Description: Review: introduction to the study of personality
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Examining our Personality
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? That’s the question we’ve been discussing on this program for about six months
now. You may wonder, how on earth can you discuss a simple question like that for six months? Well, it’s easy
in these days because so many of us fail to see the wood from the trees. That is, we’re so taken up with
everyday activities. We’re so distracted with the round of responsibilities and duties that we have.
We’re so entertained often by the video and television and movie world, that we hardly have time to reflect on
why we’re doing it all, why we’re here at all, what the point of our existence is. Actually it’s that
bewilderment that sends us so often into neurotic behavior. It’s causing a lot of the flight that we see to
drugs and to anything that will take our mind off the shear meaninglessness of our existence.
That’s partly why we’re trying to deal with that question. So many of us today are not dealing with it and
have no time to deal with it. Yet, it’s our background underlying frustration and concern about this question
which is dragging many of us into a neurotic approach to life that is virtually crazy and insane. So, that is
why we are trying to deal with the question, “What is the meaning of life?” That’s why we have been talking
about it now for about six months.
What perhaps may drive you crazy is the way I often go back over some of the discussion that we’ve had. I do
that because the chief mark of our life today is fragmentation, a lack of synthesis. Everything is broken up.
Everything is breaking up. Nobody seems to be able to find one single basis for any approach to life — though
all of us are trying in various ways. The chief mark of our life today seems to be the fragmentation of
It seems to be the lack of the ability in our educational system to synthesize what we really think with the
way we live. So, one of the reasons I do go over again the basis of our discussion is to remind you that we
are basing our discussion on intellectual premises that are respectable and that are valid and that are
capable of being analyzed and examined.
So, I would remind you that we have said the meaning of life is that we have been created by a personal,
intelligent being that is beyond all of our finite abilities to conceive of. That intelligent being is loving.
He revealed Himself in a human being who lived in the first century of our era. We can document historically,
by manuscripts like the Vaticannus, the Alexandrinus, and the Sinaiticus, some of which are in the British
Museum, this man’s life…that He actually did and said the things that He is reported to have done and said.
This is that person that is so often regarded as a curse word by so many of us, that person Jesus of Nazareth.
He is actually the son of the maker of the universe. If you want to go over some of the intellectual
undergirding that proves that, then please do send for some of the earlier cassettes that we have shared this
But, we have proceeded beyond that and have got to the point where we see that His explanation of the reality
behind the universe, his explanation of the meaning of life, or His answer to “Why are we alive?” is that His
Father, our Creator, made us with the same capacities as He Himself has, except that ours are finite and not
infinite. He made us with the same intellectual, emotional, and spiritual capacities as He Himself has so that
we would become like Him.
That is really the purpose of our lives here on earth. This is just a short seventy or eighty year spell
during which we have the opportunity to become like Him or to reject that whole idea and just be what we want
to be ourselves. That’s the purpose of our lives.
Now the way He has for us to become like Him is that He has put each one of us here in this world to do
certain things to help Him develop it. In other words, He created the world, but the completion of the
creation He has put in our hands. So, He creates not only an Einstein to take us a little further in our
understanding of the infinite, but He creates a policeman whose job is to bring order into the moral and the
behavioral life of our society.
He creates a secretary whose responsibility is to bring order into the expressions of her colleagues and her
associates as she types letters to other people. He creates a mother whose responsibility is to bring beauty
and order into the home over which she presides. So, the Father who has made us has given every one of us
certain talents and abilities that he knows are necessary to develop His world according to His will. In the
process of us doing that, we will be made by His own life’s Spirit, like Him.
Then, of course, we will engage in a completely new life that will have infinite possibilities. That He has
mercifully not shown us, because with our finite minds, we could make no sense of it. That’s the meaning of
our lives. There is a personal, intelligent being who has created you with certain abilities that are
necessary in order to develop His world according to His will. As you engage upon that pursuit, under His
guidance and by His power and by His life, you will become like Him yourself.
Now, the amazing thing is this, of course, you are absolutely unique! You’re a “one-off”, as they say today.
You are the only version of you that He has created, and that He will ever create. If you do not fulfill the
purpose that He has for you, and do not come into a likeness to Him so that you will be able to be His friend
forever, then there is a sense in which the mighty Creator of the universe will miss something. He will always
miss you. There is no one to take your place.
That’s why you feel you are unique at times. Of course, the problem with the present world is, we are all in
that situation. We are all unique! But unless we are in some way connected with His plan, we feel that
everybody else is ordinary, and we alone are unique. That’s what brings some of the problems into our present
So, the meaning of our lives is clear and plain. We have been made by an intelligent, personal being, and He
has put us here on earth so that we will become utterly like Him in inner character so that we will be able to
take part with Him in an infinite development of the universe after this life is over. The way to become like
Him is to begin to exercise the abilities that He has given us under His power and by His life.
Now, that’s exactly what we’re beginning to discuss in these next few months. How do we live the way that we
were meant to live? In what way did He intend us to live, and in what way did He intend our personality to
operate? Part of the problem that many of us have is we don’t really understand how these personalities were
meant to operate. That’s why we make all kinds of thrashing attempts to be the kinds of people that our
parents, our teachers, we ourselves, and even the writers of books think we ought to be.
Yet, we are repeatedly finding ourselves struggling against personality traits and habits of emotion and
thinking that seem very inexpedient to us and very difficult to reconcile with the attitudes of other people.
That’s what we would like to begin to talk about again next time: how our personality is meant to work.