What is the Meaning of Life
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WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE? Program 141 Life is Bewildering by Ernest O’Neill
Why are you living today? I mean, what’s the purpose of your coming into existence? Have you any idea? Have you any notion of why you are living these years here on earth? Why you’re doing what you’re doing now? Many of us tend to say, “I haven’t a notion! I haven’t a clue why I’m here. If I could answer that, I’d run the world. I don’t see any sense in my being here at all. I have no idea why I’m here.”
Yet, it is strange, isn’t it, that you and I and probably thousands of other human beings should take that attitude towards a question like, “Why are we here?” because we don’t take the attitude towards asking the question, “Why are you driving where you’re driving at the moment?” You would normally say, “Well, I’m driving this direction because I have to get home for dinner, that’s why”, or “I’m driving this direction because I’m going to the theatre,” or “I’m driving in this direction because I’m going out to play badminton, or play billiards, or something.”
But you wouldn’t dream of answering, “I don’t know why I’m driving where I’m driving tonight. I don’t know. I’m just driving because that’s what I’m supposed to be doing.” In other words, in regard to ordinary, everyday activities, we don’t take such an irresponsible, easy-going, laissez-faire attitude towards the question, “Why?”. Yet, we do seem to take that attitude towards the cosmic question, and obviously the much more important question, “Why are we here?”
Of course, probably some of the reason why we are a little casual about that question is, because we have absorbed a great deal of the thinking that has gone around philosophically and scientifically and theologically and psychologically during these past years. Of course, that thinking or that attitude seems to have indicated that there is no reason or sense to life at all, and that we don’t really know why we’re here. We’re just here.
We came into existence in a millisecond of endless time. We’re going to disappear in another millisecond, and we won’t be noticed any longer. That’s it. Yet, it is difficult to imagine that it is all just as pointless as that, isn’t it? It’s a little difficult to think that it is as casual as that, because there does seem to be great order and purpose in a lot of the things we observe around us.
It does surprise you that the seasons do come and go regularly, century after century. Sometimes, maybe in regard to Lord’s cricket or Wimbledon tennis, we’re not sure they are coming in the way they usually do, but still, despite the fact at times the weather is a little bit of a disappointment, yet we do expect spring in certain months. We do expect summer in certain months. We can depend upon them so reliably that we do successfully grow our crops on the basis of the orderly repetition of the seasons.
It’s the same, indeed, with our watches. We set our watches according to the orderly, regular orbiting of our earth around the sun. Indeed, if we begin to think of our space shots, we depend utterly on getting our men into the right orbit and we depend utterly on the regular orbiting of the planets. So, there are many things in our own, everyday lives that indicate there is order and purpose in the general creation and it would be very reasonable to expect there is order and purpose in the creation of you and me. Because, of course, we are the very height of creation.
Our brain possesses the only cells that think about themselves. It’s amazing! They’re the only cells that think about themselves. They’re the only cells that can have the kind of discussion you and I are having at
this moment. They’re the only cells that can reflect upon themselves and be self critical. None of the animals can. None of the plants or the trees can. Despite that guy, you remember, who talked in the movie to the animals [Dr. Dolittle], the animals don’t talk, and they can’t reflect, and they can’t analyze.
So, we are not only part of an orderly creation, but we actually are the highest phenomenon in that orderly creation. So, it’s very reasonable to expect there is reason for our existence, and there is purpose for it. Of course, you and I have a tendency to say, “Well, maybe so! Maybe so! And if there is, I certainly would like to know it. But I haven’t a clue what that is, and I really don’t know how to find out.” Of course, that’s one of the problems: How do you find out why you’re here?
Most of us try the vocation-guidance-counseling-technique, or we try to do multiphasic tests, or we try to do aptitude tests, or we try to find out what our father and mother had in their life that they’ve passed on to us and therefore, what we ought to do in the light of that. But, despite those attempts at finding out what we should do in the way of a job here on earth, we still are bewildered as to the overall purpose of our being here.
Many people have tried to tell us why we’re here, but it’s very difficult to respect many of them. Many of them seem to be fanatics. They seem to be out for our money often. Or, they seem to be out for their own egotistic reputations. Or, they seem to be sheer fanatics, gurus and strange mystical types that are out to either make their financial fortunes, or make their reputation, or satisfy their desire for fame. But, we don’t find many of them that we frankly can trust.
Of course, we said some months ago there is one who stands above all the others. There is one who is very different. There is a man who is very different from all the religious teachers and prophets. He is different because He not only taught the highest ethic, and explained most clearly what the purpose of life was and what reality was, but He also lived it. He lived it in such a way that the people who actually brought about His death said they could find no fault in Him.
Of course, He was the only man who ever lived the kind of flawless life. Even people like Buddha and Mohammed all admit all kinds of flaws and faults that were obvious in their lives. This is the only man who didn’t do this, and in fact had a life that reinforced His proclamation that He was doing the will of His Father. Of course, He explained His Father was really the Creator of the world, the Creator of the universe.
The man was one who we have long used as a swear-word, and for a long time we have dismissed Him as kind of a mystical figure of the past who really didn’t exist. But, He did! He’s the most historical figure, if you could accept the term, that the world has ever seen, because His historicity is proven beyond all doubt. He is, of course, Jesus of Nazareth.
That man, Jesus, lived a life which was flawless and was absolutely different from all the other religious leaders, not only in His life, but in His death, because He overcame death and He lived again. This man explained to us why we were here. That is what I’d like to talk about tomorrow, if you’d listen in. Thank you for listening.