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What is the Meaning of Life

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Lesson 67 of 208
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Our Search for Significance and Happiness

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What is the Meaning of Life? Program 67 Our Search for Significance and Happiness by Ernest O’Neill

We’re talking about the meaning of life, or the reason you’re here, the reason you exist. What we’ve been sharing at this time each day is that the most reliable information we can get about the meaning of life needs to come from someone who has been on the earth, and yet has also been beyond the sky that we can see above our heads.

There is only one man that has done that apart from our space men who have gone a few miles, relatively speaking, from the earth. There is only one man who has gone beyond the furthest star and has been able to tell us what the maker of the world thinks. That man is the man, Jesus of Nazareth.

Buddha hasn’t died and broken the death barrier and returned to tell us what is beyond. Other people have claimed to do it, but really, we don’t believe that they were completely and absolutely dead. Many people have claimed to be the son of the maker of the world, but they have other signs of imbalance in their lives that show that they’re insane.

But, no man has so clearly proven to historians and to critics and to attorneys and lawyers that he has, in fact, died and come back from death as this man, Jesus of Nazareth. That’s why we’re beginning to look into what he said was the meaning of our lives. One of the things he did say was that, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.”

Or, the life that you have now is simply a created life. The life that you have inherited from your mums and dads, the intellectual life, the emotional life, the volitional life, the physical life that you’ve inherited; the flowing of your blood, the beating of your heart, is just physical life. It’s just created life. It’s life of the flesh. That’s all it is. What is born of the flesh is flesh. Jesus said it can’t be anything more than that.

In other words, it will last for about 70 years, for the most 100 years, and then it will finish. What we have been sharing is, he himself said, “You won’t believe that. You won’t believe it.” That’s what he said. He said they will not believe. When I tell them the truth, they will not believe. Of course, He’s dead right. We don’t believe it.

You and I have a deep feeling down in the bottom of our hearts somewhere that we were made for more than that. We feel we were made for more than just 70 or 100 years. We don’t know why. We’re as skeptical as anybody is about heaven and about the idea of eternal life. But still, there’s something inside that says, “No, it won’t end there in that hole in the ground. It is meant to be something greater than that.”

So, most of us spend our lives trying to raise this created life to the “nth” degree until we reach the point of life that we think we were made for, a kind of eternal, heavenly life. That’s the interesting thing about it. It has many of the characteristics of eternity. For instance, probably you feel the same way as I do, that we ought somehow to be able to reach a point of security in this life where we don’t have to be anxious and where we don’t have to worry.

So, we spend our time trying to trade up our cars, or trade up our houses, or trying to trade in our good education for the best job possible with the thought in the back of our minds that perhaps we will establish a stability and security that will not be vulnerable to the vagaries of the present government, or the

variations in the world economy.

We keep on trying to do this. We’re constantly, of course, haunted by the sight of Howard Hughes, you remember, as he died of malnutrition — the richest man in the world! We realize that we’re probably bent on a course of futility. Yet, we keep on doing it. We keep on trying to establish a security and a stability such as we believe we were made for. Yet, the best examples of people who have done this haunt us with the fact that they never did reach a stability and a security and a safety from viruses and bacteria.

It’s the same, really, in relationship to happiness. We all feel, “Oh, we were made for happiness, for glorious, perfect happiness. We were made for happiness.” Of course, we define happiness the way G.K. Chesterton defines it as, “a combination of peace and excitement; a combination of serenity and exhilaration; a combination of the peace of Walden Pond and the excitement of the Arabian Nights.” So, we do all kinds of things to bring that into our lives.

Many of us have even gotten involved in heroin and other drugs to try to raise exhilaration to the point of excitement and climax that we think we were made for. Yet, it doesn’t matter how often we do it. It doesn’t matter how often we get drunk. It doesn’t matter how often we fornicate. It doesn’t matter how often we take drugs. Somehow, the high is not the high we envisaged.

It is not high enough. It cannot be maintained. So, we’re left with a sense of futility, with a sense of a bubble that has burst in our hands. Yet, we feel we were made for it. We feel we were made for this high point of excitement and joy and happiness. Yet, it seems impossible to transform created life into that kind of experience.

There is another characteristic of heaven or eternity that we feel we were made for. You probably are the same as I am in this. We have all got a vague sense, like old John Milton, the English poet, that we were put here for a definite purpose, that we do have some significance beyond a name on a gravestone and beyond the gold watch presented to us at retirement.

Somewhere, somehow, someone must notice that we passed through here and achieved something! We all feel that, don’t we? However insignificant we are, however unimportant we are, however poor we are, however pitiful we are, we all feel that we were made to be noticed. We weren’t made just to go out like a light with no one knowing that we’re here. We’re made to be noticed.

Somebody, somewhere must notice that we passed through here. Somebody, somehow must appreciate us. There must be somebody; we were made to be recognized or acknowledged. We feel that deep down. So, we try to beat our terrible insignificance into some kind of significance by willing others to notice us.

So, we throw our weight around at home, in the office, or at school more than we need to. We try to will ourselves into some kind of importance in somebody else’s eyes. Yet, if doesn’t seem to do the job. We think of some of the most famous people, and we wonder how people can so easily and quickly forget Picasso, John Wayne, Winston Churchill, Harold Macmillan, George VI, the Roosevelt’s, the Jack Benny’s and the Bing Crosby’s.

We’re amazed at how quickly people forget them. Yet, we somehow feel, “Well, we were made to be noticed ourselves. We were made to be remembered. We were made to have somebody think something about us.” So, we try constantly to parley this created life that we have into some kind of eternal life that will hold in it the security of heaven, the happiness of heaven and the sense of significance that heaven, we believe, will give us.

Of course, as we try to do that, we become the very opposite of what we hope to be, because what we are trying to do is experience infinity and all the limitless freedom of eternity in the finite, temporal and physical and mental life that we now have. In this process of trying to experience uncreated life in the midst of created life, we pervert our whole personalities.

We found that at home and at school and at work, we have become one huge egotistical, hedonistic, domineering, manipulating monster that would only misuse the powers of eternity if it was ever given to us. So many of us have come to the point where we see what Jesus says, “What is born of the flesh is flesh.”

But, in trying to make it something else and trying to raise it to the “nth” degree to the point where we’d experience something of what we think we were made for, we have in the process, become dominating egotists who actually would misuse those powers if we ever received them. That’s the problem that many of us find ourselves in.

What does Jesus say about that? Well, let’s talk a little more about it tomorrow.