What is the Meaning of Life
Emptiness in Life
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WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE? Program 172 Emptiness in Life by Ernest O’Neill
Many of us today do something, and then wonder, “Why on earth did I do that?” Or we say something to someone whom we love, and we suddenly think, “How could I possibly have said that to them? I didn’t really mean that.” We find that there are things happening in our own personalities that we cannot explain.
We wonder why on earth we did it. Or, often after years and years of living, we find ourselves caught in certain habits of thought, or certain ways of feeling about things, or certain attitudes that we cannot overcome. They just have become ground into us. We cannot change them. Yet, we wonder why this is so.
In other words, I think many of us today are baffled and confused at the way our own personalities work. That’s what we are discussing on this program at this time each day. We’re talking about it in connection with the main question we started to deal with about eight or nine months ago, “What is the meaning of life?”
We have come to the conclusion that the meaning of life is that we have been created by a personal Being, an intelligent Being. We have been created by Him with capacities such as He has, so that we might become like Him, and live with Him forever, and develop the infinite universe together with Him.
He made us because He actually wants us to be His friends. He loves us and wants us to love Him. That’s why you are here, because you are made by Him to be his unique friend in a way that none of the rest of us can be. So, that’s why He’s given us the kinds of capacities we have. We’ve been discussing the capacities our personalities have, and the way they were meant to operate together.
It might help you if you have a page, of course, if you’re in the car you’d better not risk it. But, if you have a piece of paper and are sitting down, divide the paper into three: the top third, a middle third and a bottom third. (Just with two lines you can do that.)
Draw them horizontally, and separate the paper into three sections. Then, put in the top section, “body”. Then, in the middle section put the word “soul”, and in the bottom section, “spirit”. Then, draw an arrow from the top of the page to the bottom, from “body”, through “soul” to “spirit”. That’s the way most of us live. Just remember that the soul comes from the Greek word “psuche”, which means “psyche” or psychological. So, the soul means the will and the mind and the emotions.
Most of us live like that. We try to pump some heroin, or some aspirin or a depressant or a tranquilizer into our body so that that will influence our emotions in an appropriate way, either quieten them or stimulate them, hoping thereby to get our spirits harmonized and integrated with whatever Supreme Being or Spirit there may be behind the universe.
Of course, it doesn’t work. We found that the wilder the party was, the more we drank. The more we were elated and played the fool, probably, the next morning the deeper depression, and the more empty we felt in the very heart of our being — that is, in our spirit. Our spirit is the real you. It’s you as you really are, apart from all your other compulsions and constraints upon your life. What you do when you’re alone, that’s what you are. That’s your spirit.
That’s the part of you that is meant to contact God. Of course, it doesn’t, in fact, contact God when you operate the way we’ve just illustrated. In fact, the spirit becomes more dead to the Creator of the universe.
Actually, the way we were meant to operate is, if you look at that page again, and you have the top third, and the middle third and the bottom third and then you put the word “spirit” in the top third, the word “soul” in the middle third, and the word “body” in the bottom third, and then draw an arrow from the top of the page to the bottom, from the word “spirit” through “soul” to the word “body”, that’s the way we were meant to operate.
The first way was from the outside in, from the body to the spirit. It leaves you with a spirit that is dead, with a personality that is saying, “I hardly know who I am anymore. I just seem to be a little puppet, driven by my body, which is in turn driven by the outside circumstances, and people and things around me.” That’s, of course, the way most of us operate. We operate from the outside in.
We go to the office in the morning. The boss smiles at us. We catch the smile through our eyes. We send the message to our emotions that he’s pleased with us. Our emotions go up. Then, somebody else frowns at us. The signal goes through again, and our emotions go down. So, we’re up and down all the time according to what comes through our eye-gate or our ear-gate, according to what comes through our body.
If we have a good meal, our tummy feels comfortable and our emotions feel happy and peaceful, we’re pleased. If we have a bad meal or something we don’t like, we’re discontented. So, we go up and down in this life like a switchback railway, when we live from the outside in. But the way we were meant to live was from the inside out, from the spirit through the soul through the body and to the outside world.
Of course, the problem with most of us is that our spirits are dead anyway. So, when we try to live that way, we find we have nothing inside. For instance, we’re sitting in a room absolutely quiet and on our own, and it’s maybe a time in our lives when all the bills are paid. All the pressures are off, the fears are gone, the anxieties, the constraints upon us, the compulsions. We feel for once in our lives we’re at absolute peace. Then, we wonder, “Now what should we do?” We find there’s nothing inside. It’s as if there’s nobody inside. It’s as if we knocked the door of our hearts and found there’s nothing there.
That, of course, terrifies us. Then, of course, what most of us do is we run to the outside world and begin to live from the outside in again just in order to get rid of the terrible sense of desolation and abandonment that we feel inside us.
Of course, what we need most of all is the spirit to come alive. We need our spirit to come alive inside us. We need to rediscover who we are. We need to find ourselves again. Some people have said, “We need to be born almost all over again.” It’s almost as if we’ve killed the inside, and it needs to be created again. There needs to be a new creation inside us.
Many of us these days are at that point. Our problem is not the problem of outer space. It’s the problem of inner space. There’s an inner space inside that’s empty and desolate, and we really don’t know how to fill it. We try to do it by continuing the operating of our personalities from the outside in, but it doesn’t seem to bring any satisfaction. In fact, of course, what we’re trying to do is get the satisfaction from outside that we have always been meant to get from the inside.
In other words, there’s a dreadful feeling that is very natural of insecurity. When we consider, just for half a second even, that we are merely the smallest, miniscule insect on a globe or a sphere that is spinning through space at hundreds of thousands of miles an hour, with no visible means of support, that causes a little concern, to say the least of it– a little insecurity.
You begin to wonder, “Now, how on earth am I even staying on, especially if I’m in Australia, and I’m actually upside down, how am I staying on? Why does the centrifugal force not throw me off into space?” So, we begin
to think to ourselves, “Well, we don’t know the answers to all those magnificent, cosmic questions, but we’d better make sure that we are safe on this piece of earth that we are inhabiting.”
So, we concentrate on trying to establish some kind of security, at least to keep the rain off of our heads. We need some shelter or a roof over our head. At least, to keep the cold out of our bones, we need some clothes. So, we begin to be stimulated by the need for security. Most of us live from the outside in. We do most things in order to try to establish some of the security that we were really meant to get in another way.
Let’s talk a little about that tomorrow, and about how it affects the way we operate inside.