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What is the Meaning of Life

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Lesson 131 of 208
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Review of the Evil Nature Problem

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WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE? Program 131 Review of the Evil Nature Problem by Ernest O’Neill

We’ve been talking on this program on the meaning of life for several months now. We tried to go right back to the meaning of the origin of the world. We’ve discussed at some length, as those of you who have listened in during the months know, we’ve dealt over some months in detail with the argument as to whether the world was originated by time plus chance — a vague, evolutionary process — or whether it can be, because of the design and order in the universe, that it is tied to the existence of an intelligent mind.

Then, you remember, we tried to look at history and discover whether that intelligent mind had communicated with us in any way. We studied the lives of people like Mohammed and Buddha; they’re the other great religious leaders. We studied especially the life of an unusual man that lived in the first century of our era. You know how we then eventually ended up by looking at the documentation behind that ancient book that so many of us have forgotten about long ago, the book that is known in Greek as “ta biblia” or “the books” which is translated into English as the Bible.

We looked at the documentation behind that and the historicity of that book and the Codex Alexandrinus and Sinaiticus, and Vaticanus manuscripts, that substantiate the historicity of that piece of our era and our life here on earth. We eventually came to the conclusion, you remember, that this man did live the life that the Bible says he lived.

Then, you remember, we studied his life from the point of view of finding out, was he a lunatic? Or was he a madman or was he a liar or a deceiver? Or was he a legend? Or was he real? We came to the conclusion that he was real. He actually was more than an ordinary man, and was in fact the Son of the Creator of the universe. If you want to go over some of those arguments or discussions, I do encourage you to write to me and I’ll send you some of those cassettes from back in those studies.

But we’ve reached the point now where we’re looking particularly in connection with the meaning of life at a phenomenon that all of us know so well in our own personal lives, the meaning of that phenomenon, and the way of deliverance from that phenomenon. The phenomenon of course, is the dual nature that all of us know so well — the old Jekyll and Hyde syndrome that we experience every day.

We try to keep our temper with somebody who’s just pulled into the traffic line in front of us.We find that suddenly our superficial veneer of civilization disappears and we become raving lunatics, as we wonder to ourselves why he dared to cross the front of our car like that. Or, when we go home at night, all determined to be kind and generous to our wives and to our children, and someone, of course, gives us some piece of bad news, or the wrong piece of mail reaches our hand before we sit down to our dinner, suddenly we become the very opposite of what we intended to be.

That’s the Jekyll and Hyde syndrome. It’s the discovery that inside our good nature there seems to be an evil nature that we cannot control. It seems demonic in its strength and its power. Most of us try the sensitivity group approach. We try psychological groups. We try psychoanalysis. We try reading the books on how to control your temperament. We try listening to the broadcasts on the power of positive thinking. From time to time we think we’re getting the upper hand of this nature of ours that seems so evil and so filled with self.

But as the years go by, gradually we realize that we’re not getting the upper hand of it at all. It’s just becoming more subtle and we’re becoming cleverer in our repression. So we have come to the conclusion that

there is just no way out of this hypocrisy which seems to be at the base of our lives. Yet it so often spoils our lives.

We look at our wives. We want to love them with a pure and a clean heart. We want them to know that we love them, yet there comes up before us pictures of some other woman or some other scene, and we find ourselves filled with lust at a time when we want to be filled with love and kindliness. Or, we express loyalty and faithfulness to some friend, and at the same time we find rising within us a desire to take advantage of the friendship and to lie to him.

So we discover within us a dual nature — a good nature and a bad nature, an evil nature and a kindly nature, a loving nature and an unloving nature, a patient nature and an impatient nature. We wonder if two such beings can exist within the one body, except that we do know it. We begin eventually to think we must be just schizophrenic; we’re so split in our personality.

Of course, we’ve been studying that phenomenon, and studying what the meaning of it is. You remember what we have said is the the meaning of it is found in the very setup of the whole of creation. If you take the attitude that creation is just a meaningless “blip” in the infinite universe, caused by an impersonal, evolutionary process, and that there is no God and no meaning to life, then you’re faced with the fact that you’re one of four billion other people in the world trying to scramble for as many of the material resources as you need to keep body and soul together.

You’re filled immediately with all sorts of anxiety, angst, fretfulness and at times avarice and greed to get your share. That, of course, fills you with all kinds of desire to do the other person down, if it’s to your advantage. Therefore, you find that there are strong desires within you that you cannot control. Now, in fact what we’ve said is that the bulk of mankind has been living that way from the beginning of the world.

There are great numbers of men and women down through the centuries who have lived as if there is no Creator at all and as if they have to depend on themselves to survive. So they have developed and bred into their children and children’s children, into your forefathers and my forefathers, a strong self-nature that wants its own way whatever it costs anybody else to get its way.

On the other hand if you can take the attitude that there is a God, that there is a Creator, that has made this world and he’s made you, he knows your name, and he’s counted even the hair on your head as his Son said in the first century, then you begin to realize that you can trust him, and you can depend on Him. He has put you here to do a job and he will provide for you either through salary or wages or at times apart from salary or wages.

But as long as you do what He has put you here to do, to play the violin or to lay bricks, to brush floors or to paint pictures, as long as you do what He has told you to do, He will somehow manage to provide for you. Then there comes into your heart and into your attitude a great spirit of relaxation, an attitude of trust and a readiness to be generous and loving to other people, because you know the Creator of the world will watch over you.

So, there develops within you a good nature, a nature that is filled with kindliness and a love and a concern for other people. What we have said is, of course, that we have inherited this evil, selfish nature. Yet there are elements of the good nature that we find within ourselves from time to time. All of you know what it is to have generous feelings towards another person, to have a desire to help another person. We all know what that is.

Yet we find within us this evil, selfish nature that is anxious to do the other person down if it’s to our own advantage. What we’ve said is, we’ve tried to overcome the evil nature. Most of us have. We’ve tried for years and years and years but it seems it’s impossible. The reason is it’s as old as the age itself. It’s as old as the race itself. It’s as old as human nature is.

It has been bred into us for generations. In fact, it actually possesses a superhuman power now that is connected up with all kinds of attitudes that fill our world. That’s why we can’t overcome it. It’s bigger than you. It’s not just you. It’s not just a little shortcoming in you. It’s a strong power that’s abroad in our world today. In fact, the Creator knows that. What we have said is, the Creator, because He knew that there would be this kind of power perverting our personalities, planned for a deliverance for us.

He knew what you would decide to do. He knew what I would decide to do. He is cleverer than any computer. He was able to foresee that we would decide to live in this world as if there was no Creator, and that we would, in fact, pervert our personalities together with our forefathers to the point where the tendency towards anger and envy and pride and lust was so strong that we would not be able to resist it. He in fact foresaw that and in the second second when He conceived of our creation He conceived of destroying us and remaking us completely again.

That is the amazing cosmic miracle that took place before the foundation of the world. He, in fact, did that. He destroyed us and remade us in His Son Jesus. Because of that, we are able to choose to live either one way or the other. We are able to be freed from this self-nature or we are able to be enslaved to this self-nature. It is really our choice. It is up to us to decide one way or the other.

You may say, “Well, is that all it takes to bring this cosmic miracle that took place in eternity into time?” No! There is something else. There is something else that connects up with even old H. G. Wells “Time Machine” that is miraculous in its outworking. Let’s talk a little more about that tomorrow.

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