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WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE? Program 169 What is Man? by Ernest O’Neill

How are we meant to live this present life we have? What’s the meaning of this life? Why are we even here? Those are the questions we’re dealing with on this program each day. We’ve got to the point where we have established why we’re here.

If you’ve been with us the past eight or nine months, you know after examining the intellectual reasons for believing there is a personal, intellectual being behind the universe who is responsible for its creation, and examining the documentary evidence that His Son actually did live in the first century of our era, and that He has communicated to us His own Father’s, the Creator’s, thoughts about why we’re here, we’ve reached the point where we’re beginning to talk about how we’re meant to live this present life, and particularly, how our personalities are meant to operate.

If you’re like me and like a lot of us here on this earth at the present time, many of us are confused about how the various parts of our personality are meant to operate, and what responsibilities different ones are meant to have. That is obvious from the chaos many of us have gotten into through not only things like alcohol, but also through cocaine and through heroin, and through all kinds of other chemical drugs that we use to try to bring peace into our present life, or some kind of appropriate elation.

It’s obvious we have great confusion in our minds about how our personalities are meant to operate, or how we really should live this life. We have been discussing it from the point of view of the one who made the life. After all, the best person to tell you how a Hoover vacuum cleaner works is the Hoover people that make the vacuum cleaner.

It’s the same with an automobile. The best person to tell how a Ford car should operate is Ford, the person who makes it. It’s reasonable that the best person to tell us how our personality was meant to operate is, of course, our Maker, the one who made it, the one who created it. If we can’t speak to Him directly, at least we can listen to His Son.

It’s His Son, the man we know as Jesus of Nazareth, who has outlined in a fair degree of detail in His own words, and in the words of His followers, how our personalities are meant to operate. He pointed out that we exist on three different levels. The physical level is the most obvious to us. It’s the body. Through the five senses we have physically, we are able to perceive the world around us of things, and of circumstances and of people.

Then, within that body, which it wears like a kind of overcoat, (you might think of it as being inside, like a suit of clothes, underneath the overcoat), is our soul, the psychological part of us. This part of us is conscious not so much of the world, except as it perceives it through our body and through the five senses, but it’s most conscious of itself. That’s the self-conscious part of us.

With our mind we’re able to look in and see what we’re thinking. We’re able to look at our feelings, and see what we’re feeling. Then, inside this soul part of the psychological part, is our spirits. That’s the real you. That’s the very essence of you. It’s what you are when you’re alone. That’s what your spirit is. Your spirit is the real you. It’s also the part of you that is able to communicate with the Maker of the world. It’s in your spirit where you have a relationship with your Creator.

Of course, many of us think, “No, we have that relationship through our body. So, if we can pump the right heroin into our body, we’ll come into some kind of wild, spiritual experience which will be very satisfying.” We find it isn’t necessarily so, and it doesn’t work. All you’re left with after awhile is a wet soap bubble in your hand that has burst.

It’s the same with our soul. Some of us think, “Oh, well, we can think our way through to our Maker”, or “We can think our way through to some kind of wonderful, religious experience which will at last give us satisfaction.” Well, of course, the mind itself is finite, and can only examine the information that is presented to it. If that is finite information, that’s as far as it can go.

It’s the same with the feelings, the emotions. The emotions are so influenced by the body, as we discovered over the past few days, that if you pump the heroin into the body, it kind of brings a passivity to the soul or to the emotions, and appears to give you some sense of quiet. But, it doesn’t last any longer than the effects of the chemicals last in your body. So, the emotions are certainly not the place to perceive the Maker of the world. It is in your spirit, actually, that you perceive Him, and you understand Him. The spirit is the place or the part of you which is able to communicate with God.

You’ve probably had some experience of that in your own life. You’ve been at a lakeside. You’ve sat there quietly after everybody else had gone to explore some caves or go canoeing or sailing. You’ve sat there, and you’ve looked on the glassy, mirror-like surface of the water. Of course, this has brought great peace through your eyes and even your ears to your emotions. You sense a great deal of emotional peace.

But, then, there comes a time when you have felt you’ve gone beyond this, or you sensed that you’ve gone beyond that. You’ve received something more than kind of emotional communication from the mirror-like surface of the water and the quiet of the lake setting. You’ve sensed that there was something within you trying to communicate to you in some way.

Often, many of us have sensed something intuitively deep down, deeper than our body, deeper than our emotions, deeper than our intellects, and deeper than our wills. We’ve sensed something and we call it a “voice”, but we don’t want to be thought too mystical or bonkers. So, we say, “No, we’ve sensed something inside.” Then we express it, “We just think we should do this.” We think we should set out and get this degree, or train for this job. Or, we think we should go and marry this person. Or we think we should do this thing or that thing.

Really, it has come from a great quietness inside us that is deeper than we can even define. There seems to have been an intuitive sense that we should do something or be something. That is our spirit. It’s in your spirit that you communicate with the Maker of the world. It’s usually when everything else has been either battered into submission, or everything else is in a state of balance or peace.

So, many of us have found that this same kind of sense within has come at a time of great personal loss, where suddenly the bottom of our world has seemed to have dropped out. We’ve momentarily turned from the outside world around us, and turned even from our own thoughts and feelings, and we seem to have touched a deeper part of our beings than we have ever touched before. Coleridge, the old English poet, said that about the Bible. Coleridge said, “The Bible finds me at a deeper depth of my being than any other book.”

Now, that’s what many of us have found. We’ve found that at certain moments in our lives, we’ve touched a deeper depth of our being than ever before. It carries its own seal of warranty, its own seal of authenticity within it. It’s interesting. If you’ve come to that point, you’ve sensed, “This is reality. This is really reality.” You’ve had no doubt of it. You’ve just known, “That is true. That is right.” Now, that’s your spirit.

The reason we have so rarely had those moments is because we do not listen to our spirits. We have not exercised our spirits. Our personalities have almost squashed our spirits to death. If you say, “Well, why have they done that?” Because they operate almost completely on the physical level. Most of us are just little animals. We operate on the level of our physical bodies.

Even those of us who spend a great deal of our time even in the City, trying to work out how to invest our money and think of ourselves as being very cerebral — even we are governed most of the time by how we can get a nicer car, or whether we can buy that expensive French or German suit, or whether we can have a good dinner with good wine this Saturday.

So, we operate, most of us, on the level of our bodies. Let’s talk a little more tomorrow about how we were meant to operate in these personalities of ours.

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