Description: Further Illustrations from the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Jekyll and Hyde Illustration
by Ernest O’Neill
We’re talking on this program each day about the meaning of life, what the purpose of life is, why you’re
alive. We have been talking about a possible explanation of that reality and we’re now trying to apply it to
our own experiences. And particularly to some of the baffling and bewildering experiences we have as human
beings. One of those is the Jekyll and Hyde syndrome.
We’ve been talking about how, you remember, Robert Louis Stevenson in his novel, called “The Strange Case of
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, describes in vivid detail the experience that Dr. Jekyll has of a growing, ugly,
unpleasant side of his nature that eventually begins to express itself under the influence of a drug which he
himself invents in the personality of Mr. Hyde. As Dr. Jekyll is a kindly, generous, philanthropic doctor
who is always ready to help the poor, so Mr. Hyde is the very opposite.
He is a selfish, violent, unkind and cruel creature that exists at first inside Dr. Jekyll’s own heart, in
secrecy, and then, through the influence of the drug, expresses himself outwardly in a physical manifestation
that is suitable to his inner feelings. What we have been saying is that that novel became a classic partly
because it deals with a perennial, universal problem all of us have.
There probably isn’t one of us that is listening today who doesn’t know of that heart of darkness within him
that lurks there with all kinds of lust and hatred, and selfishness, and pettiness that is never seen by our
friends on the outside or even by our dearest relatives. Yet it is there, inside. At times, when we are
determined to be kind and to be understanding and to be patient and to be quiet, we burst out in anger and
irritability and hostility.
We cannot understand why that is so, but it seems there is a lion within us that is ready to destroy the
things we so often labor ourselves to create. One writer put it this way, “There is something in mankind
that after he has built a beautiful, crystal palace, suddenly thinks, why don’t I kick the whole thing to
There seems to be within us a desire to hate and to torture alongside the desire to love and to be kind. You
know it in your own personal experience, probably. You know how often you have designed a beautiful evening
for those at home and determined to be on your very best behavior and then some little incident occurs that
sets you off. Before you know it, by irritability and bad temper, you have utterly destroyed the evening.
You could cut the atmosphere with a knife and everybody goes to bed in misery, and tired of each other and
hostile, more hostile. That’s what we mean by the Jekyll and Hyde Syndrome. Where does it come from? It
comes from the very nature of reality. Reality, you remember, we have shared is that there is a Creator of
this universe. There has to be, and there in fact is one who has an infinite mind, is intelligent beyond
anything you or I can describe, but also He has a loving heart.
And He is indeed the Father of that man Jesus of Nazareth that lived in the first century. That Creator made
you and me to live in a loving friendship with Him. He gave us free wills so that we could choose to do that
or we could reject it if we wished, because He knew that love was only possible if there was free will. You
could only love if you were free to love. Otherwise, you would be, in fact, a constrained and a controlled
So He gave us free will so that we were free to love Him and depend on Him or we were free to love the world
that is such a passing, material, transient thing, and to depend on it. Of course, we as a race have chosen to
depend on the world. We are without the love of our Creator and so we are without the sense of security that
that brings us. We’re without the love of our Creator, so of course we’re without the sense of value and self
worth that He alone can bestow on us by His love.
We feel just one of 5 billion others. Then we lack the happiness we would have had in friendship with an
infinite Person. So we endeavor all the time to try and get happiness for ourselves. So, in that experience of
reality, you can see there is already inherent the two personalities, or the two drives within us. There is
one part of us that really still yearns after what we were intended to be.
There is part of us that still wants the peace of Walden Pond, coupled of course with the excitement of “the
Arabian nights”. There is part of us that wants that combination of peace and dynamic excitement that can only
be found in the love relationship that we were planned to experience with the Creator of the universe. There
is part of us that yearns for that and yet there is part of us that tries to get that from pleasant
In other words, there’s part of us that yearns for the eternal sense of knowing and being known by an infinite
person like the Creator of the universe. Then there is part of us that tries to find a substitute for that in
the circumstances and the experiences through which we pass in this present world. So that begets in us the
Jekyll and Hyde Syndrome in regard to our happiness.
There is part of us that wants to loves our wives, to be faithful to our wives, and to have a meaningful and
real relationship with them, and to know them intimately, not only from a physical viewpoint, but from an
emotional and a mental and a spiritual standpoint.
There is part of us that wants to know them intimately and to experience, not only that sense of being totally
possessed and that sense of standing still that comes in a physical orgasm, but above all that sense of
standing still and of being known and being utterly possessed that comes with absolute trust in another
personality, absolute trust in another person and in their trust of you and in their love of you, and in the
sense of them fully and completely knowing you and yet still loving you.
There is part of us that yearns for that, because that is a shadow of the happiness that we are meant to
experience with our Creator. We are meant to be known by Him and to know Him and to know that He knows us
absolutely, loves us completely and trusts us completely. But, there is also a part of us that has started to
live the way the rest of mankind lives, trying to get a substitute for that happiness in the circumstances and
experiences through which we pass.
We’ve tried to substitute for the exhilaration that we would have from a completely being-known relationship
with another person, trying to substitute the exhilaration that we have there with the exhilaration that we
get from skiing down ski slopes at a very fast speed, riding a motorbike and rolling it into corners as fast
as we can, driving a car as fast as we can possibly can accelerate it from zero in the famous 10 seconds,
doing anything we can to get experiences that give us the exhilaration that we were meant to have in a
relationship with the Creator of the universe.
And so that Jekyll and Hyde Syndrome is built into the two ways that we can live life. The one way that we
were intended to live it, and the other way that we have, in fact, chosen to live it…trying to get from
circumstances, from the right set of circumstances, the happiness and exhilaration and peace that we were
meant to get from a relationship with the one significant other in the universe. Let’s talk a little more
tomorrow about why we have this Jekyll and Hyde experience.