Description: Why are we here - bewilderment of life
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Life is Bewildering
by Ernest O’Neill
Why are you living today? I mean, what’s the purpose of your coming into existence? Have you any idea? Have
you any notion of why you are living these years here on earth? Why you’re doing what you’re doing now? Many
of us tend to say, “I haven’t a notion! I haven’t a clue why I’m here. If I could answer that, I’d run the
world. I don’t see any sense in my being here at all. I have no idea why I’m here.”
Yet, it is strange, isn’t it, that you and I and probably thousands of other human beings should take that
attitude towards a question like, “Why are we here?” because we don’t take the attitude towards asking the
question, “Why are you driving where you’re driving at the moment?” You would normally say, “Well, I’m driving
this direction because I have to get home for dinner, that’s why”, or “I’m driving this direction because I’m
going to the theatre,” or “I’m driving in this direction because I’m going out to play badminton, or play
billiards, or something.”
But you wouldn’t dream of answering, “I don’t know why I’m driving where I’m driving tonight. I don’t know.
I’m just driving because that’s what I’m supposed to be doing.” In other words, in regard to ordinary,
everyday activities, we don’t take such an irresponsible, easy-going, laissez-faire attitude towards the
question, “Why?”. Yet, we do seem to take that attitude towards the cosmic question, and obviously the much
more important question, “Why are we here?”
Of course, probably some of the reason why we are a little casual about that question is, because we have
absorbed a great deal of the thinking that has gone around philosophically and scientifically and
theologically and psychologically during these past years. Of course, that thinking or that attitude seems to
have indicated that there is no reason or sense to life at all, and that we don’t really know why we’re here.
We’re just here.
We came into existence in a millisecond of endless time. We’re going to disappear in another millisecond, and
we won’t be noticed any longer. That’s it. Yet, it is difficult to imagine that it is all just as pointless as
that, isn’t it? It’s a little difficult to think that it is as casual as that, because there does seem to be
great order and purpose in a lot of the things we observe around us.
It does surprise you that the seasons do come and go regularly, century after century. Sometimes, maybe in
regard to Lord’s cricket or Wimbledon tennis, we’re not sure they are coming in the way they usually do, but
still, despite the fact at times the weather is a little bit of a disappointment, yet we do expect spring in
certain months. We do expect summer in certain months. We can depend upon them so reliably that we do
successfully grow our crops on the basis of the orderly repetition of the seasons.
It’s the same, indeed, with our watches. We set our watches according to the orderly, regular orbiting of our
earth around the sun. Indeed, if we begin to think of our space shots, we depend utterly on getting our men
into the right orbit and we depend utterly on the regular orbiting of the planets. So, there are many things
in our own, everyday lives that indicate there is order and purpose in the general creation and it would be
very reasonable to expect there is order and purpose in the creation of you and me. Because, of course, we are
the very height of creation.
Our brain possesses the only cells that think about themselves. It’s amazing! They’re the only cells that
think about themselves. They’re the only cells that can have the kind of discussion you and I are having at
this moment. They’re the only cells that can reflect upon themselves and be self critical. None of the animals
can. None of the plants or the trees can. Despite that guy, you remember, who talked in the movie to the
animals [Dr. Dolittle], the animals don’t talk, and they can’t reflect, and they can’t analyze.
So, we are not only part of an orderly creation, but we actually are the highest phenomenon in that orderly
creation. So, it’s very reasonable to expect there is reason for our existence, and there is purpose for it.
Of course, you and I have a tendency to say, “Well, maybe so! Maybe so! And if there is, I certainly would
like to know it. But I haven’t a clue what that is, and I really don’t know how to find out.” Of course,
that’s one of the problems: How do you find out why you’re here?
Most of us try the vocation-guidance-counseling-technique, or we try to do multiphasic tests, or we try to do
aptitude tests, or we try to find out what our father and mother had in their life that they’ve passed on to
us and therefore, what we ought to do in the light of that. But, despite those attempts at finding out what we
should do in the way of a job here on earth, we still are bewildered as to the overall purpose of our being
Many people have tried to tell us why we’re here, but it’s very difficult to respect many of them. Many of
them seem to be fanatics. They seem to be out for our money often. Or, they seem to be out for their own
egotistic reputations. Or, they seem to be sheer fanatics, gurus and strange mystical types that are out to
either make their financial fortunes, or make their reputation, or satisfy their desire for fame. But, we
don’t find many of them that we frankly can trust.
Of course, we said some months ago there is one who stands above all the others. There is one who is very
different. There is a man who is very different from all the religious teachers and prophets. He is different
because He not only taught the highest ethic, and explained most clearly what the purpose of life was and what
reality was, but He also lived it. He lived it in such a way that the people who actually brought about His
death said they could find no fault in Him.
Of course, He was the only man who ever lived the kind of flawless life. Even people like Buddha and Mohammed
all admit all kinds of flaws and faults that were obvious in their lives. This is the only man who didn’t do
this, and in fact had a life that reinforced His proclamation that He was doing the will of His Father. Of
course, He explained His Father was really the Creator of the world, the Creator of the universe.
The man was one who we have long used as a swear-word, and for a long time we have dismissed Him as kind of a
mystical figure of the past who really didn’t exist. But, He did! He’s the most historical figure, if you
could accept the term, that the world has ever seen, because His historicity is proven beyond all doubt. He
is, of course, Jesus of Nazareth.
That man, Jesus, lived a life which was flawless and was absolutely different from all the other religious
leaders, not only in His life, but in His death, because He overcame death and He lived again. This man
explained to us why we were here. That is what I’d like to talk about tomorrow, if you’d listen in. Thank you