Excellence Reporter: Cynthia, what is the meaning of life?
Cynthia Brix: The meaning of life is to remember who we are, and to live from the depths of our true being—including who we are in relation to each other and in relation to God (or the Beloved, the Divine Feminine/Masculine, or ultimate reality, whatever name you choose). This is an I-We-Thou reciprocal relationship.
From childhood I have known from the deepest part of myself –– at a soul level –– that the meaning of life is this reciprocal relationship based in unconditional love, and that the ultimate way to realize this highest love is through selfless service in the world.
We are born from love and we die back into love. The moments in-between create our life journey and the opportunity to learn how to be with love, be in love, BE love itself. Through loving, compassionate relationship with ourselves, other humans, and non-humans we begin to discover who we are, and to realize that we are not separate from the Beloved – from God.
Of course, in our human condition we stumble, we fall, we make a mess of things, and we get hurt and betrayed, so we have to pick ourselves up again and again in order to love again and again. Our struggles, challenges, and wrestlings throughout life are the grist for the spiritual mill that guides our evolutionary growth. When we open ourselves to the highest love and allow ourselves to be broken by love, we come into a greater place of wholeness and ultimately union with God.
We see this call to love proclaimed throughout many traditions. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, for example, the first commandment is to love God with all your heart, your soul, your mind, your strength. This same teaching is given in the Bhagavad Gita as the supreme secret: to give all your love to the divine, and that we are God’s beloved. Similarly in Islam and Sufism; the entirety of Sufism can be summed up in the verse from the Quran: “He loves them and they love Him.” Love is the foundation of life, and scriptures across the traditions point us to this love. Even those who have no relationship to the spiritual traditions have access to that supreme mystery. When atheists would ask Sri Eknath Easwaran how to practice meditation when they didn’t believe in God, he would ask them if they believed in their own higher consciousness. This is the highest aspiration of any of us: when we attune to our highest purpose, it brings meaning to life.
Some of my earliest childhood memories are of watching Martin Luther King, Jr. on the television. I was just three years old when I saw him declare “I have a dream!— that one day . . . little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls, as sisters and brothers.” In my little girl heart, this dream took deep root in me as a prayer. I knew that the more people I could become friends with who were different from me, the more I would know God. That prayer bore fruit just a few years later, when I volunteered to be bussed into an all black school, as part of an integration program in my city. That time was some of the best of my childhood.
A few years ago, while facilitating one of our Gender Equity and Reconciliation International trainings in South Africa, I looked around the circle of dark skinned and light skinned people, lesbian, gay, heterosexuals, people of different religions and cultures, and I suddenly realized that I was, in my chosen vocation, living the truth of King’s dream. My prayer had become reality—once again.
We all come from the same source, breathe the same air, bleed the same blood, and our hearts beat in continuous rhythm together. Until we are all liberated from the pain and suffering and oppressions of this world, none of us are free. As Cornel West said, “Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.”
For me, the meaning of life is the path of the heart and of service. This is why we are here. In practice this means a commitment to keep working on myself growing toward wholeness, while inwardly remaining in constant remembrance of the Divine, and outwardly engaging in loving, compassionate service in the world.
~Rev. Cynthia Brix, PhD (Hon) is an ordained contemplative interfaith minister and co-director of Satyana Institute. She is co-founder of the Gender Equity and Reconciliation International (GERI) project which conducts training programs for healing and reconciliation between women and men in South Africa, Kenya, Australia, India, UK, Colombia, and North America. Cynthia was formerly campus minister at the University of Colorado for United Ministries of Higher Education. A long-time student of Eknath Easwaran’s Passage Meditation, she leads retreat on interfaith spirituality and she co-organizes international conferences on interspirituality that brings spiritual and religious leaders and seekers across the traditions together for practice, dialogue, creative engagement, and collaboration. Cynthia holds an M.Div. from Iliff School of Theology, an MA in wellness management and gerontology, and an honorary doctorate from the California Institute of Integral Studies in Spirituality and Social Justice. Cynthia is co-author of Women Healing Women, and contributing author of Divine Duality: The Power of Reconciliation between Women and Men.
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