Excellence Reporter: Steve, what is the meaning of life?
Steve Taylor: To me, the meaning of life isn’t something which can be put into words – at least, not directly. The meaning of life is something that can be sensed, or not sensed. There are certain states of being – when our minds are quiet, and we feel at ease with ourselves – in which we can sense ‘meaning’ around us. We can look above us at the sky and sense something benevolent in it, a harmonious atmosphere. We can walk outside and sense a kind of ‘meaning’ filling the landscape around us, emanating from the trees and fields. We can sense it flowing between us and other people – as a radiant connectedness, a sense of warmth and love.
In other states, we may feel that there is no meaning to life. This can happen in a state of ‘ego-separateness’, when we feel trapped inside our own mental space, cut off from the world and other people. We might feel as if we’re broken fragments, disconnected and incomplete. In this state of being, it may seem self-evident that life is meaningless, that the universe is indifferent to us, that other human beings are selfish and malevolent, and that there is no reason to do anything at all. If we remain in this state for any length of time, we will become depressed, and probably physically ill too.
This state of meaningless can be quite insidious, in the way that it convinces us that it’s objective and valid. But it’s really just a kind of pathology, a distorted view generated by blinkered vision. When our awareness intensifies and our senses open up again, there’s always a sense of waking up, of being closer to the truth of things. There’s always a sense of returning home, to the meaning.
~Steve Taylor is the author of several best-selling books on psychology and spirituality, and a senior lecturer in psychology at Leeds Beckett University in the UK. For the last four years he has been included in Mind, Body, Spirit magazine’s list of the ‘100 most spiritually influential living people.’ His books include Waking From Sleep, The Fall, Out of the Darkness, Back to Sanity, and his latest book The Calm Center: Reflections and Meditations for Spiritual Awakening. Eckhart Tolle has described his work as ‘an important contribution to the shift in consciousness which is happening on our planet at present.’
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