Excellence Reporter: Dr. Newberg, what is the meaning of life?
Andrew Newberg: The meaning of life, for me, is found in perpetually asking questions.
I think that all people are designed to explore the world and ask questions towards understanding the meaning and purpose in life. Having a passion for inquiry opens up all other fields of exploration from scientific to artistic to philosophical to religious and spiritual. As long as we are alive, we are engaging the world and asking questions.
Whether we realize it or not, our brain is constantly helping us to understand the world by being inquisitive. And by constantly asking questions we grow and develop from one stage of life to the next. We even have the opportunity to transcend our own being by achieving a state of enlightenment.
Such a state is attained by the continued pursuit of understanding the nature of reality through meditation, prayer, or contemplation, with the goal of arriving at a fundamentally new understanding of the universe – a new understanding that shows how little we know and how much more we have to learn. But this is ultimately driven by our desire to explore and question the infinite unknown.
Thus, the meaning of life is found in questions, not answers.
~Andrew Newberg, M.D. is a neuroscientist who studies the relationship between brain function and various mental states. He is a pioneer in the neurological study of religious and spiritual experiences, a field known as “neurotheology.” His research includes taking brain scans of people in prayer, meditation, rituals, and trance states, in an attempt to better understand the nature of religious and spiritual practices and attitudes.
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