Keep Track of your View History - Register / Login >>
Review of Christian Beliefs -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Review of Christian Beliefs
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? That’s the subject we’ve been dealing with now for about 180 broadcasts. And this
is broadcast number 181, for those of you who might later on want to refer to it. We’re trying to deal with
the subject “What is the meaning of life?” in a realistic way and trying to deal with it in a common sense way
and in at least a semi-intelligent way. So I hope that you yourself are beginning to think through your own
philosophy of life, even as we talk day by day, because that’s really the most important part about these
broadcasts: what you will be stirred or stimulated or motivated to think about yourself.
What conclusions you come to are the conclusions that govern your life and will determine the way you live and
the way you die. So, it is vital that you yourself think carefully through these things and question
everything that I say and examine it and think about it before you receive it into your mind. Ian Whitehead,
you remember, who worked with Einstein for part of the time, was a great educator and he said that one of the
great problems in education today is the problem of dead wood. Dead wood.
And he defined that as ideas that are accepted into the mind without being examined first or being tested
against other ideas already in the mind. Of course, you would probably rise in agreement with that; that one
of the great problems of our whole system of epistemology today — our system of knowledge and understanding
— is that many of us have our heads filled with dead wood — filled with ideas and facts that are not related
to other facts and ideas in our mind, and have not really been examined but have just been allowed to seep
into our minds like some ground water that seeps into some old house. And we can’t make any sense of most of
So that’s what we’re trying to do in the subject that we’re talking about during this year and I hope in
coming years. What is the meaning of life? Why are you alive? Why am I alive? What are we doing here?” What is
the point of it all?
You remember that the poem written by A. E. Housman, expresses it so poignantly:
“Yonder see the morning blink,
The sun is up and up must I
To wash, and dress, and eat, and drink,
And look at things
And talk, and think, and work,
And God knows why.
Ah, often have I washed and dressed
And what’s to show for all my pain?
Let me lie abed and rest,
Ten thousand times I’ve done my best
And all’s to do again.”
And many of us feel the futility and the frustration that old Housman expressed more than fifty, sixty years
ago now. So that’s why we’re talking about this subject. What is the point of us all being here? And we’ve
tried to deal with it, you remember, on the basis of some kind of intellectual presuppositions and we’ve tried
to go behind those presuppositions and justify them and substantiate them. And you know that we’ve been
tackling it from the viewpoint of at least theists.
A theist is a person who looks around at the world, sees the order and design that is present in the seasons;
sees the order and design in the chart of the elements; sees the order and design in the DNA structure of the
molecule; sees the order and design in the blood circulation of our own bodies; perceives all around the order
and design that Einstein so delighted in — and comes to the same conclusion as Einstein. You remember
Einstein said, “Really, my religion consists of a respect for the great intellectual mind that has designed
this complex universe, the details of which I am able only slightly to perceive.”
And that’s what a theist is; a theist is one who says, “Look, there has to be an intellect behind all this
order and design.” It didn’t come about just by undirected evolutionary process. There had to be someone who
at least designed and programmed the evolutionary process. If there is evolution, then there had to be some
intellectual mind that determined that the evolution would evolve into something more orderly. There had to be
some mind that directed some kind of progress in evolution.
It was not just time plus chance, because time plus chance or uncontrolled explosions nowadays just wreak
havoc and destruction and they couldn’t have wrought anything but havoc and destruction however many billions
of years you give them. So a theist is one who says there has to be some intellectual mind behind this
We’ve also said that the mind must also have been as personable as we are because we’re persons and we can’t
imagine a non-person making a person. Because personality seems to us to be the highest type of existence that
we know of and so we’ve said that the intellectual mind must be at least personal also.
And then, you remember, we tried to find out if that intellectual person had expressed himself or communicated
himself to us in any way over the centuries. And we examined some of the well known religious leaders, like
Muhammad, and Buddha and Zoroaster and Confucius and some of the Hindus. And we examined the claims that they
made to be able to tell us what the intellectual mind behind the universe wanted when He made us or had in His
purposes when He created us. And we discovered of course they were a rare mixture of legend, of ancient
literature that often couldn’t be corroborated and above all of men who died like ourselves, as we have often
said — like dogs — and were buried. Buddha was buried. Muhammad was buried. Zoroaster was buried. Confucius
was buried. They all died.
They all showed the same limitation when it came to the matter of death. They had no power over it. In other
words, it is very difficult to find a person who really seems to have been off the world. That is, seems to
have left the world, got out somewhere beyond where our astronauts go and come back to tell us what is beyond
the furthest star. And, of course, what we saw was that there was only one such person in all our history that
gives any kind of reasonable substantiation for believing that he was actually able to leave this world of
time and space and pierce into infinity.
And that was that remarkable man who was recorded so carefully in regard to his actions and his words in the
first century of our era. He’s known as Jesus — you know that. And before you go to sleep, let me remind you
that we did then proceed to examine in detail the history of his life as it’s found in that old book — please
don’t go to sleep again — that old book called the Bible.
And we discovered that not only are there in the British Museum manuscripts like the Codex Sinaiticus and
Alexandrinus — which are far closer to the original writing of the Bible than any manuscripts that we have of
Julius Caesar, of Plato’s “Republic” or of Thucydides or any of the great historians. But we began to realize
that there are other manuscripts that are even closer to the original writing so that there is no way in which
we can do anything but accept the history of the first century that is given in those first few books of what
we call the New Testament in the Bible, as being historical, as being absolutely reliable. In fact, being
among the most reliable history that we have in our possession. And, by all means, if you want to examine some
of these presuppositions that we started with 8 or 9 months ago, please do write and get the cassette of those
So, we’ve reached the conclusion that that man had actually lived in the first century and that he had done
and said the things he did and said and that he had actually overcome death. And that the arguments for trying
to explain away the resurrection were more difficult to believe than the resurrection itself. Let’s go on
tomorrow and say where we went to from there and then proceed with our discussion.
Ethical Teachings of Jesus -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Ethical Teachings of Jesus
by Ernest O’Neill
We’re talking on this broadcast each day about the subject of what is the meaning of life. We’ve been trying
to catch up with where we are in the discussion today. This is broadcast 182 and so you can see we’ve been
involved in this discussion for about 9 months so far this year. The way we have proceeded is that we’ve tried
to find out where the earth came from and how it came into existence.
We’ve concluded from the order and design that is in it that there must be an intellectual being behind it.
We’ve said “being” because we’ve reckoned the Creator of the earth must be at least as personal as we are in
order to make us persons. Then we tried to find out if He had ever communicated with us in any way. So we
examined the claims that various people like Buddha and Zoroaster and the Hindu scholars and Confucius have
made, what they are telling us about their understanding of the mind of the Creator in regard to us and the
purpose of our lives.
We discovered that they were all in the same boat. They were all limited to this earth. They all died and were
buried on this earth. None of them proved in any believable way that he had actually pierced beyond the
farthest star and in some way been in touch with the origin of the universe. That’s when we began to examine
the life of a remarkable man who lived in the first century of our era, who did, in fact, break through death.
He’s the only one who gives us intelligent, reasonable evidence for believing that he did in fact come back
after he had been killed, and live on earth here for more than a month. That is the man, of course, Jesus of
Nazareth. You remember how we examined the history books that tell of his life so that we could be sure that
he was actually a historical figure, and so that we could be sure that He actually did rise from the dead.
Of course, as we examined the more than 4,000 Greek manuscripts that stand behind the history of the first
century that we find in that old book the Bible — in the New Testament piece of it particularly, we began to
realize that we’re dealing with history that is far more reliable than that of Julius Caesar or the Greek or
Latin historians. We are dealing with history here that is incredible in its provision of documentary evidence
and in the psychological and ethical impossibilities of deception or untruth.
If you want to go back into those discussions, please write and ask for those cassettes. I did also try to
write a little booklet. It’s just a small thing called “Is the Bible History or Myth?”, that you might also
like to write for. But there are lots of other books that I’m sure do it much better than that. But you might
want to look at it and review some of the arguments. We came to the conclusion that the history of that first
century is utterly reliable and that, in fact, Jesus of Nazareth did live and did die and did actually
We examined his life, you remember, to find out if he was some kind of lunatic that was claiming to be God. Or
if, in fact, he lived a life of balance that makes us respect him. And if, in fact, he was the foremost
ethical teacher in the whole of mankind’s history. We concluded that he was. He was really the Son of the
Maker of the world. So we have started to study His explanation of the meaning of our lives, of why we’re
You remember, we have reached the point in that discussion where we see that the Creator has made us on three
different levels of life. Each of us has three kinds of life. We have physical life (which is our body) and we
can see and hear and touch through the five senses of our physical life. We can perceive the world around us.
Then within that we have a soul. That’s what the old book the Bible calls it: soul. But the Greek word gives
you a clue to our contemporary explanation of it. The Greek word is “psuche” and it becomes through those
sound changes of our language the word “psyche” or psychological.
So the soul that is referred to by men like Jesus and by other people in the Bible is really a reference to
the psychological part of our beings, that is your mind and your emotions. That is inside our bodies. So, it
wears our body almost like an overcoat. Our soul is the part of us that is conscious not so much of the world
— that’s the body’s responsibility — but it’s conscious of itself.
In other words, you can use your mind to look in upon your own thoughts and think, “What am I thinking?” or
“How am I feeling?” So the mind and the emotions and the will are actually the psychological part of our being
and that’s the self-conscious part of us — the part of us that distinguishes us from the animals. We have the
only brain cells that are able to think about themselves.
Then within that, Jesus and his predecessors said that there is a spirit. That is, there is a part of us that
is the “essential me”. That’s how we’ve defined spirit. It’s you as you really are. It’s the very essence of
When we talk about the spirit of Churchill or we talk about the spirit of George VI, we talk about the very
essence of the man — the very heart of the man, the kind of person he really was. We’ve also pointed out that
it’s the part of us that’s able to contact the Creator of the universe. It’s through our spirits we are able
to relate to the Maker of the universe. That is, in fact, one of the great reasons for us having spirits.
We’ve come to that point where we see that we’re made up of spirit, soul and body.
Then, you remember, we began to talk about how we were meant to operate. We said that the way the Creator
meant us to operate was that our spirits would be related to Him and would receive from Him the directions for
our life. We would express that through our souls. Our souls would then transmit that to our bodies — and
then of course through actions and words and attitudes we would fill the world with that kind of life,
whatever was God’s will for it to be.
You remember in order to make that clearer we took (well, you can do it various ways)…you can actually draw
one circle and that can represent the body. Then you can draw another circle inside that and that can
represent the soul. Then you can draw another circle inside that and that can represent the spirit. The way,
in fact, we were meant to operate is by the Creator (and you could draw, I suppose, an “x” outside the
concentric circles and label that “the Creator”).
Then you could put an arrow in from that “x” into the center of the innermost circle. The Creator intended to
give us His life into our own spirits. Then you can draw an arrow out from the center of the innermost circle,
out to the circumference of the outermost circle. That was the way we were meant to operate. From the life
that the Creator gave to us, we were meant to live from the inside out all the time.
We would fill the world instead of empty it. We would fill it with the kinds of things the Creator wanted
done. We would dig the gold He wanted dug; we would mine the coal He wanted mined; we would bridge the rivers
that He wanted bridged. We would develop the trees and the plants that He wanted developed. We would
presumably develop the planets that He wanted developed, but we would work from the inside out.
What we have said is that we men and women determined, “No way. We’re not going to be dependent on the Creator
of the universe. We’re going to operate on our own behalf and we are going to operate from the outside in.” If
you like to see how that would work, just draw an arrow from the outermost circle into the innermost center of
the inner circle. That’s the way we men and women have been operating since the creation.
We’ve been trying to get from outside, the life that we were meant to get from the Creator of the universe. Of
course, it has resulted in a tremendous perversion of our personalities. Let’s talk a little more about that
God says each of us is Unique -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
God Says Each of Us is Unique
by Ernest O’Neill
“What is the meaning of life?” That’s the question we’re talking about on this broadcast each day and this is
broadcast #183, in case you may wish to refer to it sometime in our correspondence. What we’re talking about
is “Why are we here?” “Why are you sitting in this car?” or “Why are you sitting in that room?” “Why am I
sitting here talking into this microphone?” “What are we all here for? What’s the point of life?”
You remember that in trying to answer that question we’ve attempted to be semi-intellectual about it, and
begin to work it out from some kind of sensible, intellectual presuppositions. We have proceeded from the
position of theists, who believe that because of the order and design in the universe there must be an
intellectual being behind it. That intellectual being must be at least as personal as we are in order to be
able to make us persons.
Then we have examined the attempts of other people like Buddha or Zoroaster or Confucius to tell us what the
Creator was thinking about. We’ve discovered that they all had one great limitation: they all died like dogs
like the rest of us and were buried on this earth. They never gave any proof that they were able to pierce
beyond the furthest star in order to tell us what the Creator behind it all had in mind when He made us.
Then we discovered that there was a remarkable man who lived in the first century of our era, called Jesus. We
examined the historical documents that lie behind the history books of that period. We discovered that the one
we have so often thought of as just myth, the Bible, is actually among the most reliable history that mankind
possesses. The documentary evidence of early manuscripts is such that one cannot question but that this man
Jesus really did live and die and — the big thing was — overcome death and come back and live for more than
a month on the earth.
He was, in fact, not only the most supreme ethical teacher the world has seen, he was actually the Son of the
Maker of our universe. We’ve been studying what he said was the meaning of our lives and the purpose of our
lives. We’ve discovered, of course, that he outlined that we were made in three different levels of life. We
have a body, which is the physical part. We have a soul, or the psychological part of us (our mind and
emotions). Within that we have our spirits, which is the real essence of you as you really are. “What a man is
when he’s alone, that he is and nothing more.” That’s what your spirit is; it’s the essence of you.
We’ve seen that the way the Creator meant us to operate was from the inside out. That is, we were meant
through our spirits to have a friendship with Him and a relationship with Him. In fact, that’s the whole
purpose of our lives: to become His friends, to understand Him and to know Him. Through our spirits we were
meant to do that.
You actually know that yourself. The few moments you sensed you were in touch with the eternal depths, or
whatever you want to call them, behind the universe have been those moments when you have been driven to see
the futility of life. When everything has collapsed in your job, or in your home, or in your family you’ve
sunk into the heart of life and you’ve been really real for a few seconds. It’s in those few seconds that
you’ve sensed some presence, some spirit or Being beyond what you can see with your eyes.
So, it is in your spirit that you communicate with the Creator of the universe. We were meant to do that; you
were actually meant to know the Maker of the world. He knows you. He’s counted all the hairs of your head.
That’s what Jesus said — that God has even counted the hairs of your head. He said that not a sparrow falls
to the ground, but that your heavenly Father (and that’s what He called our Creator) knows it. Are you not of
much more value than many sparrows?
Yet, if the Creator knows when a sparrow falls to the ground, He certainly knows every thought you’ve had over
these past few minutes. The Creator knows you, and His intention was that you would get to know Him. You’d get
to know Him and understand Him. You’d find out from Him why He put you here, why He has given you the
abilities He’s given you and what He has put you in this world to do for Him.
Then you were intended to express that through your soul, through your mind and emotions and then out, by
reference to your will, through your body and then out into the world. It would be so that our world would be
filled with guided people, people who dug coal because they knew where the best seams were and which ones
would cause the least disruption to the surface life of the nation where they were working.
People would strike oil, not on the Santa Barbara coast, where you drown all the seagulls in the black stuff,
but in safe places where there were deep wells that would last for years and years. The Creator knows the
universe better than anybody. He has buried the coal; He has buried the gold. He knows where the bauxite is.
His plan was that we would get to know Him and would get to know His mind and get to know what His mind was
for each of our lives, so that we would produce music that elevated, music that healed, that made whole. We
would write plays that would bring glory and joy and delight to mankind and understanding to families. That
was the Creator’s intention. We would, through our spirits, commune with Him. That’s one of the functions of
our spirit, you remember, to commune with God.
Then, through our intuition, we would simply know what He wanted us to do. Then through our conscience, which
operates on the basis of our intuition, our will would be constrained to direct our mind to think those
thoughts, and then those thoughts, of course, would stir up certain feelings in us in our emotions that would
enable our body to express and to do what we sensed the Creator wanted us to do, or say, or think. We were
meant to operate like that.
Of course, if we had we would have a great sense of our own identity and a great sense of our importance in
the universe, because each of us can do something that nobody else can. That’s right. You may sit there and
say, “Ah, not me. I’m a miserable nothing. I’m just a blot on an ink pad.” No! No, you’re not! There’s nobody
like you — nobody. Not a soul like you.
You may say, “It’s just as well.” You may joke about it. There’s nobody like you. Your mom and your dad
weren’t like you. Even your identical twin isn’t like you; you’re unique. There’s been nobody like you in the
whole universe ever. Do you know another secret? There never will be anybody like you. The Creator has made
only one of you. There is something you can do and you can think and you can say that I can’t.
You may say, “Ah, I’m a janitor. I’m a janitor!”, or “I mend roads. I’m a secretary. I’m a computer operator.
I’m a gardener; I cut down trees. I’m a housewife. I’m a charlady. I’m a nothing.” No, you’re not a nothing.
You’re not. There’s nobody like you, nobody like you. There’s a beauty that you can bring into this world that
nobody else can.
Forget that business of judging yourself the way the world judges, according to your outward appearance or
according to the money that you’ve made or the success. Sure, it’s all blown away in a moment, you know that.
You know. Would you rather be alive now or dead like Churchill? Which? Which? Well, there’s no doubt, is
there? However much we respect Churchill, however much we think of him, boy, I’d rather be alive. I’d rather
be alive, than dead as Churchill.
So, you’re unique. There is nobody like you. There’s something you can do for the Maker of the world that
nobody else can do or can achieve. That’s the way we were meant to operate. It gives us a great sense of
identity, a great sense of satisfaction, a great sense of happiness, a great sense of position and self-worth.
Nothing does the same thing for us. Of course, we rejected that whole idea. We didn’t want to be governed by
anybody but ourselves.
From the very beginning of the world our forefathers rebelled against the whole idea and determined, “No,
we’re not going to trust a Creator; we’re going to trust ourselves. We’re going to mine this world. We’re
going to dig this world. We’re going to develop this world for our own benefits, the way we want to and not by
listening to somebody up there who wants to tell us how to do it. We will do it ourselves.” And that’s what we
have done for centuries. That’s part of the explanation of the mess we’re in today.
But a greater problem has resulted. The moment we did that, we began to lose all the relationship of assurance
and confirmation that we had with our Creator. We began to sense that there was nobody there and that we
existed alone on this planet. That brought about a neurotic situation that has driven us crazy ever since.
Let’s talk more about that tomorrow and then proceed with our discussion.
Is the Bible History? -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Is the Bible History?
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? Why are we alive? That’s the topic we’re discussing and we’ve been talking about
it now for over 9 months. In fact, I think this is broadcast #184 that we’re on today. And what we’ve talked
about really is the origin of the life that we have here. And we’ve been talking in the early months of this
year about whether the creation took place by a directionless evolutionary process or whether it took place
through some kind of programmed or planned development.
And of course we’ve concluded with Einstein that the order and design in the universe presupposes an
intellectual mind that designed and planned it and we concluded that the intellectual mind must be at least as
personable as we are in order to make us persons. And then you remember we proceeded to examine some of the
people that have claimed to tell us what the Creator of the universe was thinking about when He made us and
what He had in mind for our lives and therefore what the purpose of our lives is.
And we examined people like Buddha, and Zoroaster and Confucius and the Hindu scholars. And discovered that
they all had the same limitations; they all were just human beings, had never left the earth any more than any
of us had, but died and were buried like the rest of us. And they all differed from the one remarkable man
that lived in the first century of our era. He was a man that actually didn’t die like the rest of us. He did
die, but after three days, He came alive again and lived for more than a month here on the earth.
And such is the historical evidence and the documentary evidence that is available in places like the British
Museum, that we came to the conclusion intellectually that He must actually have been a historical figure.
That he actually did live and say the things that He is said to have lived and said. And we realized that as
we began to look into the history books that tell of his life, we were dealing with history that was more
reliable than that of the Caesars or than that of the Roman or the Greek emperors. And so we concluded that
this man really was the Son of the Maker of the universe.
And so we’ve been discussing and studying His explanation of why we’re here, because we reckon He’s the only
one who really knows. It has to be somebody who got beyond the furthest star that we can see with our radio
telescopes. It has to be somebody who has succeeded in doing, you remember, what that dear author said he
wanted to do…”Stop the world, I want to get off!” It has to be somebody who has managed to stop the world
and get off it and come back and tell us what it’s about.
And so we’ve concluded that that’s what this man Jesus has done and that His explanation of the meaning of our
lives is the one that really counts. Because all the rest are limited within this temporal space-time frame
that we all endure. And only His breaks out of it. And of course what He has said is that we were meant to
live our lives by the direction of the Maker of the universe. That the Maker of the Universe made us with
three levels in our personality and the innermost level is the spirit. And the spirit is the part of you that
is the real you.
It’s you as you really are, underneath, away from all the things that your mother or your father want you to
do — away from what your wife or your children want you to do, or what your boss or your teachers want you to
do, what your desperate necessities in this life make you want. It’s you as you really are. You, independent
of all those desires and drives and pulls and shoves, it’s you as you really are — that’s your spirit.
And the Creator intended you to get to know Him through your spirit — through the real you to get to know Him
and to find out why He had put you here and then to pursue that. And of course if you had done that then
there’d have come to you a great sense of identity and self-worth. And of course you would have filled your
own mind and emotions with the plans and the desires that He had for you and they would be utterly satisfied
and fulfilled, because of course He made you for a set purpose and if you fulfill that purpose, then you are
And on top of that, the world itself would have been filled with not only the thinking of the Creator, but His
life. So we would have a universe that probably did not have earthquakes in California and did not have oil
spills off the Santa Barbara coast, and did not have mining disasters in Wales, and did not have cities that
were so cluttered and filled with impure oil and with machines that make more dirt. That we would have had a
world that was nearer the paradise that we all dream of.
But of course, we determine to “forget it”. We’re going to live this life on our own; we’re not going to live
from the inside out, we’re not going to refer to our Creator. We’re going to do what we think we ought to do.
We’re going to get from this world what we need and that’s what, of course, began to happen to us. We looked
around and we saw, “Now wait a minute. There’s nobody here who cares about me but myself. And there are
billions of us trying to get the limited resources on this world, on this earth to keep them alive, so I’d
better grab what food shelter and clothing I can.”
And so, that became the dominating drive in our lives. We began to be dominated by the need for security, for
physical security first of all: for shelter, roofs over our heads, for clothing to keep the cold out and for
food to keep us alive. We never got past the point of saying, why do we want to stay alive? We just felt, “Oh,
we ought to stay alive.” And so we have dedicated our lives to getting all the food, shelter and clothing we
possibly can and get what security we need.
Actually, deep down, we want more than security. Deep down we’re missing the great sense of stability and love
and care that we were intended to get from our Creator. After all, there’s no security like the one you have
of walking through your factory with the hand of the Creator of the universe in yours — I mean, that’s
security! There’s no security like going up the Matterhorn with the one who made the Matterhorn right beside
you. That’s security that nothing else can give.
And of course, we were all the time trying to find that kind of security; getting all the food, shelter and
clothing we could. What we were actually after was a deeper thing than security â€“it was love. Because that’s
of course what the Maker of the universe feels towards you. Now, you may be cynical and skeptical and all that
but actually, He does. He loves you — that’s why He made you. Why do you think He’d go to all this trouble if
He didn’t love you? So, He does love you but we turned our backs on Him and of course we missed out on all
The result was we had to get the security that love provides from somewhere else. And so, that’s why we’re all
scrambling. You know we’re all scrambling. You know how it goes. You scramble for this week’s wage and then
you fight for next month’s wage and then you try to fight to get a raise and then you try to do something with
the money that will, in fact, ensure that you have something when you retire and you spend most of your life
worrying and fretting.
That’s what old Auden said you remember, “In headaches and in worry vaguely life leaks away.” And so it does.
“Vaguely, life leaks away.” To get the car, then to look after the car, then to repair the car, then to
replace the car. It just goes on and on forever. Old Wordsworth is right. “The world is too much with us;
getting and spending, we lay waste our powers. Little we see in nature that is ours.”
That’s true. We’re a pretty miserable bunch, all going after the old dollar or the old pound or the old
shilling — whatever it is. And we do that because we desperately need the security that we were meant to have
by knowing the Maker of the universe and by really realizing that He was our own Father.
We did the same thing of course, with happiness. We felt we’re only here for a few years, so we’d better get
what happiness we can. And so the search after happiness has become a dominating and enslaving thing for most
of us. We’ll do anything to get happy — you know it! I mean we’ll destroy our own bodies to get happy,
because the only way we can really get happy is blotting out all the misery around us.
So, after you’ve gone from the wine to the hard stuff and and after you’ve gone from the hard stuff to the
crack and then from the crack to the heroin, then from the heroine to the cocaine, it’s hard really to get
completely blotted out unless you take the final step. And some of us, even among our own young people, are
taking that step. Because it’s impossible to find the happiness and the fulfillment that we were originally
going to get by simply doing what the Maker wanted us to do with our lives.
And of course the whole problem of self esteem is a dominating one. Most of us feel worth nothing. We feel
we’re nothing, we feel we’re just a cipher; we’re just a consumer statistic. And of course we determine, no
we’re not! We’re not! We’re significant! We’re unique! We’re unlike anybody else and we’re going to make
everybody else realize that. And of course the sight of 5 billion of us trying to make the others respect them
is pretty hideous.
On top of all that, what is happened is we have gone dead inside. Our spirits have gone dead. We’ve forgotten
who we are. We can’t remember who we are. We’re busy being pulled like little puppets by all the strings of
needs for security, for significance, for happiness that surround us.(cid:9)And that’s the situation most of us find
ourselves in. Most of us find we’re dead, even though we’re alive. Let’s talk a little more about that
We are Empty Inside -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
We are Empty Inside
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? That’s the question that we have been discussing for about eight or nine months
now on this program. For those of you who want to keep track, this is about the 185th that we have shared
together during this past year. You remember that what we have tried to do is deal with the question from an
intelligent, or you might say intellectual, viewpoint. We’ve tried to look into the origins of the world and
tried to make sensible comments upon the likelihood of it being a guided development rather than a
purposeless, chance development of undirected evolutionary process.
We’ve rather taken the viewpoint that the order and design in the universe seems to indicate that there is an
intelligent mind behind it all. Behind whatever process was used to create it, there was someone who designed
direction into that process — whether it be an evolutionary one or not. And we then went a little further and
said that that intelligent mind must be at least as personable as we are in order to make us as persons.
Then, you remember, we took the further step of saying that that mind must have communicated Himself to us in
some way over the years and years that men have been here on the earth. And we began to examine the men and
women that have claimed to tell us what that mind behind the universe was thinking when it created us and what
it had in mind for our purpose.
And we examined the lives of people like Buddha, and Zoroaster; people like the Hindu prophets and Confucius.
And we reached the conclusion that they were all suffering the same limitation we were. They had never been
off the world. They had never been off it. They had never been beyond the point where our radio telescopes can
reach. They had never been beyond space to whoever is the origin of the universe and come back to tell us.
Except for one man who is different from all the rest. That was the man who lived in the first century of our
era and that lived very differently from all the rest of the great leaders and great religious and inspired
leaders of the world. But most of all he died differently from them because he was killed, destroyed by the
experts in execution, the Romans, at that time.
And yet, he came back to life and lived on the earth for more than a month, proving to everyone that he was
indeed not a ghost, not a hallucination, but was really alive and was able to stay alive even though he had
open wounds that ought to have let all the blood out of his body. And this man was of course, the man we know
as Jesus. And then, we began to examine the books that record his existence, because we thought maybe they’re
But, the more you get into them, the more you discover that those books that are known in the Greek as “ta
Biblia” or in our English language as the Bible — those books have better documentary evidence behind them
than any of the ancient historical records that we respect as truthful without any question in our minds
And as we began to examine manuscripts like those in the British Museum, “Codex Alexandrinus” and “Codex
Sinaiticus”, the Chester Beattie Papyri, and then the John Rylands Papyrus in the Manchester University museum
library, we began to realize that what we are dealing with is downright history here. And that this man really
did live and die and got up from being dead the way he is said to have done.
And so, we concluded that this man Jesus of Nazareth was in fact, the Son of the Maker of our world and that
His explanation of the meaning of our lives is the only one that really matters. Because it is the only one
that comes, as it were, “from the horse’s mouth”. And so, we’ve been studying His explanation of the meaning
of life. And we’ve got to the point you remember, where we’ve discussed the fact that many of us are dead even
though we’re alive. Now, that’s a paradox, but you know the way we’ve explained it.
In fact, there’s a poet, called Walter James Turner, an English poet, who died about 1946 and wrote this poem:
Is it not strange that men can die before their bodies do?
And women’s souls fade from their eyes? ’tis strange. But it is so.
Where have they gone, and what were they?
Those gleams of tenderer light than falls from mere
quick shining limbs and eyeballs merely bright.
Undying fires, removing far their unseen presence show
leaving their brightness on dead moons as sons less heavenly do.
And even though you may say, oh, pretty pessimistic — yet, it does describe what so often happens in our
world today. We develop as bright little children, full of enthusiasm, full of life, and full of direction.
It’s interesting, isn’t it? We’re like little dogs. If you see a little dog jogging along the sidewalk or the
pavement, you wonder where he is going. But he looks as if he has a very definite purpose in mind. And so, it
is with little children. Often you think, oh, how have they got so much direction and purpose in their lives
with so little really to do? Well, often we were born it seems, with a great sense of direction and intuition
And then as life goes on, you remember how we discussed that we all look around and we see there are billions
of people in the world and there’s only so much corn, and so much shelter and so much food and clothing to go
around. And we’d rather grab our little bit to make sure we stay alive. And so we become utterly preoccupied
with the security problem and we concentrate all our being on getting a good education to get a good job so
that we can make good money so that we can have a good home and have good clothes and be safe from the wind
and the rain and then eventually we’d try to build up enough health insurance so that we’ll be safe from the
vagaries of incurable diseases also. And so we become preoccupied with security.
And most of us actually never get far above that. However sophisticated we are, whatever advanced degrees
we’ve taken, it’s amazing how we end up living like the most simple person in the whole world, preoccupied
with how we can get more food, how we can get more clothing, how we could get more security for the food and
shelter and clothing that we possess.
And then, of course, we begin to realize that we are unique, and we actually are. But, we see that none of the
rest of the world thinks we’re unique. And so, we set about the whole problem of trying to establish our own
self-esteem and self-worth by forcing it upon other people. And so we begin to dedicate our work life to being
not only successful financially, but being successful in our reputation. And we are determined to make
everybody respect us the way we ought to be respected, and especially our wife and children.
And so, we become dedicated to the task of making ourselves respected, and approved of and acknowledged and
respected and appreciated. And of course that drives us crazy. Nobody respects us as much as we think we ought
to be respected. Nobody treats us as unique as we are because they’re trying to establish their uniqueness too
and there’s not enough sense of uniqueness to go around among us human beings. And so we end up filled with
envy and pride and jealousy and all kinds of ambition that we cannot control.
But we are driven by those things. And then, of course, we feel, “Well, wait a minute. We’re not here for
long. So we had better get what happiness we can.” And so we look around and try to determine what makes for
happiness. Usually, it’s blotting out suffering that makes for happiness. So, we concentrate on having a good
bar in the house, and maybe some of us even go beyond that. And we try to get what little bit of exhilaration
we can from man-woman relationships.
And then on top of that, we try to buy faster cars, bigger speed boats, or go to a better part of the Riviera.
And we find ourselves actually driven by these, what we call, needs. We say they’re the needs we have for
security, and significance and happiness. But they become driving forces — they actually begin to be strings
that control us as if we’re little puppets and marionettes. And so, after several years of this kind of
existence, we lose a sense of who we are and what we really ought to be doing. And that’s what we mean when we
say that many of us have died inside, even though we’re alive on the outside.
We’re alive, but we’re just robots that are governed by our external needs and circumstances. And long ago,
we’ve lost the sense of who we are inside. That’s what we’d like to talk a little more about tomorrow. Because
that is one of the great problems of mankind. Not the exploration of outer-space, but the exploration of
I Don’t Know Who I Am! -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
I Don’t Know Who I Am!
by Ernest O’Neill
We’re discussing on this program the fact that many of us are dead even though we are alive. That is, we have
died inside. We have trouble finding ourselves. Sometimes we look inside and wonder, is there anybody there?
That is, we wonder really who we are, and what we are doing here and what the purpose of our lives is. And why
we should undertake this grueling grind week after week after week. And we find increasingly that it is
difficult to discover ourselves even as we knew ourselves as little children. It seems that something has gone
dead inside and there’s a great deal of emptiness inside.
And many of us feel that who aren’t at all inactive in our lives. Many of us are very responsible business
people, very responsible academics, very responsible tradesmen or tradeswomen, and we do a good job and we
take care of our families and we take care of our friends and responsibilities. And we go to work day after
day, we come home and make nice dinners and we go out at the weekends and we appear in every way to be normal
human beings. We are not at all people who have stepped out of life or have clicked the whole thing off. We
take part in life.
We are the people who keep the wheels of commerce turning, as they say, and keep the universities and the
schools open. And yet, we have lost any personal interest in what we are doing. We’ve lost any sense of
dynamic in what we’re doing. We just do it, because — well, all kinds of reasons. But most of them are
attached to the need to survive. We feel that we need food obviously, to stay alive for tomorrow so that we
can have time to think out why we are alive today. And we feel we need some clothes to keep us warm so that we
can remain on this planet in some degree of comfort. And we feel we need a home obviously, because you need
somewhere to come home to and to sleep.
And so, we have dedicated our lives to ensuring that we have those things. And we’ve now discovered that those
things are driving us. It’s the old story that everything you own owns you! Every piece of property you have
requires your time and your service to maintain it. And we have found that the drives that are making us do
things have become the whole motivation and the whole motivational center of our lives.
If you ask many of us why we are stockbrokers, or you ask us why we are teachers or you ask us why we’re
joiners or carpenters or electricians or you ask us why we’re bus drivers or why we’re shop assistants, we’ll
answer, “Well, I have to do something. I have to do something to earn my money and to keep alive and to keep
myself together — to keep body and soul together. I have to do something.”
And most of us, even those of us who apparently occupy very exciting jobs as executives, or even those of us
who may occupy very artistic jobs as instrumentalists or professional players or writers or composers often
answer the same way. “Well, it has become a necessity. We now have a degree of economic survival that we have
We now have a life style we have grown used to. We do these things because we have to do them. And so many of
us have discovered that there is no reason any longer inside for doing the things that we are doing. We just
do them, driven by the need for security.
It’s the same with the need for self esteem. Many of us, even in the artistic world or in the dramatic world,
find ourselves doing lots of things because of the applause. That’s it. We are really like little performing
monkeys. The bigger the applause, the better the review in the newspaper, the more we smile and grimace like a
monkey, and the happier we seem to be. It’s as if we are dependent on cookies. And as long as you keep
throwing us cookies, we’ll keep dancing or we’ll keep singing or we’ll keep composing or we’ll keep writing or
we’ll keep announcing or we’ll keep talking. But just give us something; give us little cookies.
And so, we find we are driven men and women. We aren’t motivated from within any longer, we are just driven
from the outside. And we have become, virtually, like R2D2, you remember, in the movie. We’ve become like a
robot that is controlled from the outside by other people, other circumstances, by things.
And we find it too with happiness. Even our drive for happiness has often something manic about it. It is
often governed by the sense that years are passing and we had better enjoy what we can while we can, so let’s
get all the enjoyment we can. And often we find ourselves getting up and going out to, as we say, “enjoy
ourselves” when really, we would rather not. But we feel this dramatic, dynamic urge to keep going, keep
moving. It’s almost as if we’re like the gentleman you remember that died in that expedition to the Antarctic.
We feel that if we don’t keep moving, we’ll freeze to death.
And so, we have this frenetic urge to keep going. But so often all our activity is governed from the outside.
And if you ever asked us why we were doing what we were doing, we’d say, “Well, we need the money,” or, “Well,
it seems to fulfill me”, or “It seems to be what I’m supposed to do.” But many of have no sense of inner
dynamic at all, and we look inside and we wonder, where are you? Where are you?
Because the other thing that has happened to many of us is, these activities governed by these outside
necessities have, in fact, gravely affected the people that we used to be. They have virtually changed our
personalities. They have certainly perverted the way we used to operate when we were children. When we were
children, we tended to operate from inside, from things that we thought inside.
Now, we are so used to pleasing people, so used to getting the right person to smile at us, so used to getting
the right money for the right job, so used to stimulating our bodies and our emotions by certain things we
drink or eat that we have, in fact, perverted the very personalities that we possess. So that, we’re hardly
able to recognize the people that we used to be. And in fact, that is what has happened. Many of us have
It is a shame that many of us in our marriages, you know, come to that point — you know it well — where the
wife says to the husband, “You’re not the person I married.” Or, the husband says to the wife, “You’re not the
person that I married.” Well in a real sense, of course, none of us are the people we married because we’ve
all changed as the years have passed. But that’s normally not what we mean when we say that. We normally mean,
“You’ve deteriorated from the person I used to know. You’re not the fine person that I once loved.” And in
fact, that has happened to many of us. We have actually died inside even though we’re continuing to live on
And it’s as if we are now non-entities. It’s as if those of us, even who try hardest (and usually that’s the
people in the public eye) to be liked and to be approved of are the people who become the greatest
non-entities. They lose their personalities — they are conformed to the image of this world more than anybody
else is. It’s as if the world just dominates you and you become conformed to what it wants you to be. That’s
the tragedy! That many of us have ceased to be alive inside and have become instead the consumer statistics,
or the over-achievers, or the successful financiers that the world approves of.
And that’s where the phrase comes from, if you remember it, “being conformed to the image of this world.” It
means that you’re being governed by what everybody around you thinks you should be — by what the things and
circumstances in the world are making you. That’s what you’re becoming. That’s what you’re conforming to.
For many of us, that has meant the death of ourselves inside. So that we no longer can find ourselves, we no
longer can discover what we were meant to be, or how we used to think. And so, we’re actually dead inside.
And of course that’s what this man Jesus of Nazareth said would happen to us. He said we would all die. We
would become dead. Let’s talk a little more about whether anything can be done about that.
Striving for Security in Life -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Striving for Security in Life
by Ernest O’Neill
Have you ever wakened up and wondered, where have I gone? Where have I gone? That is, where have you, yourself
gone? You’ve lost yourself; you can’t find yourself anymore. The person that you’ve become is some kind of
auto motion that is governed by the many responsibilities that you have to face in your job or your family or
your school. But, you, yourself seem to have flown. You can’t find who you really are anymore.
And what we have been sharing on this program over these past months — this is probably about the 187th time
we’re talked together this year – is how many of us in this present life are finding it more and more
difficult to remember who we were, or what we’re really like inside — because we’ve been governed
increasingly by the tremendous drives from without. The drives for security, and for significance, and for
happiness. And those drives become overwhelming. So that many of us have become just little animals.
We’ve discussed how we live on three different levels in this present life. But most of us live virtually on
the physical level. From time to time we might delve into the psychological level, or what we call the soul,
where the mind and emotions and the will operate. But, most of us are governed completely by our bodies. That
is, we see something nice on a plate in a restaurant — we want it — we reach out our hand and get it, we eat
it. It makes our tummy feel comfy and so we feel happy. And that’s about the level we operate on.
Many of us are delighted when we see a certain coat that we think will make us look better than everybody
else. And so we buy the coat and that becomes our delight, not only that day, but in future days and weeks and
that continues until we buy something else.
But many of us are delighted just by the things that we see and touch and feel and hear. And our life goes no
deeper than that.
And so we become governed by those things. If the day is bright and the sun is shining, then we are happy. If
the day is glowering and the rain is drizzling down, then we’re miserable. If somebody speaks brightly to us,
we’re happy. If someone smiles at us, we’re delighted. If the boss frowns upon us, we’re miserable.
If the income tax comes back with a refund, we’re up in the air with joy. If it comes back with a hideous bill
that we didn’t expect, we are bears for the rest of that week. Many of us are governed now, just by what
happens to us. That’s why we talk about happiness, because it’s so often just what happens to us. It’s happy
happenings. And if we don’t have happy happenings, then we’re unhappy.
And so, our lives are governed by the things that happen to us from outside, or by the attitudes that people
take to us, or by the things that people say to us. Or by the things that we manage to obtain or possess, or
the things that we lack or the things that we lose.
Think of us when we get a dent in the new car, think of us when a window is broken in the home. Many of these
things can be fixed and repaired very quickly and many of us have no problem with getting the money to do it.
But just the very thought of the thing happening sends us into all kinds of manic depression that we can’t
control. So, many of us are in that position where we have become almost perverted by this preoccupation with
what happens to us on the outside — with the circumstances that we’re passing through, with the things that
we have or have not got, and with the experiences that we have or don’t have to.
Many of us are utterly governed by our drive for security, significance and happiness; by our preoccupation
with the things and the people, and the circumstances that provide those or fail to provide them. And so, we
have, in fact, become perverted. We no longer act from inside as we were meant to. And that’s what we’ve
talked about over these months — how we were meant to work from the inside out. But we now work from the
outside in. And we find, of course, that as we do that the inside seems to have kind of died on us.
And you remember how we discussed that the Maker of the world had created us on three levels of life: the
physical — that is the body by which we relate to the world of things, and circumstances and people. Then the
soul, which is inside of us. It is the Greek word “psuche” which becomes our word “psyche”, which becomes
psychological – the psychological part of us: the mind, the emotions, and the will. And then, inside that
again, He made a spirit: the very essence of you. That’s your spirit. It’s you as you really are. And that’s
the only place that you can communicate with the Maker of the world.
But that’s the thing that with many of us has died. Long ago, we died inside! Long ago we lost the sense of
who we were. And few of us actually today know who we are and know inside what we’re like. Even those of us
who think that we do, look inside and we see a huge ego — a massive ego — that is utterly preoccupied with
itself and despises everybody else. A massive ego that wants its own way and insists on its own rights and
wants what it wants. So even those of us who think we have discovered who we are, when we look in we see a
horrible, grotesque monster that is anti-social and is so filled with egotism that it has no time for anyone
So, whether we look in and see nothing or whether we look in and see a grotesque monster, the situation is
that many of us find now that our personalities are utterly perverted. And we have become an empty shell —
virtually a body that operates in relationship to the material in the universe and never goes much deeper than
that. And of course, our spirits, who we really are, have really disappeared altogether. Now, that’s what this
man Jesus of Nazareth said would happen.
He said, if you keep going the way you’re going, regarding the universe as a chance result of a blind
evolutionary process with no personal mind governing it at all, then you will regard yourself as on your own.
Just on your own, Jack, and nobody to look after you. And as a result of that, you will develop a personality
that will become not independent, as you’d hoped it would be, but will become utterly dependent on the world
of things and circumstances and people that seem to be able to feed you with what you need.
What you really need is love. That’s it. Love. Not mushy love, not sexy love, just love. You really need love.
You need someone who wants the best for you more than he wants the best for himself, even if it cost him to
give it to you. You want someone who is willing to give himself to you, whatever the cost; someone who puts
you in the place of himself, who wants your welfare more than he wants his own. That’s what love is. “Greater
love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” That means a man regards your life
as worth more than his own.
And he’s willing to lay his own life down so that you will preserve yours. He’s putting himself in your place.
He’s walking in your moccasins. He’s putting himself in your shoes. That’s really what you and I were made
for, except that we were made for the love of the most powerful, mighty, Significant Other in the whole
universe. That is, our God, our Creator. That’s why He made you, because He loves you. Yes, don’t turn off —
that’s why He made you. He loves you; that’s why He made you. And that’s really what you need. And that love
brings with it all the security, and the significance, and happiness that you could ever want.
But many of us have declared our independence of Him and have determined that we will get that kind of
security and happiness and that kind of satisfaction from the world of things, and people, and circumstances.
And as a result we have died inside. We have become, not independent, we have become utterly dependent — in
fact slaves — to the very jobs that we think we do. Slaves to the very people whom we think we govern.
And we have, in fact, died inside. And there’s nothing there anymore. We’re just little robots. And of course,
this man Jesus of Nazareth said that it’s impossible for you to recreate yourself. You can’t! You can’t get
yourself alive again. Once that inner part of you is dead, it’s dead. There is only one that can do anything
about it. Let’s talk a little about that tomorrow.
We Have no Identity -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
We Have No Identity
by Ernest O’Neill
“We are the hollow men! We are the stuffed men leaning together, headpiece filled with straw. Alas! Our dried
voices, when we whisper together, are quiet and meaningless, as wind in dry grass, or rats’ feet over broken
glass in our dry cellar.”
Sounds pretty miserable, doesn’t it? It’s old T.S. Eliot’s poem. You remember, the one that ends with the
lines, “This is the way the world ends. This is the way the world ends. This is the way the world ends. Not
with a bang, but with a whimper.” It’s his poem called “The Hollow Men”.
And of course, we immediately say, “Oh, that’s pessimistic, miserable negative stuff. Don’t let’s hear it.”
And yet, we do sense some element of truth in it. We are the “Hollow Men”. We are the “Stuffed Men”, leaning
together, headpiece filled with straw. And when he goes on in a further verse to say, “those who have crossed
with direct eyes, to death’s other kingdom, remember us, if at all, not as lost violent souls, but only as the
hollow men, the stuffed men.”
And that’s what we have been sharing over the past few days; that many of us feel like that. We look inside to
see if we’re there and we can’t find ourselves. And we feel like hollow men, we feel like stuffed men. That
is, we feel like guys, like guys at Halloween that are stuffed with straw and are propped up, and made to do
what the other people want them to do. And often, that’s the way we have come to spend our lives. We perform
as people require us to.
The teacher wanted us to do certain things, so we did it. And we got some kind of reward for it. And so we
went on there, and we kept on trying to please our boss, our parents, our professors, now our colleagues,
maybe even now, our children. We keep on trying to please other people and to do what will make them happy.
And so, from time to time when we look into see who we are, we realize that we have almost ceased to exist. We
are dead inside. And that’s what this man Jesus, you remember, of Nazareth said would happen to us.
He said, if you take the position that there is no Creator, and that my Father is not the Creator of the
world, and that there is no God in this world, then you’re in a pretty dangerous position and a pretty
vulnerable position, because there are five billion of you here in the world, and there’s only so much food
and clothing to go around. So you are responsible for grabbing what you can. Moreover, this planet itself is
spinning through space with no visible means of support and no real guarantee that it will continue.
And if it has all come as a result of time plus chance and is at the mercy of the impersonal activities of
atoms, that are not governed by any rule or by any heart of kindness, then there is no knowing when the whole
thing might just blow up or fall down forever right through space. So, there comes into you a tremendous sense
of insecurity, and of course it’s an insecurity that finally you can never satisfy. But, we have set to with a
will to try to do it. And that’s what He said would happen. He said, “You will yourselves become, in fact,
conformed to the image of this world.”
You will begin to do what the world of people and thing and circumstances want you to do. Because you think
that that will get you security. So, you try to gather the stocks and shares that you can to make yourself
feel safe. You try to gather the insurance policies and the pensions that will make you feel safe. But,
finally, you won’t feel safe. Because finally, there is no safety. Finally, you will die. And if there’s
nobody there to catch you after you die, then there’s nothing. And so, the whole thing is a futility that may
as well just be ended now.
And so, Jesus said that if you live like that you’ll end up becoming enslaved to what people want you to do.
And many of us have done that.(cid:9)Many of us are governed totally by who smiles at us in the morning. You know,
whether we’re British or American, we love to be liked. We like to be liked. And we like people to like us.
And that’s why we say we’re sorry so often. Have you noticed it? We always say, “Sorry, sorry.” We always want
to please everyone else and to apologize. For we know not what, but that we just want to please them.
And many of us have ceased to be ourselves. We’re so busy trying to please people. We’re so busy trying to get
the money that we think will somehow give us security that we’ve forgotten what we were possibly here to do at
all. And Jesus said if you live like that, you’ll die inside. You’ll just go dead inside. You’ll become
hollow, you’ll become a stuffed man that is governed like a puppet, by the circumstances and the people and
the things that you meet through life.
Now, I just ask you today. Look at what you’ve done today! Look at how your day has gone. Just go over it in
your mind if you’re sitting in your car or if you’re sitting at home. Just think of how the day has gone. And
think of how many of your hours have been filled with obligations that you tried to fulfill to other people,
often not to help them but to help yourself. And yet, you ended up not really doing what you think you should
do at all. Indeed, many of us have contradicted deliberately what we think we should do.
Many of us at the office think certain things about the politics of the nation or certain things about the
meaning of life or certain things about what’s happening in the Middle East and a conversation comes up where
the drift seems to be the other way, and we are so anxious to please, that we will not say what we really
believe. And that just becomes another nail in the coffin or the casket of what we used to be. Until now, we
have difficulty finding out if there’s any “me” at all, deep down.
Then, of course, you know what happens. We get quite desperate about it and we determine, well, we have to
authenticate ourselves. As old John Paul Sartre said, you remember, “We have to authenticate ourselves.” So
you authenticate yourself by action and by will. So, even if you will yourself to commit suicide, you’re
authenticating yourself. And so, there came this tremendous lie and deception into our thinking, that if we
just authenticated ourselves, then we’d somehow find ourselves.
So, many of us started to do all kinds of wild things. And it was wonderful to break over the traces of
marital faithfulness and do something desperate and something wild and something unlike ourselves. And so,
great numbers of us have given ourselves to doing something different just for the sake of being different.
And of course, we’re governed by the same thing as we were governed by before. It’s like the hippies who all
wanted to be individualists and different, so they all grew beards and they all stopped washing themselves.
They all became the same. And so do we.
We all become the same in our difference. We all try to order from the same unique magazines and from the same
exciting new stores. We all try to wear the same new clothes. We all try to go for the same, new expensive
automobiles. We all try to adopt the same new American phraseology or English phraseology. We tend, in trying
even, to authenticate ourselves to become again conformed to what other people think or other people do. And
so the tremendous tragedy is that many of us have become dead inside because we can no longer sense what we
should do or should be.
And that’s what Jesus said. He said inside you is your spirit; that’s you as you really are. And for many of
you now, your spirit has gone dead. You’ve become just little physical and psychological animals, and there’s
nothing left inside. And however much you try to make it alive, you cannot make it alive. You have to actually
be re-created all over again. You have to be born all over again. You have to come alive again so that you, as
you were, a fresh little child, comes alive all over again.
And actually, there’s an amazing piece in the Bible, that old book that you certainly have at home somewhere,
and if you look up Ezekiel, one of the Old Testament prophets. And if you look up Chapter 36, and verse 26,
you’ll find this amazing promise that our Maker has given us. He said, “A new heart I will give you, and a new
spirit I will put within you. And I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of
flesh.” And that’s a promise that actually He alone can keep. How is it possible to come alive again inside?
How is it possible to find yourself? Let’s talk a little more about that tomorrow.
Are You a People Pleaser? -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Are You a People Pleaser?
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? That’s the question that we’re discussing now in this about the hundred and
eighty ninth broadcast this year. And we’re trying to find out the purpose of our lives; why you are in
existence and why I’m in existence.
I have a friend who jokes about the moment when she draws up to one of these modern service stations and you
get out and if your car takes diesel, of course you get out at the diesel pump and you switch the thing on and
then comes this disembodied voice saying, “This is a diesel pump. Does your vehicle require diesel?” And of
course she feels like answering in the same tinny voice, “Yes, it is and it does.”
You might have been at one of those service stations or you might not, but certainly when you have that
experience, you begin to feel, “I’m dealing with a machine here, a kind of automaton” and the whole impression
is further reinforced when you go to pay. The person in the glass cubicle — and again you speak through a
window to them or you speak through a hidden microphone and it comes out to them by means of an amplifier. You
begin to wonder, “Are we human beings at all, or are we just diesel pumps and automatons and recorded messages
speaking to one another?”
Of course the whole impression is emphasized when you think of the answering machines that we now have on our
telephones. And we hear someone say, “This is Ernest O’Neill. I am not at home. Please leave a message at the
sound of the tone.” And you then begin to feel stupid as you speak into a machine, feeling that of course
you’re not in contact with anybody and it’s doubtful if you may ever be. And many of us are realizing that
“Animal Farm” has already arrived. We wonder if Orwell’s “1984” has come and gone and we haven’t actually
noticed the difference because we were already what he described.
However it is, there are countless numbers of us in all countries today who begin to feel that the machine age
is taking over. We are delighted when we realize that the artificial intelligence experts in the computer
world do feel that it probably isn’t possible to actually reproduce all the subtleties and the shrewdness of
human intelligence but yet we do feel that we’ve gone quite far along that road.
And part of what reinforces this in our own mind is we are troubled at times about the way we, ourselves have
become like machines. Many of us go out day after day to work feeling that it’s just an automaton operating.
It’s not a real human being. We go and we walk the same road. We get the same bus, or we drive the same car.
We end up in the same office. We mutter the same small talk. And we operate continually to feed the same
machines, and the same boss comes by, asks us how we are and we say, “We’re fine,” or “Very well, thank you.”
And we go through the day often just repeating nothings, and truisms and cliches’ that get us by.
And we wonder, “Is there any personal life left?” And of course we go home so often and sit watching a box
with a picture on it of other people living life and we try to live vicariously their lives with them or dream
their dreams with them and then we have some supper, say goodnight and go to bed and so the whole day starts
all over again very much in a machine-like way. We hardly feel that we’re achieving anything personal in the
whole experience. And increasingly, we find our own actions and our own life is made up of responses and
reflex reactions that are almost predestined.
And we wonder, is there anybody inside us at all, or have we lost ourselves utterly? Indeed, that’s why so
many of us feel life is empty and dry today. Because we sense that there is no personality that is actually
creating anything new or initiating anything. Indeed, when we begin to think what we would like to do, or what
we would prefer, we find so often we are dominated by what television tells us we would like, and by the kind
of vacation we should have or by the kind of book we should read, or the kind of movie we should go to.
We find increasingly that when we wonder what we should do for a leisure time activity or for relaxation, we
find ourselves mouthing the same cliches or slogans that we have heard on television, or we have read in the
newspaper. And so, increasingly, great numbers of us wonder, are we alive at all? Is there any “us” in the
whole situation? Or is this just a bundle of machines who do what they are told to do? And of course we find
that when we attempt to be original and be different, and be creative, and be personal, we discover that we
are trying to be that even in the same ways that we’re told to in the commercials or the advertisements.
And so, we try to buy a different kind of coat, or we try to buy a different kind of car, but we find we’re
buying the cars or the coats that other people are buying to try to make themselves unique. And that’s what
brings some of the bewilderment to many of us in these days. Many of us feel we can’t discover anything
personable in ourselves at all, and actually, it is true. Many of us have ceased to be the fresh, new
personalities that we were when were little five or six year olds. We have all become the same. We have become
conformed to kind of an image of the rest of the world that makes us all alike.
And when we try to find out if there’s any “us” in there, we begin to realize whatever there was has died
years and years ago. It died maybe — who knows — with the first star that we got on our card in junior
infants school for reading well. And we saw that we would get reward if we read well. Then, we saw we would
get praise if we got onto the football team. Then, we saw we would get a good job if we got a good degree or
got a good training in some trade. And then we saw we would get more money if we pleased our boss. And then,
we saw that we would be looked upon as a good husband if we did the right things for our wife.
And so, we have spent our life trying to please people and being afraid of not pleasing people and the result
is that we feel we’re a shell. We feel we’re just an outside shell of a person and there is no “us” inside and
we wonder, how on earth can we find the “us” again? We find that we almost feel we have to start all over
again; we have to be born all over again.
And that’s the amazing thing. That man, Jesus of Nazareth, who has proved to be the only one who seems to have
successfully left the earth and come back to tell us what it’s all about — he said that’s exactly what has to
happen. You can’t enter again into your mother’s womb, but you do have to be born again from above. You have
to start all over again — and the amazing thing is He said you could. I don’t know if you know the Bible at
all, but in chapter 3 of a book called John, you find him saying exactly that to a man called Nicodemus. He
said, “Look, you have to start all over again. You have to be born again inside. You have to be recreated
And of course last day, we shared a promise that the Maker of the world once gave 2000 years ago when He said,
“A new heart I will give you. And a new spirit I will put within you.” And many of us feel, that’s exactly
what we need. We need to be able to find ourselves again so that we no longer are just robots or automatons.
How do you find yourself again? Let’s talk a little more about that tomorrow.
Our True Sense of Self -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Our True Sense of Self
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? That’s the subject we’ve been discussing now for, I think, about one hundred and
eighty eight broadcasts this year. And we’re trying to deal with it from the point of view of our own, normal
personal experiences. And what we have been saying recently, after discussing what the origin of the world was
and how it was made and what we think the Maker had in mind when He made us, is the dreadful feeling so many
of us have that we have become machines ourselves.
We are surrounded by machines. We’re meeting automated gas or petrol pumps now at the service stations. We so
often go up and pay our money through a glass window to someone that seems almost an automaton at times to us
in the service station. We get out money from, not personal tellers, but from machines built into the walls of
our banks. We often phone our friends and receive answering machines speaking to us, telling us where they
are. And all in all, we find ourselves dealing as often with machines as we do with people. And many of us
feel that we also have become machines because it seems we, ourselves, have been programmed.
We’ve been programmed to please people from when we pleased our first junior infant teacher to the last time
we responded to our boss’s smile or were all worried and went home depressed after he had frowned at us. We
find ourselves behaving so often like machines as far as our jobs are concerned. We discover that we do them
almost as a robot would, with not terribly much interest in the job. And we do it primarily just to get our
little pay packet at the end of the week or month so that we can exchange it for something that will go in our
tummies and then, we hope that we might exchange it for something that will give us a little happiness.
And so, we have realized that many of us live like machines. And we have reached the point where for us, the
problem is not to research into the problem of outer space, but rather, research into the problem of inner
space. And we, so often, look inside to see if there is anybody in there at all. Where did we go, the ‘us’
that used to be? Where am ‘I’? Where was the fresh little personality that used to think of all kinds of happy
hopes and thoughts when it was five, six or seven years of age? And we wonder longingly, “Now, where is that
What we have been saying is that many of us find that there seems nobody there. We introspect a little; look
inside to try to find out if there is any person there. And we begin to come up with the conclusion there is
nobody there. And then, we realize with horror (and horror, probably, is an understatement) that we cannot
find ourselves. We actually don’t know who we are any longer. We can’t tell what we really do want to do with
our lives or what we really think.
And we begin to see that we have died inside, that something has died inside us, something that was good. It’s
as if Wordsworth’s line of poetry has a pathetic meaning for us especially. He said, you remember, “and there
hath passed a glory from the earth.” And it seems as if in our own lives so often there hath passed a glory
from the earth. Some of the fresh spontaneity that used to be “me” has disappeared.
And what we have been saying is that there was a remarkable man that lived in the first century of our era and
was different from all the other so-called religious leaders, in that they all died like us and were buried
and that was the end of them. But this man died and was buried and then came back to life again, and lived
here on the earth for more than a month, proving to everyone that knew Him and many that didn’t, that He was
able to overcome death, and that He was actually the Son of the Maker of our world. And that man was the man
that we know as Jesus.
And he, actually, said this. He said, “You know, if you live depending on the world of people and of places
and things and circumstances for your security and your significance and your happiness, you’ll eventually die
inside. You’ll just die.” And he knew we would. He knew that you can’t keep on depending on the bank or the
company for the security that you need, your financial security and your material security, without, as that
old song goes, “losing your soul to the company store.”
Eventually, you become utterly dependent, and a slave to the thing or the person that seems to be able to
provide you with the money that will give you the security or the food and the shelter and clothing that you
need to stay alive. And that’s what happens to us. We die inside. And we become just robots that are
stimulated and motivated by the powers that provide us with security.
It’s the same with our desire for significance or self worth, or self esteem. We start off thinking that we’re
simply using our friends to establish our prowess or our prestige by our cleverness. But, we end up depending
on their opinions of us and depending on their approval and we become slaves that do whatever will gain their
approval. Whatever will get a smile from them will produce the right joke from us. Whatever will please them,
we will do. And so, we die inside.
We cease to be ourselves. We lose the sense of what we, ourselves, are. And this man, Jesus, said, that will
happen to you. And there’ll come a time when the only answer will be if somehow that can be recreated inside
you: what you used to be when you were a child; what you used to be when you were young; that spontaneous you.
That will have to be recreated in you, and no psychologist can recreate that. No one can recreate that because
that is your spirit that has died. That’s the real you. When we talk about the spirit of Churchill, we talk
about the very essence of the man. When we talk about your spirit, we are talking about your real essence, the
thing that makes me, me, and makes you, you.
And that’s what has died and that’s what has to be recreated. Jesus said that you actually have to be born all
over again and the man he was talking to (it’s recorded in one of the books of the New Testament called John
in chapter 3) was a scholar. And he said, “You mean I have to enter into my mother’s womb all over again and
be born?” and Jesus said, “No, no. You have to be born from above. You have to be born from above by the
spirit; my Father’s spirit, who is the Maker of the world. He has to put that spirit into your spirit again
and make you alive again.”
And of course, this man whose name was Nicodemus could not believe it. He said, “Do you mean that can happen?”
And Jesus said, “Yes, it can.” And it actually can happen. What we have done is, we’ve made it so religious
that we think it’s a spooky thing, but actually you can start all over again. You can be changed inside and
there is only One who can do it. And that is the Maker who originally made you. Let’s talk a little further
about how you can actually experience that once and for all in your life. Let’s talk about that tomorrow.
Being a Slave to Circumstances -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Being a Slave to Circumstances
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? That’s the question that we’re discussing on this broadcast. And we have been
doing that for, I suppose about 190 broadcasts. And we’re trying to talk about it from a realistic viewpoint.
That is, from the basis of our own experiences, and on the basis of our own intellectual understanding of what
caused this earth to come into existence in the first place. And you who have followed the broadcasts through
from the beginning of the year, know that we concluded that the order and design in the universe indicated
that there must be an intelligent mind behind it.
And then, we followed through the kind of logic that guided Einstein when he said that his own religion
consisted of a great respect for the intelligent mind that was behind the universe and that produced all the
details of which we were just a little conscious. We concluded that there has to be a personable being behind
the universe in order to make us persons. Then, you remember, we studied history to see if there were any
indications that that person had communicated with us.
And of course we examined the ancient religions: Buddhism and Confucianism and Zoroastrianism and Hinduism and
the other religions that have claimed to tell us what the Maker of the world had in mind when He made us. And
we concluded they all suffered the same limitation. They had never been off the earth themselves, the great
leaders of these religions. They had never left the world and come back to tell us what was beyond the
furthest star. Indeed, only one had done that and that was the man that lived in the first century and is
known to us, of course, as Jesus of Nazareth.
We examined the documentary evidence and the manuscripts that are in the British Museum that lie behind the
history of his life and his death and his resurrection from the dead. And we concluded that it was the most
reliable history of that time that we possess. And that we would have to throw out Caesar, and Thucydides and
Lucretius and Plato and all the other ancient writers if we were going to throw out the history of his life
and his death and the most clearly established fact of ancient history: his resurrection from the dead.
And so we concluded that this man actually was the Son of the Maker of the world and what he said about the
meaning of life was the only authoritative opinion that really mattered. And we’ve been following through what
he has been explaining to us about our lives and you remember we’ve reached the point where we’ve found he has
explained to us that we have decided to depend, not on his Father who sent us here with a purpose in mind and
who has a special plan for each of our lives(and He has; He has an actual plan for your life) but we
determined not to depend on Him, but, in fact, to get what we wanted ourselves from, not Him, but from the
And so, we immediately experienced a great sense of insecurity when we separated ourselves from a kind of
inner dependence on Him. It’s very easy to experience that insecurity. You only have to look around yourself
and see the four billion of us that are thrashing around here trying to get our share of the food, shelter and
clothing in the world and it’s easy to realize that a person would feel insecure. And so, we have. And most of
us have spent our lives being driven by that insecurity.
That’s the reason why most of us go out to work in the morning. Not because we like work, not because we feel
it is the thing we were made to do — though a few of us do — but most of us go out to work because we need
the money. And we need the money to get the food to keep us alive so that we can keep our bodies warm with
nice clothing and then so we can have roofs over our head to keep the rain off us. And of course not only do
we find ourselves concerned with security, but we also realize that there are four billion people in the world
who think they’re just as unique as we know we are.
And yet, they have no time to notice us. So, we spend a lot of our time trying to establish our own
significance and our own self esteem and self worth in everybody else’s eyes. And so, whatever time we have
left over from trying to establish our financial and material security, we give to establishing our
significance in others’ eyes. So, we often don’t just buy a coat, but we buy a different kind of coat that
will really make us stand out in a crowd. We often don’t buy just a car, but we buy the best car we can
possibly afford so that other people will think we are really worth something.
And so, we find ourselves increasingly enslaved to meeting these needs of ours and increasingly enslaved to
just the world itself; to depending on things; to depending on people; to depending on happy circumstances to
make us happy until many of us have reached the point in our lives where it’s just all feeling very, very old.
Very old. And indeed, we’re feeling old. And we feel there’s something that is gone grey inside that used to
be full of green life and we wonder where it is.
And we at times think maybe we were different. Maybe, there was something we had to do here on earth that
nobody else could do but we’ve lost the ability to find anybody inside our heads or our hearts that knows
anything about that. We seem to have become just automatons. And we don’t know how to get life coming into us
again and we don’t really know how to find ourselves again. And that’s of course what this man, Jesus, said.
He said, “Look, you’ve died. You’ve died. You’re dead. Your spirit, the very essence of you, the thing that
makes you you has died.” And that’s your problem.
That’s the trouble. You appear to be alive because your physical body is alive and your mind works in some
fashion and your emotions and your will, but really the inside part of you, your spirit, has died. You,
yourself, are dead now and there’s no one who can make you alive here on earth. The only one who can make you
alive inside is the one who gave you that life in the first place, your Maker. And He is able to make you
alive again inside. You are able to be born all over again inside.
You’re able to come alive, that part of you that used to be, that part of you that Wordsworth talked about ï¿½
that you ï¿½came as a child trailing clouds of glory behind you.ï¿½ You came with some sense of the bright and
the clean; and some sense of what you should do here on earth. That part of you can come alive again. And it
doesn’t matter how old or how cynical or how skeptical you are. The Maker of the world is able to make you
And of course what we did, you remember a few days ago, was quote an old verse that was spoken about 2000
years ago, a few words that were spoken to a man called Ezekiel and you actually find it in the Bible. If you
have a Bible at home, you should maybe look it up. It’s Ezekiel, chapter 36 and verse 26. And it’s a statement
by the Maker of the universe to us. He says, “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within
you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
And many of us feel our hearts have become pretty hard and pretty stony. And this is a direct statement by the
Maker who made you that He is able to give you a new spirit. Now, if you say, “Ah, well, that might be — but
I’m not very religious.” Well, this isn’t religion we are talking about. It’s reality. This is what has
happened to you. You know it fine well. I know it fine well. And the Maker of the universe has said through
His Son — whom admittedly we have made into a kind of religious cult figure — He has said that He will do
this for you and He is able to do it.
And of course, we know He must be if He made us from the beginning out of nothing. And He is able to do it.
But the first step of course in your experiencing it, is to begin to believe that this man Jesus is His Son,
and that what He is explaining to us about our lives is true. And that’s the first step. And you could take
that today, just on the basis of the evidence. And if you want to find out more about Him, read that Bible.
Read Mark. It’s one of the books in the New Testament. Just read it and find out what this man said and the
kind of life He lived.
We Need to be Born Again -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
We Need to be Born Again
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? That’s the general title under which we’ve begun to discuss a great many topics
during this year on this broadcast at this time. And we’ve reached the point where we’re discussing
particularly the problem that many of us face in modern life, regarding the motives for which we do things and
the reasons behind our actions, and behind the jobs that we do, and the vacations that we have.
We’re beginning to realize that many of these activities are dictated, not by a real, free desire inside
ourselves, but by necessity; by outward compulsions and constraints that force these things upon us. For
instance, many of us are realizing that we don’t work because we like work, or because we like the work that
we do. Many of us get out to work each morning simply because we need the pay packet. And we’ve realized that
we need the pay packet because of course we need the food to keep us alive and we need the clothing to keep us
protected from the elements.
And then we’ve realized that many of us also work to pay the mortgage because we want a roof over our heads to
keep the rain off. And so, we realize that much of our day (because it’s usually about eight hours for each of
us every day, and about forty hours of the week) is spent trying to meet the needs for physical security in
regard to food and clothing and shelter that we have. And then we realize that many of the extras that we buy
are connected up with another need that we have — not this time for security, but for some sense of value.
We want to feel of some value to somebody. We want to feel that we matter to somebody, that somebody cares
whether we exist or not. And we’ve found so often that the only way to get that kind of care or that kind of
interest from other people is to be either useful to them in some way, or in some way outstanding, or
different, or better. And so, we have realized that often we buy the nice car or the nice house not so much
because we really think we should buy it, but because it’ll perhaps gain us some prestige, or some value, or
some sense of esteem so that we stand out a little from the crowd and at least are noticed by the rest of the
people in the world.
And so, we have discovered that many of us live our lives driven by these needs that we have; these needs for
security, and needs for significance or self esteem, and needs, actually, for happiness. Because often we find
we’re driven by a drive that makes us feel, “You should be happy. You should be happy so try to get happy
circumstances in the things that happen to you to make you happy.” And so we study how to have a nice vacation
that supposedly makes us happy or how to get exciting weekends that will make us happy.
But all the time we’re becoming driven people. And many of us have realized that we have become like little
puppets or marionettes that are pulled by strings that are in the hands of other people. We realize that we do
things to please our teachers, to please our professor, to please our parents, to please our boss, to please
our wife, to please our children, or to please our peers. And we’re always trying to please people, or we’re
afraid of displeasing people and we do things because of fear of our teachers, fear of our professors, fear of
our parents, fear of our wives, fear of our children, or fear of our peers.
And so, we find that we are driven men and women and do not actually act freely from inside. We remember
vaguely a time in our lives when we were children when we used to be actual people; when we had an attitude or
a spirit inside us that was free. We would think of ourselves as free spirits and individualists. And we had
little ideas of things that we would do in life or things that we would be. And many of us remember those
vaguely, those days. But it’s a bit like Wordsworth said in his poem, “Heaven lies about us in our infancy. At
length a man perceives it die away and fade into the light of common day.”
And most of us have come to the point in later years where we doubt if there’s anybody inside us at all. We
have become the result of our heredity plus our environment and there doesn’t seem much we can do about it.
And yet, this is utterly untrue and a travesty of what was meant to be because what we have been saying is
that a remarkable man came to the earth in the first century and He was different from all the other religious
He lived what He taught first of all, and then when they died like dogs and were buried like the rest of us,
He died, but He came back to life again and showed He had power over life and death and proved to us by the
ethical life that He lived and by His remarkable character and power over sickness and over powers of nature
that He was really the son of the Maker of our universe. And He explained to us that we had got to this point
where we felt we had died inside simply because we had started to live depending on the world of people and
things and circumstances instead of depending in our hearts on the one who made us and put us here: His
Father, the Maker of the universe.
And He said that’s why you’ve died inside. You’re actually dead inside. And that’s why you have so much
trouble finding yourself. Because there’s nothing inside that is real anymore. It’s all dead and what you are
is just a bundle of reflexes and reactions to people and circumstances and things. He also said that it was
possible to discover yourself all over again. And it was possible for His Father, the Maker of the universe,
to make you alive again inside — the bit of you that had died. He called it your spirit.
The very spirit of a person is the very essence of the person, the person themselves — before they
accumulated all these accretions of peer pressures and social needs; the person themselves inside, as they
were when they were first created. This man, Jesus, said you could be reborn again, could start all over
again. And that His Father, the Maker of the universe, was able actually to bring that about in your own life.
And He said the first thing that was needed was that you would actually believe what He was saying, and that
you would examine His life and examine His death and examine His power to come back from the dead and see that
He was really the son of the Maker of the universe.
And that’s what He said. It’s very important for you to come alive inside. It’s very important that you
believe that what I say is true; that it’s reality. And obviously, that’s the case. I mean, if this is going
to become true in your life or become real in you, then there’s no possibility of it unless you, yourself
believe it. Obviously, if you think this is just a lot of religious stuff you’ll just turn it off immediately
and nothing more will happen. The first step is to believe that these things are true. So I do ask you to
examine them and analyze them, and think about them.
And please don’t just in a blind kind of non-intellectual, obscurantist way lay the stuff aside as stupid.
Please do examine it and be intellectual about it. Don’t be a miserable fundamentalist in the sense that you
just believe what you believe and you won’t examine anything new at all. Be real about it and examine the
thing and see if it’s true and then believe it and begin to listen to Him. And of course, the first thing
you’ll hear Him saying is that the first step towards this is to stop depending on the world and to start
depending on your God.
That’s the first step towards the Maker of the universe beginning to make you come alive inside, so that you
can at last find out who you are and begin to live the magnificent, original, creative life that you were
intended to and that you once dreamed of.
Life Only Has Meaning in Christ -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Life Only Has Meaning in Christ
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? That’s the subject that we’re discussing each day on this program. I think this
is probably about the 193rd broadcast this year. I would like to thank those of you who listen so regularly. I
really appreciate, more than I could express on this broadcast, the letters that you write and most of all the
honesty and the integrity with which you communicate to me your own thoughts and your own feelings. I can’t
tell you how much it means to me. It is beyond words to express how satisfying it is to know that some of you
out there are thinking the same things as I am thinking and feeling the same things as a lot of us here in
I really don’t want to say more. I think those of you who write to me know the reality of the feeling that I’m
expressing at this moment. And I really don’t want to become maudlin or become emotional about it, but I thank
you with all my heart for reciprocating my own attempt to be honest and to be open. Thank you. It means very,
very much to me. And I feel very privileged to have you as a friend. Thank you very much. Thank you.
To those of you who heard that little bit, and wonder what I’m involved in, we’re trying to talk in a
semi-intelligent way, I hope, about the whole reason for our existence. That is, why are you here? Why am I
here? Why are you doing the things that you’re doing? If you’re sitting in a car at this moment, why do you
sit in a car, day after day? If you’re at home, why do you go home and eat supper? Why were you born? Why do
you work? We’re discussing that kind of thing– basic (what we call) cosmic questions that even our
educational system in the West admits it is not addressing any longer.
And of course, it admits that that is the reason why so many of us want to stop living, because we really
don’t understand the point of it any longer. We just don’t see why we’re here. And that’s what we’re trying to
discuss on this program, and trying to make it as much a two-way conversation as possible. And so I do
encourage you, if you’re listening and have thoughts about it to please write to me. And there’ll be an
address given at the end of the broadcast. And I do assure you that I will read the letters. And I will look
at them and think of them, and I will seriously respect your communications.
So that’s what we’re discussing. What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? And way at the beginning of
this year, we tried to establish some intellectual basis for our belief that there was an intelligent mind
behind the universe. On the basis of the order and design that we could perceive in ourselves, in the DNA
molecule, in the chart of the elements, in the way the seasons fall, we decided that there had to be an
intelligent mind that created this. It did not come about by time plus chance. If it came about by an
evolutionary process, then it was an evolutionary process that had a built-in plan or design.
It was not an evolutionary process that came out of time plus chance. It had to have a mind behind it. We
concluded this, because we have known ourselves what happens when a bomb explodes. A “big bang” does not
create order; it creates chaos. We have known also what happens when we try to run things by the roulette
wheel of chance. It normally doesn’t bring much order. It usually brings increasing entropy and dissolution
into the life. And so, we decided it has to be an intelligent mind. We thought also that it has to be a
personal mind, because we are persons.
And so, we took the position of theists, that is, people who believe that there is a Supreme Being behind the
universe, intelligent and personable, and able to understand us.(cid:9)Then we began to search the history books to
see if that Mind had revealed itself or communicated itself to us at any time during the history of the world.
We found all kinds of people like Buddha and the Hindu prophets; people like Confucius and Zoroaster, who
claimed to be able to tell us what the Being behind the universe thought of when He created us.
But we realized that all of them were like us. They were just human beings who died like us and never were
able to overcome death. They were in the same limited world as we were. We had no assurance that they had left
the world at any time, even as an astronaut; that they had left the world at any time, and gone beyond the
furthest physical star we can see, and had reached the place where the intelligent Mind behind the universe
dwells, and then had come back to tell us what He thought. We had no confidence of that at all.
Normally, we were able to dig up their bones, dig up their bodies and find them. Except for one man! He lived
in the first century of our era. And He died, but He came to life again, and seemed to be able to break
through death whenever he chose. And as we examined His life in the history books, we discovered, first of
all, that His historicity is more substantiated, better substantiated than that of Julius Caesar, than that of
Plato, than that of Lucretius, than that of any of the ancient characters that lived at that time.
And that is because we have remarkable documentary evidence. We have incredibly early manuscripts that
reinforce our belief that the history of this man’s life is among the most reliable history of mankind that we
possess. And of course, that was the man Jesus of Nazareth. And I ask you not to turn the broadcast off at
this moment, please! Examine the thing yourself. Think about it. Don’t be fundamentalist in your antagonism to
this name. Examine and see — did this Man really live? Was He a real person? Did He really say and do the
things that He did and said? And in the light of that, what do we conclude?
Well, we have concluded something, having examined the fact that He was able to overcome death and go through
death and come back whenever He chose. And in the light of the fact that He had power over disease and nature,
and that He lived the most ethical life that any man has ever lived, we concluded that He was speaking the
truth when He said that He was the Son of the Maker of the world, and that He existed with His Father before
the world was ever created.
And so we decided that the only one who could give us an authoritative answer to the question, “Why are we
alive?” was this man. And that is why we began to listen to His explanation.(cid:9)And as we listened to Him, of
course, He pointed out that most of us were living utterly dependent on the world of things and people and
circumstances, for our security, our sense of self-esteem, our significance, and our happiness — instead of
living depending on the one who stood behind the world, that is, His Father. And He pointed out that it was
foolish. Not only foolish, but it was wrong.
And it was disrespect for that Maker to depend on the sky that He had made rather than on Him Himself; to
depend on the people that He had made for our sense of self-esteem, rather than His opinion of us. To depend
on the money that He had made rather than to depend on Him for our security. It was just wrong. It was stupid.
It was unintelligent. But most of all, it was an absolute declaration to Him that we did not want to depend on
And because of that, Jesus explained to us, we had become twisted, perverted personalities, because we’ve
become utterly dependent on things and people and circumstances, so that we had actually lost a sense of who
we were ourselves. We’ve lost a sense of our own identity. And many of us admit that we have done that. We
look inside and we can hardly find out who we are.
We’ve become such men pleasers. We’ve become such little puppets that do what the boss says or do what our
teacher says, or what somebody else says, that we cannot find out who we are ourselves. And so we determined
that part of our problem today is that we cannot find any “me” inside! And we don’t quite know how to discover
that “me”, how to see it come alive again. That’s what we’d like to discuss a little further tomorrow.
Repentance and New Birth -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Repentance and New Birth
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? That’s the question we’re discussing on this broadcast. And this is about the
194th time we’ve talked about it. And you may remember, those of you who’ve been following it through the days
Monday to Friday, know that we’ve reached the point in our discussion where we’re examining the explanation of
the meaning of life that has been given by that remarkable human being that lived in the first century of our
era. The man has shown himself to be different from every other human being, because he was able to overcome
death, and come through the experience of death as often as he chose. And that is the man known as Jesus of
And He has explained to us that the problem with our lives is that we’re not living it in dependence upon the
One who produced the world. In other words, it is obvious to all of us that there had to be some intelligent
mind that produced a world that has as much order and design as ours has. One has only to look at the chaos
that follows drops in the stock market to see that it is usually us human beings that create the chaos in the
world. The world itself has great order in it. The seasons provide a framework of order for us and for the
farmers to operate.
The rising and setting of the sun provides some of the only stability that many of us have to our day. The
world itself has design and order everywhere. The Maker of that universe has to be an intelligent Being, who
is at least as personable as ourselves.(cid:9)And this man Jesus explained that the Maker of the universe created us
and created the world so that we would get to know Him. That was why we were created; so that we’d get to know
Him, become His friends, and begin to actually love Him. Because He actually loves us. And that’s why He made
you — because He treasures your friendship.
You are invaluable to Him. If you don’t begin to get to know Him, there’ll be something that He will miss
forever, and there’ll be something of course, that you will miss forever. But Jesus explained that the reason
for our creation, therefore, was to become His friends. And we would become that through simply dealing with
Him as He is, treating Him for real; respecting Him, taking the appropriate attitude that we would take to the
One who had made us.
But, instead of doing that, we have determined that we will try to get from the world of people the sense of
self-esteem and worth that you really get when you begin to believe seriously that there is a Creator who has
made you, and has counted the hairs of your head, and wants you as His friend, as His son or as His daughter.
There is no sense of self-esteem or self-worth that will even compete with that!
And instead of beginning to live like that in regard to the Maker of the world, we have, of course, tried to
substitute the good opinions of our boss, the approval of our teachers, the praise of our friends, the respect
of our peers, the acknowledgment of our parents. And because we have done that, we have become little puppets
that will do anything to please them, or to get their praise, or to get their approval. And as we have done
that, we have turned more and more into little robots, or little performing monkeys or marionettes.
It’s the same, this man Jesus explained, with our desire for security. All of us have a great desire for
security. And you know that we don’t just want old, boring security. We want happiness as well. And so we want
security and stability from having the right food, and the right shelter and the right clothing. But we also
want excitement in our lives. And so we try to get “both-and”. And the only way we can do it is to become
almost slaves to the company. “Our souls have been sold to the company store”, as the song said.
And we will do anything to hold onto our jobs. And if we lose our jobs, our heart sinks, and our whole
security goes through the floor. If we find that our investments have turned sour, our sense of security
absolutely departs from us. And we become slaves to the companies, or to the jobs, or to the money, or to the
bank accounts that provide us with the food, and the shelter and clothing that gives us the sense of security.
And Jesus said that that results in us becoming a little robot, a little R2D2. And you know yourself that
often your life has become just a rat race, just a treadmill.
You blast into the office every day, not because you love to be in the office, but because you need the old
shekels. And you need the dollars or the pounds, in order to give you a sense of security so that you can
sleep at night. And so you find yourself often on a treadmill — not a treadmill that gives you much happiness
— just a treadmill that seems to keep away the fear of the wolf from the door. And so you become a little
pre-programmed robot, that does what it has to do, and has very little freedom in its life.
And there come times when you say, “Yes, yes, that’s right! I do feel that! I feel so old at times. I feel as
if I’m worn out, just doing what everybody wants! Doing what the boss wants me to do, doing what my wife wants
me to do, doing what my parents want me to do. Yes, I do feel that! I DO feel that often the bank runs me. The
bank OWNS me, body and soul. Often I feel I’ll do anything for more nuts, like a little monkey. But I don’t
know what to do about it.”
“I’ve looked inside to see if there was any of that fresh, young mind that I used to be years ago. But it’s as
if I’ve disappeared. It’s as if when I knock on the door of my heart, I find nobody in. I can’t find myself
the way I used to.”
And this man Jesus said, “Of course you can’t. That’s because you’re dead.” And we hate that thought! But He
said, “Yes, even though you’re alive, you’re dead inside. You’ve died inside. Your spirit is dead.” Your
spirit, you know, is the essence of you. The spirit of Churchill was the essence of the man. Your spirit is
the essence of you, the very essence of you: you yourself. Apart from your heredity, apart from your
environment, there’s a you. There is, believe it or not! Your soul, your mind and emotions are often formed by
your heredity and influenced by your environment. So is your body. But there’s a part of you that isn’t.
There’s a part of you that actually is eternal, and that’s the part of you that is you. That’s the “you”
inside.(cid:9)And you can’t find that you because it’s died. Why has it died? It’s died because instead of looking
to the Maker of the universe for the things that you need and for the happiness that you need, you’ve looked
to everything else, so that you’ve ceased to operate. You’ve actually ceased to exercise yourself. You have.
You’ve ceased to exercise yourself.
And that spirit, you yourself, is dead inside. And of course, Jesus explained once to a Jewish scholar in the
first century, He explained, “Actually you have to be born all over again. You have to be recreated inside.”
And the scholar said, “How can I do that? Can I enter again into my mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus said,
“No, no. You’re born from above.” And this man was Nicodemus. If you ever have a Bible near you, you should
look it up in the New Testament. It’s in a book called “John”, the Gospel of John, and it’s chapter three.
And this man Nicodemus said, “How? How can that be?” And Jesus said, “The first step is, believe me. Believe
what I’m saying to you.” And that actually is the first step. You know, if you’re in that position and you
can’t find yourself anymore and you don’t know how to bring yourself alive, believe that: that the only One
who can bring you alive is the One who made you alive in the first place.
There is a God. There is a Maker or a Creator. There is. And He actually knows you. And He actually loves you,
believe it or not. He loves you. He thinks the world of you. He thinks something of you, far more than
anybody else does. And He is able to make you alive inside again, if you believe this, if you believe it. And
then Jesus said there’s one other thing you have to do, if you’re going to come alive inside. And I’d like to
share that tomorrow. Let’s talk a little more about it tomorrow.
We Need to be Changed Within -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
We Need to be Changed Within
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? That’s the question that we’re discussing on this program each day. And we’ve
reached the point in our conversation where we have determined that the One who is able to give us the best
explanation of the meaning of life has to be someone who has been off this world. That is, has been off it and
has been far enough off it to get beyond the furthest planet that we are able to perceive with our radio
telescopes and has gone beyond the end of infinity, and has got to the point where He is able to communicate
with the Creator, or the Maker, or the Supreme Being that produced the world and produced you and me.
And we have concluded, of course, that there’s only one candidate for that, and that is the incredible human
being that lived in the first century of our era, and showed that He was able to break through death and come
back through the barrier whenever He chose. That is that Person that we all look to as an example of an
ethical life, the man Jesus of Nazareth. And we’ve been listening or studying His explanation of the meaning
of life. And you remember how we’ve shared that our present situation or our present condition is one that He
gives a very reasonable explanation of.
Our present condition of course, is your own condition. It’s your own state at this time. And you’re probably
the same as the rest of us. You depend utterly for your sense of security in this world on what you can get of
the food, and the shelter and the clothing in the world for yourself by your own efforts. That’s why most of
us try to get a good education, so that we can get a good job, so that we can get the money that will provide
us with the food we need to keep alive, and the clothing that we need to keep us warm, and the shelter of a
home or an apartment that we need to keep the rain off our heads.
And we depend usually for that security that we have, that physical security; we depend on the money that we
earn at our jobs. Or, if we’re children, we depend on our parents. If we’re employees, we eventually come to
depend on the company and usually on the boss, or on the person that we have to please to keep our jobs. And
so, most of us have found that our lives end up being very dependent on the people that we ourselves depend on
to get the money we need to establish our physical and material security. The result, of course, is that most
of us have become little robots.
We will do anything to please the people that give us the money. We like to say, “No! No, we’re not!” We’re
very proud, actually. We’re very independent people. But deep down, when the stock market totters, we see
where our security lies. And if the job is about to be lost, it’s amazing how our great convictions tumble so
fast and all our personal dignity is willing to be bartered for, well, I suppose that old “mess of potage”.
Because we say, “Well, without the mess of potage I won’t be here to barter at all, so what does it matter?”
And so often, we’re utterly dependent for our security, on the people that give us the money and so we will do
anything to satisfy and please them. So most of us are the same in regard to another great need we have. And
that is the need for some kind of self-esteem. Most of us feel we’re unique. We don’t know why we feel we’re
unique but we do feel unique, and yet nobody else notices it. And so, we try to establish our uniqueness in
all kinds of other eyes. We try to do it in our wife’s eyes by being a good provider, in our children’s eyes
by being an outstanding father and by seeming to be the source of all wisdom and knowledge.
And we try to be it in our peers’ eyes by achieving something that they will admire, or that they will look up
to. And so most of us have come to the point where we’ll do anything to get attention. We’ll do anything to
please. We’ll do anything to get somebody to think we’re worth something. If we’re standing often in a bar or
in a restaurant, we’ll somehow find a way to turn the conversation round to something that we’re quite
brilliant at, so that we’ll be able to receive a few compliments.
And most of us feel the superficiality of our lives, and the bluffness of our lives. And sometimes we go home
at night and almost can’t stand the look of ourselves. We’ve become such little performing monkeys. In fact,
we feel, “Is there any me there?” We seem to be just a shell. There’s hardly anything inside. And sometimes we
determine, “We must stop this! We must stop depending on people just because they give us money. We must stop
depending on the company just because it provides the security we need. We must stop depending on the bank
account or getting worried every time it goes down. We must stop trying to please people just to get
satisfaction. We must be ourselves.”
And often, we say, “I’m going to be myself tomorrow.” And then we find that there’s no self any longer in
there. There’s a selfishness, but there’s no me. It seems as if I’ve lost the sense of who I used to be.(cid:9)And
that’s what Jesus said would happen to us. That’s why I say He speaks to our condition. He speaks exactly to
the problem we have. He said, “No wonder – you’ve tried to depend on everybody but the only One who’s
interested in you being yourself.” None of the rest are interested in you being yourself. They’re all
interested in you doing what they want you to do.
There’s only One who really cares about you in a deep way, and who really wants you to be yourself. That’s the
One who made you. That’s why He made you different from everybody else. And that’s why He has a vested
interest in your staying different from everybody else. So He’s the only one who’s really interested in your
really being yourself. And He’s the only one that can do anything about the fact that you’re now dead, because
that’s what you are. You’ve died inside, and you’ve become a shell of what you were meant to be. You’ve become
You’ve become conformed to the image of the rest of the world. And the only way to come alive again inside is
to ask Him to make you alive inside. That is, to recreate you as He originally made you; to enable you, kind
of, as it were, to be “born again.” And of course, what we’ve said is, Jesus was once explaining this to a
Jewish scholar in the first century, and the Jewish scholar said, “What? Do you mean I have to enter into my
mother’s womb and be born over again?” And Jesus said, “No, no! You can’t do that!”
But He said it and you might want to look it up sometime. It’s in the Bible, in the New Testament. And it’s in
a book called the Gospel of John, and it’s chapter three. And He said to him, “No, no you can’t do that! You
have to be born from above. It has to be an invisible thing that the Maker of the universe does in you.” And
of course, He can do all kinds of invisible things. There’s nothing to do with visibility to determine that a
thing is real. Many things are real that are invisible. Love is real and is invisible. The wind is real and
you can only see the effects of it on trees or on things that it blows around.
So He is invisible, but He is able to do an invisible thing inside you. He is able to make you alive inside.
He is able to make your spirit come alive. Your spirit is the real you. It’s you as you really are. And He’s
able to make you alive inside if you will first of all, believe that what Jesus explains to us about it is
true. And that’s the first thing He said. He said to this guy, Nicodemus, “Look, you first have to believe
that this is the situation.” And of course, you agree. It’s not hard to believe it when we follow through with
how we’ve come to this point, where we’ve become hollow men or empty shells or robots. That’s the first step.
Then Jesus said that the second thing is you have to change your whole way of living. Your whole mind has to
be changed. You have to change your mind about whose opinion really matters. Is it your boss’s, or is it the
One who made you? Is it your parents’, or is it the One who made you? Is it somebody who will die maybe before
you do, or is it the One who will be alive until the end of time? You have to change your mind about whose
opinion really counts. You have to change your mind about who you depend on for security.
Is it your boss, or is it the Man who made your boss? Is it your company, or the One who made your company?
Jesus said, first of all you have to change your mind. That’s what the Greek word mean: “metanoia”. It’s
“meta”…turn and “noia”… is mind. It’s “change your mind”. So, you have to believe what He said, and then
you have to change your mind, and change the way you’re living. Let’s talk a little more about that tomorrow,
to see if we can help each other to understand it and perhaps to begin to change our minds. Let’s talk about
Have You Ever Repented? -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Have You Ever Repented?
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? That’s the general topic under which we’re discussing particularly the problem
that many of us face today. And that is the problem of not being able to find ourselves. I don’t know if you
have felt that yourself, but I think many of us have become robots today. We read “1984”. We’re glad that it’s
passed, but we have a sneaking suspicion that it really did come true. Because many of us seem to have become
robots that do what the invisible authorities want us to do, without even knowing it.
And we suspect that we have become the victims of “double-think”. We think we’re really doing what we want to
do, but actually we’re just doing what our bosses want us to do, or what our parents want us to do, or what
our friends want us to do, or what our children want us to do.(cid:9)And of course, we have been explaining that as
being the basis of much of our life from day to day. We like to think that we’re our own people. We like to
think that we’re individualists. We like to think we’re independent. We like to feel we’re really doing what
our free will wants us to do.
But often we know fine well that we go to work every day because we need the money. Not because we want to,
but because we need the money. And indeed, that’s the reason why many of us put up with the colleagues we
have. We put up with them because we need the job and we need the work. And we smile at the boss, not because
we like him or because we approve of him, but because that will keep us our job and that will enable the money
to keep rolling in. And that will enable us to buy food and clothes and to stay alive. And of course, we
justify it on the basis of our need for security, but the fact remains that we are not ourselves.
We are, in fact, what somebody else wants us to be.(cid:9)And many of us say, of course, “Well, that’s what life is,
you know. That’s what it is. It’s pleasing whoever needs to be pleased so that you stay alive. Go along to get
along. That’s what it’s all about.” And yet, deep down inside, we wonder if it could be better than that. And
we often look back with nostalgia to the days when we were five or six or seven or eight years old, and we had
a freshness about us, and we had a little sense that we could do something in life.
And long ago that has faded away and been lost in the treadmill of compulsions that we experience from our
jobs, our bosses, our companies, even the very circumstances around us. Because many of us feel, “Well, if I
could only have a little happiness. That’s what I need — just a little happiness.” So, we try to make happy
things happen to us. And we find again that we become the victim or plaything of those circumstances. We
discover that if it’s a bright sunny day, we’re full of smiles. If it’s a bad, old, dark, rainy, gloomy,
drizzly day, we’re full of sadness and depression. If the stock market is up, we’re just elated. If the stock
market is down, we’re depressed, and sad, and anxious.
And so we discover again that even there, in relationship to circumstances, we aren’t our own people. We have
become the plaything of the circumstances that occur in our lives. And we wonder at times, “Is there any
possibility of ever finding ourselves again? Ever the possibility of finding anything real inside?” And at
times we determine, “We will! We will! I will be myself! I will be myself! I will say what I think, whatever
effect it has on my future, or whatever effect it has on my prospects. I will say and do what I think.”
But, of course, as the years go by, we find it more and more difficult to discover what we do think, or to
find out if there’s anybody there to think anything. And we eventually realize that no, there isn’t. And the
reason why we keep on on the old treadmill is, we don’t really think there’s anything inside, anyway.(cid:9)And
that’s what this man Jesus of Nazareth said. He said, “You’re dead. You’re dead! Even though you look alive,
you’re actually dead. You’ve died long ago. The you that is real has died years ago. And you’re no longer
And that’s why you feel such emptiness inside. That’s why you feel you don’t know yourself or you can’t find
yourself. There’s something you can’t get a grip on. You can’t find any longer the freshness that used to be
there; it’s because you’ve died. He said, you have an “outside”, a body. Inside that you have a soul: mind,
emotions and will. And those are both programmed, to a certain extent, by heredity and environment. You get
the body that is more or less like your dad’s or your mum’s.
You have a mind and emotions that are more or less like theirs. Even your will is often like theirs, but deep
down inside there’s a spirit and that’s the real “you”. That’s the “you” that’s eternal. That’s the “you” that
is essentially you — different from everybody else. It’s the spirit of Churchill that made Churchill
Churchill. It’s the spirit of you that makes you “you”. That’s what has died. And of course, He then explained
that there’s only One that can make that alive. You can’t make it alive yourself. It’s died and it’s beyond
recall. But he said His Father, the Maker of the universe, is really the only One that is finally interested
in you being you. He is, you know.
All the rest of us tend to want to use you, or make you what we want you to be. We want to make you in our
image. But He is the only One, actually, that made you in His image. And His image is that of a self-existent,
free-willed agent. And He made you to be that. And He alone is able to make you all over again. And that’s
what His Son Jesus said. His Father is able to make you all over again inside. He’s able to bring alive inside
you that fine, delicate spirit that used to be you. He is able to do it, because He made it in the first
But Jesus said, the only way that that that will happen is, first of all, if you believe that this is the
situation. And that’s the first thing you have to do. If you say to me, “Well, yes, I agree with that. I
believe that that is the explanation of why I am as I am.” Then the first step is, believe what this man Jesus
said was the situation.(cid:9)Start believing it. I mean, don’t believe it because I say it. Go back to that old
book. Stop being put off by the fact that it’s called the Bible.
“Ta Biblia” is the Greek word — it means “the books”. That’s all it is. Don’t think of it as something that
your grandmother read, or something that somebody else hands the Queen when she is given the crown. Realize
that it’s history. It’s “the books”. It’s “the books” that tell about this man. First of all, believe what is
in those books. First of all, believe it. Examine it intellectually! Don’t just believe it because I said it.
Examine it intellectually. Get a book like F. F. Bruce’s “Are the New Testament Documents Reliable?” or the
little one that I’ve written, “Is the Bible History or Myth?”. And read it and think through it.
And then come on the basis of the intellectual evidence to the point where you believe it. But, first of all,
you have to start believing something. That’s the beginning of finding yourself again. Start believing
something! Establish a philosophy of life that is based on the reality that this man who is the Son of the
Maker of the universe explained to us. First believe.
The second step is … change your mind. That’s what the Greek word “metanoia” means. That’s what this man
Jesus said you needed to do. “Metanoia” – meta — turn; noia — your mind. Change your mind.
Change your whole mind about the way you’re living your life. Change your mind about depending on people for
your security, about depending on people for your good opinion of yourself, or your self-esteem, about
depending on circumstances for your happiness, and see that the only One who can really affect your security
or your happiness, or your self-esteem, is the One who made all these things.(cid:9)Stop depending on secondary
causes. Stop depending on the people that He has made for their opinion. That doesn’t matter. They’ll die
probably before you will.
His opinion is what counts. Change your mind about that. And metanoia means, of course, not only “change your
mind”, but change the way you’re living. Stop depending on the world of people and circumstances, and things,
for your security, your significance and your happiness. And start depending on the Maker of the universe,
which is very reasonable, isn’t it? Because He’s the only One who can possibly hold this sphere in space and
roll it through space at hundreds of miles an hour without any visible means of support. Finally, we’re
dependent on Him anyway.
So what Jesus says is, “Face reality. Believe it, and start living in accordance with it. And then the Maker
of the universe will begin to bring you alive again inside.” Let’s talk some more about this tomorrow.
We’re Slaves to Others Opinions -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
We’re Slaves to Others’ Opinions
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? That’s the general topic we’ve been discussing on this broadcast now for about I
think is the one hundred and ninety seventh broadcast. And we’ve come to the point where, having examined the
reasons for believing that there is an intelligent Being behind the origin of the universe, we’ve reached the
point where we have decided that the One who knows best what that intelligent Being had in mind for our lives
and for the meaning of our lives is not Buddha, not Zoroaster, not Confucius – all of whom were ordinary human
beings and died like the rest of us and were buried and never seen again; but it’s the remarkable man called
Jesus of Nazareth, who lived in the first century of our era.
And we have examined his life and the historicity of His life, and His claims to be the Son of the Maker of
the universe. And we’ve concluded, on an intellectual basis, that He is in fact that. And that the best one
therefore to tell us what the meaning of life is, is this man. And we’ve started to examine now His
explanation of the meaning of our lives. And in that connection we’ve been dealing with a kind of problem that
most of us meet eventually as the years pass by. You may have remembered reference to it yourself by grownups
when you were young at school.
And they would say, “Of course, oh well, it’s all right for you now — you’re young and you have all your life
ahead of you and you’re full of ideals and full of plans. But when you get to my age you’ll find that life is
not what you thought it was going to be.” And if you are like me, I rebelled against that whole attitude. I
thought, oh it’s old, it’s sick, it’s boring, it’s depressing. It’s just everything that’s unexciting and
unadventurous. And yet, isn’t it true that many of us, as the years have passed, have reached the same point
of oldness and grayness about our own lives.
And if you press me and say, “Well, yes, that’s right, we have and I suppose we’re saying the same thing to
young people now. We’re saying, oh yes, it’s all right for you; you’re young and full of ideals but wait until
you find out what life’s about in the big wide world. Then you’ll change your tune.” And the reason many of us
say it is because we have found life rather a disappointment. We’ve discovered that it is not a bowl of
cherries. It is not a wonderful oyster in which we find our pearls.
But we have found that it is rather boring. It is rather like a rat race. We find ourselves getting up in the
morning, not because we’re filled with life and enthusiasm but simply because we have to get to work by nine
o’clock or nine-thirty or eight o’clock or seven-thirty in order to avoid losing our jobs. And we need our
jobs, because we need money to get the food that we require to keep us alive, and to buy clothes and even to
buy a few little things that might give us a little happiness in this short life.
And we find also that when we get to work we discover that it isn’t a wonderful place where we can express all
our magnificent abilities, but it’s rather a dog-eat-dog kind of world, where people vie with each other for
the approval of the one significant other in the company or in the shop or in the factory. And really we don’t
have too much freedom there. We find that we all kind of have a pecking order. You know, you peck me and I
peck somebody else and somebody else pecks somebody else. And really it’s all rather robotic and stereotyped
We find we’re bent on trying to keep each other’s good opinion. Even our conversations at lunchtime are rather
boring because they follow the same trend. We make the same jokes, we use the same comments as our parents
did. And we’re bent on trying to get the same little bit of approval from each other, so that often we go home
after a conversation with even our best friend and we wonder why? Why? Why do I say these things that drain or
squeeze little compliments out of my friend, to me? Why do I always talk about stamp collecting or skiing down
the Swiss mountains just because I’m good at stamp collecting or skiing down the Swiss mountains?
And I know they’ll make me some compliments. Why do I love to get into a little confidential huddle with them
and talk about the other person, so that the two of us have something special between us? Why do I do that?
Why am I so anxious to get a good opinion from anybody just so that I will feel better and feel worth more and
feel some self esteem? What we’ve been seeing is that many of us are caught in this old, grey attitude to life
where we seem not to have any spontaneity left inside us. We have become rather preprogrammed puppets or
marionettes or R2D2’s — you know, robots, like the guy in Star Wars – that just do what they’re supposed to
“Hollow men”, T.S. Elliot called us. And in old “1984” — old Orwell, you know described us: we would be men
and women who responded as we had been programmed to respond to external stimuli, much as Pavlov’s dogs and
really we couldn’t do anything of our own free will any longer. And I’m afraid many of us find that out, don’t
we? And so we give that discouraging information to young people. “Oh, it’s not like you thought it was going
What we have been saying is of course, it can be. It can be what you thought it was going to be. But you’re
dead right if you say in response, “Oh no, not with me as I am. I’ve tried. I’ve tried to find some
spontaneity in myself. I’ve tried to look down and see what I used to be when I was young but I can’t find it.
In fact I can hardly find myself. It’s as if there’s nobody there anymore. I’m just a bundle of planned
preprogrammed responses. And I can’t find myself anymore. I can’t find out who I am. If you ask me now what I
would really like to do, you know what you’d like to be. “Oh, I’d like to be an engine driver” or whatever.
If I was asked that question I don’t know what I would like to be. I can’t even dream of what I am or who I am
or what I like to do. It’s so long since I tried to do what I think I should do that I’ve almost forgotten
what I wanted to do. I can hardly find myself any longer. And that’s what this man Jesus said. He said, if you
keep on going the way you’re going, believing that there’s no Creator, there’s no Maker in the universe —
then you’re bound to depend on your job, and your money, and your boss for security. And you’re bound to end
up becoming a slave to him in a nice way.
And it’s the same with your own self-esteem and self-worth. If you don’t believe there’s a Maker, then you’re
just one of four billion of us and you’re going to try to get approval from everybody you can. And you’re just
going to become enslaved to what people think of you. You’re going to be afraid of their disapproval and
anxious for their approval. And you will do that so much that you will lose the sense of who you are. In fact,
you’ll go dead inside. Your spirit will die. Your spirit is the very essence of you. You as you really are.
And Jesus said you’re going to die inside.
And yet He held out hope. He said that there is only One who can ever make you alive and that is my Father,
the Maker of the universe. He originally made you different from everybody else — that’s why you think that
you’re unique, because you are unique. But none of the rest of us will recognize it. But your Maker is
interested in your uniqueness and He’s interested in bringing it to life again. He is able to make your spirit
alive inside. He’s able to get you to be kind of born all over again, and start all over again.
And of course, He explained to us how to experience that. And He said the first step is to believe that what I
am explaining to you is true. And the second step is to change your mind about the way you’re living. In other
words, stop living depending on everybody else for your security, and your significance and your happiness —
and start depending on the Maker of the universe, who alone can guarantee those things. So, really, the first
step is to believe this and the second step is to begin to act in accordance with that belief. Let’s talk a
little more about what that means tomorrow.
The Need for Direction in our Lives -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
The Need for Direction in our Lives
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? Under that general topic, we’ve come to the point in our conversation where we’re
discussing the whole question of how to find yourself. And I remember someone, who was teaching on the same
grammar school staff as me years ago, saying about a younger member of staff, “Well, he just hasn’t found
himself yet. He needs to find himself.” And that’s the question that we’re talking about. How do you find
yourself? What I believe that older person meant was that this young man had not discovered his own
In other words, he was like so many of us. He was encouraged by getting a star in Junior Infants school for
reading. To read well — but not only to read well but to please the teacher of Junior Infants. Similarly,
when he got onto the football team and his father praised him, and took him out for a treat, he not only
realized that getting onto the football team was a good thing, but also pleasing his father was a good thing.
And then, of course, he went to school and perhaps eventually to university or to technical school.
And there he found that it was a very good thing to receive the approval of your peers, the other people in
your class. And if you did some clever things or told funny jokes or could hold your mouth up in a special
way, or were very good at simultaneous equations or at Latin or at Greek — then you might gain their
approval. Or perhaps you were just very good at gambling or very good at smoking and you’d gain their approval
that way but somehow many of us gradually got the idea that it was good to get the approval of as many people
And in our desire to receive the praise and approval of other people, we gradually developed into a strange
conglomeration of the things that other people wanted us to be. We didn’t develop into what we were made to be
necessarily, or what we even wanted to be. We became a chameleon that often changed its color to suit its
environment. And many of us turned into robots, trying to be what everybody else wanted us to be, so that we
would have some sense of self-esteem and self-worth. Which was, admittedly, utterly dependent on them because
if they withdrew their approval, suddenly we’d have no self-esteem or self-worth.
And so, we eventually found ourselves in the position where we had lost ourselves. That is, we had lost the
sense of who we were. We had lost any consciousness of what we really were ourselves, or what we wanted to be
or what we thought. We had become so much what everybody else wanted us to be or what they thought. And I
think that’s what people mean when they say that, “Oh, he just has to find himself.” The tragedy is that today
few people ever say that. We have all lost ourselves, but often to such an extent that we don’t think that
there’s any way of finding ourselves.
We have become such little robots and such little preprogrammed monkeys. We doubt if there’s any way to find
ourselves. And you probably feel some of that, however individualistic you are. You probably have some sense
that you’re not what you really are. You’re not being what you really are. You’re often being what your boss
wants you to be, what your secretary wants you to be, what your mum wants you to be, what your brothers want
you to be, what your friends want you to be. But, so often, you’ve lost the sense of what you are or who you
are. And you hardly know how to find yourself again.
That’s the subject that we’re discussing in these present weeks, and, of course, the only answer that has any
reasoning or intelligence to it is the answer that is given by that remarkable man, Jesus of Nazareth. You
remember how we examined His life and established that He had to be the Son of the Maker of the universe,
because of his power over death and his remarkable ethical behavior and his power over sickness and disease.
And because the words on His lips did not sound like those of a madman or a lunatic when He said that He was
the son of the Maker of the universe. And we’ve concluded that He is that, in fact.
And He gives the explanation that the reason we lose ourselves is because we die inside as we begin to try to
please everybody from the Junior Infants teacher up to the coach of the football team. We die inside. We don’t
live the way we were meant to live from the inside out. That is, from what we really believe we should do. But
we live according to everybody else’s idea of what we should do. And so, we actually die inside. There’s part
of us that dies.
He explained, “You know you have a body that has five senses by which you relate to the outside world of
people and circumstances and things. Inside that you have a soul, or a psychological nature or personality —
made up of mind, emotions and will — by which you relate to yourself. It’s the self-conscious part of you.
But inside that again, you have a spirit and that’s the real you. That’s you as you really are. And that’s the
bit that goes dead as the years pass. And you keep on pleasing everybody else and not doing what that part
really directs you to do.
And He explained that that part is the part that connects up with His Father, the Maker of the universe. And
the Maker of the universe has put you in the world to do something that only you can do. And the only way He
can let you know that is by Him having a real relationship with you. The tragedy is that you’ve died inside
and there’s no you any longer to have a relationship with. And so it’s impossible for Him to share with you
what He has put you here to do. And that’s why we’re so lost and why we have such trouble finding ourselves.
And of course, Jesus explained that the only way to find yourself is if the Maker of the universe is able to
do another creation inside you. That is, if He is able to do, as we say in the computer world, a data
retrieval exercise; if He is able to retrieve the data that has been lost once the disc crashed; if He is able
to retrieve what you used to be and recreate it. And it’s incredible the way we’re able to do that even on a
one hundred and thirty megabyte hard disc. We’re able to recreate and retrieve, by a great deal of care and
trouble, data that is sometimes lost, when our file allocation table is destroyed or when something happens
mechanically to the disc.
And the amazing thing that Jesus said is that the Maker of the universe is able to do that with you. He’s able
to put you together again inside the way you used to be. He’s able to bring you together again and recreate
your personality so that you begin to have an “I” again that can relate to Him and can begin to share from Him
what you were meant to do and to be. And if you say, well how, how, how? This way: Jesus said, first of all
you have to believe what He has said. Believe that Good News. Believe the Good News that you can find yourself
again, that you can come alive again inside. That you can begin to be a person again, inside. Believe that
That’s the first thing. And by all means you know, read His life, read it in that old book, the Bible. Read
it in John — the gospel of John for instance. Or in Mark. Read what He says and believe what He says. And
believe that what He says is true. That’s the first step. The second step is: change your mind. He uses a
Greek word “metanoia” which means change your mind. Change your mind about the way you’re living. Stop
depending on everybody else for their opinion. Stop trying to establish your self-worth in everybody’s else’s
eyes. After all, it won’t last beyond when they die. Start trying to please your Maker. Start living to please
Start trying to gain His approval. Why? Because He has a vested interest in you being who you are. He will not
make a monkey out of you. He will not make a puppet of you. The whole reason He gave us free will was to
preserve us as He made us to be in His image. And He Himself is a self-existent and a self-willing individual
and He wants to preserve you as He made you. So, begin to start trying to please Him, and not pleasing
everybody else. Begin to live your life to please Him.
And then, He will start working inside in your spirit, and you’ll gradually commence to sense that there is a
“you” inside that has come alive. And that there are new directions coming from deeper than you can even
understand. And you’re starting to receive some kind of signals from outer space. But really, signals from the
Maker of the world. And then, you begin life — really.
Recreated by God -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Recreated by God
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? That is, why are we here? Why are you here? Why has existence taken place? Why
was the earth brought into being? Or was it brought into being? That’s the question, or the topic, that we’re
discussing this year on this program. And we’ve probably reached about the 199th broadcast in that discussion
today. And we’re zeroing in now on the problem that many of us experience in our grown up lives; the problem
of discovering our selves again. That is, finding out who we originally were.
So many of us have become just shadows of what we used to be. We were born into the world as little
spontaneous, fresh individuals who had ideas of their own. And who found some excitement in the world. After
twenty, thirty, forty, fifty years or more, we turn into grey ghosts of what we used to be, who are more like
robots — that live to please everybody else or to get what we need from the world so that we can die a decent
death. And when we try to find out who we originally were or what we were meant to do, we are unable to do it.
And we have, of course, been following through the explanation of why that is so that is given by the
remarkable man Jesus who lived in the first century.(cid:9)And we believe that He is the Son of the Maker of the
universe. And He explained that if we insisted on believing that there was no God and there was no Maker of
the universe, then life would become a tale told by an idiot to us. It would make no sense. And so, we would
look around and decide that we had to therefore, ensure our own food supply as best we could and our own
clothing supply so that at least we could stay alive to think about it a little longer.
And in doing that, we would become utterly dependent on the companies that we work for or the banks or the
money or the job or the people that we had to please. He said also that we would feel very lost and
insignificant in the midst of four billion people because we were really made to be loved and to be recognized
by the Maker of the universe. That’s why He made us. He made us so that He could love us. He really is our
Father. And He really actually loves you. But when you don’t believe in Him, and you don’t recognize that He’s
there, then you end up with a great sense of emptiness, because there is no one that loves you like He does.
And so you try to fill that emptiness by getting the approval of your wife or your peers or your friends or
anybody who will approve and give you recognition. Just so long as you get some sense of self-esteem and
self-worth. And Jesus explained that that’s what we would do, until we became utterly dependent on people for
that sense of approval. And we became utterly dependent on things for our security and our shelter and our
food and our clothing. And so, we would actually end up shells of what we used to be, who were simply the
playthings of the things that we depended on — really, the world itself — for what we should have got from
the Maker of the universe.
And Jesus explained that’s because the world actually doesn’t care too much about preserving you as you are.
It isn’t too anxious to preserve your individuality. In fact, it’s anxious for the other. It’s anxious for the
opposite: that you’ll conform to its image and become like the rest of the stereotyped individuals who are
depending upon it. And so, there is a sense in which the world, when you depend on it, turns you into a shell
or a robot that satisfies it, that pleases it.
And so Jesus explained that the only way you could ever find yourself, even after years and years of this kind
of living, was if you believed what He said. That is, if you believed that He really was the Son of the Maker
of the universe, and you believed His explanation of what went wrong, and you believed that you did not only
have a body with the five senses by which you communicate with the world of people and circumstances and
things around you. You did not only have a soul, with which you were able to perceive what you felt and what
you thought though your mind and emotions and will. But also had a spirit; that there was a real you inside
all those shells. That there was something that was essentially you, that was different from everybody else in
And there was a spirit. That’s what He called it. He said
it’s your spirit. The very spirit of you is “you” and you must first believe that I am really the Son of the
Maker of the universe. Then you have to believe that that spirit is there. If you don’t believe that, there’s
no way to find it. But you have a spirit. And believe that it’s there. And then, you have to believe that His
Father, the Maker of the universe, is able to make that come alive again inside you. He’s able to make your
spirit come into existence again. He’s able to recreate you as you originally were.
He’s able to bring alive you, as an individual, the very essence of you. The “you” as probably your mother
first saw you; an individual, on your own, who is here for a set purpose, planned by the Maker of the universe
and that you can fulfill. And that’s the third thing you need to believe. And then He said you need to believe
that the Maker of the universe is more than willing to make that spirit inside you come alive. He’s able to
get you to almost as if it were be born all over again. He’s able to bring that alive inside.
And then, He said that there’s one other need that you have in order to let the Maker of the world do that.
And that is the need to change your whole mind. “Metanoia” is the Greek word — change your mind about the way
you’re living. Change your mind. Change it from depending on your friends for your self-esteem. Stop that!
That’s dumb. Just stop doing it. Who cares what they think of you? Many of them will die before you will.
Anyway, they have no power over your destiny. And if you say, oh well my boss has — well he only has it as
much as the Creator of the universe allows him to have it.
The Maker of the universe is able to make a path for you despite all the other people in your life. He is the
one Significant Other. They are only the bluffed, deceived significant others. But He is the one that really
matters. He is the “top banana”. He is the one that matters above all else. And believe that Jesus said that
His approval is the one that counts. And believe that it’s not the money that gives you the security. He makes
the money. Sometimes the federal, the Fed, make the money. Sometimes the Bank of England makes the money.
But the One who really produces the power that enables your bills to be paid is the One who originally made
the “whole show”. And start trusting Him. Start believing in Him. Jesus said, “Look, don’t be anxious about
what you’ll eat, or what you’ll drink, or what you’ll put on. Look at the birds of the field; they do not toil
nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of much more value than
they?” And so He said, listen, My Father has a vested interest in you. He made you in His own image. He wants
you to be His friend. He wants you to love Him, and He wants to love you. So, don’t you see that He has a
vested interest in taking care of you?
So, stop depending on the bank or the money or the job or the employer or the salary. By all means God might
use all those to produce the stuff for you but it’s Him that does it. He is the original first cause. These
are all secondary causes that are dependent on Him. So start being sensible. Stop believing that the milk
comes from the milkman. It doesn’t. It comes from a cow. Believe that these things originally come from the
Maker of the universe, and that it’s Him that you really ought to be grateful to. And start having that
attitude to Him. That’s what is called faith. Start having that attitude to Him.
Start having your faith in the One who has really produced these things. I mean who makes the sun shine?
Telecom? ICI? IBM? No. Who makes the food that feeds your body? The Maker of the universe. Jesus said, change
your mind. Stop believing the lie that you’ve been believing which is absolutely unintelligible — that you
depend on everybody else for these things — and start depending on the Maker of the universe.
And He said as you start having that attitude to Him, an attitude of faith, He will begin to make you alive
inside and you’ll start to sense that there is a real “you” deep down. And you’ll begin to sense what He
wants you to do with your life and as you begin to do that, you begin to speak the things He guides you to
speak, so you’ll start to sense a direction in your life and a reality that you’ve never had before. Well,
would you try it? That’s what I’m saying. Will you try it? Will you start today? Start today. Let’s talk a
little more tomorrow.
Insecurity and Anxiety -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Insecurity and Anxiety
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? Why are you here? What’s the point of it all? What is the purpose of it? Is there
any purpose? That’s the topic we’ve been discussing now I think for 199 broadcasts, and I think this is the
200th this year. And you remember we’ve tried to follow the question through from the intellectual basis that
we’ve laid in connection with the question, “Is there any Supreme Being behind the universe?” And we have
progressed to the point now where we’re trying to deal with the problem that is so prevalent today — the
problem of trying to block out all that we see around us.
And you know that that’s what we’re doing. We used to try to do it just with the old, I suppose martini in the
States and the double whiskey here in England and we try to block it out a little with the nicotine before
that and now of course we’re big boys and big girls and we’re trying to block it out with the crack or with
the heroin or the cocaine. And then, of course, there are various middle ways to do it, such as the blasting
music that we love to have with our stereo earphones or our stereo speakers. And wherever you go, if it’s a
really modern store, you ought not to be able to hear yourself think.
The big aim is the same as the aim in concerts of famous stars — to try to block out things by the sheer
hypnosis of the beat drumming through our ears so that we can somehow eliminate the consciousness of life or
of the world around us and fade into some kind of coma that brings us a little of the ease and the respite and
the relaxation of a hypnotic trance. And so, many of us have come to that point in life where the nearest we
can get to happiness is to just block it all out. And that’s why, of course, we talk so sophisticatedly, we
think, or we talk in such a sophisticated way about the weekend – or especially Christmas.
You remember how much we enjoy implying to each other in very cultured tones how we absolutely were blotted
out completely — I mean we were just knocked dead. You know and we talk about how much alcohol we have downed
or how many drugs we have taken. And the aim is to blot it all out. And that, so often, is the problem today
— that happiness for many of us is just blotting out the miserable life that we have around us. And what we
have been talking about is the explanation given for that by the man called Jesus, who lived in the first
century, who was really a very original and individualistic human being. And of course, as you know, we
believe intellectually he was the Son of the Maker of the universe.
And He explained that we were bound to come to that if we did NOT believe there was a God. If we refused to
believe that there was a Maker, and if we refused to believe that He was really our Father, and that He really
made you in order to be a friend to you and for you to be His friend and to enjoy a love relationship with Him
and to be His son or His daughter. If you refused to believe that, then you would conclude that the universe
is not only unfriendly but that it is meaningless and that eventually, you’d have to blot it out.
Because that drives you crazy, simply because deep down inside, you’re still made in His image, and you still
have a sense that you are unique and that there is some reason for your existence. And yet, as you look around
at the universe you sense that there seems to be no meaning, and no purpose for your existence. And so, Jesus
said you’ll want to blot it out because the sheer contradiction of what you sense inside, will contradict so
plainly what you experience on the outside,that you’ll just want to blot it all out.
And He explained that the reason is because you’ve lived in such dependence on the world of people and that’s
what you have to do. You know if you are without the affection or the love or the recognition or the approval
of the Maker of the universe, you have to get the approval or the affection from somebody, and usually we all
try to get it from our mum or dad or our friends or our peers. And Jesus said if you try to do that, you’ll
find yourself continually frustrated because none of them can give you the complete love that the Maker of the
universe can give you. None of them are able to.
It’s the same with your security. You’ll try to get your security from everybody else. Actually, God Himself
made you to do a certain job in this world, and He has the economy so arranged that if you do that and take
care of that, you’ll have all that you need to keep you alive until you actually go into the real world (that
will begin after this world is over). But of course, if you don’t do that, you have a great sense of
insecurity. And so you become dependent on your job and your money and your boss and your company.
And Jesus said as you do that, you will die inside. You’ll lose the sense of who you are, you’ll lose the
sense of direction in your life. And all you’ll want to do is blot the whole thing out. And He said there is
another way: that His Father still loves you, and however lost you are and however unconscious of anything
being alive inside you, that is really you, the Maker of the universe originally made you and He is able to
remake you. He’s able to make you come alive inside, even if you’ve absolutely blotted out your individuality.
Even if you absolutely destroyed “you” as you really are, He is able to gather the bits up again and recreate
you, simply because He created the whole world and the universe out of nothing. So, even though it seems to
you that there’s no “you” left — Jesus called it your spirit — even if you think there’s no spirit left to
be able to contact the Maker of the universe — and that’s what many of us find. We hear somebody saying, oh
the Maker of the universe knows what you’re meant to do but you say to yourself, yeah but I can’t find Him. I
can’t contact Him.
The reason you can’t is that you yourself have died. You’ve gone dead inside. He is able to make you alive
inside. He’s able to bring your spirit into life again so that you are able to communicate with Him, and to
begin to sense why He put you in the world, what He wants you to do and how He wants you to do it. And if you
say, well, how? How? And that’s what you remember that man Nicodemus asked in, it’s recorded in the New
Testament part of the Bible. And it’s in John and chapter three and he said, “How can you do that? Can you
enter into your mother’s womb a second time and be born?” And Jesus said no,no. You have to be born from
above. My Father is able to make you alive inside, –invisibly — if you believe that.
If you believe that there is a Maker of the universe, if you believe that He is your Father and that He does
know you, and He has counted the hairs of your head, and He will look after you, and He has put you here for a
purpose and He really does love you, and He wants you to know Him and to love Him. If you believe that, that’s
the first step in enabling the Maker of the universe to bring you alive inside.
Then Jesus said the second step is to change the way you’re living; stop trying to blot everything out. Stop
trying to please everybody and start trying to please the One that really counts: the Maker of the universe.
If you say, oh how do I do that? It’s not hard. Just look up at the sky as you’re walking along and say, “God,
I really believe that you must be there somewhere, and I want to please you. I don’t know how to do it, I
don’t want to be religious but I want to please you. So, will you show me what I’ve to do to start pleasing
you? You’re what I care about. I care about your approval. I don’t care about the approval of all these other
people, but I care about your approval.”
And Jesus said start living as if He really is looking after you, as if it’s the Maker of the universe that
supplies the food for you, as if it’s the Maker of the universe that arranges your accounts payable and
accounts receivable, as if it’s the Maker of the universe that actually is behind the salary that you get. And
look up to Him and just say, “God, I believe that everything that I need comes from you, so I’m going to start
depending on you and having that attitude of dependence on you.” That’s what faith is.
And as you begin to live like that, you’ll find that the Maker of the universe starts bringing you alive
inside, and you begin to have a real sense of being again the person that you used to be at the very
beginning. And you’ll begin to sense a direction in your life that comes to you from the one who, above all
others, is your friend: the Creator, the Maker, the God who loves you and made you. Would you begin? You can
do it today. Do. Make a start today.
What are we Living For – Ourselves? -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
What are we Living For – Ourselves?
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? What do you think is the meaning of it? What does the whole thing mean? This
business of getting up every day, dressing and eating and going out to work, driving that car you’re in day
after day and coming back with whatever money you’re able to earn, and then trying to save a little, then
eventually trying to provide for your own retirement? What do you think it all means?
And if you’re like me and many of us out here you probably answer, “Well, I don’t know what it means. I can’t
see, to be honest with you, much reason in it. I just do what I’m doing because there doesn’t seem much else
to do. Maybe there’s a Man upstairs somewhere. And maybe there’s some sense in it all, but if there is, it’s
not very obvious from the way the world is going today. So, what is the Meaning of Life? I don’t know what the
meaning of it is. I suppose you’ve to leave the world a better place than you found it, or you’ve to be kind
to your neighbor, or do all the things that we’re taught to do when we’re small. I don’t know what the meaning
of it is.”
Many of us probably would answer that way. What we have been saying over really the past year is that there is
indication of meaning in life, even in the very nature of the life that we live, and in the nature of the
world in which we live it. We’ve been saying that there is order obviously in the orbiting of the planets.
They aren’t just running around there by chance. They aren’t colliding with each other every other day. Even
our world, however unreliable it is in so many ways, is very reliable in others.
The sun does rise at the appropriate time every day. And we actually time our own watches by it. And we make
our rocket shots into space on the basis of the fact that certain planets will be in a certain position at a
certain time and lo and behold they are. We plant our seeds each year believing that the seasons will occur
more or less as regularly as they did last year and they do. We actually carry on our everyday life on the
assumption that our blood will keep circulation over miles and miles of arteries and it does. We assume that
this old heart, this muscle, will keep pumping day after day, week after week, month after month, and it does.
So, there are many indications of order in our world, and you remember that early on in our discussion this
year we came to the conclusion that there was enough evidence, there were enough instances of order to take
the position that Albert Einstein did, that there must be an intelligent mind behind the universe. And we
concluded of course that He must be a personal mind, because it takes a person at least as personable as us to
make us persons. A dog couldn’t make us. An inanimate object couldn’t make us. A lower form of life can’t
create a higher form of life than itself. So, we concluded that there had to be a Personal Mind somewhere in
the back of it all.
We did agree that there were many strange attempts and claims to tell us about that Personal Mind. And we
examined the lives of people like Buddha, and Zoroaster and Confucius and we looked at the manifold Hindu
prophets that there are. And we came to the conclusion that they were just like us. They were human beings who
died like we did and were buried and their bones could be dug up. And there was no indication that they knew
anything more about what was beyond the sky than we ourselves did — until the birth of a remarkable human
being at the beginning of our era. As we examined His life, we saw that He was not an ordinary human being.
That He in fact had power to destroy death. And He did do that.
We examined the documentary evidence, such as the Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Alexandrinus in the British
Museum. We examined the documentary evidence that lay behind the history of His life and we discovered that of
course there were far more manuscripts lying behind His life, than lying behind the life of a man like Julius
Caesar or Plato. And we discovered that this man, Jesus of Nazareth, undoubtedly lived as the history books
said He lived and did and said the things they said He did and said.
And we came to the conclusion that He was in fact what He said He was. He was related to the Creator, the
Maker of the universe, in a unique way — in a way that neither you nor I have been — in that He existed with
Him before anything was created. In other words, He was preexistent. And He appeared here in about 4 or 5 BC
and lived until about 29 AD when He was executed. And He showed that He had power to overcome sickness and to
control the powers of nature and to actually raise people from being dead. And He Himself rose from being dead
and lived on our earth for more than a month after He had been executed.
And we came to the conclusion that He was really the Son, the unique Son of the Maker of our world. And He, of
course, explained to His followers and through them to us what the meaning of life is. He made it very clear
to us that His Father, the Maker of the world, made you, by deliberate choice of His will, for one reason. He
wanted you to be His child, His son or His daughter. That is, your earthly father or your earthly mother are
just shadows or are just pointers to a relationship that He made you to have with Himself. And that’s why He
And He made you like Himself. He gave you a mind and emotions as He has. He gave you a will as He has. He gave
you a body as He has in a sense, though it’s not a physical body and He gave you a spirit, an inside heart of
you that is particularly you. And that’s what His spirit is. It’s the very essence of Him Himself. And you
remember how often we’ve said that the spirit of Churchill is the essence of the man. And you have something
inside you that is your spirit. You can’t take it out and look at it. You can’t analyze it but it is your
It’s the thing that makes you, you. It is your very own self, the very heart of yourself. And He made us with
the same capacities that He has because He wanted us to be His children, or His friends. He wants us to live
with Him forever and to do all kinds of things in connection with the development of the huge infinite
universe that we see out there beyond the stars. And that’s why He created us. That’s why you may remember one
verse, even if you don’t read the Bible or haven’t read it a lot, you probably remember one verse that runs,
“All things work together for good to them that love God.”
It’s in a book called Romans in the New Testament and it’s chapter 8 and verse 28. And that’s the way it goes.
“All things work together for good to them that love God.” And of course we’re all used to saying, “Oh, yeah,
all things work together for good, you know, to make me happy, rich, wealthy and wise.” Well, no, the purpose
that they work together for is defined a few verses later. I think it is something like Romans 8:29. And it
says, “That they may be conformed to the image of His Son.” And that’s why we are here on earth, that we may
be conformed to the image of the Maker’s Son.
That is, that we would become people like Jesus. Now you have to clear up your mind of wild ideas that you
have about Jesus. He wasn’t the kind of dreamy mystic that everybody paints Him as being. He was a very
realistic, down to earth man, who was very kind and very tender hearted but was also very strong. And we are
here to become like Him so that we can be at home in His home, so that we can live with Him forever, so that
we can enjoy Him, so that He can enjoy us. That’s why the Maker of the world made us.
And that’s what we’ve been saying over these months. And of course, what we have mentioned is that we haven’t
really cooperated too well in that. And that’s what we’d like to talk a little more about tomorrow.
Discovering the Real You 1 -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Discovering the Real You #1
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? That’s the question we’ve been talking about for almost a year now. And you may
remember that we summarized a little in the early part of our discussion yesterday, by saying that we came to
the conclusion early on in the year, from the evidence of the order and design in universe, that there had to
be a personal intellectual mind of some kind behind this universe. And we examined the evidence that people
presented to us that this intellectual mind was like Buddha’s god or was like Confucius’ philosophic god or
was like the gods of the Hindus, or the god of Zoroaster.
But finally, we came to the conclusion that all these so called prophets were just men like ourselves, and had
no more qualification than we had for claiming to be able to tell us what was beyond the sky. Because none of
them had ever been off the earth that they could prove to us, and had come back to tell us what was beyond.
Except for one man. And that was that unique human being that lived in the first century of our era, that man
called Jesus of Nazareth.
And I’d ask you not to go to sleep when you hear that because we have really mutilated His character and
turned Him into some kind of religious cult figure, instead of seeing Him as He really is: a remarkable and
unique human being, who showed that He had power to overcome death and to pass through the experience of death
and come back from the dead and live in our world. And you remember He ate fish and ate breakfast with His
friends, even a month after He had been executed by the Romans in Jerusalem.
And so we concluded as we examined His life and examined the historicity of His life, that is so thoroughly
substantiated by really above 4,000 Greek manuscripts, that show that undoubtedly He did live in the first
century and in fact He did say and do the things that we believe He did — we concluded that He was really the
Son of the Maker of the universe. And He of course explained to us that the reason we were here on earth was
to become like Him. That’s what He said, “My Father has made you because He wants you to be His children. He
wants others to be like Me, who will live with Him forever, and will begin to develop the rest of the universe
And that’s why He created you. And you’re here to become like Him. Now, you may say, “Well, why put us here to
become like Him? Why not make us like Him right away?” Well, you can see why. The Maker of the universe is a
self-determining Being. That is, He’s free. He has a free will. He’s free to choose to do what He wants to do.
Free will is necessary if you’re going to have love. You can’t have love without free will. We’ve all seen
that when we’ve looked at totalitarian states. You don’t get people loving anybody in a totalitarian state,
because you are forced and made to do everything.
So the only way you can love is if you are free to love. And that’s why the Creator gave us a free will. Now
we have done all kinds of things to initiate determinism here in the world and to make it seem that we are all
the time compelled and constrained by external forces either of heredity and environment or of other things.
But in actual fact, there is still, within each one of us at the very heart of us, a free will. And the
Creator of the universe put us on this earth with a free will, to actually choose, believe it or not, to be
like Him or choose not to be like Him. That’s it.
You may say, “Ah, He’s mad.” But that was the only way He could take to have any chance of having friends who
would love Him and whom He could love, or having children whom He could love or who would love Him. And so He
put us here on earth with a free will. And we have been given the freedom to choose either to get to know the
Being that is behind the universe, or to pretend that there is no Being behind the universe, and to do just
what we want in it. And that has been the history of mankind from its creation. If you are in any doubt about
which way we have gone, it’s very obvious to any of us who look around.
It’s very obvious that we have chosen to ignore Him. We really have. We’ve chosen to live as if there is no
God. Most of us are either theoretical atheists or practical atheists. We just assume that there is nobody out
there who has any interest in us. There is no one anywhere in the universe, perhaps, that has any interest in
us. And if we’re going to survive it’s going to be by the strength of our own right arm. Indeed most of us
were brought up that way. Our mums and dads said, “If you don’t look after yourself, nobody will. You’d better
get a good job; you’d better get a good education, because you will have to provide for yourself. Nobody else
Indeed all of us like that idea, because we see so often the opposite is depending on the state, and we don’t
like depending on the state. It seems to steal our dignity from us. So we’ve been brought up all the time with
the idea that we have to provide for ourselves, because there’s nobody out there who can provide for us. And
so most of us have lived as if there is no Creator. This has brought all kinds of problems, of course, to us,
as we’ve discussed over the year. The agony of trying to ensure security for yourself drives you crazy.
Because finally you have to see that a Howard Hughes, who made better provision for himself than any of us
have probably any hope of doing, (you remember he was the American millionaire who based his success on the
Hughes tool factory and has become one of the greatest defense suppliers to the U.S. that have ever existed)
and yet you remember, he died in a hotel, I believe, in London, with Kleenex tissues stuck to his hands. And
he died an emaciated man of seventy, seventy-two. He died virtually of starvation, because he was so afraid.
He had the Kleenex stuck to his hands, because, of course, he was always afraid of germs. And yet he so abused
himself that he actually died of starvation.
And so we’ve all seen that you can do everything possible from a financial angle to provide for yourself in
the way of security. And yet finally there is no security that you can provide. Because apart from anything
else, you can always die of cancer or some incurable disease. Besides that, there’s a tremendous insecurity
comes to all of us as we think of the poor guys in Australia and wonder why they don’t fall off. And even
though we all mumble blithely about the law of gravity, we know that all we’re doing is giving a name to a
force that we don’t really understand. And we can’t tell what keeps that force in place. We can’t really be
sure that it will stay in place.
And so we realize quickly, that we’re sitting on top of a spinning spaceship that is hurtling through space at
hundreds of miles an hour and we’re not very clear who’s holding it up there. And so there is at the
foundation of our lives a great sense of being “fiddlers on a roof.” We can’t really tell where we’re going,
or where we came from, or what’s keeping us in existence at this moment. And so in all our attempts to
establish security by trying to get a little in the Abbey Building Fund, or a little stocks and shares
gathered together, or a little in the Mutual Insurance Company, we sense deep down all the time that we never
will establish security for ourselves, however much we try.
So, of course, what we do is aim for a kind of partial security. But it creates a dreadful worry and anxiety
at the heart of our lives. And of course it produces an attitude of greed often and of worry and anxiety and
of desperation and of jealousy that we cannot overcome.
It is the same with our sense of our own self-esteem, because we feel that nobody actually notices how unique
we are. And of course you are unique. You probably realize that. You are unique. There’s nobody like you. But
nobody else seems to notice it. And so you and I spend a lot of our time trying to get them to notice it,
trying to get them to give us attention and pay us attention.
And of course they don’t seem to notice that we are different, that we are unique, because they’re so busy
trying to establish their own uniqueness in everybody’s eyes. And so often we marry with a hope that maybe at
least this wife or this husband will give us the kind of attention we desire, and then we discover they don’t
really continue to regard us as so remarkable or so unique. And so we get very frustrated over our sense of
self worth. And that itself causes a problem which we should maybe talk about a little more tomorrow.
Discovering the Real You 2 -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Discovering the Real You #2
by Ernest O’Neill
We’re talking on this program each day about the meaning of life — and we have been doing this for about a
year now. We’ve come to the point in our discussion where we have concluded that there is an intellectual mind
behind the universe, and indeed that that mind is personal. And because of the remarkable human being that
lived in the first century of our era and proved to us that he is able to overcome death and to do some things
that no other prophet or teacher has ever done — overcome and destroy death in other people — we have
concluded that He is in fact the son of the Maker of the universe and that he has actually been beyond the sky
and beyond the stars.
And that when He speaks about His Father He is speaking truth. And He of course has explained to us that the
meaning of life is this: His Father, the Creator of the universe, our God, made you because He wants you to be
His child. He wants you to be His son or His daughter. He wants you to be friends with Him, He wants you to
love Him, and He wants to love you. And that’s why He made you. And He made you like Himself so that you could
have friendship with Him forever and could take part with Him in the development of the rest of the universe.
And that’s why you’re here on earth.
And you’re here actually to become like Him because He wants free will agents who can love Him and that’s why
He gave you a free will. That’s why He didn’t make you like Himself by force. He made you with the same
capacities as He has, but you can choose whether you want to develop those along the lines that He wants
Himself or not. And that’s why we’re here in the world. And of course most of us, we’ve said, have chosen to
live as if there is no Supreme Being. And as a result we’ve got into grave difficulties with our sense of
We find ourselves on a spinning spaceship that has no visible means of support. And we ourselves have great
difficulty establishing a financial security that will really stick even when times are rough. And so we have
a tremendous sense of angst as we nevertheless dedicate our lives to trying to get all the food, clothing, and
shelter that we need. And usually most of us spend our lives concentrating on that. We get it, of course, by
trying to accumulate money but it seems very hard to hold the stuff — it seems to drain away so often. And
then finally, of course, many of us even if we die rich, we die.
And so, there is really finally no security that we can find. And that brings us a great sense of angst. But
another problem we have is that we feel we’re unique. And actually you are unique. There’s nobody like you,
nobody has ever been like you, there will never ever be anybody like you because the Maker of the universe has
only made one particular version of you. But nobody else notices it and you realize they don’t notice it, and
that brings great frustration to most of us.
And so, we spend a lot of our lifetime trying to establish a sense of self-esteem and self-worth because we no
longer have the sense of self-esteem that we would have if we believed that there was a Creator that really
made us and made us unique –then of course you have no trouble with self-esteem. You know that there’s only
you that is like you and that He thinks of you in a way that He thinks of nobody else in the whole world. But
when you don’t feel that way then you sense that there’s no reason for you being here, and there’s no value
that you have and no worth that you have.
And so you spend a great deal of your time trying to get people to compliment you on the way you bowl a
cricket ball or the way you pitch a baseball; or complimenting you on the way you wear your clothes or the way
you put on your lipstick. You spend a lot of life trying to get other people to appreciate you, acknowledge
you, and give you a sense of self-worth. And of course the poor souls — they’re after the same thing
themselves and they can’t spend much time giving you self-esteem because they’re trying to get self-esteem for
And so many of us find ourselves in this world trying desperately to get a sense of self-worth but failing
because nobody has the time, or the persistence, or the concentration, or the unselfish commitment to give it
It’s the same, of course, with the whole idea of happiness. We conclude that since there’s no Maker of the
universe then there’s no sense to the universe. And all we can do therefore is eat, drink, and be merry for
tomorrow we die. And therefore we spend our time looking forward to Friday and hating Monday — looking
forward to the weekend, looking forward to the next vacation.
You know the way we all do it. We all are constantly talking about the holidays. It’s so great to come up to
Christmas because of the holidays. It’s so great to come into summer because there are holidays. It’s so great
to come to anytime when you can possibly get an August bank holiday or any time off because we hope that
somehow we’ll find that tremendous happiness which we feel we were made for — a combination of the excitement
of the Arabian Nights with the serenity of Walden Pond. And somehow we never get it — we never get the
happiness that we think we were made for.
And so that brings a tremendous sense of frustration to us. What we have been saying over these past months is
that in our attempt to establish our own security and our sense of significance and some experience of
happiness we have become monsters. We have. Many of us have lost the sense of who we are. We don’t really know
any longer what we really are like. In other words there’s a part of us that has actually gone dead in all
this wild pursuit of trying to establish a sense of self-worth, some feeling of security, and experience of a
We have actually become monsters; we have become conformed to each other. It’s incredible but we who are
created unique have become like each other, so like each other that we find it difficult to tell who we are at
all. And I don’t know if you’ve ever had that feeling, but I think a lot of us have in these days. We’ve
wondered, what do I really think? If I wasn’t so out and out to please my boss, or to get a smile from my
secretary, or to get approval from my peers, what would I really be like? If I wasn’t such a little performing
monkey anxious to get “cookies” of approval and praise from my fellow students what would I really be like?
And so many of us can’t answer that question any longer. We don’t know. We don’t know.
There are odd moments in our lives when our mother dies or our father dies or something else happens, or we
lose our job, when it seems that for a moment we touch reality. It seems for a moment we touch our real selves
— that is, our spirit. There are times when we sense that our spirit is still there — it’s still half alive.
But actually it’s virtually completely dead. From time to time it expresses itself through the conscience
because the conscience is part of our spirit. And sometimes, an odd time, we do what we really think is right
and then we sense that we’re a little alive again.
But most of us do that very rarely. And most of us are in the position where we don’t any longer know who we
are and we have no idea what we really think or feel. Because the fact is we’ve virtually killed ourselves
completely. It’s what Wordsworth says, “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.” And most of us find that our insides have gone. We look inside to see if there’s anybody at home and we
come out with the conclusion that there is nobody at home.
And that’s why we have difficulty when we’re asked what we would like to do. We usually want to do what the
television has told us we should want to do, or what all our friends want to do, or what it’s supposed to be
fashionable or swinging for people like ourselves at our particular stage in life to do. But we ourselves
aren’t too sure what we would like any longer. And that is one of the great problems that many of us face in
these days. We face the problem that we’ve lost ourselves. We can’t find ourselves anymore.
And of course nobody is too anxious for us to be found, because they’re all in the same boat and they’re not
too anxious for anybody to be in a better state than them. So actually the whole of the society is organized
to keep us pretty dead inside. If you say, well how? Is there any answer? Well that’s what we’ve been talking
about. There is actually one Being that is very anxious for you to find yourself. It’s ironic. There is only
one Being in the whole universe that is anxious for you to find yourself. He does very much want you to find
And He does very much want you to find yourself. He wants you very much to come alive inside and to be as
unique as He has made you. Let’s talk a little more about that tomorrow.
Your Spirit is Alive in You -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Your Spirit is Alive in You
by Ernest O’Neill
We’re talking on this broadcast each day under the general title of “What is the Meaning of Life?”, about the
particular personal predicament so many of us find ourselves in today. And that predicament is the one of not
really being able to find ourselves. That is, we can no longer, as they say in modern parlance, get in touch
with ourselves. We seem to have lost the sense of who we are. And many of us are in that position nowadays. We
try to do something from the heart of our own selves and we find that we do not even know who we are.
Many people, if you ask them what they would like to do with their lives, now answer “I don’t know. I don’t
really know. I’d better go to a vocation guidance counselor, or I’d better do some aptitude tests to find out
what I’m really good at.” Very many of us answer that question, “No, I don’t really know what I’d like to do.”
The tragedy is that many of us who have been in jobs and careers for years still feel that way. We wonder,
“Now what would I really like to do?” And part of the difficulty with a career choice is the difficulty we
have with other choices.
So often we go on vacation to a place that has been advertised in the Sunday Times sufficiently, or has been
talked up in some television program, or that we have seen in some movie, or that someone else has mentioned.
But increasingly in these days we find that we are almost the people that the TV commercials talk about. We
seem to be Mr. and Mrs. Jones, or Mr. and Mrs. John Doe. We are more and more becoming stereotypes of
everybody else that is presented to us in the western world. And what we have been discussing is the reason
And you may remember, those of you who have been taking part really in the conversation and the mental
journeyings over the past year, that what we said was we have been made by an intelligent Creator who wants us
to be His friends, or to be His sons and daughters. And that’s why He gave us free wills. It’s because He
Himself is a self-determining Being, and He wants people who can love Him. And the only people who can love
are people with free wills.
So He gave us free wills, gave us the same capacity as He has, and then put us on this earth so that we could
choose to get to know Him, and to become like Him, so that we could exist with Him forever and take part in
the development of the rest of the universe with Him. Or, we could reject that whole idea and live our own
lives. That is what most of us have chosen to do. We’ve chosen to take the position of a practical atheist —
that there is no God, there is no Supreme Being, and we’re here on our own to take care of ourselves as best
And therefore we’d better get all the food, shelter, and clothing that we need to give us security. We’d
better get all the praise and acknowledgment from other people that we need for a sense of self-esteem, and
we’d better grab all the happiness we can before we die. And so in pursuing those three goals that actually
all would be fulfilled if we really did accept reality â€”- that we have been made by a Creator, that we are
unique, that we’re the only version of us that he’s made, and that He really does love us, and He really will
take care of us. If we really would believe that then all those goals would be met.
But because we don’t, they all have to be met. So we set about meeting them as best we can. We try to
establish our security through getting enough things to give us security. We of course can never get enough
things. We can never get enough money to protect us from incurable disease. We can never get enough money to
protect us from the Wall Street crash. And we know that. So at the bottom of all our seeking of security there
is finally a dreadful insecurity.
And then we do our best to try to get a sense of self-esteem and self-worth because we have none. We feel
we’re a little nobody. We’re one of four billion other people in the world and nobody else realizes how unique
we are. And that’s because they’re trying to take care of their uniqueness and getting everybody to recognize
their uniqueness. And so we fall into the trap of trying to please men, or, being afraid of men.
We live our lives first to please our moms, then to please our kindergarten teachers, then to please our
grade-school teachers, then to please our high-school teachers, then to please our coaches, then to please our
professors, then to please our first employer, then to please our boss, then to please the next man up on the
totem pole, then to please the vice-president, and we hope that someday we’ll get to be president and then
we’ll end up trying to please all the people underneath us. And so we live our lives trying to please, please,
So, we’ve become performing little monkeys who go always for better cookies. And in that endless pursuit for
self-esteem we find ourselves constantly frustrated, because nobody actually is finally interested in us in
the sense that we want them to be.
It’s the same with happiness. We try to get the mixture of peace and serenity combined with excitement and
exhilaration that we regard as happiness. But however many cars we buy, however many great vacations we go on,
however many drugs we experiment with, we never seem to get the height of excitement or the calmness of peace
that we are aiming at.
And in the process of trying to get all these things we have lost ourselves. We’ve become little performers
who do what everybody else says we should do to get these things. And we get to the point — maybe at age 15,
maybe 20, maybe 25, maybe 30, maybe 35, maybe some of us not until 40, 45, or 55, maybe some of us not until
95 — eventually we get to the point where we wonder, “Where am I? What is me? Who am I?” And we find we’re a
bundle of responsibilities that we perform, of duties that we keep up, of actions and habits and recreations
that we do.
We are a bundle of actions and words and thoughts. But we can’t any longer find ourselves. How on earth do you
find yourself? Well nobody else is interested in you finding yourself. Because you, as you are, are the best
instrument for them to use. You’re the best servant to their needs for security and significance and
happiness. There is only One who really wants you to find yourself and He of course has a vested interest in
it because He made you to be unique. He put within you a spirit that is your very own self. That’s you as you
There is a spirit inside you, underneath your mind and emotions and your will, underneath your body, there is
a thing called spirit. You can’t take it out and analyze it under a microscope but it’s there. The spirit of
Churchill is the very spirit of the man, the very essence of the man. That’s what you are. There’s a spirit in
you that is you and you alone. That’s what makes you unique. That’s what has died. It’s virtually dead. From
time to time it comes alive in conscience. From time to time it comes alive in some kind of intuition that you
Sometimes you think, “I should do this — I ought to do this.” Nobody else has told you to do it but you think
you should do it, and sometimes you act on it. That’s your intuition. That’s part of your spirit too. And
sometimes you act either in your conscience or your intuition. Sometimes actually at a time of death you have
a sense at last that there is a Supreme Being and you almost sense His existence. That’s communion you’re
experiencing. That’s another function of your spirit. So sometimes we sense our spirits are our real selves
beginning to wriggle into life, but usually we put the lid on pretty fast and kill them as fast as we can.
The only One who is really interested in bringing your spirit into life, in getting you back again into
existence, is the Creator of the world. He is interested because that’s precisely why He made you. He didn’t
make you so that you’d become a robot like everybody else. He didn’t make you so that you’d brush with
Ultrabrite toothpaste the same as everybody else. He didn’t make you so that you’d wear a DAKS suit like
everybody else or you’d drive a Ford Escort like everybody else. He made you because He wants you yourself as
His friend and as His child or His daughter. He wants you.
He wants you to be to Him what nobody else can be. So He has a real interest in making you alive. And that’s
the secret. The Creator of the universe alone can bring your spirit into life again, and He Himself has a
vested interest in doing it. He has a disinterested love of you that constrains Him to want to bring your
spirit into life. And that’s often what is referred to very glibly in these days in connection with being born
all over again.
But it’s better to forget all that terminology because it’s been so religiousized. But the fact is, it is
possible for you to start again and to become alive again inside. And the Maker alone can bring that about.
Let’s talk a little more tomorrow about how He may be able to do that in you.
Heavenly Security -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
by Ernest O’Neill
Have you ever wondered, “Is there any me left?” That is, is there anything real of me left inside at all?
Particularly after you’ve bowed to somebody else’s will for about the forty-fifth time, or you’ve done what
your boss asked you to do even though you didn’t believe you should, or you’ve done something to please the
wife and the children and you really didn’t think it was the best thing to do.
And you think for a moment sitting in the car, or at home in the study, is there anything left inside of who I
really am? Many of us in these days have that problem. The pressures of the media are so strong and the
organization, the tight organization of our commercial world, and even our professional academic world, is so
intense that we find ourselves, whether we like it or not, in the position of the victims in “Animal Farm” or
in Orwell’s “1984”.
And we find that we are constrained and compelled by all kinds of external pressures, external forms, the
“things to do”, the “in” things to do, the swinging things to do, the yuppie things to do, the sophisticated
things to do, the professional things to do, the domestic things to do, the things that a good husband would
do, the things that a good son would do — so many things press in upon us urging us that we ought to do this
or we ought to do that, or we ought to be this or we ought to be that, that many of us have lost all sense of
whether we really have anything inside that is uniquely us.
And of course, we’ve been saying in these discussions that we’ve been having during this year that this has
been intensified by our own attitude. Because we ourselves have in fact got ourselves into this position.
We’ve done it by taking the unrealistic viewpoint that there is no Creator. Despite the order and design
evident in the universe we’ve taken the position that the whole thing is the result of time plus chance, or of
a directionless, unprogrammed evolutionary process, and so we are left in the position where there’s nobody to
look after us but ourselves.
And indeed we’ve been encouraged to think that from our earliest days. Moreover, we see four billion other
people around who don’t realize how absolutely unique we are and we set about trying to make them realize our
uniqueness. And then of course we realize that we’re here for only a short time so we’d better make the most
of it, so we grab madly at any piece of happiness that we can find. And in the pursuit of this sense of
security that we feel we need, and this sense of self-esteem that we feel we need, and this happiness that we
can’t do without, we have actually ourselves become little robots.
We do what is supposed to bring us security. We become actually the slaves of our own drive for security. We
will do anything to hold our job or to keep the salary up or to keep from actually going down in salary. And
we’ll become any kind of little performing animal that somebody wants us to become just so we keep the shekels
It’s the same with self-esteem and self-worth. It’s incredible how much individuality we are prepared to give
up just to get the approval of other people or the esteem of our peers. And so we have contributed to this
ourselves, until many of us are at the point where we hardly know whether there is anybody at home or not.
We don’t really know who we are. What we’ve been saying is part of us has died — not our mind, not our
emotions, not our will– they’re all alive — not our body, it’s all alive — but our spirit. The spirit is
the very unique thing that is you yourself. It’s the very essence of you. It’s you that is different from
everybody else that ever has been in the universe, everybody that will ever be in the universe, and everybody
that is in the universe now. Your spirit is the you that is unique and different. And what we’ve been sharing
is of course that the One that made you, the Maker Himself, made you unique.
He made you unique. Because He wants to have a relationship with you of love. He wants you actually to be His
friend and His child — His son or His daughter. He wants to love you and He wants you to love Him and that’s
why He made you unique. You’re the only version — He doesn’t want a whole lot of the “sames”, He wants
friends, He wants people who are real and different. And He made you to be like Himself in a unique way and
that’s why you’re on earth. And so He has a vested interest in getting you back to what you used to be.
And you remember Wordsworth’s poem, “Heaven lies about us in our infancy, shades of the prison house begin to
close around the growing boy.” In fact when you’re a little child there is something that is alive and unique
in you. You don’t know any better, you don’t know enough to suppress your own beliefs or your own ideas to
please somebody else. You just are yourself. You’re just spontaneously you. That’s what Wordsworth meant. At
the very beginning it’s as if our little spirits are somehow alive — actually they’re not very alive, that’s
the reality of it. They’re not very alive.
But the Creator allows something of the uniqueness that the spirit used to have to be in you as a child so
that you sense there is some wonderful, innocent, spontaneous, joyous life that you can enter into. And that’s
His plan for you. And so most of us have more a sense of our spirits when we’re children than at any other
time. But throughout our lives we do sense at times, through our conscience, that we ought to do something and
we do it and we find a little life coming up inside. Sometimes we have intuition that we should do something
and we do it and we find there’s a little life inside.
Sometimes we sense that there is a Creator, and we sense as we walk by a pond a great sense of a Presence with
us — and that’s communion. And it’s our spirits wriggling a little, trying to push up into life. But usually
our spirits are absolutely dead and suppressed and our minds and emotions go blindly on, doing what they’ve
been programmed to do, copying everybody else day after day. Usually, in fact, they don’t direct us very much
— it’s our body that directs us. We’re usually little animals.
We do everything according to what piece of clothing we want to buy to cover our bodies or what food we want
to get. That’s why most of us live from a little of breakfast treat to a little bit of lunch treat to a little
bit of dinner treat. And we’re governed primarily by what happens to our bodies. But the Creator Himself has a
vested interest in bringing our spirits to life. And the first condition He needs us to fulfill for that to
happen — and it can happen in you — is for you to believe. That’s the first thing. That’s what His Son Jesus
He said first of all believe this. Believe that what I say is true. Believe that all I’ve told you about My
Father and Him making you so that you could be His child as I am — believe that that’s true. Believe that
there is a God, believe there’s a Creator; believe not only that but He’s intelligent and He’s personal, and
not only that but He actually loves you and He wants you to be His friend and He wants you to love Him and to
trust Him. Believe that. Begin to believe that.
Stop believing the lie that there is no Creator. Stop believing the lie that evolution occurred just by
itself. If there was an evolutionary process there has to be somebody who determined that it would evolve from
simple to complex. There has to be some mind behind it. So stop believing that there’s nothing out there and
start believing that there is a God. That’s the first step.
I don’t know if you’ve ever taken that step. I don’t know if you’ve just taken the attitude that most of us
have that it’s old-fashioned, that it’s out of date, that it’s religious, that it’s evangelical, that it’s mad
American, that it’s wild Catholic, it’s something ecclesiastical or Episcopal to believe.
I don’t know what you think, but throw all that out of the window and believe! Begin to examine the life of
this Man, Jesus of Nazareth. Go to the British Museum — see the Codex Alexandrinus and Codex Sinaiticus. See
that the documentary evidence that gives us the record of His life is far better than what we have for Caesar
or for Plato or for Lucretius, and believe that He is actually the Son of the Maker of the world.
And then believe what He says is true — that there is up there — if you look up at this moment , you know if
you can see the sky, I don’t know if you can, but if you can see the sky, believe that behind that there is a
dear Creator who made you and who actually loves you and who wants you to be His friend, and who wants you to
be His son or daughter and to live with Him forever, and to help Him to develop the rest of this universe
after this life is over. The first step is believe.
That’s the first step in enabling Him to begin to bring your spirit alive, because He won’t bring you alive
unless you want to become alive. See that. He wants you to have free will. He wants you to have it the way you
want it because you’re of no use to Him unless you have free will and have the dignity of a free person who
can love freely. So the first step is to believe.
Why don’t you begin today? It’s as easy to believe as not. Why not take that first step today? And let’s talk
about the second one tomorrow.
How can a Person be Born Again 1 -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
How Can a Person be Born Again #1
by Ernest O’Neill
Many of us today have great difficulty finding out who we are. I know that sounds strange and a little insane,
but I think it’s true. Many of us today have great trouble getting in touch with ourselves or finding
ourselves. We seem to have become the sum total of the reflexes and responses that are necessary to the myriad
peers and superiors and authority figures that we have to deal with. And so often we respond to these
employers or bosses or fellow students or husbands or wives or children in ways that have become stereotyped
and are not really an expression of what we ourselves are.
But we have done this so long now that we no longer even know what we would do if we had the freedom to do it.
And so we find ourselves having lived through 1984 but feeling that in a strange way we are living in Orwell’s
“1984”. That is, we are not so much programmed by the big brother of government as by the big brother of all
the obligations we have in this life. And so when we come to decide where we want to go on holiday or what we
want to do for a vocation we have great trouble deciding. And we usually resort to what are now the crutches
of this lame humanity — the aptitude tests or the multiphasic tests that are supposed to show us what we
would be good at.
Again, we feel that it’s just what we would be good at. We don’t really have any confidence that it’s really
ourselves what we should do and want to do. In fact many of us see no hope of doing what we really want to do
and so we gave that up years ago and have become people who have no inside at all –people that are described
by T.S. Elliot in “The Hollow Men”, you remember, “We are the hollow men, headpiece stuffed with straw,” as if
we have no individuality at all inside.
And many of us know that and are frustrated by it and yet don’t see how to come alive inside again. We try
from time to time to do something that is uniquely us, but usually it comes off with an extreme
over-correction that makes a caricature of what we really are. That’s what we’ve been talking about. The
problem that many of us have of the inner space inside where our spirit used to be. Because that’s what your
spirit is — it’s the real you. It’s you as you really are. It’s the unique person that is you.
And what we have been saying over this past year on this program is that we — most of us — have become
caricatures of what we were meant to be and caricatures of what we really were. We did not develop into the
individuals that we were made to be. And we’ve been sharing, you remember, how it is obvious that the order
and design of the universe necessitates the premise of an intelligent personal mind behind it all. And you
remember we went through the examination of the historical records of the lives of different people who claim
to be able to tell us what that Creator was and we concluded that the only One that was at all believable was
the man Jesus of Nazareth.
And of course, He explained to us that His Father, the Creator, had made us so that we would have a
relationship of love and trust in Him. That’s why He made us. And so He made us unique. He made us
individuals. But most of us do not depend, of course, on that kind of invisible being at all. We have begun to
depend utterly on the world itself for what we need. And we’ve tried to get from the world the food, shelter
and clothing that will provide us with the security that we sense we need and we’ve tried to get from things
therefore the sense of material safety that we need, the sense that we can continue to exist in this world.
And we’ve looked to people and tried to look at the people in the world and get them to provide us with the
self-esteem and the self-worth that we need. And then of course, we’ve looked at circumstances and we’ve tried
to manipulate them to create the sense of happiness, the sense of peace and exhilaration that we need. And we
now find that we have really in a way given our souls away as “sordid boon”– that’s the way Wordsworth puts
it, you remember, in his sonnet, “The World is too much with Us.” “Late and soon, getting and spending, we lay
waste our days. Little we see in nature that is ours. We have given our souls away a sordid boon.”
And most of us find that. We’ve either sold our souls to the company store or we have somehow given away the
one thing that was vital in us, the one thing that was individual and unique. We have become slaves to the
world of people and things and circumstances for the security and the significance and happiness that we can
squeeze out of them. But in the process we have become a robot. And we sense that, and we don’t know how to
get out of it and we don’t really know how to come alive inside.
And what we have been sharing the past few days is that there is only One Being that is actually interested in
us becoming alive inside and becoming individuals again, and that is the One who made us, the Creator. He’s
really the only one. Because it was His plan in the first place to make you the only version of you that
exists in the whole universe, and that will ever exist, and that has ever existed. And it’s His own interest
that you will develop as an individual. He wants you to come to Him as an individual, as your own person who
will love Him freely and will enjoy Him and whom He can enjoy.
And so He has a great interest in you becoming yourself, the real you deep down. Because of course most of us
think that becoming ourselves means just wanting what we want, but in fact even that has been programmed into
us and becoming ourselves is something different from that. There is a spirit of you that was created by the
Creator at the beginning of the world and that is what you are meant to be. And only He can bring that about.
No one else has a vested interest in that. They’re all trying to get you to serve them and they need you as a
pliable, submissive non-willed person.
That’s what most of the businesses need. “We will give you the right to a little initiative but we don’t want
you to take too much. And we’re certainly not too interested in who you are yourself.” But the Creator Himself
is. How on earth, or how in heaven, do you come alive again? Well, the first step that Jesus said you have to
take is to believe. Start believing these things — that’s the first step. Stop believing that you’re part of
a mindless evolutionary process. Stop believing that.
Believe in evolution if you want, but see that there has to be some mind behind evolution that gives it
direction. Otherwise it would result in the way that all big bangs or all mindless things result in: chaos and
anarchy. So first of all believe that there is a Creator — that there is Someone behind the sky, there’s
Someone beyond the stars that has created all this. And then believe that this man Jesus is His Son.
And by all means you should examine the manuscript evidence. You should begin to look at the Bible — not as
an old religious book, not as a book of fairy tales or superstitions –but begin to read, particularly the
last part of it, the New Testament part. Begin to read Matthew or Mark or Luke or John — some of those books
that give the history of this man Jesus. And just read about his life and examine it, and see; is this man
insane, is he imbalanced, is he a dupe, or is he a con man, or is he really the Son of the Maker of the
Examine the evidence for His resurrection from the dead. Read books like “Runaway World” by Michael Green.
Read books like “Are the New Testament Documents Reliable?” by F.F. Bruce. Read books like that that discuss
these things in an intelligent way. And begin to believe that this man Jesus really did exist, that he
therefore does exist now — because if he can overcome death once he can overcome it as often as he wants. And
then believe what he said: that you are unique, that your Maker knows you, that He has numbered even the
hairs of your head.
And He knows you, and He knows every thought that goes through your head, and He has a personal interest in
you coming alive and becoming a real person again. First of all believe those things. The second step is of
course to change your mind about the way you’re living at present — to stop living that way and to start
living as if the Creator of the world is in existence. So let’s talk a little more about that second step
How can a Person be Born Again 2 -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
How Can a Person be Born Again #2
by Ernest O’Neill
Have you ever stood on an escalator going down the underground and looked at the person in front of you and
wondered, “What are they thinking?”, or sat in a bus and looked across at someone else and thought, “I wonder
are they feeling the same way as I am? I wonder, do they think they’re as different from everybody else as I
think I am?” And often as we see crowds of other people, we reflect on whether they think the way we think, or
whether they feel as different from everybody else as we do.
And often we pass on in our thinking very quickly, because we have to get off the escalator, we have to get
off the bus, and we don’t dwell upon it any longer. But yet there are those moments, aren’t there, when you
look at some of the other four billion people in the world and you wonder if they think they’re as different
from everybody else as you think you are. And yet as you look at them, too, there comes another thought into
your mind that you’re very like them and they’re very like you.
And then often there is rather a depressing thought that occurs to you that you’re becoming more and more like
them and they’re becoming more like you every day. And indeed, there isn’t perhaps very much difference
between you. And that, of course, is a miserable thought that there isn’t very much difference between you and
the other four billion people. Because of course you do feel different. And yet, it is true that as the years
go by you do more and more what all the rest of the people do. And often you seem to think the way they do
also and respond the way they do.
Because we are all being stimulated by the same external events and the same circumstances. And more and more
we’re all responding in the same way. And of course, you’ve only to watch the TV commercials to realize that
the media and the mass merchandisers treat us as if we are all the same. And often we don’t mind that, except
that we have the growing suspicion that we are very much the same. And yet there is something inside us, isn’t
there, that keeps on saying, “Yes, but you’re different. You’re different. You may wear the same hat as a
thousand other people. You may drive the same car as a million other people, but you are different. You do do
And yet part of the problem is nobody else seems to really realize how absolutely unique you are. And of
course, you have to try to get them to realize that. And that’s where we all seem to stick our elbows out and
show our idiosyncrasies as bluntly and as awkwardly as we can to make sure that we aren’t missed. And though
we look with amusement at the little child that shows off when visitors come, we often feel that we ourselves
“show off” when the visitors come because we don’t want to be missed in the crowd.
And yet as we approach the time when we will be lowered into a hole in the ground, or maybe we will be burned
in cremation, we sense that we seem to end up very much the same as everybody else. And we walk among the
gravestones at times, and think that, “Well, we may as well all be buried the way the soldiers are, under a
plain cross, because we are all the same. And yet there’s something in us that still rebels against that and
says, “Yes, but we are different. We are different.” And the truth is you are different.
You are unique. You’re absolutely different from everybody else in the world today. And you’re different from
anybody that has ever lived, and you’re different from anybody who ever will live. And you may say, “Well,
why? Why do you say that so confidently?” Well, for one thing you feel it, don’t you? Even if you are an
identical twin, you’re still vitally different from that identical twin. There’s some way in which the
combination of personal psychological traits and emotional tendencies in you is different from him.
But the other reason we say that is because in our discussion of these matters over the past year, we’ve come
to the conclusion that there is an intelligent personal mind behind the universe. That whether we were created
through a process of evolution or not, there has to have been, as Einstein said, an intelligent mind that was
responsible for programming into whatever process caused our existence, there has to have been an intelligent
mind that programmed into that process a direction and purpose that would lead to a development of the complex
from the simple, or would lead to a development of order as opposed to chaos.
And He had, in fact, power to leave this world and to go where His Father, the Creator, was and to come back
and tell us what His Father had intended in our creation. And actually He said that the Creator of the world
made you unique. There’s only one of you. And He made you for a certain purpose. That was to become His
friend, to be His child, His son or His daughter and to come to love Him. Because He in fact loved you, and
that’s why He made you.
He made you so that He could have a relationship with you, and so that together you could develop the universe
that is so infinite, after this world is over. And that’s why you were made. And that’s why you still keep
thinking you are unique, because, in fact you are unique.
But, of course, the tragedy is, that most of us have not believed that at all. We have disappointed our Maker.
We have rejected any belief in Him as sane or sensible, and we have lived as practical atheists. And have
become, in turn, dependent people — dependent on all the other people in the world to give us a sense of self
worth, dependent on all the other things in the world to give us a sense of security, dependent on the happy
circumstances in the world to give us a sense of happiness.
Instead of really taking the Creator for real and treating Him as our Father we have ignored Him, and we have
had to try to substitute for Him the attention of other people. And of course, they never give us enough
attention, and they never give us enough acknowledgment or recognition. And so we have become little robot
slaves to them to try to get that attention. And that’s why we sense there’s something in us that is beginning
to die. That sense of uniqueness in us is beginning to die day after day, because we are subjecting ourselves
to all kinds of habits and practices that will please other people or that will get us more security. And in
the doing of it we are losing our own spirits.
That’s the unique part of you, your spirit. That’s the part that really makes you, you. And that part of you
is dying day after day after day. And of course, our Creator, His own attitude is one of grave disappointment
as He sees us become more and more like little machines, like little computers, instead of the original
individualistic human beings that He had made us. What we have been saying is that He, therefore, is the only
one that is really vitally interested in us finding ourselves again.
He’s the only one that is interested in our spirits coming alive. He’s the only one interested in us starting
life again, and beginning again, and being born all over again and coming alive again. And He is able to make
us alive. He is able to bring that spirit of yours into life again. But it does mean that you have to believe
Him. You have to start believing that He is really real, and that these things are true. And then you have to
start living the way you would if He were your Maker and if He were your Father.
In other words you have to change your mind, or, it’s put this way by Jesus of Nazareth, “You have to repent.”
You have to express some sorrow to your Maker for the way you have become a little robot, depending on
everybody but Him. And you have to change your way of going. Instead of depending on all of us to give you a
sense of self-esteem and self worth, instead of depending on your boss or your father, on your mother, your
husband, your teacher, your professors — to begin to depend on Him. And to begin to treat Him as somebody who
will begin to be real in you in your thoughts, and will begin to come through you in your thoughts. And He
He will begin to feed the thoughts into you and feed His sense of what you should do in your life into your
spirit. And you’ll begin to sense direction in your life. But you need to do those two things: believe that
He is really there, and then begin to live in dependence on Him instead of in dependence on all the rest of
us. And in that way you’ll begin to come alive again inside.
Repentance and Belief -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Repentance and Belief
by Ernest O’Neill
During the Second World War, we used to wear identity discs as children. And I suppose it’s like the dog tags
in the U.S. army. They were little discs with our name and address on them so that, I suppose, if we were lost
in an air-raid people would know, at least, who we were. And many of us today wish, at times, we had identity
discs. That is, at times we have difficulty with our own identity. We know that to the husband we’re a wife.
And to the children we’re a mother. To one we’re a mistress or a housekeeper, to the other we’re a kind of
nursemaid and teacher.
To our boss we may be a typist or we may be an engineer. To our friends we may be a football player or rugby
player. To the man in the bus we may be just another fare that he collects. And so we find ourselves
fulfilling all kinds of functions in society, and in a sense being a chameleon in that we turn into what we
are expected to be. The problem with many of us now in these days is, we have turned into so many things, and
we have become such chameleons that turn into the color of the environment in which it finds itself, that many
of us have difficulty in telling who we really are.
You may think that’s ridiculous, but great numbers of us nowadays are so busy pleasing other people and doing
what others expect us to do and, indeed, doing what we think we have to do to ensure our own safety and
security, and our own financial futures, that we have ceased to be ourselves, and some of us, shortly after we
get out of school or get out of university, find ourselves in the position where we have lost the sense of who
we are. And we don’t any longer know who we are or what we would really like to do.
We have spent so much time pleasing our peers, our pals, our friends, the boys at the local, the guys at the
pub, the friends we play football with, that we no longer know who we really are inside. And we often would
like an identity disc hung round our wrist, if by that we could easily again be the people that we once knew
when, perhaps, we were little children and were more innocently ourselves. So, we have been discussing that
problem on this program for the past year.
And we have pointed out that the reason we have become such stereotyped robots, and lost the sense of our own
identity and individuality is precisely the reason that we mentioned earlier on: that we have come to depend
on people and what they think of us to provide our sense of self-worth. And we have come to depend on the
stocks and shares, if we have them, or the insurance policy, or the old shekels that come from the job, or the
welfare state, or the social security system to provide us with a sense of security.
And we have depended on these things and these people so much now that we are almost slaves to please them.
And we have therefore lost the sense of what we would really like to do or what we really think ourselves. We
have so long acted in response to the audience’s applause. We look at famous people. And we look at people who
are in the public eye and are sorry for them, because they always have to be on show. And they always have to
say the right thing to their photographers or the reporters. And we think how good that we are not in that
position, but really, we know we are.
We have become strange performers that try to please everybody, and have little time to find out what we
ourselves actually do think or do feel. Such is the state for the majority of us in the twentieth century that
we have given up all hope of finding out ourselves or discovering ourselves. And we cynically say, “Well,
that’s what growing up is all about, you know. You can’t just do what you think. You can’t just say what you
believe all the time. You have to keep your mouth closed at times.” The problem is that we have kept our mouth
closed so often and so long that we’ve forgotten what we really do think and we feel empty inside.
And that has come about because of our dreadful need to get security from the things around us, and to get a
sense of self-worth from the people around us. We, of course, have done that because we have taken a most
unrealistic attitude to the existence of the world. We’ve concluded that the world has come about by blind
chance; by an undirected evolutionary process that has come out of the clear blue sky. We know that that’s
utterly illogical. We know that even if there is an evolutionary process, there had to be someone to program
it to progress from the simple to the complex.
We know that, but we take the utterly unrealistic attitude of practical atheism. And we say, “Well, yes, we
know there must be somebody back there. But we don’t know who it is, and we can’t do much about it, and nobody
else seems to care too much.” So we live as if there is nobody there and therefore, we are our own keeper, and
we have to look after ourselves. And that’s how we get into this paradoxical situation, where we try to be our
own gods. We try to take care of ourselves, and we end up being subject and slave to everybody else for the
things that we get or for the people that approve of us.
There is a way to discover ourselves. There is someone who is actually interested in us finding ourselves.
There is somebody who is interested in us coming alive inside again. And you have a spirit inside you that is
really you. That’s what your spirit is. It’s the real you. You have a mind and emotions that you have like the
rest of us. It’s a reasonable mind or an unreasonable mind, balanced emotions or unbalanced emotions. You have
a body that is reasonable, too. But we all share that in common.
But your spirit is just yours. And there is One Person who is interested in bringing that spirit alive, and
that is the One who originally gave it to you, the Maker of the world. Because He actually wants you to be His
friend. And He wants you to be yourself. And He is able to make that come alive inside you again. However
deeply buried it is under all the mess of obligations and habits and customs, and ruts that you have got
yourself into in your thinking and your feeling, He is able to dig down into the middle of all that and to
make your spirit alive again.
But He does require some things from you. First of all, that you just believe this. You need to start
believing that this is so. If you don’t believe that it’s so, He cannot act inside you. He will not act inside
you, because He will not force you against your will to come alive. But if you will begin to believe that He
is real, and that He is a Person who loves you and cares about you, and knows you, and wants you to be
yourself, and to come alive inside, He is able to bring your spirit alive inside, to make it start all over
again, to give you a completely new life.
It’s like starting life again. It’s like starting it fresh with all the old customs and the old habits
destroyed immediately. And it’s like a whole new fresh life. It’s like becoming a little child again. In fact,
that’s what His Son said. He said, “Unless you become as a little child, you cannot enter the kingdom of
heaven.” And it’s true. Unless you get back to becoming just a little child, to starting life all over again,
you cannot enter into that freshness that you once had. So first of all you have to believe.
The second thing is you have to repent. That means, in Greek (the word is “metanoia”) change your mind. Turn
your mind around. Stop thinking that there is no Creator. Stop thinking that you’re dependent on your peers
for your sense of self-esteem. Stop thinking that you are dependent on your stocks and shares for your
financial security. And start believing that the Creator, who looks after the stars and the birds and all the
animals, also looks after you and will take care of you if you will begin to do what He has put you here to
do, on this earth. And that’s what it takes. It takes a real attitude of belief in Him, and a real attitude of
changing the way you live; no longer depending on people, and beginning to depend on Him. And then you begin
to come alive inside.