Reverend Dr. Jeremy Taylor on the Meaning of Life

IMG_5433cropIn my experience, “What is the meaning of life?” is a question that probably cannot be answered adequately by any one person for the whole of humanity.

Even given that limitation, it still does seem to me that the determination of what is “meaningful about living and being alive as a human being” for anyone, or any group of people, (no matter how large or small that group might be), must include ideas and emotions and other information that regularly resides beyond the conscious mind at any given moment. Because our dreams remembered from sleep are the most universal and ubiquitous sources of reliable information about what is unconscious in us, (that is to say, what is there, but “not–yet–speech–ripe”), I believe that paying close attention to dream memories is a crucial and absolutely necessary activity for anyone to discover the best possible answers to this inescapable, archetypal question for themselves – let alone for other people.

A survey of world sacred narrative and popular culture, combined with close attention to my own dreams remembered from sleep, as well as paying very close attention to the dream accounts of (literally) countless other people, I have become convinced that the deepest meaning of our lives, individually and collectively, is to be found in our evolving ability to become more and more consciously aware of the many manifestations of love in our universe – both loving, and being loved…

In accepting the challenge in the folktale, “Tell the whole truth about God while standing on one leg,” the Hasidic Rabbi replies, (while standing on one leg!), “God is love – all the rest is commentary.”

One of the things that charms and amuses me about this story is the symbolic implication of “standing on one leg.” To my symbolic eye, “standing on one leg” means that the other leg must be firmly planted in the “unseen world.” – which is an archetypal metaphor of being awake and conscious, while still paying clear and focused attention to the depth and breadth of the unconscious.

At some point, Kurt Vonnegut, (writing under the name of of “Kilgore Trout”), answers the question: “What are human beings for?” with what I take to be the symbolically exactly the same answer, (only in different words): “Human beings are for performing psychotherapy on God.”

My experience has convinced me that only the truth is funny… If you find Vonnegut’s quip amusing, then you have discovered a deep, recurring (archetypal) shape in your own experience – a shape which certainly deserves the adjective “meaningful.”


~Reverend Dr. Jeremy Taylor, D.Min., S.Th.D. (hon.)
Co-founder and Past President of the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD), Founder-Director of the Marin Institute for Projective Dream Work (MIPD), Founding Faculty at the Chaplaincy Institute for Interfaith and Arts Ministries (ChI), Member of the Board of the Unitarian Universalist Society for Community Ministries (UUSCM), Associate Director of the Rowe Certification Program in Spiritual Guidance, (RCPSG)

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