Excellence Reporter: Dr. Perlman, what is the meaning of life?
Lee David Perlman: The meaning of life is infinitesimally simple and infinitely difficult. All meaning in life comes from two intertwined sources: Truth and Love.
When we stop resisting our deep eros for self-knowledge, then life becomes a fountain of meaning and a carnival of curiosity. We are never bored, and everything is of interest, because everything contains clues to who we are and how we should live. And when we follow our eros fully our lives become so full that we overflow. We become naturally kind to others, a formless field of benefaction. We want to know them, and we take deep interest in them, and that interest is appreciative and nurturing.
To the extent that we are intent on our own erotic journey to Truth we do not need the admiration of others. We can make ourselves translucent, and let those who notice our lightness and our light turn their focus from us to the object of our eros, the glimpses that we have of Truth. Without trying we redirect their eros from the finger pointing at the moon to the moon itself.
Some of us are more oriented towards Love, and some more towards Truth. The two roads constantly intertwine, and ultimately lead to the same place – a self-knowledge that connects us lovingly with everyone and everything. And to effectively seek the Truth we must at every moment tell the truth to ourselves and others, as we imperfectly perceive it. Telling the truth connects us in a deep way to ourselves and others, if we treat truth-telling as not a reporting of facts, but as establishing a true relationship to ourselves and others. In that, we see again how truth and love are intertwined: truth without love isn’t Truth, and love without truth isn’t Love.
So, to live a meaning-infused life, ask yourself in all endeavors, “Does this get me closer to the Truth of who I am and how I should live? Does this get others closer to the Truth of who they are and how they should live, or nurture their own sense of fundamental worth?” If it does none of those, then it is decoration and distraction, and recognition of that will pull you gently back onto the path.
~Lee David Perlman, Ph.D.
Co-Director, The Educational Justice Institute at MIT
Lecturer in Philosophy
Experimental Study Group
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