Excellence Reporter: GuruMeher, what is the meaning of life?
GuruMeher Khalsa: A question as big as this necessarily has more than one answer. These answers will seem contradictory or even paradoxical. In fact, the two answers I offer below illuminate why there are as many answers to this question as there are hearts and minds.
First, there is no meaning of life!
Life simply is. It needs no further meaning. Galaxies, bacteria and humans come and go in a constant flow. It just is what it is. Meaningful and meaningless are just inventions of the mind.
Meaningless sounds empty, void and dark – and we are scared of the dark! Mind strives to fill the fearful void of meaninglessness with busy, important thoughts and grand purposes. We build philosophies and theories and keep mind occupied. We feel safer this way.
But a busy mind also produces stress. We have to match up to the purpose we created; it’s up to us to fulfill our purpose. This drives great and horrible human actions. There is another way. When we face our fear of emptiness and death, sit with it and let life be what it is, watch, participate and enjoy creation and our own experience of life’s unfolding… it becomes very relaxing to be part of something vast and timeless and go along for its ride. To experience a magnificent sunset is fulfilling without words or meaning. The practice of meditation, to observe life without interfering, is deeply satisfying and peace-giving. We can let life be as it is.
This is only one side of the answer. Because eventually we get bored and want to DO something, have a new experience. Ancient wisdom gave this as the reason the gods created worlds. With action, contentment is balanced with striving; completeness is complimented with expansion. We create reasons to get going, be busy and productive. This urge to create is seen everywhere in the universe.
This urge is the source of the second answer, which completes the first: You must find the meaning of YOUR life. There is no meaning to life other than what you give it. You must find it. And then, to be happy you must fulfill it.
There are as many purposes and paths as there are human hearts. Some will selfishly spend their life in pleasure of the senses, others in service to others. Pleasure, austerity, noble deeds, quiet simplicity, love, building great things…any and all work IF THEY ARE YOURS! What is the purpose that gives your life meaning?
No one can answer this question for you. We get clues about our path by liking or disliking the options and choices others make. Often we grab some purpose to survive, or something is pushed on us. If it is not our truth, our youthful enthusiasm fades with age. So how to know?
A few seem to just slip right in, to easily know their destiny and pursue it. Most find it by degree, like feeling “warmer or colder” about life as they walk through it. And that is the apparatus we have to find our way – how we FEEL about ourselves and our situation. Our meaning comes not from satisfying ideas, but from feelings of contentment. Not complacency, but a deep knowing that all is well. It’s not about achievements and final outcomes. It is a process – fully engaged in life, without lack and striving. Life flows, and so with us when we accept the life we find ourselves in and fulfill it by embracing it as it unfolds.
When we can hold these two truths in balance, no meaning and our unique meaning, we are fulfilled without stress or any sense of failure. We can let our individual purpose be a small cog in the great machinery of life. Life can be a play we can be part of without the burden of making it happen.
And that is enough.
~GuruMeher is a Certified Yoga Therapist and Professional Life Coach who has been teaching and counseling for forty years. His clinical experience and personal quest for peace led to the discovery of emotions’ essential role in our natural system of psychological self-healing. He is the author of two books, Senses of the Soul: Emotional Therapy for Strength, Healing and Guidance, and Emotional Liberation: Life Beyond Triggers and Trauma. His mission is to help humanity realize our innate abilities for self-therapy through workshops and full trainings in emotional skills and healing online. He works with clients and couples virtually and from his home office. He and his wife, Siri Atma, have lived for 30 years in Los Angeles where they raised two emotionally strong children.
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