Article #1: What is the Meaning of life?
I am starting this series by considering this question: what is the meaning of life?
I figure why bother with the little stuff, let's just get down to the basic, fundamental essence of everything. The meaning of life, where ‘meaning’ may be thought of as ‘purpose’, is really a philosophical question that involves the purpose of our very existence here on this planet and perhaps our existence within the entire space-time continuum and beyond. This question touches on cultural, religious and spiritual influences, universal truths and cosmic relationships as well as states of consciousness and transcendence of all of this.
The meaning of life touches on so many apparently complex and interrelated issues. The simple answer is simply this: the meaning of life is whatever we choose it to be. One person may choose to provide food and shelter for oneself, for a family or for total strangers. Another person may choose to provide inspiration and guidance to others. Still another person may choose to accumulate wealth. And yet another person may simply choose, on a moment to moment basis, that which brings peace and happiness to oneself.
This choice, this decision, is something each one of us makes for ourselves and it is always open to change, to refine, and to re-define. This decision becomes the basis for many other decisions that we make on a day to day basis.
If we decide the meaning of life is to be healthy, wealthy and happy, these three concepts become new foundations for our thinking, our feelings, our actions.
If we decide the meaning of life is to be of service to other people, this concept becomes a refinement, a focus, a specific direction, that guides our thinking, our feelings, our actions.
If we decide, for example, to be of service to other people, and yet our actions are not in alignment with this decision, we have established a conflict within ourselves that leads to continual denial of self. A result that is not capable of being balanced within ourselves.
This imbalance is something many of us deal with, often many times each day. If we believe one thing and our actions appear dissimilar to our belief, we are inviting stress into ourselves. This stress will continue to grow and manifest in our lives as witnesses that speak for stress. We tend to forget that we initiated this whole process and look outside of ourselves for the cause of this stress. We may use statements such as “it's not my fault so it must be your fault.”
And as long as we see the fault as belonging to someone else, we will not remember who it was that started the process and we will find ourselves unable to correct this basic misunderstanding. This situation has become a circuitous loop that will tend to generate more and more stress in our lives.
In order to get through all of this stress, we may build up immunity to the stress. The stress will eventually establish itself as a new ‘status quo’ for us, a continual stimulus that will tend to attract more and more stress. And when, if even for an instant, the level of stress seems to dissipate, we actually feel as if something is missing in our lives and we may long for returning to the ’good ole days’ of that level of stress to which we became accustomed.
Inducing stress has become an almost hidden purpose to our lives, an almost sub-conscious drive to make and project stress onto ourselves and those around us. We have been doing this for so very long that we are quite convinced that we have no control over it, that we are victims of stress and victims of a world that causes this stress.
Making stress is not the meaning of life but it has become such a deeply embedded initiative for us that it seems to undermine our other beliefs, our feelings, our actions.
We seem to have forgotten that we started this whole thing. We seem to have forgotten that the power of choice, the power of decision, still remains with us.
The meaning of life is whatever we choose, decide, it to be. The choice, the decision, is ours and yet we are free to seek guidance in making this choice. And it is quite apparent that, in this instance, we are not our own best guide. We have strong evidence that we have miss-guided ourselves into this stress-burdened state of existence.
The next article in this series will look into seeking guidance for the meaning of life.
Author: Charles Henry, MS, DD,© 2009