What is the Meaning of Life
Selfishness vs. Selflessness
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WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE? Program 96 Selfishness vs. Selflessness by Ernest O’Neill
It is said that someone questioned Rockefeller and said, “What else do you want?” He said, “Just another million.” Now that story may be apocryphal, but that’s often the attitude many of us have. We never have enough. We just need another pound, or another twenty pounds, or if we just had another thousand dollars, or another five thousand pounds invested. Or just another twenty thousand dollars invested. If we just had another pound, another hundred, another thousand, another million. Why is it we never seem to have enough?
Why is it we never seem to reach the point where, materially, we feel absolutely secure? What we have been sharing together at this broadcast time for several weeks now, is because it’s not actually physical and material security that we’re after. What we’re really after is what that expresses. Material and physical security expresses for us what we were made for: the love of an infinitely powerful Father who has at His disposal all the resources of the universe.
That’s what we were made for. That’s what we’ve been saying, that the evidence of an intelligent mind behind the universe, and the evidence that we have from the remarkable life that was lived by a man in the first century of our era, suggest to us that there is a Creator. There is an intelligent mind, an intelligent person behind all of this, and that He in fact created us because He wants friends. He wants friends.
He just wants people who will be close to Him, and will love Him, and will understand Him, and whom He can love and understand. He gives us this sense of love, and with that sense of love gives us the assurance that if He thinks all that of us, then He will certainly supply us with all we need in this life in the way of food, and clothing, and shelter. That’s what we were made for.
When we determine to live as if He doesn’t exist and to live as if there is no God and there is no Creator, as if that’s all old-fashioned myth stuff, then we miss that love. We miss that security. Of course, what we do is, we try to establish the security for ourselves in this present life, thinking that that’s what we need. But, in fact, it doesn’t matter how many millions we amass. It doesn’t matter how secure our job is.
It doesn’t matter how sure we are of our pension and our retirement. Finally, it’ll get us — the cancer, or the incurable disease, or something will get us! We’ll be thrown into that realm of darkness after this life is over, where we cannot trust anybody, because nobody has power over that, except the Creator of the universe. So, finally, we have to come down to it that security (physical, material security), will not supply us with the reassurance that love supplies us with; the love of a Person whom we can trust as the absolute ruler of the whole universe.
What we end up doing is trying to substitute for that love material security. So, it doesn’t matter what we do. You know the way we go at it. We try in all kinds of ways to build up our investments, to build up our pension funds, to build up our investment in real estate, to build up the equity that we have in our homes, to build up the plans we have for our retirement, to ensure that we have enough health insurance to cover even catastrophic illness.
We even have children, many of us, to ensure when we need looking after, we’ll have someone who has a sense of obligation to us. Or, we marry for the same purpose, to ensure that there will be a provider when we are no longer able to provide for ourselves. We end up in all kinds of situations that are meant to supply us with that sense of security. Of course, in the doing of it, we become monstrosities.
You know how dominated we become, how driven we become in our desire to get financial security. Many of us have become the very opposite of what we started out to be. Some of us had great artistic ability. Some of us had real musical abilities. Some of us had talents that we knew our teachers were right in saying that we had them, but we decided, “We’ll cash them in. We’ll cash our chips in for hard cash.”
We decided we’d go some other way, and we ended up in a job that makes more money than we would otherwise make with our talent, but we no longer have satisfaction from life. We’re just going through the motions. We’ve been going through the motions for years, until we’ve almost forgotten what we started out to be. We find ourselves in the same position as Wordsworth described;
“Heaven lies about us in our infancy. Shades of the prison house begin to close around the growing boy. At length the man perceives it die away, and fade into the light of common day.”
Many of us have found that to be true. We’ve found that in trying to establish this security that we want, we’ve become monstrosities.
We become consumed by greed, consumed by envy and consumed by anger and bad temper when we can’t get the food, shelter, and clothing we need. Indeed, some of us, as we proceed through Shakespeare’s “Ages of Man”, become more fascinated by clothes, more fascinated by food, more fascinated by our homes. We polish and clean until we seem as if we’re fit for a mental asylum or a psych ward — so consumed are we with the need to establish our security.
We worry and are anxious and fret at night, are unable to sleep so often, because we’re preoccupied with getting just one more pound, one more dollar. That’s part of the perversion that takes place in our natures, because we become driven by things, preoccupied with things, driven by the need for things, driven by the need to accumulate things, irritated when we don’t get things.
We become thing dominated, so that our whole personality, instead of working from a consciousness of the love of the infinite Creator who rules the universe for us, we become dominated by these intractable things that will not yield to our manipulations. Our personalities have become perverted. We have become the very opposite of what we once started out to be when we were teenagers or when we were children.
That’s what takes place with many of us, because we have started to live as if there is no Creator, as if there is no Maker of the world, as if there is no one who is our Father, no one who cares about us. After our dad dies, it seems as if there’s nobody to look after us, and we’d better start looking out after ourselves. So we become driven by that need, that there’s nobody to take care of you outside your own, so you better take care of yourselves. We become that autonomous, independent being who was all the time made to be a dependent, guided being.
So, our personalities become dreadfully perverted. There is another consequence of this way we live. Maybe it will shed more light on your own motivations, if we talk about it tomorrow.