Excellence Reporter: Dr. Harvey, what is the meaning of life?
Richard Harvey: Life itself is its own meaning. There can be no tricks, seeing round corners, or philosophical search for the true meaning of life. But neither can there be some hidden gain, some extraneous reason for believing that life has some hidden gift or meaning.
Look at it this way – if you love someone for their gifts, because they are pretty or handsome, wealthy or talented, then the love you have for them is undermined. You cannot love someone for their beauty. It may enhance the love you have for them but it cannot be the reason for you loving them. Love is mysterious and it arises for its own sake. Therefore the meaning of life must be inherent in life itself.
Another way of saying it is that life’s meaning is in-dwelling, experienced in and as life itself.
Today experience is some distance away for most people. This is because we tend to think life first and foremost. Thought throws us ahead of the true experience of life, so much so that by the time we get to actually experiencing or meeting life truly it has got away from us. People have ambitions, visions of themselves; they may be obsessed with their image, striving to live within the context of a coherent narrative of life for their self-protection… worrying, planning imagining. Most people cannot stop thought and by thought I mean anxiety. Creative thought, inspired thought, artistic thought may all be innately positive, but most of the time people’s thoughts are merely a carousel of automatic imaginings of scenarios supporting fear and desire and generating worry.
There is a deeper significance to the question of life’s meaning… and it is this. When we question, enquire, seek in an act of true faith that is based on the sense that there must be more… more to life than this we might say, we are delving into meaning in the sense of something profound, perhaps even a deeper meaning. What I have found is that people are unable to see beyond the self-imposed limitations of their life conditioning. In order to reach out to the more they seek they must expand themselves.
This requires radical self-enquiry and healing. The first stage comprises inner work through personal psychology, character structure, and our attachment to the past, in particular early life conditions and how we adapted to them. The second stage describes the emancipated human being who, now free of attachment to the past, lives from the heart-center in authenticity and growing compassion. The third stage is reached through a period of preparation. The spiritually-inclined aspirant participates in an ever-unfolding awakening through deepening awareness. In this way the meaning, experience, and realization of life becomes multi-faceted, kaleidoscopic, and dependent on the unfolding capacity and potential of the subject through the individual’s willingness to be what he sees, becoming a true witness to life.
~Richard Harvey is a psychotherapist and spiritual teacher. He is the founder of Sacred Attention Therapy, a radical, innovative, psycho-spiritual approach to human growth and development. For forty years he has helped thousands of people find greater peace and fulfillment through his workshops, trainings, and private practice. He lives and works in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Andalucía, Spain.
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