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What is the Meaning of Life

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Lesson 175 of 208
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How can we Know God?

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WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE? Program 175 How Can We Know God? by Ernest O’Neill

When we find ourselves in great depression over the fact that it’s Monday morning, we wonder if we’ve grown up at all. We are amazed that we can be still so influenced by a dark, glowering sky, or by drizzling rain. Yet, it is a fact, isn’t it? Many of us are very depressed on Monday morning.

It’s slightly easier if the sun is shining, but it seems that the thought of the next four or five days of dreary labor overcome even the moderating effects of the sunshine. We still feel ourselves overwhelmed with actual depression, and we don’t understand why it’s so.

Of course, we try to act against it and overcome it. Many times we do manage to overcome it, but often we are unable. Sometimes the overcoming is purely temporary, and of course we have to fight the same old battle seven days later. Why is that so? Well, it’s because of the way our personalities have operated for years. Most of us have operated absolutely upside down.

What we have been discussing is the meaning of life, and why we are here and what the point of it is. We have been talking about it for seven or eight months now, and I do encourage you to send for the cassettes of the earlier broadcasts if you’re interested in the intellectual analysis that is necessitated by such a discussion.

But we have reached the point in our discussion where we have come to the conclusion that we have been made by a personal Being who is intelligent and does want us to be His friends. That’s why He created us — so that we would become like Him. To that end He has given us the same capacities as He Himself has. We have been discussing the way that the capacities we have have been used, and the way we have operated our own personalities.

It might help you if you aren’t in a car and if you are at home and if you can draw on a page, to take a page. What we have done on the page is to draw two lines on the page, and thus divide it into three sections: upper section, middle section and lower section. In the upper section we have put the word “body”; in the middle section we have put the word “soul”; the bottom section we have put the name of “spirit”. That seems to be the three levels of life that the Creator of the world has given us in our personalities.

The body is, of course, the physical level. Our body is where we have the five senses, through which we perceive the world of things, and circumstances and people. The middle level is the soul (coming from the Greek word “psuche” which means “psyche” in English, or psychological). It’s the mind, emotions, and the will that we possess. The spirit, of course, is the innermost part of us. It is the real you; it’s you as you really are.

Most of us, we have said, have long ago lost the real “you”. The spirit has died years and years ago and it’s virtually unused in most of us. It has several functions of communion with the Creator of the world, and intuition (knowing what the Creator wants us to do), and conscience (which actually urges us to act up to the best we know). Apart from conscience, most of us have spirits that are fairly dead or somnolent at this time. We operate purely on the level of the body and the soul.

That is, the little eyes see that it is Monday morning on the calendar, send a signal to the emotions that it’s Monday morning, and be gloomy and sad. The emotions send a signal to the mind to just grunt when the boss

says to you, “Good morning”, because it’s not a good morning. The mind grunts. So it’s a vicious little circle between the eyes and the emotions and the mind. The will is hardly consulted at all and is given very little chance to do anything about the vicious circle of response-reflex-reaction that we have set up.

That’s what governs most of the things in our lives. It governs our desire for self-esteem or self-worth. Somebody smiles at us in the office and we see they approve of us. It sends a signal that we are approved of to the emotions. The emotions feel happy and comfortable. They send a signal to the mind, and the mind then smiles back. That’s the way it goes. The opposite happens, of course, if they happen to frown at us. So, really, we are not in charge of ourselves at all. We are just the manipulated reflex reactions to our circumstances and people that we meet day by day.

Now, that was not how it was meant to be at all. What we do try to do is, we try to make up for the emptiness that comes from spirits that are virtually dead and from identities that are absolutely unknown now. We try to make up for the dreadful insecurity that that brings us and the terrible sense of insignificance that that causes and the great sadness. We try to make that up by trying to get security and significance and happiness from the world of circumstances and things and the people around us.

But all the time we are simply engaging in a physical-soul exercise. We are just being driven by the demands of our body and the demands of our emotions. That’s virtually what we are. Most of us are simply little physical-emotional people. We are not, in any sense, in charge of our destinies, or in charge of our lives. You’ve probably sensed that yourself. You’re rather like a ping pong ball that is batted back and forth across the table by a combination of your family needs, your own personal needs and the needs of your business or your work.

You’ve often sensed, “I don’t exist at all. I may as well be just a blob. I don’t do anything; I don’t initiate anything.” Most of us have spirits that are completely dead. We don’t know who we are or who we were meant to be. We don’t know why we are here. What is needed, of course, is for the spirit to come alive. The spirit is meant to direct our souls and direct our bodies. We are not meant to be body-dominated people, but spirit-dominated people. You are actually meant to know why you are here.

You’re meant to know why the Maker of the world put you here and what particularly abilities he has given you and how you are to use them, and what you are to do for Him to develop His world according to His will. Of course, as you do that, there comes to you a tremendous sense of significance. You feel what people like John Milton felt: that you were here for a certain purpose. You have a real destiny.

Suddenly, it begins to dawn on you that you have a destiny independent of the rest of us. You have a reason for being here that is independent of your family, independent of your business, independent of what people think of you. You are put here by the Maker of the world to do something that only you can do, and, actually, to be something that only you can be. Only you can love Him the way you can love Him. Only you can be loved by Him, the way He can love you. There is a unique relationship that is possible, because you are unique.

Did you realize that? There is nobody else like you in the world and there never has been and there never will be. You’re absolutely unique! There is no one that can do that you can do in this world. Don’t get caught up with big things. Don’t say, “I’m not meant to be a great politician.” No. It doesn’t matter. Maybe you are meant to chop down trees. Maybe you’re meant to scrub floors. Maybe you’re meant to type typewriters — but whatever you are meant to do, you will bring a little bit more of God’s world into order under His will in a way that no one else can.

That gives you a great sense of significance and value. Suddenly, it doesn’t matter who thinks nothing of you,

so long as the Maker of the world knows you and has numbered the hairs of your head. Then there comes into your emotions, certainly, a great sense of peace and quiet. But most of all there comes into your will a great sense of what God wants you to do. When you sense God and you sense that He esteems you highly, then you begin to want to know what He wants you to do.

Through communion in your spirit you begin to sense what He wants you to do. He begins to direct you to the job that He has for you, and to the work that He has planned for you. He begins to guide your life day by day, and guide even your responses to other people. Through intuition, you know what to do, and then your conscience begins to constrain your will in the light of that.

Your will directs your mind to think the appropriate thoughts. Your mind then governs your emotions, which are utterly dependent really on the thoughts that you think, and then both of them exercise that power over your body which then does what you’re supposed to do.

So, your whole personality becomes integrated through your relationship with the Maker of the universe. You begin to fill the world with His love and order, instead of emptying it for your own sake. Let’s talk a little more about how it works tomorrow.


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