THE MEANING OF LIFE
I know what you are thinking. Another boring writer who feels he has the answer to the everlasting question about the meaning of life. Well! You know what? I think for the sake of honesty I have to be honest and say I do not have a universal answer to the question. I have no idea what you might feel after reading this but I will share what I know. You decide after, ok?
A few days ago, I read an article online written and organised by John Riley and Geoffrey Klempner that asked the 10 big questions in life. This article comprised of what the authors felt were some of the most serious questions that were asked in life (some of which I have already thought about before reading his article) . The questions ranged from issues about artificial intelligence, the big bang theory, cultural relativism, life after death and so on but one of these questions really got me thinking not because it was a timeless question but because of the question that was asked about the question (Hope you understood that).
Michael Asked: “Given that reality is immense in comparison to myself, it is obvious that I myself, am not the most important thing of all those things in existence. Therefore, what I consist of is not important — my thoughts and ideas, such as love, happiness, etc. — everything that is personal to me. Having excluded all of those personal things, what is it that is most important then, of all things in existence? That is, in the processes of our making our choices in day-to-day living, what is it most reasonable to see as taking precedence over everything else, having already established that it cannot be anything of a personal nature?”
First of all let me start by saying that deciding the importance of something is a relative question and this is why we have so many different perspectives as to what matters. We might never have the same values and if we did the amount of passion we place on it might differ. It might be easy to see and understand Michael’s point of view but I agree with the dilemma he presents.
As individuals we are probably quite aware that if we did die today? Life goes on. It might sound cold bloded but it is true. The earth was there before we were born and it will still be there if we dropped off it.
So what does it matter. On second thought if we did something with our lives then our work will at least be remembered, right? Well to some level I guess that might be correct. But what happens when our theories become obsolete? Please do not kid yourself, it will become obsolete (well unless it’s a pure science theory and even that is arguable). So what is important?
Honestly, nothing is important individually. Not a single life or a single action. What becomes important is what we do collectively. Does your theory inspire a collective response (for this is the only way it would remain absolute)?
Examples of situations like this can be found when we look at the life work of Jesus Christ. According to the bible, Jesus lived till he was 33 years old but he did not start revolutionising the world for change until he was 30 years old. By my calculations it took him 3 years to change the way over 3 billion people live their lives forever. His works stood the test of time not just because he performed miracles and gave people during his time a real reason for existing. He was truly great (by every universal standard) because his legacy ensured a collective number of people will agree on something greater than themselves and by doing this find a new meaning to life and existence.
If you are not much of a fan of Christianity let me put it in another example. Darwin’s evolutionary theory suggest that human beings as we know them today started from a single cell organism (obviously that is a highly sumarrised version of it) yet today we know that the human body consists of over 6 billion of these. Can you see my point already? We exist today as whole individuals not unicellular organisms by the collection of cells working together to form and create something several hundred times greater than themselves as individuals. This has grown to the point that if one cell dies it does not affect the system.
I believe that the real meaning of life can be found in our collective experiences. Situations like families, nations, churches, institutions.
While we are allowed to do as we please as individuals it often does not bring any sense of fulfilment if it is not collective or there is no collective gain. We find this in our search to find love, to belong to something and to share wealth. A passion to be collectively responsible for something or someone greater than ourselves gives us a reason to live. This also serves as a point of reference when we are plagued with mid-life crisis and questions in our old age.
This however, comes at a price. We must lose our whole sense of identity. At this point I feel I must state that I am not advocating that we stop being individuals. I am simply stating what should be obvious.
There is an old saying that “little drops of water make a mighty ocean”. It is important to note that you are still very valuable as individuals. All I am trying to say here is that while we can gain satisfaction in acquiring wealth and having a loving heart our lives are incomplete without someone or a group to share it with. Our life is given meaning by our existence with other individuals. Our life will be remembered through time only if our decisions today can be the light or the spark that lights a change in the hearts of people. A change that we can all embrace collectively not one that just changes the individual lives of a few.
For some people it takes a life time to discover this and by the time they do it is too late to enjoy it.
When you live life for our collective good it increases the depth, intensity and richness of your life and that of others for without it life simply is not worth living. This is where true love and happiness comes from and this is my meaning of life.
I have learned from experience that no matter what you have, achieve or what you are blessed with in life when you have no-one to share it with. Life simply makes little to no sense.
The meaning of life is to give life meaning. Do something for others and in that you will find true purpose.