10 days ago I slipped on some ice and suffered a tri-malleolar fracture on my left ankle. My pregnancy (nearly 6 months now) complicated things further. So after an excruciating pre-surgery reduction (without painkillers!) and surgery the following morning under spinal anaesthetic, I spent a few days in the Tandridge Ward at East Surrey Hospital. On Tuesday, a few minutes past midnight, this happened:
“I’ll give you all I have” her voice trembled “My clothes, my house, the cash under the floorboards …”
She was standing in the middle of the room.
“Just take me to my husband. Or bring him back to me. To the times where we’d sit around the table like a family. You know, like a family. A family. A family … He’d dip his sunflower seed speckled bun in beef stock gravy and smile at me. Take me to him. Please”
“Come on darling” the nurse said. “Darling come with me and let’s sit back down”
“Do you mean it?” the old lady said, starting to weep.
“Mean what darling?”
“Do you mean it when you call me darling?”
“That’s a good girl” the nurse whispered. “back to bed”
“I’m an old bag of useless bones” the old lady cried, refusing to move, pissing on the floor “I’m nobody’s darling. Don’t. Don’t. Don’t. Don’t call me darling”
“Need some help here” the nurse called.
She was mad. Or was she? I don’t know, but found out later that she was 93 years old. Her husband had passed away a few years ago. She had a son who had only come to visit a few times in the two weeks she had been there. I had wondered about her accent. German.
Later that night:
“Pain. Pain. Pain”
“Oh will you shut up” the patient in the bed next to her muttered.
“Please. Please. No Pain. I just want to be a family. A family. Like how we used to be. Remember the buns … and … gravy … and buns? Family. Please. Pain – no pain. Please. I just want to be a family … ”
Last night – or rather at 3:00 Clock in the morning – it occurred to me that I really hadn’t let go. I was playing life like a chess player that asked God for the occasional “good move” advice, but was otherwise controlling the pieces and the overall direction of the game myself. The more I thought about it, the more clearly I was able to see the degree to which I was still trying to control my own life. We pray the prayer “Not my will but yours Lord” all the time, but in my state of sleeplessness I was suddenly given the insight to read between my own lines. Often when I say “I want do your will God”, what I really mean is “I’ll do your will so that you will – ultimately, do my will” The deception of motive here is very subtle but really quite obvious on close analysis. We talk the great talk about doing God’s will but when it comes down to it, when we truly analyse our own hearts, we see that what we’re trying (foolishly) to do is manipulate God into doing what we want. A good example of this is how we look at our futures (in this world).
Most people have an idea of what their future should look like. Mr X might say: I want to be a noted inventor, making at least such and such amount a year, and I would also like to be married to a gorgeous woman who will love and serve me and meet my every need and desire. I’d also like to be living in a – oh, minimum four bedroom – house with a massive garden which will be for where I host all my parties – for your glory of course Lord. Now, none of these “dreams” are necessarily evil in themselves, but they are ultimately the will of Mr X. What often happens is that we draw up a vision of what a “good” life would look like – and so long as it involves church and Christians and things that don’t outright contradict Christianity or the teachings of Jesus – well, that must be okay. And in making this assumption, we ask God to grant OUR will. Or we say “Lord – I’ll do your will (and we see this as reading the Bible, going to the church, praying when we can etc), but then in return, kindly do my will and make the dreams I dream for myself come to pass”
What occurred to me at 3:00 Clock in the morning was the idea that God is just so tired of people simply using Christianity (or indeed God) for their own ultimate gain. If this is all our Christianity is – a means to an end (that end, being the fulfilment of our wishes and desires), can we really even call ourselves followers of Christ. Jesus was 33 when he set out to do the will of God and the will of God for him meant – “no place to lay his head” and in the end – the humiliation and pain of the cross. Jesus is the ONLY human being who WHOLLY and unreservedly gave his entire life for the work and will of God on this earth. We are called to follow him, but who really – as in really really – does?
I asked myself what my life would look like if I let go of every desire and dream and status quo stereotype that I thought my life ought to comprise and simply ask God to use me – use me to the point where my life wasn’t my own and I genuinely didn’t care about MY will or MY life or MY pleasure and happiness – but rather about what was on God’s heart. Would I leave my job or pour all my worldly wealth into a charity – perhaps in a much needed country – and give up everything to serve as a Nun (Like Mother Teresa?). A friend recently asked me if I had ever felt God calling me to me single. My answer was an immediate no! But only later did I get thinking about how I had been limiting my prayers to God (about His will in my life) to boundaries that included my own personal selfish parameters and requests. I was willing to do His will – whatever that was – as long as my own will was at least, partially, fulfilled! What a cop out.
So, back to that moment at 3:00 Clock in the morning. I remember thinking – I need to alter the entire way my prayers are structured and it’s going to be scary. I need to stop praying for what I THINK is God’s will or what I think would be best for me, but rather for my life to be completely emptied of itself (of what is worthless and temporary) and for God to take over without restraint. It’s scary because it means completely letting go and giving up control and in fact – giving up, in a sense, human dreams and stereotypes that we have clung to for so long. Am I willing to pray this prayer and see what God will do? What if he answers by pointing me to a path full of thorns and hardships and – a cross? What if what HE wants is not at all what I want now?
How terrible that I call myself a Christian but haven’t – with any persevering intensity or intentional, wholly committed passion, asked God to TRULY do HIS will and NOT mine.
What would my life and future look like if I renounced every shred of control over it and asked for His will alone? That’s what I want; and I’m typing the words here so it’s in writing.
In a previous pontification, I took it upon myself to say something about how Happiness ought not to be our primary goal because a) it is hopelessly unattainable due to the transient nature of everything (most especially the transient nature of pleasure) and b) even if it was attained, we’d find ourselves still searching for something more (a higher purpose without which happiness is meaningless). What it does expose, is the idea that self-aware human beings actually do value “meaning” over happiness. I suppose this means that we would be willing to be unhappy as long as we perceived it to be meaningful or making a [good] difference. And that is all very interesting.
But then we come up against a problem. If you read the above (and great philosophers through the ages say versions of the same thing) I ahappy because it won’t work, so aim not to be happy in order to be happy. If you analyse the statement closely, happiness is still – despite our trying very hard not to make it so – the primary goal! Our seeking to not pursue it is all done – but in a round about sort of way – to seek it through the back door! Now what? If we can’t get away from the fact that humans will ultimately always try to move their lives in a direction in which they would find themselves most happy (even if being unhappy in a meaningful sort of way, made them happy, if that makes any sense), how do we make sense of this paradox?
Well, C.S Lewis got around the problem (and he probably stole the idea from either G.K Chesterton or George Macdonald who probably stole the idea from the apostle Paul) by using a different word for Happiness. He called it “Joy”. And oh no, because this makes me want to bring up Wittgenstien and his theories about the evils of language being at the heart of all falsity. He is right of course: How can we be precise in our thought when we do not even have the right words to express what is true? Anyway, back to Joy.
Using a different word for Happiness does actually work, because what we find is that there are, in fact, different types or levels of Happiness. It’s a bit like how the English have one word for “Love” which is hopelessly inefficient and counter productive. We say “I love Bun Omelettes” or “I want to make love to Mr X” or “I love my brother” and we use the same word “love” while meaning entirely different things. Of course, in essence, we mean the same thing, but in a very broad and general way that could be narrowed down and made more precise by the usage of additional words.
The Ancient Greeks of course got it right (in stark contrast, I might add, to the modern ones) and had four words for Love. Eros = Romantic or erotic Love; Agape = Unconditional (God like) Love; and so on. In much the same way, the recognition that Happiness (like Love) probably needs to be broken down, is a good starting point. Happiness, by one definition, is a feeling that is largely based on circumstantial happenings. Joy, on the other hand is a feeling (and I find myself wanting to redefine or narrow down the word “feeling”) which is an internal state – not dependent on what’s happening around you but rather dependent on the meaning or purpose you have surrounded your life with. In other words, it is possible to be Happy and Joyous. It is also possible to be Joyous and Unhappy. We run into difficulties when we consider the possibility of being Happy and UnJoyous – but let’s leave the analysis of that for now.
So, having found another word for the thing that is left that is much like Happiness but is distinct from it (Joy), I’m wondering if Joy, rather than happiness, is really our primary goal? Well, actually, maybe I need to use both words to come up with a sort of preferred hierarchy.
Scenarios in descending order (from best case to worst). A Human is:
Happy (things are all going well and materials are being met) AND Joyous (meaning and purpose are part of the picture)
Not Happy (things are not going well in a material worldly sense) BUT Joyous (meaning and purpose are part of the picture)
Happy but Not Joyous
Not Happy and No Joy (worst possible scenario ever!)
Sometimes, I think Christians make the mistake of thinking that b) is the preferred and most “holy” state to be in, without recognizing that actually it would be far better to be both Happy and Joyous. In fact, perhaps Joy (the having of something to cater for when Happiness is not attained) is the solution for when a) is unattainable. The Atheist will say Joy (meaning and purpose) is invented to make sense of when things are meaningless and unhappy and the Theist will tell you that this is an option only because it was always intended to be an option in the first place.
My concern here however, is with what to make the focus of our lives! Our natural inclination is to want to be happy and Joyous and I suppose we ought to listen to that natural inclination. What we sometimes do is listen to only one half of the story and in doing so only take on part of the picture. (Seeking Happiness without meaning or seeking meaning without happiness). Both, as I’ve been saying, are ideal.
Whether we want to admit it or not, we spend most of our lives wishing we were happy. But suppose we were! Then what? Thoughts along these lines occurred to me after watching the 1994 Star Trek Generations Film. You see, humans tend to spend their entire lives trying to be happy and for most, the pursuit of happiness is the sole purpose and driving force of their lives. In the film, the very awesome Captain Jean-Luc Picard finds himself in a curious energy ribbon called the NEXUS. In the Nexus “time has no meaning” and all the happiness you’ve ever wanted (all your hearts desires) are granted. It is a place of eternal (fabricated – for it is not real) bliss and pleasure. Picard and Kirk (and yes time travel and other cool stuff happens to make it possible for these two coolios to meet!) decide that purpose and “making a difference” was more important than happiness. Interestingly, here we find the exploration of the concept that happiness, on its own – or apart from something bigger and greater – is essentially, like everything else, meaningless! So Picard and Kirk leave the Nexus to sacrifice their lives for a more noble cause (saving a planet with a crazy name – Veridian III – from complete destruction).
In recent days, I’ve been thinking about happiness a lot. And I’ve been thinking about it in the context of how silly I sound every time I pray. I realised that every time I kneel (or stand or sit or lie down or whatever) to pray, my prime concern appears to be MY happiness. (“Oh Lord, do this for me, cos it would make me happy” or “Lord, don’t do that cos it would make me unhappy”) I may as well be praying that God (with Scotty’s help) beam me up into a Nexus type energy ribbon where all my dreams come true and I am eternally happy. And here is where you need to conduct a bit of a thought experiment – astrally projecting yourself into a situation where your dreams really have all come true. Now, think about how you would FEEL then.
I thought about the sum total of my life. I do, for all intents and purposes, appear to have every reason to be happy. I am rich (well functionally and relatively so, at least), I have a pretty book-filled house, an engaging (and mostly fun) Job, plenty of other work and hobby-related opportunities, a wonderful family, good friends, health, a sufficient amount of common sense and logic, the peace and Grace of God (for when I think I need it) and so on. Now, given my current situation, suppose the only thing that was missing was X (This could be anything – an in Captain Picard’s case, it was the desire for him to be the father of seven children(!)) – what if that was granted too, and I was handed the perfect partner – presentable, perfectly eligible, the best love-maker ever, creative, fun, faithful, intelligent and so on. And what if nothing ever went wrong (no one I loved died and no situation in my life ever went wrong), would I be happy then? Or, as the thief in the Thief of Baghdad put it: “If happiness remains, does it remain happiness?” Interesting …
The answer is, is no. And the reason for that is because we will inevitably find that we are still searching – searching for something deeper, greater, and more meaningful than just the mere gratification of our material desires (and surely that is all, in one sense, happiness is). While appeasing the self appears to be written in our genes and it is necessary for survival, preservation and the continuation of the species, our self-awareness demands that we recognise that it is, in itself, not enough. To a live a self-centred life is meaningless, and meaninglessness is – to the thinking self-aware human being – unacceptable.
So what is this thing (that humans ought to pursue) that is of greater worth than happiness? Is it, in fact, the opposite of making the SELF happy? Isn’t that why we are moved (and by moved I mean we recognise meaningfulness in something) by stories of sacrifice. When Kirk sacrificed himself to save Veridian III (how do they think up these names?!), he was also sacrificing his happiness. Just think: if he had stayed on the Nexus in his idyllic log cabin, making love to a gorgeous woman all day, we wouldn’t think of him as quite so honourable or noble! (Not that there’s anything wrong with living in a log cabin and making love to someone all day!) But, do you see? What if Happiness is not enough?
So should we pursue happiness or not? Let me clarify that I certainly don’t think we ought to do the opposite (seek misery and sorrow), but surely our prayers ought to be directed towards more than just material happiness and self-gratification. Ultimately – if all our desires were granted – we would still want to be part of a higher purpose. Why not ask for that FIRST (Seek Ye first the Kingdom of God ….) and hopefully, if we’re lucky (and I don’t usually like that word), all these things (happiness) will be added unto our lives as well ….
So how should we pray? Well, I still think it’s about being in a relationship and a relationship has to be honest and REAL and as far as humans are concerned a relationship (while we are in the body) will also include our emotions and physical beings. Jesus – in his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane – never ignored the way he was feeling, but rather wholly acknowledged his emotions and thoughts and burdens in the physical self: “If it is possible Father….take this cup from me…” Yet, he then went on to say “Not my will, but yours be done”. I think that’s the key. To be honest about how we feel in our human selves: Lord, I want this. BUT Not my will – yours be done. Grant me an understanding of your higher purpose and the meaning of life. Show me (in the words of Kirk now) “how to make a difference” for You. If You are the Creator of this life, surely the meaning of this life can only be known or found in the knowing of your will.
End Note: Watching Star Trek with prawn noodles is a happy happy thing to do.
On Monday a kid came up and said: “Jesus died on a cross two thousand something years ago. Okay. So what?” I looked at him sternly “Walk with me” I said (I was on my way to the staffroom) “..and go on. What’s on your mind?”. “Well …” said the kid “…I get that he died and all. But how does one man dying on a cross all those years ago take away the sins of the world? How does HIS dying on a cross make any difference to how we live today?” I’m sure there are several ways in which this question can be answered. Depending on how puerile and theologically sanctimonious a theologian is, you can expect a string of cliche answers: His death was the ultimate sacrifice; Jesus paid the penalty for our sins; we should have died; he died in our place; he paid the price and so on. This is all true of course and well and good but when you really think about it all we’re doing is spouting doctrinal mumbo jumbo which means precious little. I started to think about all the other mumbo jumbo we grow up on as Christians and how little it actually means to us. Take the phrase “Jesus, live in me.” We say it all the time, much like “Jesus died for our sins” but are we really able to see the relevance?
This is my take on it and while it may sound simple, it really was a revelation to me.
The world is an awful place. People are ultimately evil and note that even if they are sometimes good, they are more often than not thinking evil, selfish thoughts. Yeah, people – I can quite categorically state – are evil; born in sin and condemned to die. And this is what happens when evil people (which is all of us) interact with each other. Well, some times people are nice – and this niceness is mostly just superificial and other times it is really just a type of altruism. It’s when things get nasty that the whole thing becomes more interesting. So consider this:
The Sin Cycle
X does something nasty to Y
Y gets terribly angry and does something nasty back to X
X gets even angrier and does something even nastier, if that were possible, to Y
And it goes on in a vicious cycle. In one sense, this give and take of sin is the story of the world. It just keeps on going round and round and round – there is no end to it. There can’t be – not when the nature of the human is to be self-centred. You see, people don’t like to be taken advantage of. They don’t like to be hurt. They don’t like someone else to be happier than they are. That’s what people are like. That’s what I’m like. (ouch). But then …along came a man called Jesus. The interesting thing about Jesus – even if you are looking at this as an Atheist – is that he broke the cycle. XYZ and many more did EVERYTHING evil that it was possible to do to another to Jesus, and Jesus … did nothing back. In fact, he did more than not retaliate, he responded with Love. Now, we like to think that this happens a lot, but it really doesn’t. When we’re hurt, or if someone is horrid to us, all thoughts of love fly out the window and that’s that. But back to Jesus – he didn’t just give up a little in the face of OUR sin, he gave up all. He surrendered – even unto death on a cross. That’s the equivalent of X doing something nasty to Y and Y saying he’d take it (and love X fiercely) even if X killed him. So think about that. Even if you don’t believe the whole thing about his death taking away the sin of the world bit yet; consider that this man Jesus – who came in the flesh all those years ago – broke the cycle of violence and sin. He set an example.
And here …finally, is what it means for us.
It occurred to me that when we say “Jesus live in us”, we are invoking the spirit of Jesus into our lives. In other words, we are saying that we are willing to live in the same way that Jesus lived – surrendering ourselves, and breaking the cycle of sin in our world now. We are, in a sense, living like little Jesus-es, stopping the effect of sin, by not retaliating to it as the world would. Here we see the relevance of the cross in a practical, amazing, up close and personal way. If we live like Jesus – and take his example on the cross as a standard to live by – we are making a better world, or to put it another way, taking away from the effect of sin in the world, as we are, like him, stopping the cycle in its tracks. Jesus in us, and Jesus in us ALONE, first changes us, and then changes the world. It really is quite simple. Of course there are other dimensions to this – spiritual as well as theological and doctrinal implications that I haven’t discussed, but this is one way of looking at the cross that even an Atheist can recognise to be relevant. Follow the example of Christ – and who else in history can compare? – and sin is in fact conquered.
The kid said: “And by the way X called me a Mother F****** Nigerian Dog”
“And what are you going to do about that?” I asked him.
“I’m probably going to smash his face in” the kid replied.
Then I stood outside the staffroom and told him my understanding of how the cross COULD, if he chose, be relevant to him. He had, after all, asked!
Last night I got back to pondering the meaning of life and had a few profound thoughts on the matter. I started by getting out an old green notebook that was hidden underneath a mountain of socks. I scribbled a little ….(see pic on left):
So, I explored the idea and came to a conclusion. First, ask yourself the question: What does it mean for something to mean something? And then, take all conceivable entities in the universe and decide whether or not “meaning” can be ascribed to them. We have 1. Objects that exist in the observable universe (a microwave, a car, a stone, a pearl ….) 2. Animals 3. Humans 4. Concepts – the abstract (things like love, courage, wisdom, hate, envy, greed, faith etc…)
Of the above, 1,2 and 3 can be seen to exist and serve a purpose and in that sense hold meaning in as much as their existence appears to be directed towards fulfilling a certain objective (animals and humans protect the self; man made objects are created to serve a purpose; things like particles appear to have direction – a particle becomes something more, when it connects with another particle. (like atoms coming together to form a molecule of water))
But then we come to the abstract (things like love, faith, hope, hatred, doubt, greed), and this is where it gets interesting. First of all note the following: These things, in themselves, cannot have any context outside of the context of a relationship. In this sense they could be thought of as “meaning givers”. If a human adopts love or loves he or she finds meaning in life – i.e. to love the lovee. Faith too gives meaning, as does hope. But look further and you’ll notice that other abstract things (things we view as vices) also give meaning in quite the same way. Take Greed: If Greed is adopted, the individuals purpose or meaning is to satiate that greed. If Lust is adopted (or pride), one’s meaning becomes about satisfying that lust/pride. Before I write anything else, understand the fact that humans tend to latch on to these “meaning makers” and so choose the meaning of their own lives.
Exploring definitions – Meaning as Purpose:
When we say x means y, we are not saying that x is equal to y (or suggesting that y is a thing that can be mathematically defined). If I was to say “x means 4”, it would be incorrect usage of the term “means”. Meaning, therefore, is not mathematical. It cannot quite be expressed in mathematical terms because it is relational. When we say x means y, we are saying that x has a purpose and a value, and that purpose and value is y.
But on to the true meaning of meaning
…..but the “meaning” which we crave and seek for in our lives is more than just purpose. It, in order for us to deem it worthy of the word “meaning”, must not only have a purpose but that purpose itself must be “meaningful”.At this point we find that we must define what it means for something to be meaningful.
How do we decide when something is meaningful or has meaning?
For x to be considered meaningful it must:
1. not be temporary or come to an end. For anything that comes to an end must ultimately be deemed meaningless. In other words, for a thing to be meaningful, it must be ETERNAL.
2. be good (beneficial and something that makes life “better” in some way) Strangely we feel that if something is “bad” it is meaningless in that has no direction or intervention behind it. It MUST be good (and not bad) because humans place value in things that are good and tend to say that bad things only occur in the absence of good intention or design.
3. be True (if a thing is false or untrustworthy, it is worthless)
So … for a thing to be considered “meaningful”, it must be ETERNAL, GOOD and TRUE.
Making it personal – now, when we attach ourselves to anything that is ETERNAL, GOOD and TRUE, we find meaning. When we attach ourselves to the temporary, bad and false, we find our lives are meaningless or we cease to see meaning in anything. With meaning comes Joy. With meaninglessness there may be bouts of happiness but there is an overall gnawing growing dreariness that will just never go away until it is dealt with. Recognise the fact that all humans are inclined towards things that are eternal good and true. They often try to mimic the eternal in order to give meaning to something (think of all the love songs in the world, sung by womanizing men, that glorify the “eternal value” of love and the idea that it will last forever. It comes back to the idea that if we KNOW something is temporary, it loses its meaning. This idea of meaning is inbuilt whether we can fully define it not. I am trying however, to define it …
Levels of Meaning
Level 1 (lower level) – Material meaning – (reference to the “purpose” of things or even of beings)
Level 2 (higher level) – Spiritual Meaning.
Take the following example: Is X’s Friendship with Y meaningful?
When we say X’s friendship with Y is MEANINGLESS we mean: it is a) temporary or b) bad (destructive) or c) false or d) at least one or two or all of the above.
So when we ask the question: Does life have meaning – we are asking: Is life ETERNAL, GOOD and TRUE and here we recognise that the question (in this sense) does not make sense as life is an neutral thing. Rather, note that a life that chooses to attach itself to the ETERNAL, GOOD and TRUE (E, G and T) has meaning. On the other hand a life that does not attach itself to that which is E, G and T, does not have meaning. So the meaning of life, in some sense, is a little like Schrödinger’s cat. It is both meaningful and meaningless. And the state in which it is observed in our individual lives is ours for the choosing.
Does life have meaning – exploring the question further.
To ask: Does life have meaning? is to ask Is a pencil meaningful? (now insert the above definition of meaning into the sentence)
For something to have meaning it must be E, G and T
Is a pencil Eternal, Good and True?
A pencil is just a tool. It can be used to write of that which is eternal, good and true but it itself will pass away. It is a neutral object which only possesses Level 1 meaning. (let us call that purpose). Biological life is similar. Our bodies (flesh, bones, genetic make-up) in themselves mean nothing. However, if we, in the construct of this world and in the shells of our bodies manage to attach ourselves to that which is meaningful, our lives become meaningful – we find meaning. (and that which is meaningful cannot be of this world (Even Wittgenstein recognised that the meaning of the world could not possibly reside inside the world).
And what about God?
God, if there is a God (creator) is most certainly E, G and T. Even if you don’t want to start here (that there is a God) start with the fact that we find that we have the need for meaning (we all seek it) written inside us. And where there is a need there must exist a fulfilment for that need. God is that fulfillment. We can let meaning control us or let the delusion of meaninglessness drown out meaning. The battle appears to be between that which is meaningless and that which is meaningful.
A four step program to finding the meaning of life:
1. Define the terms
a) “Eternal” (lasts forever?)
b) “Good” (not destructive? Tied in with love?)
c) Define “True” (trustworthy?)
2. Find an entity or thing or person which fits the above criteria.
3. Attach yourself to it.
4. Congratulate yourself on having found the meaning of life.
The meaning of life is to attach yourself to that which is Eternal, Good and True. Another word we can use for “attach” here is “love. We must seek to love the Eternal Good and True and in so doing become Eternal True and Good ourselves! ** For X to be considered meaningful it must be Eternal Good and True. If X = E, G and T and Y is attached to X then Y, by association with X is also E, G and T. A life that is meaningless is empty, but because lives were meant to have meaning, the owner of a dreary meaningless life will seek to fill the hole (alleviate the dreariness) with Level 1 (lower level) meaning. The owner of a meaningless life is either to weak to attach himself or herself to that which is E, G and T, ignorant of the truth or too arrogant to accept it. Interestingly, level 1 meaning can often mimic true meaning. In other words it often gives the appearance of being E, G and T but really isn’t. Take Riches, fame and sexual attraction (EROS). They all appear to have some of the (E.G.T) qualities of true meaning, but are all counterfeit and temporary. They are not bad in themselves, but must not be mistaken for true meaning. What “thing”, above all things, is most E, G and T (most meaningful)?. Remember we are talking in relational (not mathematical) terms. Only the love (and ultimately it all boils down to love) of an entity that is eternal, good and true. That is God. So consider the love of God (Agape).
Final,Final Conclusion: All humans must come to realise the Eternal, Good and True love of God which is the most meaningful thing in the universe. To reject the love of God or to live in ignorance of it is to miss the meaning of life.
Christianity and the Meaning of life (the two greatest commandments)
1. Love the Lord your God……etc
2. Love your neighbor.
The first is saying that we must attach ourselves to the E, G and T. The second naturally follows from doing the first. If 1 is carried out then any contact with another human means that they will experience you as a creature attached to that which is E, G and T, making you possess these qualities too (and allowing them to feel loved and know love) You can only truly love someone by becoming E, G and T for badness brings destruction and hurt (in relationships) and love does not and must not destroy. So what does it mean to love your neighbor (or anyone)? 1. Do only what will last (think long term not instant gratification) 2. Do only what is “good” for them (and for you). 3. Be Trustworthy and do not lie (or create a life that needs to be lied about) For it is not possible to love a lie. And to not (truly) love or be (truly) loved is to live a meaningless life.