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The Meaning of Life

ajani_mgoajani_mgo Veteran
edited July 2006 in Philosophy
OK just to start up on some concepts...

First things first, all things are empty of any inherent meaning in itself. This can mean that there is no "good" nor "bad", only skilful or less skilful. Hence, it may also mean that everything does not have a "Self", and its purpose is given by the casual observer. Take for example a wheel, it's purpose to serve as a transportation engineering marvel comes about as a result of some smart Stone Age engineer's brilliant thought. :crazy:

According to the Dalai Lama, the ultimate meaning of Life is to seek happiness. According to common sense, this is absolutely right.

However, if we commit to the previous argument, then we are naturally convinced that indeed, Life itself has no meaning to it.

But then the only way to make life interesting is to give it a meaning, even if it is something that we coin ourselves.

Any thoughts?

Comments

  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited July 2006
    Precisely, Ajani:

    'Life' has no more meaning than a flower or a stone. It is human beings who attribute a meaning which is not inherent.
  • ajani_mgoajani_mgo Veteran
    edited July 2006
    Is it advisable to put a meaning onto it to make life interesting, if one has the right attitude to it?
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited July 2006
    ajani_mgo wrote:
    Is it advisable to put a meaning onto it to make life interesting, if one has the right attitude to it?


    An intriguing question.

    I think that what is useful is to give our lives a purpose, which is somewhat different from a meaning. The psychoanalyst Viktor Frankl found that 'purposelessness' was at the root of many of his patients' discomfort and that building a purposeful life is healing of the individual as well as of the world.
  • ajani_mgoajani_mgo Veteran
    edited July 2006
    Purpose!... A word that I kind of dislike now but I'll still talk about it anyway!

    Attachment to this purpose you give can be terrible, as I have learnt before I convinced myself that an absolute rewriting of my philosophy was necessary.. I'm still on the process of rewriting it now, at times I think this purpose is difficult to even decide on; and after deciding while it will be fascinating to live; when due to impernamence it goes away it is difficult to get back on your feet.
  • edited July 2006
    I think that as with a lot of things, that has to do with what the purpose is.
  • edited July 2006
    ajani_mgo wrote:
    Purpose!... A word that I kind of dislike now but I'll still talk about it anyway!

    Attachment to this purpose you give can be terrible, as I have learnt before I convinced myself that an absolute rewriting of my philosophy was necessary.. I'm still on the process of rewriting it now, at times I think this purpose is difficult to even decide on; and after deciding while it will be fascinating to live; when due to impernamence it goes away it is difficult to get back on your feet.

    Purpose if nothing else, could imply that one simply be the node of receptivity that they are free of concepts from which compassion and loving kindness can flow to all sentient and nonsentient beings within their circle of influence.

    If it's philosophy you like here you go:

    http://www.independentphilosopher.org/buddhism.htm
    read the weblogs as well as the articles.

    http://search.msn.com/results.aspx?srch=105&FORM=AS5&q=logic+in+buddhism



    I like what Alan Watts had to say about the difference between philosophers and Zen practioners. Philosophers play word games, whereas, Zen practitioners are experiential and have no use in describing their experience with words.

    Philosophy has it's place, but it can be problematic. It proides another avenue to get caught up in establishing more concepts to cling to.
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited July 2006
    I remember Genryu saying once that life had no real meaning and now that you've brought it up again, Ajani, you've got me thinking.

    I don't know if there is a meaning or purpose to life. I do know that I've driven myself crazy (deep panic attacks) trying to figure it out. But now I like to think that life has no meaning and that I'm able to live it anyway. It's sort of a jump off the roof floaty sort of feeling. Sort of Gestaltish, if I'm using the right reference (Frederick Perls?). Sort of a trusting of the universe whether I know anything or not.

    When I first hurt my back I was obsessed with finding out exactly what was wrong until my chiropractor asked me one day "Do you think you can still heal if you don't know exactly what's wrong with your back?" I didn't know what to say at the time but I thought a lot about it. Putting aside the deeper ramifications of the question and of the nature of health and illness themselves, what she was asking me was "Do you trust the healing process of your body?" I've seen my body heal itself all my life so I can definitely trust it's ability. If she asked me that question today I would have to say "Yes", even though it's 4 years later and I haven't gotten "better". I've actually gotten "worse".

    But now that I've stopped obsessing over what exactly is wrong with my back I've become infinitely more patient about the whole thing and instead of making the question more complicated than it actually was I don't even think about it anymore. I just live my life around it, with it and through it. My cats taught me that. Whenever they have pain they live their lives regardless. They don't stop everything and wail. They just go about their business and remain even tempered and loving. I don't know why their behavior had such a huge impact on me, but it did. It inspired the hell right out of me.

    I don't need to know what kind of wood the arrow was made out of or what colour the underpants were of the person who shot it. I don't contemplate the meaning or purpose of life anymore, nor assign one to my life. So if life really has no meaning, that's fine with me because I don't care either way anymore. Whatever is going on is going on, whether I understand it or not. This is pretty much #1 on my list of "How Buddhism has Improved My Life".

    If some of my old friends could hear me now they'd fall out of their chairs in surprise. All the passion and intensity I had and that I directed at questions like this has been redirected to studying and practicing Buddhism and I've softened, slowed and quieted. In Christian terminology I guess it would be the equivalent to "Letting go and letting God." It's a huge weight off my shoulders and I can finally truly be happy.

    And if there is a meaning to life and the Dalai Lama's right that the purpose of life is to be happy then that's fine with me, too, because I'm much closer to that purpose than I was when I was contemplating it.
  • edited July 2006
    Brigid wrote:
    I

    I don't need to know what kind of wood the arrow was made out of or what colour the underpants were of the person who shot it.

    Nice one! LOL
  • edited July 2006
    Hello all,
    Can't remember who said it but, "Life is a story we tell ourselves". Are humans the only beings who conceptualise???
  • edited July 2006
    Esau wrote:
    Hello all,
    Can't remember who said it but, "Life is a story we tell ourselves". Are humans the only beings who conceptualise???

    I don't know, but recently my dog has gotten the idea that he can sitt my my lap when I'm sitting on the sofa! LOL
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited July 2006
    That's him literally trying to tell you he's 'top Dog'..... and I'm perfectly serious! He may well be conceptualising, but on a Canine/Lupine level - and it's quite legitimate. You can take the dog out of the wolf-pack, but you can't take the wolf-pack out of the dog.

    Apologies. Off-topic.
  • ajani_mgoajani_mgo Veteran
    edited July 2006
    Some months ago in a fit of lousy poetry mood I wrote a piece of dumb "poetry" entitled "The Natural Format of Life", where it is similar to the concept where Life is a story. Actually it is difficult for me, I have to confess, to comprehend what psychologists mean by a Purpose when well, true enough it creates meaning, but yet so many of us can still survive and prosper without a proper Goal.
  • edited July 2006
    Is purpose really the same as goal though?
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited July 2006
    You're right....I don't see it as such....Purpose is ongoing... every day our lives have purpose...the 'Goal' surely, means the 'destination'.....?
  • edited July 2006
    And purpose brings meaning and focus even if you never reach the goal (if you have one). Or so it seems to me.
  • edited July 2006
    i see the purpose of the human race,

    the most basic purpose.. as

    ::Life
    ::Improvement
    ::Survival
    ::Repopulace...
  • edited July 2006
    Celebrin wrote:
    i see the purpose of the human race,

    the most basic purpose.. as

    ::Life
    ::Improvement
    ::Survival
    ::Repopulace...

    Of this I see life is the result of causes and conditions not a purpose.
    Improvement denotes that there is something to be improved upon, that we come into being without everything required to perpetuate the species.
    I see survival as an innate instinct or drive.
    Repopulace implies that the earth was already once populated.

    Just my first impression.

    I really like what Simon said, "'Life' has no more meaning than a flower or a stone. It is human beings who attribute a meaning which is not inherent."

    I believe that considering such things as purpose and meaning is symptomatic of a removal of hardships due to our domestication and accumulation of technologies.

    +Ie., Without technologies and domestication rather than pondering what purpose is we would be completely involved in the struggle to survive. Yes, there is still struggle, but it is much different then it once was.
  • edited July 2006
    The struggle isn't less, but it's different, and this isn't a particularly new development. It's been a long time since most of us (in the western world) actually worked to live.

    I don't see flowers and stones as being without meaning. I don't see them as having meaning either, but as being meaning (and I don't mean this in some mystical way, not sure I can explain what I mean though). I see life the same way.

    I think I see meaning as fulfilling your natural purpose. For us, that may just mean living our lives as best we can according to our own skills and personalities. But if our purpose isn't skillful, life won't feel all that meaningful.
  • edited July 2006
    Yes!!

    As the British Prime Minister says in Parliment, I would reffer you to my previous remarks. (Tongue in cheek)

    "Purpose if nothing else, could imply that one simply be the node of receptivity that they are free of concepts from which compassion and loving kindness can flow to all sentient and nonsentient beings within their circle of influence."
  • ajani_mgoajani_mgo Veteran
    edited July 2006
    Hmmm... It's a little confusing here... Tell me do you ever succeed in life (though of course this isn't important) without any goals? Should there not be a desire to achieve, even if there is no attachment to such a desire?
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited July 2006
    There is always attachment to desire. That's why it's desirable.
  • edited July 2006
    ajani_mgo wrote:
    Hmmm... It's a little confusing here... Tell me do you ever succeed in life (though of course this isn't important) without any goals? Should there not be a desire to achieve, even if there is no attachment to such a desire?

    Hhahahahahaha! I have a wife and three daughters, two of which play select volleyball. I do not confuse my purpose with arbitary illusive goals, which are the product of a thought of attaining something one desires. My concern is the dance not the destination.


    If you have a chance go to the Alan Watts website go to the animation section and check out the flash animation, "Life Music." They are free, but you must provide an email address to subscribe.
    http://www.alanwatts.com/
  • buddhafootbuddhafoot Veteran
    edited July 2006
    I was just thinking about Nick's new journey and a joke I once heard:

    What does an attorney/lawyer/solicitor and a sperm have in common?

    About 1/3,000,000th a chance of becoming a human being.

    When you think of it in those terms - you realize how awful attorneys are.

    You also may realize how long the odds are that "you" actually became "you".

    -bf
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited July 2006
    ....Or that Nick became Nick...seems the odds were doubly stacked....!!

    You gotta hand it to him...persistent little booger, ain't he...?? :ukflag:
  • edited July 2006
    yea some ppl dedicate their lifes for their own selfish gain.. i say these ppl just don't know how to live..

    i think thats applicable to the majority of the UK pop.. i work in a store and the amount of ppl i see (especially middle aged women) who rush at 90mph to get their money and stuff and leave is ridiculous... if they slowed down and relaxed they would probably leave quicker but actually notice what they are doing.. all they do is add more and more stress to themseleves and then blame it on something silly.. like their boss or the traffic, they fell over, they ate too much.. life is unfair so on so on..

    also ppl saying sorry for holding you up... well im here for next 5 hours.. pls feel free to stay i really don't mind.. lol

    if ppl took notice of themselves instead of being preoccupied with everything around them.. and actually thought to themselves...

    'hang on.. i'm going to do this no matter what.. and i've nothign to do for the next 3 hours.. why don't i just take my time and relax".. or " well i might be slightly late for work, but its not a big deal,i'm not going to push my car to the limit to get there"
  • ajani_mgoajani_mgo Veteran
    edited July 2006
    Hmmm... In short, should we not have any "purposes" then?
  • edited July 2006
    ajani_mgo wrote:
    Hmmm... In short, should we not have any "purposes" then?


    pur·pose [ púrpəss ] noun (plural pur·pos·es)
    Definition:

    1. reason for existence: the reason for which something exists or for which it has been done or made
    the purpose of life


    2. desired effect: the goal or intended outcome of something
    The purpose of the law is to control pollution.


    3. determination: the desire or the resolve necessary to accomplish a goal
    You need to act with purpose.


    Which one do you mean when you say "purpose"?
    "Purpose if nothing else, could imply that one simply be the node* of receptivity that they are free of concepts from which compassion and loving kindness can flow to all sentient and nonsentient beings within their circle of influence."


    My statement of purpose thereby satisfies the requirement of the above mentioned definition in that--
    1. Reason for existance-- a node* of receptivity the result of causes and conditions of inherited ancestry.
    2. Desired efffect--- Through mindfull awareness I may be free of concepts through which compassion and loving kindness can flow to all sentient and nonsentient beings within my circle of influence.
    3. Determination--- As a result of my dissatisfaction, I searched for way to go beyond the dissatisfactions. Through determination and resolve to go beyond my dissatisfactions I have learned through the dharma that dissatifaction is illusory and impermanent. I also found that my suffering was linked largely to concepts and mental formations.


    *node-Any system or device connected to a network^.
    ^network-cosmos

    My point is, don't get caught up in the words. The word is not the thing, it's only method to describe the thing.
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