What is the Meaning of Life
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WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE? Program 111 Seeking Self Esteem by Ernest O’Neill
Have you ever found yourself in this kind of situation? You’re going out to a party and you determine in your own mind you are going to concentrate on making everybody else happy at that party. You are really going to concentrate on ensuring that your wife and your friends enjoy themselves. One of the ways you can do that, of course, is to show an interest in them.
So, you get into the car and you drive to the home where the party is and you go in and you begin to talk and you have some refreshments, and you get into conversation and the jokes fly backward and forward. The experiences fly back and forward. Then suddenly you find yourself pushing your own experiences and your own jokes forward. Suddenly you find yourself drawing attention to you in the midst of the conversation. Before you know it, you’re trying to better the other person’s joke.
You’re subtly trying to turn the conversation around to the things you’re good at, and that you’re interested in. In a matter of half an hour or so, you have everybody listening to you and concentrating on your life. Suddenly you catch somebody’s eye and you see that glazed look as they listen to yet another one of your stories. You stop talking, because you realize that all your great resolutions about making everybody else important and treating everybody else as the center of attention have been overthrown by something inside you that you cannot understand.
Have you ever had that kind of experience, where you determined that you would make everybody else the center of conversation and yet before the evening was through, you had ended up drawing people, in all your conceit and all your pride, to attending to you and making a great deal of you and making you feel you were the important one? You realized that there’s something inside you that you cannot control.
There’s some part of you that almost, like a disease, draws attention to itself. It’s something that you don’t seem able to restrain. It’s a part of you that is just determined to make itself the center of attention. There’s something in you that wants other people to give attention to you even if you have resolved to give your attention to them. It’s some part of you that seems almost alien to you. It seems like another person inside yourself that you actually are not able to control. Yet it does the job again and again.
So most of us have discovered that there are these two drives inside us. One drive is a kind of generous, unselfish drive that makes us want to give other people our attention and make them the center of conversation. Inside us, there is a yet stronger drive that works, despite ourselves, to draw attention to us and to make us the center of conversation. What we have been discussing on the program for some months now, is the explanation of that; almost that Jekyll and Hyde personality that you have. That nice, loving side of you that you yourself espouse and then that ugly, monstrous side of you, inside, that seems to be the one that really rules your life. We’ve been talking about how it connects up, actually, with the explanation of reality. We’ve been talking about the fact that there is obviously a Creator because of the order and design that we see in the universe and the amazing phenomenon like the chart of the elements, where those of you who know a little about science, will remember how the elements just fit into that periodic chart beautifully in a way that only an intellectual mind could create and design.
We’ve looked at the way the seasons run and the way they come regularly year after year. We’ve looked at the regular orbiting of the planets and the stars and we’ve come to the conclusion that there has to be a personal
intellect behind this universe that we live in. We’ve said that He must be a personal intellect, because He must be as personable as we are in order to design us persons.
Then, you remember, we talked about whether that Creator had ever shown Himself here on our earth. Then we discussed the amazing character that lived 1900 years ago…absolutely different from Mohammed and from Zoroaster and from Confucius and from all the great so-called religious leaders that we have seen. This man said that he was the son of the maker of the universe and he actually lived like that. He lived a perfect life — a power over nature, a power over sin. He was the only man that even his enemies said had done nothing evil. This man was, of course, the man that we know as Jesus of Nazareth.
Among other things, he described to us how our Father, his Father, our Creator, is actually one who loves us — who loves you. Who actually is your Father. Your own earthy father is only a shadow of that real Father that you have. Your Creator made you and He made me so that we would live our lives in daily trust in Him.
That is, treating Him as a real Father. Just looking to Him for the things that we needed, especially for guidance in what we should think in certain situations and trust Him that if we did what He had put us here to do properly, then He would supply all our needs for us. Sometimes through our wages. Sometimes through our salary. Sometimes through the way He controlled our cash flows. Sometimes by mysterious means that we ourselves would not understand.
But the important thing that Jesus explained to us was that this Creator had numbered even the hairs of your head. That’s how important you are to Him. He has counted even the hairs of your head. You actually get your sense of self-esteem and self-worth from His attitude to you. But, of course, Jesus explained that we have given up that stuff as old-fashioned and we’ve decided that we’ll do without his love.
So there has appeared in our lives a great vacuum, a great emptiness, because we lack his love. So we have to substitute what we can for that love. One of the qualities that that love gave us, of course, was this great self-esteem and self-worth, this sense of identity and sense of value. When we turned against this whole idea of depending on His love, of course we lacked that self-esteem. What we have tried to do is get it from other people.
That has, in turn, contorted and perverted our whole personalities so that we now have personalities that are absolutely dependent on the praise of other people and the approval of other people. That’s why you end up drawing attention to yourself at a party, at which you have determined that you will give attention to other people. It’s because your very personality and nature has been perverted and twisted through the years, so that it is no longer what our Creator made it.
So the reason you do that, the reason you end up making yourself the important person in the midst of conversations and parties, is because your own personality, your own nature, has become perverted — not only through the years that you have lived, but actually through the years that your grandparents, your great-grandparents, and all your forefathers have lived. That nature this man Jesus called an old nature. It was our old nature.
It wasn’t the nature that we were made with. It is an old nature that we have produced by our own actions and the actions of our forefathers down through the years. That’s the thing that prevents you being what you want to be. Let’s talk a little more about some of the other effects of that old nature and how to escape from it tomorrow at this same time.