Nicolae Tanase: Prof. Needleman, what is the meaning of life?
Jacob Needleman: The dramatic effects of the accelerating advance of technology, for all the material promise they offer the world (along with the dangers, of course) are but the most recent wave in a civilization that, without recognizing what it was doing, has placed the satisfaction of desire above the cultivation of being.
The deep meaning of many rules of conduct and moral principles of the past — so many of which have been abandoned without our understanding their real roots in human nature — involved the cultivation and development of the uniquely human power of attention, its action in the body, heart and mind of man.
To be present, truly present, is to have conscious attention. This capacity is the key to what it means to be human. It is the key to the meaning of human life itself. Without conscious presence there can be no real, enduring love, compassion, will or wisdom, or justice in the world.
It is a metaphysical fact that the being of man is diminishing. In the world as in oneself, the meaning of life is vanishing because we have lost the practice of consciously inhabiting our life, the practice of conscious attention to ourselves as we go about our lives.
~Jacob Needleman is a professor of philosophy at San Francisco State University and is said to have popularized the term ‘new religious movements’. In addition to his teaching and writing, he serves as a consultant in the fields of business, psychology, education, medical ethics and philanthropy, and is increasingly well known as an organizer and moderator of conferences in these fields.
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