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WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE? Program 204 Your Spirit is Alive in You by Ernest O’Neill

We’re talking on this broadcast each day under the general title of “What is the Meaning of Life?”, about the particular personal predicament so many of us find ourselves in today. And that predicament is the one of not really being able to find ourselves. That is, we can no longer, as they say in modern parlance, get in touch with ourselves. We seem to have lost the sense of who we are. And many of us are in that position nowadays. We try to do something from the heart of our own selves and we find that we do not even know who we are.

Many people, if you ask them what they would like to do with their lives, now answer “I don’t know. I don’t really know. I’d better go to a vocation guidance counselor, or I’d better do some aptitude tests to find out what I’m really good at.” Very many of us answer that question, “No, I don’t really know what I’d like to do.” The tragedy is that many of us who have been in jobs and careers for years still feel that way. We wonder, “Now what would I really like to do?” And part of the difficulty with a career choice is the difficulty we have with other choices.

So often we go on vacation to a place that has been advertised in the Sunday Times sufficiently, or has been talked up in some television program, or that we have seen in some movie, or that someone else has mentioned. But increasingly in these days we find that we are almost the people that the TV commercials talk about. We seem to be Mr. and Mrs. Jones, or Mr. and Mrs. John Doe. We are more and more becoming stereotypes of everybody else that is presented to us in the western world. And what we have been discussing is the reason for that.

And you may remember, those of you who have been taking part really in the conversation and the mental journeyings over the past year, that what we said was we have been made by an intelligent Creator who wants us to be His friends, or to be His sons and daughters. And that’s why He gave us free wills. It’s because He Himself is a self-determining Being, and He wants people who can love Him. And the only people who can love are people with free wills.

So He gave us free wills, gave us the same capacity as He has, and then put us on this earth so that we could choose to get to know Him, and to become like Him, so that we could exist with Him forever and take part in the development of the rest of the universe with Him. Or, we could reject that whole idea and live our own lives. That is what most of us have chosen to do. We’ve chosen to take the position of a practical atheist — that there is no God, there is no Supreme Being, and we’re here on our own to take care of ourselves as best we can.

And therefore we’d better get all the food, shelter, and clothing that we need to give us security. We’d better get all the praise and acknowledgment from other people that we need for a sense of self-esteem, and we’d better grab all the happiness we can before we die. And so in pursuing those three goals that actually all would be fulfilled if we really did accept reality —- that we have been made by a Creator, that we are unique, that we’re the only version of us that he’s made, and that He really does love us, and He really will take care of us. If we really would believe that then all those goals would be met.

But because we don’t, they all have to be met. So we set about meeting them as best we can. We try to establish our security through getting enough things to give us security. We of course can never get enough things. We can never get enough money to protect us from incurable disease. We can never get enough money to protect us from the Wall Street crash. And we know that. So at the bottom of all our seeking of security there

is finally a dreadful insecurity.

And then we do our best to try to get a sense of self-esteem and self-worth because we have none. We feel we’re a little nobody. We’re one of four billion other people in the world and nobody else realizes how unique we are. And that’s because they’re trying to take care of their uniqueness and getting everybody to recognize their uniqueness. And so we fall into the trap of trying to please men, or, being afraid of men.

We live our lives first to please our moms, then to please our kindergarten teachers, then to please our grade-school teachers, then to please our high-school teachers, then to please our coaches, then to please our professors, then to please our first employer, then to please our boss, then to please the next man up on the totem pole, then to please the vice-president, and we hope that someday we’ll get to be president and then we’ll end up trying to please all the people underneath us. And so we live our lives trying to please, please, please.

So, we’ve become performing little monkeys who go always for better cookies. And in that endless pursuit for self-esteem we find ourselves constantly frustrated, because nobody actually is finally interested in us in the sense that we want them to be.

It’s the same with happiness. We try to get the mixture of peace and serenity combined with excitement and exhilaration that we regard as happiness. But however many cars we buy, however many great vacations we go on, however many drugs we experiment with, we never seem to get the height of excitement or the calmness of peace that we are aiming at.

And in the process of trying to get all these things we have lost ourselves. We’ve become little performers who do what everybody else says we should do to get these things. And we get to the point — maybe at age 15, maybe 20, maybe 25, maybe 30, maybe 35, maybe some of us not until 40, 45, or 55, maybe some of us not until 95 — eventually we get to the point where we wonder, “Where am I? What is me? Who am I?” And we find we’re a bundle of responsibilities that we perform, of duties that we keep up, of actions and habits and recreations that we do.

We are a bundle of actions and words and thoughts. But we can’t any longer find ourselves. How on earth do you find yourself? Well nobody else is interested in you finding yourself. Because you, as you are, are the best instrument for them to use. You’re the best servant to their needs for security and significance and happiness. There is only One who really wants you to find yourself and He of course has a vested interest in it because He made you to be unique. He put within you a spirit that is your very own self. That’s you as you really are.

There is a spirit inside you, underneath your mind and emotions and your will, underneath your body, there is a thing called spirit. You can’t take it out and analyze it under a microscope but it’s there. The spirit of Churchill is the very spirit of the man, the very essence of the man. That’s what you are. There’s a spirit in you that is you and you alone. That’s what makes you unique. That’s what has died. It’s virtually dead. From time to time it comes alive in conscience. From time to time it comes alive in some kind of intuition that you have.

Sometimes you think, “I should do this — I ought to do this.” Nobody else has told you to do it but you think you should do it, and sometimes you act on it. That’s your intuition. That’s part of your spirit too. And sometimes you act either in your conscience or your intuition. Sometimes actually at a time of death you have a sense at last that there is a Supreme Being and you almost sense His existence. That’s communion you’re experiencing. That’s another function of your spirit. So sometimes we sense our spirits are our real selves

beginning to wriggle into life, but usually we put the lid on pretty fast and kill them as fast as we can.

The only One who is really interested in bringing your spirit into life, in getting you back again into existence, is the Creator of the world. He is interested because that’s precisely why He made you. He didn’t make you so that you’d become a robot like everybody else. He didn’t make you so that you’d brush with Ultrabrite toothpaste the same as everybody else. He didn’t make you so that you’d wear a DAKS suit like everybody else or you’d drive a Ford Escort like everybody else. He made you because He wants you yourself as His friend and as His child or His daughter. He wants you.

He wants you to be to Him what nobody else can be. So He has a real interest in making you alive. And that’s the secret. The Creator of the universe alone can bring your spirit into life again, and He Himself has a vested interest in doing it. He has a disinterested love of you that constrains Him to want to bring your spirit into life. And that’s often what is referred to very glibly in these days in connection with being born all over again.

But it’s better to forget all that terminology because it’s been so religiousized. But the fact is, it is possible for you to start again and to become alive again inside. And the Maker alone can bring that about. Let’s talk a little more tomorrow about how He may be able to do that in you.

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