Susan Chapman: The Meaning of Life… What Our Wisdom-Elders Know

Susan bio pic 1Excellence Reporter: Susan, what is the meaning of life?

Susan Chapman: To me, this question opens our minds to further dimensions of ‘not knowing’ rather than to simple answers.

But, like the smile on the face of a wisdom-elder, the process that unfolds from this inquiry can reveal life’s most precious secrets. There are three tips:

  1. Let your curious mind expand to include the tenderness of your heart. This can teach us how to bring compassion and acceptance to the suffering and vulnerability in our lives. From this we discover a hidden meaning that connects us to the suffering of all beings.
  2. Allow this mindful heart to touch moments of joy and beauty in our lives with the longing to share our happiness with others. From this we we discover the paradoxical truth that nothing is truly ours to keep.
  3. Pause to feel the full experience of being in your human body, here at this moment. We belong to the natural world around us, sacred and dynamic and as deserving of protection as the oceans and mountains, and tiny blossoming flowers.

When we are blessed with genuine insight, asking the unanswerable questions, ‘who am I?’, ‘what is the meaning of life?’ the tenderness of our human heart might–for just a moment– relax into timelessness, where the familiar story of our birth-to-death life suddenly pops and something inexpressibly beautiful opens up. There may be no words, but this experience brings confidence in the fundamental goodness of humanity, an undeniable certainty. This is what our wisdom-elders know but can only point to. The closest word, in it’s truest meaning, is love.


~Susan Gillis Chapman, MA, author of The Five Keys To Mindful Communication, is a family therapist, contemplative psychologist and meditation teacher.

Copyright © 2016 Excellence Reporter

Categories: Psychology, Therapy

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