enough meaning for most people. They want it to mean more. They want it to be a way to single themselves out to feel important, to feel purposeful, to feel connected.
Q: So there’s no value in someone asking whether they have a purpose to their life?
I’ll speak on the human level, since the universal level only causes shock and dismay for most people. On the human level there is value. Once someone feels like they can assign themselves a purpose, they begin to feel plugged in, connected, re-experiencing a sense of a greater whole belonging to something greater than just themselves. It allows people to feel that the world is less random and that they can make a difference; that there is some greater meaning. So to assuage the emotional need, there is value.
On the universal level, the meaning to life is life. The purpose for each individual is everything they do, from the moment they wake up until they fall back to sleep. The purpose is to be. Through life and being, we experience consciousness. Through consciousness we set up experiences. Through experiences we perceive and acquire growth and learning. Through growth and learning, evolution moves on. That is the purpose and the meaning of life.
Q: Does that evolution continue on in the life after this life and the life after that? Do we take what we learn in this life and build on it in the next life rather than start all over?
Yes, but not in a linear progression. Each experience has thousands of multifaceted elements to it. And each one of those elements needs to be experienced to truly understand and know that experience, until finally you no longer need to experience that experience. So there are many life experiences in one life that are incomplete and will be carried on into the next life, and into many more lives.
Q: Why is the universe set up this way?
It’s the way that energy is born, expands, creates, experiences, contracts, destroys, is born. It is the cycle of God consciousness experiencing all that is. It takes All That Is an eternity to experience. The question you ask is a very profound question but there is no easy analogy to make it more understandable.
Q: People seem to have a problem with thinking that this is all mathematical and predestined, and that we have no ability to really create our own lives. Is it possible for a human to live thinking that life is just life?
Yes, it’s possible. But your statement points out the basic problem: life is just life—as though that is not enough, as though that’s a disappointment. When that really is the grandest thing of all. The challenge for modern humanity is to recover and uncover their senses to such a degree that once more life becomes everything, rather than a disappointing outcome when there’s nothing more exciting going on. The challenge would be to choose to move away from those things that deaden the senses. And to actively seek out those things that reawaken the senses.
Q: What are things that deaden the senses?
Modern civilization is a mine field where we need to learn how to pick and choose carefully what we want to take in. Things that deaden the senses are the things that move us away from nature and ourselves, the external distractions we use to feel connected to society and the means by which we often choose to relax. It’s very difficult to have awake senses when most of us can’t even choose to dress differently because we’d fear being made fun of, ostracized, criticized, judged. That simple step is intimidating enough. Imagine if you were to choose to think and behave differently in much more significant ways—to choose not to play the lying game, or the competition game, or the shopping game, or the status game. So much of our wants and needs have been instilled in us before we’ve had a chance to participate in the decision-making of what we would take in or leave behind.
The media acts as a major destructive influence on most people’s health and well-being, and their ability to keep their senses open and clear. The challenge is to ask yourself every moment of every day why are you doing what you’re doing, saying what you’re saying, thinking what you’re thinking, eating what you’re eating, watching, reading, or listening to. In this process, you are choosing to remain conscious. You’re choosing to decide for yourself whether what you’re taking in is something you want to allow to stay or whether you’ll choose to reject it, and not have it shape or define you in some way.
Because humanity so desperately seeks to feel connected, and has taken a left hand turn so to speak to feel connected, now the ways in which people feel connected are in the ability to go to any town in the world and find a McDonalds or a Walmart. Or to be able to watch the latest movie and talk about it with all of their friends, rather than feel connected through the spirit or through clear senses, clear communication, clear relationships. The desire is present, but the way it’s being acted out actually deadens the ability to truly feel connected.
Q: How should we go about trying to feel truly connected?
I know that you consider these answers repetitive and simplistic, but the answers are the answers. Spend more time in nature, spend more time keenly observing, spend more time asking yourself questions, spend time reading uplifting material, spend time communicating honestly and clearly with others, and spend time in meditation.
Q: What would the rewards be if we did this?
The greatest reward would be the joy of feeling the exhilaration of truly being alive. Of being a life force rather than feeling like a leaky life on a sinking ship. I know you’re tired of hearing the same answers to essentially any question you ask. But ask yourself this: if you doubt the truth of what I’m saying, are you happy doing it the way you are doing it? Is the way you are living your life now taking you where you want to go? Through the practices you practice, are you becoming any more aware? Are you finding any more peace? Are you knowing any more answers? Or are you just feeling continually tired, moderately confused, and generally bored and restless?
So the steps are the steps, and no matter how many different ways you try to ask a question to get a different maybe more satisfying, meaning easier to do, answer. The answer will always be the same: these are the steps. But if it all seems too overwhelming then just take one step today and another step tomorrow. This is where AA’s motto works very well: One day at a time. It’s the first lesson in learning to experience and embrace the Now. Today is all you have. This moment is all you have. Maybe tomorrow will come, maybe it won’t. Maybe the next moment will come, maybe it won’t. This is fact, not a speculative or spiritual platitude. This is fact: life is not a guarantee; you could die at any moment. Once you start realizing that this is all you have, and you learn to stay happily within this is all you have, then you can start finding the joy in each moment rather than the anxiety of how you’re going to get to the next moment.
Your reaction to feeling bored and frustrated by these answers is normal. Many do not believe they can really do it. Many think it’s too extreme in its requirements to ever actually be realistic for anyone to pursue. But if you don’t like the answers, stop asking the questions.
Q: Are there people who are doing it?
Yes. More and more realize that they just have to start doing it in one way or another. One of the ways you’re seeing this happening is a re-invigoration of religious participation, because most people don’t know how to begin on their own. They’re looking for ways they remember from their past that have given them some format to follow. Religion is very good at providing formats, though not necessarily very good in showing one how to have reawakened senses. But many people, just on their own, are beginning to decide to think and behave differently. Many are unwilling to be dishonest any longer in how they wish to express themselves in business or relationships. Others try to find ways to feel more connected with their family and community.
Q: I’m personally impatient because I can’t seem to break through, but I’m trying.
The difficulty is that you’re unable to enjoy the moment of your accomplishment. As soon as you become better at something you raise the bar immediately and immediately re-experience tension, frustration, and harsh self-judgment rather than enjoy what you’ve accomplished or how you’ve grown. Meditation would remind you to appreciate.
There is a tendency with many to want to use spiritual knowledge to want to make sense out of a life that feels senseless. As though this spiritual information will act as a soothing balm, so you can go back out into the world and keep on doing what you’ve always done. But the mere accumulation of the intellectual understanding of spiritual knowledge cannot heal what’s wrong with your life. Only changing what’s wrong will heal what’s wrong in your life.
I understand why many prefer the nice spiritual platitudes, the pretty sayings, rather than the hard work of changing and growing. And, most certainly, living a spiritual life will not cover up anything. In fact, it will do the opposite: it will expose everything that is out of balance. The dilemma for most people is to take the feelings of how good they feel when they read spiritual material, and translate that into a working life. There is no way around it: you must put what you know into daily practice.