The Meaning of Life

Ha! Bet you laughed when you saw that heading! But two “meaning of life” inputs came to me on the same day, so I had to give it a second look.

First, if you’ve looked into Ecclesiastes lately, you’ve seen Solomon declare over and over that everything is meaningless. Purported to be among the wisest ever to live, he spells it out so there can be no mistaking what he is saying: “I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” (Ecc. 1:14)

This is the same book with the often-quoted section on “seasons”: “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity.” But as to the level of meaning available to humans, Solomon concludes that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work.

The Buddhists may be a little ahead here, because they have realized that all this doing and striving that occupy the minds of humankind will not lead to contentment and peace. So what will?

The second input on this subject was a video clip of Neil deGrasse Tyson (known as an astrophysicist and science communicator) speaking to a group on the meaning of life. Tyson came at the subject from a different angle, a much more practical, hands-on model. He said that the meaning of life is not something you find and put into yourself. Rather, the “healthier” way to think of it is “the meaning of life is what I give it.”  Expounding on what that means, he said: “Any day I’m alive, I want to make sure I know more today than I did yesterday. And in tandem with that, at some level, I want to lessen the suffering of others.”

I found that a profoundly useful perspective.


Advent / Awakening

Advent is a lot like awakening, with its sense of emergence and dawn, and the materialization of the good that we hope for. I have to admit that the seasons, both those of the calendar and those of the Church, often run right by me, and I don’t look up until they are about over. But Advent is different and I think it’s because of the promise of awakening – specifically, awakening to hope.

Exactly what we are awakening to, in this season of Advent, is really up to us. We can choose how we want to receive, what we want to emerge in our lives. As with many things, how much we get out of the season depends on how much we put into it. Perhaps the best approach is to think deeply about who we want to be, what we want to pull up from our spirits, how we would create the world that works for all of us.

Eckhart Tolle said, “There’s something in everybody that longs for that awakening to be more true to yourself.” More true to yourself is a euphemism for living from our spirits to be the people we most want to be.

Going the next step into the actual awakening is a process that grows naturally out of regular spiritual practices. The list of practices is endless, and many spiritual practices have already been discussed in this blog. Choose two or three that work for you and practice them daily.

Psalm 17:15 “And I – in righteousness I will see your face; when I awake I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.”