Existentialism: The Search for Meaning

July 16, 2008 at 12:35 am 52 comments

Meaning - Finally, the issue of meaning resonates powerful among many de-converts, and existentialists addressed it in great depth. Yalom here usefully distinguishes between cosmic meaning and terrestrial meaning (individual, “local” meaning – the meaning of my life, not of all life). His focus is on the latter, as cosmic meaning tends to be the purview of religious systems. Indeed, existentialism rests on the assumption that there is no cosmic meaning to life; there is only terrestrial meaning.

The tension we face is that, perhaps alone among the animals, we seem to hunger for meaning, we want to be told our lives serve a larger purpose – but they don’t. Yalom notes Camus’ observation: human beings are meaning-seeking animals in a universe that is meaning-neutral. There is no grand design to the world and hence, no meaning “out there” to be discovered. Yet we seem constituted, as creatures, to seek meaning anyway. Camus calls this state of affairs “absurd”, and it’s not hard to see why.

One can deal with this dilemma by seeking ready-made meanings in a system, such as fundamentalism, and there are few things about such totalizing ideologies more seductive than this aspect of them. How sweet the thrill in playing a part of the Greatest Story Ever Told! The Master of the Universe wants you! No greater antidote to the fear of a meaningless, “wasted” life has ever been devised. In a global, mass society such as ours, it is no wonder fundamentalism is on the rise.

But this solution, as before, is an evasion. Remember that fundamentalism, like religion in medieval Europe, is a “system” in the sense we are describing: a complete set of answers for all of life’s human problems. And like any system, submersion of the self in that system will tend to result in alienation from oneself. It is, effectively, cutting oneself off from the only place where meaning is to be had: one’s own experiential, flesh-and-blood life. Trying to view your life from the vantage point of a system is to abstract yourself from your life, to look at it in the third person. But it is only in the first-person that your life “comes alive” and truly matters to you. This is a slippery concept, so let me expand.

There is an old Zen Buddhist koan, an insoluble puzzle students are supposed to meditate on, wherein a disciple asks a Master, “What is Zen?” The Master says nothing but points at the moon. This, I think, is not unlike the idea that existentialists are trying to impart. Zen is not the finger, is not the gesture, is not the word “moon” – it is the immediate experience of seeing the moon oneself. To give any “answer”, in words or any other symbol, to “What is Zen” is to go astray, because Zen is unmediated first-person experience itself, and all symbols are, by definition, abstractions. In other words, there is no substitute for actually living. Learning about life, studying life, adopting an abstract meaning about what life is all about (be it religious or secular), is not the same as living your life. Those things can, like the Master’s finger, help point you to life and to creating your own meaning-experience (just like existentialist philosophy itself), but at some point study and musing must cease, and commitment in life must begin.

Or, to switch examples, consider the difference between someone who knows all about love, who has mastered all the best neurochemical, psychological, sociological, cultural, literary, poetic, and religious ideas about love – yet has never, in fact, actually loved. Meaning, Yalom argues with the existentialists, is had only by throwing oneself into life, by participating in life, not by obsessing over what a system says about life. He writes, “On this point most Western theological and atheist existential systems agree: it is good and right to immerse oneself in the stream of life. (p. 431, italics original). Thus, to seek meaning by taking refuge in a system — an abstraction — is to lose precisely that which alone has the power to create meaning.

This is not to say that meaning cannot be created within, or using, religion. Indeed many existentialists were quite religious. But they tend to agree on the notion of what is sometimes called “subjective truth” – referring, essentially, not to the correspondence of thought with reality (objective truth), but to the way ideas or thought are lived, and thereby “become alive”. Truth, for the existentialists, must be appropriated, otherwise it is dead and meaningless. Saying true things about the world may be useful for some purposes, but does not and cannot create meaning unless it is made one’s own. Or, to say it another way, truth for you is that in which you fully immerse yourself. In so doing, it becomes your reality.

Yalom then goes on, very helpfully, to survey the sorts of activities that empirically do seem to create meaning for human beings. They include altruism, devotion to a cause, creativity, what he calls the “hedonistic” solution (i.e., fully tasting and experiencing all life has to offer), self-actualization/self-fulfillment (complete development of one’s potential), immersion in the life cycle, and self-transcendence (“striving toward something outside or above oneself”). All these things are concrete ways in which people can and do nurture meaning in their own lives – when they stop abstracting themselves out of their lives. So what, then, is the existentialist “answer” to our need for meaning in life?

Quit worrying about what it all means, and go live your life.

- Richard

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Existentialism: Freedom and Responsibility From Fundy to Orthodox to Apostate

52 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Existentialism and the Search for Meaning  |  July 16, 2008 at 1:02 am

    [...] de-conversion.com wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt Meaning   Finally, the issue of meaning resonates powerful among many deconverts, and existentialists addressed it in great depth.  Yalom here usefully distinguishes between cosmic meaning and terrestrial meaning (individual, “local” meaning – the meaning of my life, not of all life).  His focus is on the latter, as cosmic meaning tends to be the purview of religious systems. Indeed, existentialism rests on the assumption that there is no cosmic meaning to life; there is only terrestrial meani [...]

  • 2. john t.  |  July 16, 2008 at 10:02 am

    Richard

    “Quit worrying about what it all means, and go live your life.”

    Maybe for some, thinking about their existence is actually how they go about living? We are all different creatures and for some, contemplation on things beyond their grasp is what actually brings meaning to their lives. Some of us are physical by nature and others are cerebral. You know the old saying “different strokes for different folks.” I for one Love to contemplate what my “existence” is all about. And the great thing about it is that I come up with different meanings at different periods in my life. I believe that is what makes my life complete. I hope you’ve found what makes you complete.

  • 3. TheNerd  |  July 16, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    “There is no substitute for actually living.” I like that. I see people try to replace living with knowing (e.g. studying the Bible), something I admit I am still often guilty of even in my ex-Christian days.

    I think all too often we forget what is so significant about our being able to even search for “meaning”. It has a very mundane biological base in the ability to recognize patterns. Simply put, there is no “meaning” in anything without a pattern being recognized.

    Humans are one of the best (if not THE best) at pattern-recognition on earth. This is what gives us a decided advantage over every other creature. We can communicate better, we can perform complex math, we can set up governments, we can create art (pattern-recognition being a prerequisite for all those things).

    The problem we fall into (philosophically speaking) is that we’re just too damn good at detecting patterns, even where there is no patturn in existance to detect! A common example is facial recognition. Can you see the two eyes and a mouth in this symbol?:
    : )
    If so, congratualtions, you’re a human! Now take that ability to “recognize” patterns where there is none, and apply it to the supernatural. It’s all to easy, all to human, to think that there is a God Patturn where the evidence for it is lacking.

    Meaning is not an end, it is a means which facilitates our survival. Armed with this knowledge, perhaps we can stop viewing “meaning” itself as having so much meaning (haha) and start viewing it for what it is: a tool, a bi-product of our incredible ability to observe and interpret the world around us, and one of our greatest biological strenghts.

  • 4. ubi dubium  |  July 16, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    The Nerd -
    Sorry to be going a little off-topic, but I liked very much what you said about pattern-recognition. I’ve been thinking quite a bit recently about why religion is so pervasive. What is it about human nature that results in every human tribe, every one, developing religion? (“Why do we keep it” is a separate question. I’m wrestling with “How does it get started?”)

    I’ve been trying to boil it down to the simplest principles I can (in much the same way natural selection can be stated as variability, heritability, and differential survival). I’m not to a final answer that I’m satisfied with yet, but pattern recognition and false positives are a big part of the answer, I’m sure. I also think that the adaptive trait of children believing what they are told is a big part. (If your parent tells you “lions are dangerous”, you’d better believe them, or you don’t survive.)

    Back to the topic. I definitely agree that one of the most seductive things about religion is the way it supplies simple black-and-white answers to what should be difficult questions. Belief is easy; thinking is hard. Great series, Richard!

  • 5. John T.  |  July 16, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    Ubi

    Do you ever wonder whether the pattern we tend to see in things is a pattern that is actually hard wired into our brains, yet we dont have a way to recognize it fully?

  • 6. Jonathan Blake  |  July 16, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    I think it is important to realize that meaning is a mental state. Like boredom, envy, or happiness, meaning is something that we experience. It is a mental state, not a state of the world outside our heads. It is closer to the truth to say “I feel like my life has meaning” than to say “My life has meaning”.

    So religious fundamentalists experience the same feeling of meaning as existentialists. The difference lies in what causes that perception. One is caused by fairy tales and wishful thinking. The other is caused by trying to live authentically based on what we know.

  • 7. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 16, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    John T.

    I suppose it’s possible that pattern-matching for the supernatural is hard-wired in our brains. After all, there’s a part of our brain that is specifically wired to pattern-match for faces. Given the complete lack of actual evidence for the supernatural, I think it’s more likely that we’re just picking out random patterns and giving them undue significance.

  • 8. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 16, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    The Master of the Universe wants you!

    Anyone else think of He-man when reading this?

  • 9. John Morales  |  July 16, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    Frankly, I’ve never felt teleological angst.

    I guess I’m just lucky that way. :)

  • 10. John Morales  |  July 16, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    Hm, I probably should make it clear that I’m not confusing teleology with epistemology.

    This post addresses both, but my comment pertains to the former.

  • 11. Edwin Jose Palathinkal  |  July 16, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    Excellent series of articles. I liked it. In fact I read this article soon after I realized it for myself from life. Thanks for restating it in words so that we can all recharge ourselves with it.

  • 12. A cultural guide for the non believer  |  July 16, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    Lucifer assumes humans who try to live life.

  • 13. John Morales  |  July 16, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    Good one, Cultural. I had fun parsing your sentence in various ways.

    They all semantically boil down to nonsense or category errors, but hey, colorless green ideas sleep furiously .

  • 14. John T.  |  July 16, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    “Lucifer assumes humans who try to live life.”

    What kind of statement is this, some kind of morse code?

  • 15. John Morales  |  July 17, 2008 at 12:16 am

    I gotta say Cultural’s comment is apposite to the issue of pattern-finding raised above.

    Language lends itself to conceptual pareidolia.

  • 16. TheNerd  |  July 17, 2008 at 12:54 am

    Hey, Cultural Guide: The Master of the Universe wants you!

  • 17. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 17, 2008 at 1:40 am

    Cultural’s comment reads like a spam email trying to bypass filters. Very odd.

  • 18. The de-Convert  |  July 17, 2008 at 8:26 am

    I thought it was spam but did not link back to a website as spam typically does.

    Richard ended his post with:

    Quit worrying about what it all means, and go live your life.

    Maybe Cultural was saying that if you do that, you will be controlled by Lucifer since he somehow gains control of those who actually seek to live life vs. blindly following ancient religious texts.

    The statement is kind of a derivative of the statement “The devil finds work for idle hands.”

    Paul

  • 19. John Morales  |  July 17, 2008 at 8:46 am

    If it were logic, the sentence would not be a wff.

  • 20. Richard  |  July 17, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Im intrigued by the idea of pattern-recognition being behind some of our need for meaning. I think theres something to this. Yalom himself has a discussion about why we seem to need meaning. One answer he suggests is that it is an “anxiety emollient” – i.e., when we feel we understand the Larger Meaning, we feel in control (understanding usually increases ones sense of being in control) and therefore, less helpless.

    There are some developments in neuroscience that may shed light on this also. For my part, whenever I think of meaning, somewtimes I think of purpose, but the term also seems to suggest something like “emotional significance.” E.g., “What does working at the animal shelter *mean* to you?”

    Our brains do not separate emotion from logic into watertight compartments like we tend to. Part of the function of the prefrontal cortex is, among a great many other things, to integrate emotional experience into ones larger thinking. It has to determine the *emotional* significance of events and past experiences into a larger whole. This probably served adaptive functions – after all, feeling afraid of a sabertooth tiger was obviously adaptive, but that fear is an emotion. That emotion has to be understood and recalled, and most scientists speak of “episodic” memory – you probably recall where you were when you heard about the Twin Towers. Thats because the emotional import of that experience made it salient, and thus more likely to be strongly encoded.

    Anyway, the point is that when we feel like we understand the (emotional) significance of sometime, we feel like we “really”understand it and can integrate that experience into the thread of narrative that constitutes our ongoing life. When we cannot integrate an experience (this part be part of post-traumatic stress disorder) we feel uncomfortable and ill-at -ease, like it doesnt “digest.”

    Thinking that we are part of an amoral, blind universe that does not care for us and that gives us no purpose may, perhaps, be one of those experiences people have trouble digesting. There is no larger meaning to be had, and we have a hard time with that.

    Just my speculation…

  • 21. TheNerd  |  July 17, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Good point Richard. That reminds me of something I read in Scientific American a few years back. It says that without emotion, humans are incapable of making decisions. We would be powerless to decide between even chocolate or vanilla ice cream without emotions! Think about that for a second.

    So what we have here is a hyper-sensitivity to detecting patterns (or pseudo-pattens) plus an emotional basis for all our mental processing. To me, that sounds like it would be very hard for a human to not find emotinal significance in places where there is none.

    Suppose I wear my red socks, and something unusually good happens to me. The emotional strength of that memory ensures it will be more easy to recall in the future (as all memory recall is based entirely on emotions, even the ability to do math!) Next time I wear my red socks, something nice happens again. I now have two red-sock memories tagged with happiness in my mind. Could there be a pattern here? If there is, you can be sure I’ll find it. I wear the socks again, this time with hightened awareness that good things could happen to me today. Guess what? They do! These must be lucky socks. :)

    See, it’s just that easy. But take “lucky socks” and replace it with something more significant, like a much-needed rainfall occurring right after a particularly roudy campfire party, and you get a raindance ritual. Or maybe good luck comes to a tribe after they win a battle – they will soon feel the need to wage more war, even if there is no conflict worth fighting over. Take this tendancy toward superstition and multiply by thousands of years of refinement. You get some amazingly complex religious beliefs.

    Now, that’s another thing: if we can forget about all the crazy parts of religion for a moment, and look at exactly what it took to make any particular religion what it is today, it’s astounding! Generation after generation, millenium upon millenium, people fed into a complex structure of social engineering to create a massive force that shapes even the lives of the non-believers today. If humanity is capable of accomplishing something so great for heavenly purposes, just think of what we could do if we were to apply our collective minds toward something more earthly! Nothing would stop us, nothing but our inability to act.

  • 22. ubi dubium  |  July 17, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    I’ve been thinking about the pattern-recognition idea for quite some time. Any creature that can learn to respond to a stimulus has some measure of it. What really got me thinking about false positives was reading about B.F. Skinners work with superstitious pigeons. When he gave pigeons food dispensers that dispensed food pellets at totally random intervals, he noticed an odd effect. Whatever action the pigeon had been taking when a pellet arrived would be associated with the pellet. The pigeon would repeat that behavior in hopes of triggering another pellet. Since the result was random, the pigeon would see that sometimes his efforts appeared to work (“Hey, another pellet! I must have been doing it right!) and the behavior would be reinforced. Skinner had produced superstitious pigeons.

    If the capacity to latch onto a false positive exists in pigeons, I think humans, with their more complex sence of pattern recognition, would have a much higher incidence of latching onto false positives. I think this has got to be a part of the explanation of how religions get started.

  • 23. LeoPardus  |  July 17, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    ubi:

    Great reference.

    Just a ooint of order: the pellet dispenser appeared at ‘regular intervals’, not ‘random intervals’. The conclusion you made still applies though. After all, humans pray for rain, seasons, meals, health, and any number of other things that happen with or without prayer.

    What I think I see in religion is “selective reinforcement”. Humans will ignore 30 prayers for a parking space, nice home, healing, good job, etc., but still fixate on the 1 time the prayer corresponded with its “fulfillment”.

  • 24. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 17, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    I was browsing wikipedia and came on a bit on those pigeons, and I think I remember seeing something to the effect of the lack of reinforcement actually causing people to persist more strongly in their superstitions.

    If a person gets some superstitious behavior reinforced a couple times, then in the future, when the superstitious behavior produces no result, a human tends to even more strongly exhibit the behavior, rather than recognize that the correlation between the behavior and effect doesn’t actually exist.

    The natural human response to unanswered prayer would thus be to pray even harder.

  • 25. ubi dubium  |  July 17, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    Just a ooint of order: the pellet dispenser appeared at ‘regular intervals’, not ‘random intervals’.

    Ah, yes, thank you. That study did use regular intervals. The important thing is that the actions of the pigeons had no bearing on the arrival time of the food.

    What I think I see in religion is “selective reinforcement”. Humans will ignore 30 prayers for a parking space, nice home, healing, good job, etc., but still fixate on the 1 time the prayer corresponded with its “fulfillment”.

    Yes, I agree totally with this. People put undue importance on the few coincidences that do happen, and ignore all those that didn’t.

  • 26. LeoPardus  |  July 17, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Snuggly:

    The natural human response to unanswered prayer would thus be to pray even harder.

    What amazes me about this is that when I believed, this made sense to me.
    Now I look back at it and marvel at the abject stupidity of it.

  • 27. Cthulhu  |  July 17, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Yes, I agree totally with this. People put undue importance on the few coincidences that do happen, and ignore all those that didn’t.

    Good old confirmation bias. This is one of the things that ‘psychics’ rely on to ply their trade. It seems we humans are to some extent ‘hardwired’ to remember the ‘hits’ and forget the ‘misses’.

  • 28. orDover  |  July 17, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    Confirmation bias is yet another form of pattern recognition. Technically speaking, a non-event can’t create a recognizable patter, so unanswered prayers don’t light up that “It’s a patter!” trigger in our brains.

    This is a great discussion. I really enjoy it here when the threads lack the Christian apologists who doggedly bring up the same questions and answers over and over again.

  • 29. LeoPardus  |  July 17, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    a non-event can’t create a recognizable patter

    Interesting. I see just what you’re saying. Ordinarilly, if you don’t see something, then you just don’t see it or think about it. This can be a problem. To get around it, you have to set up your perceptual “grid” ahead of itme. This is what a well-designed experiment should do. Of course sometimes, if you build a patttern from perceptions, you may begin to see the “holes” in your pattern and thus discern the non-events.

    I always thought psychology and neuroscience were interesting…..
    (Here comes the fallacy…)
    .
    .
    .
    . (wait for it….)
    .
    .
    .
    .
    …. this proves it. :D

  • 30. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 17, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    I really enjoy it here when the threads lack the Christian apologists who doggedly bring up the same questions and answers over and over again.

    Crap, you jinxed it! This thread is going to be full of them now.

  • 31. Joe  |  July 17, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    Snuggly—

    Sorry—don’t mean to be part of the “jinx” but this intrigued me and I’ll keep it very short:

    “The natural human response to unanswered prayer would thus be to pray even harder.

    What amazes me about this is that when I believed, this made sense to me.
    Now I look back at it and marvel at the abject stupidity of it”.

    I guess my question would be what is stupid about it? Let me ask, when a writer submits manuscripts, and they are returned to him, or he hears nothing more from whom he sent them to, should he/she give up? Or should the person keep trying? Many authors have been “rejected” many, many times before they have a manuscript accepted.

    “Continuing to ask” is an actual teaching of scripture. In Matthew 7 when it says “Ask and you shall receive” the actual verb tense is “Keep asking and you shall receive”. And Jesus talks about the neighbor, bugged over and over again, who finally answers the door. Jesus is not saying God is like an angry neighbor—–but he is saying to be persistent. To keep asking—don’t give up. I just wanted to point that out. Didn’t mean to be part of a jinx. LOL

  • 32. Richard  |  July 17, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    Theres also the issue of reinforcement. Behaviorally, behaviors are generated more quickly using consistent reinforcement — ie., every time you do x, you get a pellet — but they are harder to extinguish when the reinforcement is intermittent. I.e., behaviors generated when the reinforcement only occurs with *some* of those target behaviors tend to persist long after the reinforcement has ceased. Think of slot machines.

    In fact, there is sometimes whats known as an “extinction burst”, wherein the rate of behavior actually increases, briefly, following the cessation of reinforcement.

  • 33. ubi dubium  |  July 17, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    Richard:

    In fact, there is sometimes whats known as an “extinction burst”, wherein the rate of behavior actually increases, briefly, following the cessation of reinforcement.

    Ahh – perhaps like a last burst of fervent prayer from a de-con, right before they finally admit that there was nobody listening after all.

  • 34. TheNerd  |  July 18, 2008 at 11:58 am

    In fact, there is sometimes whats known as an “extinction burst”, wherein the rate of behavior actually increases, briefly, following the cessation of reinforcement.

    I can’t help but apply this to another part of our lives (some of our lives, anyway): parenting. It’s a fact – children will get worse before they break a bad habit, and that “getting worse” phase is where most parents give up. Now that you know, perhaps you can be more effective at discipline. [end side comment]

  • 35. dovelove  |  July 24, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    “Zen is not the finger, is not the gesture, is not the word “moon” – it is the immediate experience of seeing the moon oneself.”

    I find it interesting that “seeing” the moon is what you think he meant when he pointed to the moon. Symbolically, on the positive side, the moon represents a plethora of emotion (feeling), creativity (invariably spurred by emotion, the most beautiful and brilliant creations anyway), femininity, imagination… On the negative side, the moon strongly represents fear (feeling).

    Yeah, the answer was that we should experience life, but life is more than just “seeing.” Much more. Thankfully :)

    We “need” meaning, because deep down we know that there is meaning, heh It is our lofty “thinking” in lieu of feeling that impedes us — greatly. Even so, we know there’s “something.” We know (feel). The problem is we think of ourselves as such lowly ones (per religious teachings), that it’s inconceivable to us that this “something” is actually what we are, under all the superficial layers.

    And when we plug into that “Zen” thing, we can feel it. When we experience “miracles,” like all that intriguing mind-body stuff, we can see it. In those fleeting moments when we allow ourselves to be “psychic” and allow ourselves to see kinda magical things in this life, we’re seeing that “meaning,” briefly… Our lofty thinking cuts it short for some reason. Maybe ’cause we’re feelin’ the other side of the moon, heh Lotsa fear. Fear that we may be more, and that’s just too freaky, lol ;) And besides, that’s not what “dad” told us — “worthless little shit.” Sad.

    When we “pray” (powerful emotions married to our powerful words or thoughts), we see the results of that power. Power that is coming from us (science has proven the power of “prayer”). When star athletes affirm (feeling/words) and visualize their next win, they later see the “magic” of those thoughts/feelings as the cross the finish line… They’re not “praying” to a “God” outside of them with their affirmations, but the one within them. Same results. Interesting :)

    Like the moon, the symbol of the “devil” also has two sides. On a good day, “he” is about our passion and amazing sexuality — good stuff :) On the other days, that symbol is about our intense fear, self-loathing and all that. Damn right ,”he” (fear) controls us a lot of the time…holds us back from truly living and enjoying life. We allow him too anyway.

    So unfortunate…and it is religious teachings that have taught us to wallow in his bad self — and even hate and deny the very good side of “him” (powerful passion and sexuality). And oddly enough, that side of us is rocket fuel for creating very cool things. Very empowering — do ya’ not feel powerful, even courageous, in passionate moments (sexual or otherwise)? (The moon, emotions, remember?) Hmm, now why would a mega-controlling social system (religion) want to keep that from us?? :)

    We don’t need meaning, we are the “meaning” :)

    Peace,
    Dove

  • 36. Anonymous  |  October 4, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    dove what does that mean?

  • 37. George  |  October 4, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    Yeah, what does that mean? Don’t think there is an answer…is there???

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  • 52. Alban  |  October 11, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    I liked the reference to Zen. Eventually if you “meditate” upon the moon, you will either find nothing that inspires or you will behold the inspiration within the beauty of the moon. That inspiration is transcendent. You cannot “capture” it but you can feel it. I admire anyone who can touch this inspiration thru meditation. For most the discipline necessary to accomplish that recognition is just about impossible.

    That inspiration in its essence is meaningful to a great degree, but it becomes meshed with thought, so the desired meaning is mixed in with rationalization.

    Turning the awareness within, reverses external senses, so using the zen example, pinpoints the pure inspiration within the breath having NO NEED of an an object like the moon or a physical process such as the breath. It sounds very difficult, but an accomplished teacher makes the focus and ‘the target’ simple. Pure inspiration felt without thought. What the senses sense is visual, auditory and includes taste/smell as well as tangible. More so than what a skeptic could speculate then as phenomena, there is a unique, profound connection.

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    When applied in everyday life this inspiration elevates the perspective of thinking. Personal understanding of meaning will unfold, as will a heightened degree of common sense and a retreat of doubt and fear.

    Circumstances may not change. No one becomes a great all knowing yogi. Concentration may or may not improve. Fortunately you will always have the access if you want, to be in that simple indescribable inspiration…without speculating anymore on what is the meaning of life…and perhaps gaining insight into what is timeless.

    You will find it fun and enjoyable to try to describe, but most people (at this point- which could change quickly) won’t have any idea about what you are talking about.

    That’s not a drawback however, as the inspiration by anyone taking it in, if desired, IS present in that expression and perceivable to the ‘heart’ of those recipient’s awareness even before being shown directly within.

    Isn’t it ironic that the search for meaning simply begins within the life that sustains our individual living mechanism. Who woulda thunk one is capable of LITERALLY ENTERING the most obvious place to search first?

    No one…without the inspiration of a personally delivered reminder.

    Why? That is not a short answer, but down the road I’m sure there will be a lot of elevated research and answers that will remind us of how important humility and gratitude are.

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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