What is the Meaning of Life
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WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE? Program 159 Communion With God by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? What are you doing here? What’s the purpose of your existence? Why are you alive? Why am I alive? That’s the question that we’re discussing on this program each day. To answer it, of course, we tried to go to the roots of our origins. We tried to establish what we thought was the origin of the universe.
We were driven, of course, by the order and design of the universe and by the personableness of us persons to the conclusion that there had to be some kind of Supreme Being. We arrived at the same conclusion as men like Einstein did — that the order and design that we perceive in the universe must have been put there by an intelligence that is at least as great as ours, and presumably greater. That intelligence must have a personableness as we ourselves are.
So, over the months of this past year, we have argued our way through together from that position of theism, we call it (some belief in some kind of God or Supreme Being) to the place where we concluded that the man who lived in the first century of our era, that man Jesus of Nazareth, was really the Son of the Maker of the universe.
The documentary and manuscript evidence that is available in places like the British Museum proved His historicity and the evidence for His power over nature and disease. His power over death itself proved that He was able to leave the earth and come back to it when He wished. He was, in fact, the Son of the Maker of our world.
What we have been doing is studying His explanation of why we’re here and how we are meant to operate in this present life. Of course, He made it very plain that we were put here by His Father, our Maker, so that we might become His friends. That’s it. So that we might come into a love relationship with our Creator.
Now, that is why you are here. You are special to your Maker. There is nobody like you, nobody like you. He made only one of you. He made you so that He could have your friendship and so that you could have His, so that you could be His child and He could be your Father. That’s why He made you like Himself.
We have been discussing how He made us to operate on three levels: on a physical level, with these bodies that we have. With the five senses we can perceive the world of people and circumstances and things. Through our soul level, or our psychological level, our mind and emotions and will, through which we are conscious of ourselves, of our own thoughts and our feelings. And, our spirit level, the part of us that is able to communicate with Him.
What we have been discussing, first of all, is that spirit level. We have said that that is the part that really communes with God. That’s one of its functions, communion with God. The reason why so many of us have such frustrating experiences with religion is that we are always trying to do it on our psychological level. Through concentrating with our minds, through meditating on things in our minds, through producing certain feelings, either with drugs or with ecstasy of some kind in our emotions. All the time we’re dealing only with ourselves.
That whole psychological part of us is able to be conscious alone of ourselves. It cannot have any contact with the Supreme Being beyond the universe. That is done through our spirits. If you say, “What is my spirit?”
My spirit is my real self. It’s what you really are, what you are deep down and what you really want and what you really desire. That’s your spirit. That has an ability to commune with God.
But you’re right if you say, “Aw, I don’t know if I have a spirit. I’ve never felt it. I’ve never thought it. I’ve never sensed it.” Your spirit operates through your faith. Faith is belief in a certain thing and acting in the light of it. It’s believing that there is a God and then acting in the light of that. It’s wanting Him to communicate with you, wanting Him through your faith, to communicate with you. Just wanting Him desperately.
That’s why the few moments that you’ve have had in your life, when you have been conscious of God, have usually been moments of desperation and great tragedy in your life where you’ve just cried out to God without any ability to manipulate your thoughts, or your feelings or any ability to think things. You’ve just wanted Him with all of your being. Somehow or other, He has seemed to be real to you.
That’s because your spirit is the deepest part of you. It is the part of you that expresses your deepest desires. When you express that deep desire to God, He comes through to you in a way that baffles all calculation and analysis.
Now, another part of your spirit is your conscience. What we have been saying is that one of the strongest moves you can make if you’re really serious about contacting the Supreme Being behind the universe, is to respond to your conscience.
Your conscience is the part of your spirit that urges you to act up to the best that you know, to live up to the best that you know. It’s not a set of rules and regulations. That often is the mistake that you and I make. We try to observe the rules and regulations that our teachers give us or that religious people give us or that our minister gives us or that our father and mother give us. Those are guides at the beginning of our life, but the vital guide of God’s personal witness inside our own beings is our conscience.
Your conscience is God’s own personal signals to you. If you begin to respond to that conscience and to live by it, you find that your spirit gets stronger and God Himself begins to be real to you. Many of us, of course, for good reasons and bad, have ignored our consciences so much that they are almost dead. We do it in two ways, of course. We do it in the usual old way. We sow our wild oats and we ignore the things that our conscience is telling us to do.
Or, we ignore the things that we were brought up to believe are right and we learn to sear our conscience. It goes dead. We become one those mindless, staring creatures that look as if they are on drugs, even if they’re not on drugs. You almost lose yourself. Have you ever looked into your own eyes and wondered, “Is there anybody there? Is there anybody there?”
You certainly have done that when you looked at people across the tube [underground carriage]. You’ve said, “Is there anybody there? Is there anybody inside at all? Those eyes look as if there’s “a nothing” in there. Many of us actually feel that way. We feel as if we’re just blobs. We feel as if there’s no self inside. There’s no me any longer. The reason is that we’ve ceased virtually to exist. We have become the sum total of what everybody else thinks we should do or what we think we should do ourselves. We haven’t really responded to our own conscience deep down.
Now, many of us have gone the other way. It is not simply that we have turned against the standards that we were brought up with, but many of us are totally dominated by other people’s standards and by other people’s ideas. Many of us, in what we call good ways, many of us think we’re good. We try all the tricks that various
religious people tell us to try. Often, we do it in the church, and we do it outside the church.
Often, we do it intellectually. We have some professor that we respect greatly. We try to find his way to truth. We do what he thinks we should do. Often, when we get into businesses and jobs and companies we are dominated by what they think we should do. Often, when we watch a lot of TV, then we are dominated by what the TV thinks we should do. Or we’re dominated by what the newspapers think we should do. Most of us now live in such a global village that we are dominated by what everybody thinks and everybody says.The result is that we lose ourselves, because we are listening so busily to what everybody else thinks we ought to do.
Now, the fact is that your conscience is God’s own personal indication to you of how you should live. You need to respect that. If you say, “Well, what do you mean? What do you mean?” Well, you will be walking along the street and some thought will come into your mind, “Boy, I should write a letter to that certain person.” Do it. Do it! Do it!
Or, if you’re walking along the street and some thought comes into your mind, “I ought not to worry so much as I do. Stop worrying. Stop worrying.” Or, you’re walking along, fascinated by your own difficulties, a thought comes into your mind that you should not worry like that, there is somebody that takes care of me….obey that voice. Obey it. Listen to your conscience. Respond to your conscience.
There’s actually an amazing verse that I quoted to you a couple of days ago from the Bible: “The spiritual man is judged by no one.” Strictly speaking, that is true. The person who wants to live in their spirit wants to live a real life, and a real life of relationship with the Supreme Being behind the universe is a person who cannot be judged, strictly speaking, by anybody else. Nobody else can tell what their conscience is saying to them.
That is why you have no right to look down on other people or tell them where they are wrong. All you can do is judge them by your light, by your conscience and that’s not fair. They have to be judged by their own conscience. They have to live by their own conscience.
So it’s vital for you to respond, whether you’re an artist or a musician, whether you’re a writer, whether you’re a carpenter, an electrician or a doctor, whether you’re a teacher, whether you’re a laborer, whether you’re a road-maker, you need to listen to your conscience. Your conscience is the part of your spirit that is probably still the most alive inside you. Let’s talk a little more about your spirit tomorrow.