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Meaning of Life

It was the end of a tiring, annoying day, and the overwhelming emotion was “bugger it!” Caroline would never employ such coarse language, of course, but she still expressed herself in a surprising way: “You can have all the purpose and meaning of life in the world,” she said, “or, you can just have a great glass of wine. It’s all the same in the end; I mean, we’re all going down — aren’t we?”

We looked at each other in shock for a moment before all the complicated emotions of the day exploded into laughter. The fact is, we both spend one day after another preoccupied with finding purpose and giving meaning to life — but there’s a point at which you just stop taking yourself seriously and let go. Sometimes short-term catharsis trumps profound universal truth.

The idea of Truth has driven ethical philosophers and spiritual seekers for thousands of years, and it’s not a bad thing, but it’s still just an idea. The reality of life is that no matter what we believe, we don’t know much, and probably never will. You might call ‘I don’t know’ the truth that underlies everything. It doesn’t mean we give up, or lose heart. It’s just that when it stands before you in all its irrefutable glory, words and ideas cease, not to mention pretentions of knowledge and righteousness. All that’s left is consciousness itself; it’s as if we’re tricked into pure mindfulness by the blatent bankrupcy of theorizing. It’s a good thing. There’s no harm in a glass of good wine, and there may be hidden splendors. In those moments of visceral mindfulness, it’s not what you do that matters; it’s how you do it.

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3 responses to “Meaning of Life”

  1. Brenda

    Thank you, Stephen, for sharing this link with me. Always in my background is desire to know the real truth about our existence even though logically I feel it doesn’t exist. I see myself step into and out of all kinds of different dramas daily. I am blessed at the moment to be able to reflect on these dramas and see them as such. I like your last sentence, “it’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.” I have slowly come to the realization of every act can be meaningful with right intention. This is a challenging place to accept in oneself though.

  2. Izabela

    It only proves that when we try hard to let go it becomes a contradiction in itself. Once we stop trying, we let go.

  3. Robert G. Longpré

    Yes, it is a good idea to sit back and take one’s self less seriously with a good glass of wine. Getting caught up in “meaning” and “purpose” is vital, but it isn’t everything. I’m glad that I have found this place. I look forward to hearing from you, perhaps even have you visit my site which is also about the meaning of life from an individual point of view that is filtered through a Jungian psychology lens, one that includes many Buddhist concepts.

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