Excellence Reporter: Professor Nagler, what is the meaning of life?
Michael N. Nagler: After many years of meditation, and having taught a seminar on this subject for fifteen years as well, I have come to the realization that Gandhi answered this question perhaps most simply (I paraphrase): ‘The meaning of life is undoubtedly to achieve self-realization, and this can be done only by realizing our oneness with all that lives.’
In practice this means, as Einstein also said, to eliminate the mental barriers between ourselves and others, eventually “the whole of nature in its beauty.” We are born with these barriers and we can steadily eliminate them by meditation and finding and using our unique gifts in the service of others.
~Michael N. Nagler is Professor emeritus of Classics and Comparative Literature at UC, Berkeley, where he co-founded the Peace and Conflict Studies Program, and the founder of the Metta Center for Nonviolence.
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