Sunday, 28 March 2010

The meaning of life - a very personal viewpoint

Most people say 42 and that's probably right. I think they'd also be just as right if they said, cherry tomatoes.

From my personal perspective -

There is no real meaning to life. This is in no way a negative thing to say. In fact, the quest for a deep meaning to life appears to throw some people into an unnecessary panic - especially around mid life.

I mean this statement in a 'huge picture' way. In a way of asking, 'what does a life amount to.'

When you unpick the legacy of most people's lives, it usually amounts to very little with the exception of what might live on in those people they 'touched' in their life time - and this can be both positive and negative. (This might predominantly be their offspring but will to a lesser extent include others.) There are those that leave a huge legacy - the Einsteins, the Curies, the social reformists - but they are a tiny minority. Few of us will achieve such a legacy. Even our minor positive impacts on the world will in the most part become irrelevant in this ever-changing world after we have gone. For example, the work I and others do now, although a necessary step on the way, will seem like an old viewpoint in no time I am sure - but it kept us occupied while we were around (and meant I wasn't free to mug people).

So if, in my opinion, there is no deep meaning to life, then I see a need to look a bit 'smaller.' And to me that is the key. I guess it's like saying, 'stop taking yourself quite so seriously!'

To those around you, you are what you give. I see what a person 'gives' as some point to their life. People give in so many different ways, making their part of the world that bit more pleasant. Some are nurturing, some create things for other to enjoy, some entertain..... I see positive 'giving' as a significant point to life.

Then there is the carpe diem train of thought - hand in hand with the phrase, 'live every day as if it was your last.' Well I might struggle with that. I think an uncomfortable restlessness comes from trying to pack a life with as many 'experiences' as you can muster. Quiet, simple and small pleasures are enough for me most days and, should I be lucky enough to die suddenly in my sleep, will probably fill my last day. It is great to create unusual memories and have striking experiences too, of course, but I also really believe it's even more fantastic to find contentment in everyday things. Our experiences will die with us after all. So seeing the pleasure very readily under our noses might be another point to life.

I also believe that life is about personal growth. I hate the idea of stagnating. Personal growth will, of course be different for everyone. There's always more to learn - skills, knowledge etc. But for me, increasing self awareness helps a person live a life more and more free from patterns and buttons. Free from the patterns and buttons that mean we continue to react to life situations in a way we have been programmed to in the past - that can in many cases mean a repetition of disastrous relationships, destructive behaviour, irrational reactions, poor interpersonal skills, wariness of others, etc. Self awareness sets you free to confidently explore a greater amount of life - more and more free from all those conditioned responses. This can also result in a greater amount of contentment. I'm in agreement with Jung on this. Good company to be in. It also gives you a lifetime's worth of work and therefore keeps you occupied because there is always more to know.

Another significant idea might be that of perspective. I feel that it is a very human condition to make ourselves unnecessarily distressed over things that really do not matter. This notion is a little out of place here but I think of it as an anti-point - what should life not be about. If you were on your death-bed, how much of what might have pre-occupied you in your time in a bad way would you conclude would have been better to have not bothered with. The ability to transcend pettiness is a pretty beneficial and healthy thing to be able to do. Many things would pale into the realms of pettiness on our death-bed - I'm sure!

I feel we are all floundering around - hopefully, often, just pleasantly. Nice innit!

30 comments:

  1. I'm with Molly on this one :)

    But I do sometimes ponder the possibility that there just might be some 'huge picture' meaning to life, but I can't for the life of me imagine what it could be.

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  2. Cherry tomatoes. Big ones.

    You can have the white marshmallows, I'll have the pink.

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  3. I nearly wrote a paragraph about 'the power of now' as well...but I guess it's covered by the 'small pleasures' thing.

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  4. Hi Molly P
    For those with an eternal perspective, the question of the meaning of life is to obtain a physical body, to grow-as in personal growth and not just the physical- and develop through everyday choices. We then die in the flesh and return with what we have gleaned and what we have become, to where we came from. When the body and soul are reunited,the eternities are the continuation of this blip of an Earthly experience. Loadsapeople will vehemently disagree with me and that's fine.
    Ever since I spoke with Mr Grey in 1968 and seeing him laid out the very next day, I knew he was just an empty shell and that that something which had been present the previous day, had left him. No one can convince me that there is just life, then death. There was something before and there will be something after.

    I'm not getting on my soap-box. I'm no religious fanatic. I don't have a mind that is closed. I've not been indoctrinated. But I have put on a glove that fits my hand...there is a double meaning in that...to quote Much Ado About Nothing.

    So yes, I believe there is meaning to life...and yes, it's a very personal viewpoint. No -now that I've learned what it is-I don't believe we are all floundering around, but the experience can often be pleasant.

    Still awake? :)

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  5. Respect to you for your different viewpoint Ken D.
    x

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  6. Codgi - nice try but that would bring far to much order into what I want to be basically a messy food fight.

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  7. Actually - the whole pink/white split is somewhat orderly.

    Codgi - choose your weapon...baked beans, ketchup, sausages, cola, leg of ham, frozen peas, treacle or anotehr food choice (as long as it get past the ajudicator (me).

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  8. Interesting post. Lots of good books on this too. try Straw Dogs by John Gray or On the Meaning of Life by John Cottingham

    I'm broadly with you, but it does depend on what we mean by 'meaning'

    Some people find 'meaning' in the golf club or in their art

    Some people find meaning in praxis - such as saying Grace, following rituals, meditation etc.

    Others see meaning in a religious context - put simply, they see the meaning of life as tied up with eternal or after life. What I don't understand about this view is why an eternal/after life has any 'meaning'. I can't see that it has any more relevance than this one - if I go on living in some way, then what is the 'meaning' in that?

    But now I've stumbled onto a whole different issue...

    So lots to think about while we pleasantly flounder around.

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  9. I think you have a very good point, Molly. Ultimately, what we do will have, for the most part, limited if any effect on the world, yet we also must consider that our every-day actions, affecting those closest to us, will effect those they have contact with, an exponential chain of attitude more than anything else.

    Sometimes I think the best we can do is not add to the troubles of others...

    Also floudering,

    Pearl

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  10. This is a good antidote to worrying about the meaning of lif. (turn up the volume)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcUi6UEQh00

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  11. this is very deep.
    then I watched the youtube vid that Sandra suggested and now I'm even more confused.

    p.s. what does your opening paragraph mean?
    42?
    tomatoes?
    hurty brain.
    ;-)

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  12. Baked beans at dawn. The others aren't messy enough.

    Clippy Mat: 42 was the answer to the ultimate question about life, the universe, and everything, as calculated by Deep Thought, a computer designed and built for this very purpose. Sadly, no-one thought to ask it to determine exactly what was the ultimate question. (See: The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams)

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  13. Interesting for me that I have landed here today after watching several DVD's on the subject of Quantum Physics.

    At this point in time I believe that whatever you believe... be that me or you is the truth.
    In other words life is what you believe/imagine it to be and from where I stand no one person is holding the bag of truth.

    Great post.

    best wishes
    Robyn ;)

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  14. I'm not very well today (hurty stomach, head and am feeling a bit fluey!) so there is no way that I am going to be able to leave any kind of intelligent comment!! (Ha, so no change there then!)

    C x

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  15. If someone doesn't expect much from life, they won't be disappointed.

    Personally, I take solace in making the pub owners' lives a bit financially brighter.

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  16. Apologies for long answer.

    Just over 5 years ago I decided to spend a week in meditating six times a day for an hour each time, because I felt that I had been neglecting my inner life and needed to retrieve and reclaim the discipline. I chose to use the theme 'The Meaning of Life' and this I would ask in my mind on each occasion before starting the process of stilling the mind.

    On the night of the fifth day immediately after my last meditation of the day I received an Insight that seemed to be in two parts.

    Here is the first part :-

    " You may have read in the Bible about Man being in the image of the God - the Creator"
    This is a symbolic statement which the men of Earth have wrongly interpreted as meaning that God is like a Man; from this false assumption all manner of social ills and inequalities stem. We will not list them now you can categorise them for yourself later if need be...
    The peoples of the Earth would have fared better if the symbolism had been understood as each being of the Energy of the Creator which they truly have and are as being particles of the whole.
    A simplistic explanation>
    To experience life on Earth these particles are released in cell groups, you understand that a cell consists of molecules - Yes
    So each of you are a molecule of the Creator. The Cells are released to Earth to experience and achieve a particular function and when all molecules in a cell have fulfilled their task they return back to the whole.
    Before being released again to attend to other functions, you may interpret the functions as being similar to the organs or processes that take place within your own body - if it will help you reach an understanding of the Meaning of Life.

    The second part:-

    The Creators of the Universes have long considered that the peoples of the Earth at their concept were given talents that would lead to an imbalance in their development.

    The primary talents being the 'Will power to survive - Ego' plus the talent of Technology that started with early tools & digressed into weapons by the Ego and has been repeated throughout the generations.
    The secondary talents of Harmony & Love were not installed at the same level as the first two.

    There have been several attempts to redress this imbalance none of which have made sufficient difference, other than having been made by the people into Religions and used by egoists for control over.
    Each generation has looked back at past generations and has falsely believed that they are now the civilised generation.

    Thus the introduction of cell groups where the majority of molecules are infused with the secondary talents have been returned to Earth to bring about change. This slow process has been taking place for nearly two hundred years and will continue until the problem has been resolved.

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  17. WARNING – TWO GLASSES OF VINO DOWN.....providing absolution for having missed yoga...it’s a spiral down I am revelling in

    Mark – you philosopher –you! I enjoy your thinkeriness!
    I guess I mean the ‘point’ or ‘purpose’ of life...but...yes that could be defined further. I am drawn to philosophical debates for a bit and then I get annoyed (my own shortcoming) with the ‘round in circles thinking’ I end up doing. It overworks my cogs ...in all directions. I can see how philosophers can become a little unhinged.....probably more airy thinking than’s good for most. I would need to grow a few veg inbetween discussions to survive them...

    I think the point you make is almost the point I make (and Robyn makes) that we all have individual meanings (and interpretations). Consequently, I feel there can’t be one right one viewpoint (thus my title – ‘a very personal viewpoint’) but this only adds to the idea that we are all floundering (and that’s no bad thing!) All with different ideas floating in different directions – and none of us can say that any of the stances mean more or less than any other – because they mean something and are real to each individual. If it works for them - I aint gonna knock it (as long as they are not hurting anyone!)

    I am personally in agreement with you about religion. I have never tuned into it in a way that it has provided me with anything positive..... I have grown to be more accepting of it doing something for others though..so it no longer creates an automated, strong negative reaction from me..... but we had the religion debate a while ago...best not re-kindled! It does seem to polarise and upset/anger.

    Pearl – I think a vibrant, articulate person like you gives more than ‘just not adding to the troubles of others!’ I see your huge dollops of giving. Your posts regularly elicit blast laughs from me and I ponder on some of your turns of phrases ....in fact a few have become catchphrases ©Pearl 2010

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  18. Sandra – Leftfield award awarded to Sandra Rowney. I have the dance routine mastered.

    Clipster – deep for some, shallow for others perhaps? Not sure. Everyone receives in such different ways..............

    Codgi – O.K. Meet you on Guernsey. St Peter’s Port. The nex B.S.T. 5 a.m tomorrow. I warn you...I am good at baked bean fighting....you will find them in crevices for months afterwards...

    Thank you for explaining 42. Cherry tomatoes are the answer to the question:
    If you were in a not-overly-serious food fight, what would you bat at your opponent?

    Ribbon Robyn – Oooo I did Quantum physics at Uni (in its early days)...one of the few bits I enjoyed in my degree.... You’re coming across quite Shroedinger. I agree (see my comment to Mark). Thank you.

    Carol – Oh I hope you get better quickly. You are such a busy person I’m not surprised you ‘crash’ now and then (don’t we all). That self deprecation is so misplaced misses! Xxx

    Eric – Have you translated ‘bar’ to ‘pub’ for me Eric. I feel honoured. I, personally also, feel a need to contribute to the same business occasionally – as you know. I think I did the bulk of my contribution in my youth and have toned down considerable now,,,but still a bit partial.

    Heronster – I read your post three time and feel I tune into elements of it but it’s not in its entirety a truth for me. I received.......
    Imbalance of talents – I feel a general optimism that we are moving in the right direction
    misinterpretation of god – I have read many things that suggest the interpretation of much of Jesus/God teaching has been completely misinterpreted and turned into ‘religion’ I feel there is something in that.....there are many metaphors that have been taken literally perhaps...
    ‘Energy’ – I am not sure I will explain my esoteric ponderings one this...other than to say I feel a sense of connection with others comes from a very basic commonality.


    AND I missed yoga and drank wine (wrecker)...I know it won’t bother me on my deathbed but could anyone offer better absolution? I let guilt linger a little longer than I should sometimes (i.e. an hour)

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  19. As regards Religions, I actually have no time for any of them and I feel that they are actually no more than a psychological support for the weak.

    It really doesn't matter whether you connect to all or any part of what I received in meditation.
    It made sense to me lol !

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  20. And that's what we all appear to have concluded...each to their own....live and let live....with a few common goals about getting on?

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  21. P.S. and my comment about getting on.....if, if, if I had been religious, I might have taken offence to your summing up of religion...or I might not....who knows...it blows in the wind...each to their own....

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  22. Oh - so it wasn't you I covered in beans?
    Oops

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  23. Heron - I'm gonna try meditating!!! I've been meaning to learn anyway...

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  24. I'm broadly speaking being quiet on this one, I think we are the consciousness of the universe, that's it, message end...

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  25. I've just read your post and all the very erudite comments (get well soon Carol) - I'm just not able to comment on this. I don't know what I know - if you know what I mean.

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  26. just popped in to say that I have sent you a Facebook message - you're lovely and none of my silly diatribe was aimed at you. Working mums with busy lives are to be commended for blogging - let alone finding time for other blogs.

    xx

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  27. You created a new human bean? Or bean human? Oh dear :)

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