Advaita / non-duality

Gary Crowley: What Is the Meaning of Life? (And Why This Might Be a Trick Question)


“You’ve got to turn around, Bodhi,” the woman said with a chuckle to her dog. Bodhi was stuck in place, his leash wrapped around a pole. Yet he continued to pull forward anyway.

In this situation, even the smartest dogs can’t seem to grasp that continuing in the same direction will not get them where they want to go. Ultimately, the solution lies in the direction opposite from what they assume, which is why the owner usually ends up turning around to solve the dilemma for both of them.

As the saying goes, “What got you there, won’t get you here.”

It’s a similar situation when people try to answer “the big questions,” such as “What’s the meaning of life?” It’s a bit of a trick question because the intellect that came up with the question inevitably fails to provide a satisfactory answer.

Rather than taking a conceptual question and attempting to answer it with more concepts, the key here is to help the questioner funnel down into an actual experiencing of the answer, where they discover that the very question dissolves as they marinate in that experiencing. My new book, Soft-Style Conscious Awakening, A Being This-Here-Now Playbook, deals extensively with this very topic.

Answering the question, “What’s the meaning of life?” with concepts alone generally only leads to more and more concepts. But a direct experiencing of life’s meaning answers the question without the need for endless discourse.

For example, do this exercise with me for a moment. Really do it…

Imagine your doctor has called you in to discuss the results of your yearly check-up. He informs you that your test results conclusively show that you have a disease called certa morti, which is Latin for “certain death.”

The doctor also informs you that they can predict, with absolute certainty, that the disease will suddenly and painlessly kill you in exactly 90 days.

He also explains that the final trigger for certa morti lies deep within the basal ganglia of your brain (where our habits and routines are stored). So the only caveat is that you must continue with your regular routine of living or the disease will accelerate and kill you even sooner.

Take a moment and sit with what it would be like to know with certainty that you will die in 90 days.

Feel what it would be like to know you only have 90 days of your unique experiencing of living remaining. Really feel it.

Now imagine what it would be like as you go about your regular routine of living for those 90 days. Really imagine it.

Everything would be exactly the same. And yet, everything would be completely different.

From the outside, your life would look the same as before. BUT, and it’s a big “but,” now you are profoundly aware that your experiencing of living is finite. And the fact that you’re consciously aware that it’s finite makes it meaningful, very meaningful.

Each drive to and from work would be rich in experiencings that previously went unappreciated. You would fully embrace each experiencing with family and friends. The simplest moments would have more texture, more depth, simply because you know your experiencing of life will shortly come to an end.

Even what some would call “negative” experiencings could be accepted with a grace that only comes from an experiential understanding of life.

This deep appreciation of each moment would occur because of the awareness that your unique experiencing of living is finite. You have no control over its ending, so the “meaning of life” would be found in each simple moment. You would experientially realize that the meaning of life is the experiencing of living itself.

Each moment of experiencing is “the meaning of life,” but it’s not discovered through conceptualizing. It’s discovered through direct experiencing.

The “meaning of life” is in the experiencing of living itself, and you become profoundly aware of that when you are faced directly with the finite nature of your unique experiencing of living.

Whether or not we consciously recognize it, we all have certa morti (certain death), and that is what makes our miraculous and unique experiencing of each present moment “the meaning of life.”


Please visit for more free articles, and private sessions with Gary.

Gary Crowley’s new book, Soft-Style Conscious Awakening, A Being This-Here-Now Playbook is available at

Copyright © 2019 Excellence Reporter

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