Description: Our deadness inside goes after false needs
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