What is the Meaning of Life
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WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE? Program 127 Self Deception by Ernest O’Neill
You’re sitting in the heavy traffic going home, and the line of cars is moving painstakingly slowly towards those traffic lights ahead. Then, just as you’re thinking beautiful thoughts, thoughts of a philanthropic nature, generous thoughts, loving thoughts, kindly thoughts, happy thoughts, looking forward to a quiet evening at home, spreading the milk of human kindness wherever you go, the guy to your right cuts in right in front of you, almost touching the front wing of your car.
There rises within you a lion of resentment, of irritability, of indignation, of righteous wrath, that would burn him up if you could. If it weren’t for the cost to your insurance policy, you would sink your foot and take the back-end of his car right off. Have you ever had that kind of experience? Most of us have. Most of us have been absolutely and utterly amazed at the monster that hides inside these rather unsuspecting, congenial, superficial veneers that we wear on our faces.
We cannot believe the monstrosity of evil temper and hostile feelings that seems to reside within us at moments like that. Of course, that’s only one incident. There are many others that you could detail far more vividly. You know that they have not grown less and less as the years have gone by; they have just become more subtle as the years have gone by. That is, perhaps, the most concerning thing about this problem that so many of us have with this double nature of ours.
We find that we don’t really become better. We just become more subtle at hiding what’s wrong inside of us. Indeed, we become better liars. That’s why old Tennessee Williams, you remember, in “A Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”, in a preface to that play, said we are surrounded by mendacity, mendacity. Lying and deception. Everybody is lying. Everybody is a hypocrite. They are all wearing masks and playing games.
That’s part of what causes the great distrust that we all feel for each other. That double nature of ours is something that doesn’t seem to go away. It seems to get stronger and more virulent as the years go by. Of course, the more we deal with it, it seems we drive it into our subconscious and the more subtle become its expressions. Indeed, the more we oppose it, the more virulent it becomes, the more rebellious it becomes.
It seems almost as if when we ignore it, we have less trouble with it. That’s the amazing phenomenon that we have called the “Jekyll and Hyde Syndrome”. It is that evil that seems to rise inside us and prevent us being the good person that we feel we ought to be. What we have been talking about are the various techniques that all of us use to try to overcome this evil within. We have found that very few of them work. Indeed, most of us have found that, whatever they are, psychoanalysis or psycho-treatments or sensitivity groups or “love-your-neighbor” techniques, none of them seem to work.
What we have said, of course, is that they don’t work, because that nature inside you is built into you down through the centuries of the human race. In fact, it comes from an attitude that some of our forefathers conceived early on in the age of the world. They decided that this world, this sky, these stars, they just occurred by time plus chance. There is no such person as a Creator. We’re on our own here in this world to get what we need as efficiently as we can, and at whatever cost it brings to others.
So, they determined that they would look out for themselves at all costs; they would be their own god.(cid:9)Of course, this wasn’t true. In fact, there is a Creator. That’s the only way to explain the seasons and the order of the planets and the existence of that phenomenon of the first century …Jesus. It’s the only way to
explain the DNA molecule and the protons and the neutrons, and the order that is built into the chart of the elements.
Nobody really believes that the world came about by time plus chance. There is so much order in it that we know we didn’t create, but that we are only managing to perceive. So in fact, there is a Creator, but early on in the history of the earth, many men and women determined that there was no Creator and they would live as if there was no Creator.
So, they developed within them a neurotic personality that was bred into their children and bred into their children’s children, until it came down to you and me. It is filled with all the fear and “angst” that is reasonable to expect if there is no Creator. Because if there is no Creator, then you are on your own. There’s nobody to look out for you but yourself, so you’d better watch out for yourself. That’s what most of us do.
That’s why we react against the guy that tries to move in on the line of traffic. We feel, if we let him walk over the top of us, then the rest will walk over the top of us. There’s nobody to protect us, if we don’t protect ourselves. It’s all based on the belief that there is nobody to look after us but ourselves. There is no one! There’s nobody who cares about us, except ourselves, now that our mother has died. Of course, it’s a lie.
In fact, there is a Creator. There is somebody who loves you and who has counted the hairs of your head and who knows you’re in that car, and has been watching out for you for years. He is the one that has repeatedly delivered you from things that you know would have killed you. You know that there were moments in your life when you don’t know what stopped the oncoming car. There are incidents in your life that you cannot explain by dint of your own brilliance.
This Creator has been looking out for you and He loves you. He cares for you. But He has allowed you to live in the same way as this first group of people lived, to follow the tendencies that are within your own nature to live as if there’s no God. He has allowed that so that you would see the consequences of that. That’s why that double nature exists. You know there is inside you, too, a nature that is kindly and that is loving.
Just before that guy cut in front of you in the traffic, you were feeling wonderful thoughts. You were feeling very generous thoughts. In fact, that’s because there is a good you.(cid:9)What the Creator did was, He created you, conceived of your creation, gave you free will, and realized that if you used your free will against Him you would develop a nature that was filled with selfish concern with itself. Then, He destroyed that nature in His Son Jesus, even before the world was actually created.
He did all this in timelessness. He, of course, can see the past and the future and the present at one moment. He destroyed that in Jesus and then allowed you to be born into this world with the nature that had been developed by all the human beings that had lived independently of Him. He allowed that nature to work out the consequences in your behavior, so that you now know the reality of living without a God. You know it!
Whenever anger and resentment rise inside of you, it’s because you really are uncertain whether there is a God or not. You really feel there is nobody to depend on, but your own self. The Creator allowed that to develop so that you would see the consequences of that line of choice. But He has also put within you the new nature that He recreated in His Son Jesus. That is the only nature that really does exist. The other one is a lie. The other one is a deception.
The one that is real is the new one that He has given you in His Son, when He recreated you in His Son Jesus. That is what the death on Calvary and the resurrection is all about in Palestine. It’s not that it occurred in
29 A.D. that is important. That is only an expression in time and space so that we would know it. What really is important is that that event occurred in timelessness before the foundation of the world and that your real nature is a beautiful, generous, loving one that trusts God as its Father.
If you say to me, “Well, how do I experience that?” You simply believe that. You believe that. That’s what faith is. It is believing that the Creator has recreated you in His Son and it’s living in the light of that. The moment you do that, that moment you’ll find that all those tremendous passions and cruel attitudes no longer exist within you and no longer have power over you. Let’s talk a little more tomorrow about how to experience that in your own, everyday life.