WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Our Evil Nature
by Ernest O’Neill
We’re talking on this broadcast each day about the meaning of life and the real purpose of your being here at
all. I don’t know if you’ve sorted it out yourself, but it is a very important question to be able to answer.
Why are you here? What is the purpose of life? Why are you driving this car day after day? Why do you get up
and eat breakfast every day? Why do you keep on going? What’s the point of it all?
We’ve been discussing for some months now several explanations for our presence here on this earth at this
time. What we’ve been doing quite recently is to look at some of the experiences through which we all pass and
find out if that explanation of reality contributes anything towards our understanding of these experiences.
The experience in particular that we’ve been considering is the experience of the Jekyll and Hyde Syndrome
that most of us know so well. That is the experience of a different personality that expresses itself at
inconvenient moments and utterly contradicts the personality that we think we have and that our friends and
relatives have become accustomed to.
In other words, it’s that situation you’ve probably found yourself in, where you want to be understanding and
loving to the person that you’re going home to. But some little thing occurs that sets you off. Before you
know it, there is rising up within you an anger and an irritability that cannot be controlled and the whole
evening, instead of being a beautiful experience, ends up a disaster area. That is what we mean by the Jekyll
and Hyde Syndrome.
It’s the experience of the kindly, generous, loving Dr. Jekyll being suddenly overtaken by the hideous,
violent, cruel Mr. Hyde that started as a personality within him. What we’ve been sharing is that it’s
important to find out why that is so. Of course, what we have said is that one of the reasons for the presence
of those seeming opposite and contradicting personalities within your own life is that there is something
within you that keeps trying to remind you of the way you were meant to live.
In fact, the way you were meant to live was a beautiful way. It was a way of relaxation and rest. It is
expressed very clearly by that man that lived in the first century when he talks about His Father who made the
world and who made you. He says this, “I tell you. Do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat, or
what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on.
Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air. They neither sow
nor reap, nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
Which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing?
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow.
They neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will
He not much more clothe you, O man of little faith? Therefore, do not be anxious about what you shall eat or
what you shall drink or what you shall put on, for everybody seeks these things and your heavenly Father knows
that you need them all.” (Matthew 6:25-32)
That’s the way we were meant to live. We were meant to live here on this earth and do what the Creator had
fitted you to do and enjoy doing it, and then trust Him. Now if you say, “Oh, lie back and do nothing?” Of
course it doesn’t mean that. The economy of the world was planned by the Creator on the basis of your doing
what you are good at.
Whatever you are good at, whether you are a carpenter or good as a secretary or whether you are good at
brushing floors, or whether you’re good at cleaning sinks, whatever you’re good at, His plan was that you
would exercise your abilities and fulfill yourself in doing those things. But, His plan was that you would
actually have a close personal trust in Him and that He would, by means of that, supply you with everything
He would supply it sometimes via your salary, also sometimes through your wages, sometimes through gifts,
sometimes through Him controlling your cash flow so that, in fact, your liabilities did not exceed your
assets. Sometimes through controlling your accounts receivable so that they didn’t overwhelm your accounts
payable, or your accounts payable didn’t overwhelm them, but whatever way He did it, He would provide for you.
You would be trusting Him and depending upon Him.
That was the way the Creator wanted you to operate. There was something in you, especially in your conscience,
that keeps making you move in that direction. There is in most of us something of our childlike trust that we
had of our parents when we were children. There is in most of us a kind of abandoned, enjoyable, exhilarating
readiness to just trust ourselves to the wind.
There is in all of us that exhilarating sense that when we look at a bird and see it soaring into the air we
feel we were made to soar. When look at a baby, one of our own children, and see how absolutely trusting they
are of us, and how they’re not all worried about where their lunch is coming from or where their winter coat
is coming from.
We have a sense that there is something of that that is meant to be in us. Of course, that’s what old
Wordsworth meant, you remember, in his poem “Ode on Immortality”. He wrote, “Heaven lies about us in our
infancy. Shades of the prison house begin to close around the growing boy. At length the man perceives it die
away and fade into the light of common day.”
He was saying that there is in us when we were children some of that bright and delightful trustfulness that
you see in a little child of its own father. That is a hearkening back to what we were intended to trust for
our security. We were intended to trust not even Margaret Thatcher [Prime Minister of the United Kingdom], and
not the government, and not the economy, and not even the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street — not the Bank of
England — or the Bank of America, not Citibank, or Barclay’s Bank, nor were we meant to trust our
inheritance, or our parents making the right kind of will, or our company or our salary.
We were meant to just trust the Creator of the world, who is the one that put us here via our mother’s womb.
Actually, there’s something in us that makes us want to do that and makes us not want to worry or not want to
be anxious, or not want to grab at other things, or not want to covet or not want to fret, or worry and try to
manipulate all day how we will make another dollar or another pound.
There is the side of us that has been trained for generations to try to get our security by amassing enough
money, enough possessions, enough property, enough stocks and shares, enough pension funds, enough homes —
enough children, even — so that we will know we will be able to keep ourselves until we die and, after that,
to keep our wives and our children. There is a part of us that depends constantly on things and puts its trust
in things for its security.
That is the “Hyde” part of us that rises up and makes us covet and plan at night and worry at night how to
make an extra dollar or make an extra pound. That is where the “Hyde” comes from. The “Jekyll” in us comes
from that part of us through our conscience that reminds us of the way we were meant to live, that wants us to
live depending on the Creator of the world.
The “Hyde” part of us makes us want to depend on the world itself and the things in it to get us our security.
That is part of our explanation of Jekyll and Hyde in our life today. Let’s talk a little more tomorrow about