The ultimate question, the epic journey of discovery, the question most impregnated with meaning, the haunting of every singular and collective soul: What is the meaning of life?
I am not about to attempt to answer that question for all of mankind past, present and future. What I want to do is present a small sampling of the buffet line that is each person's striving to answer this question for themselves. In an age when most people consider truth to be dead, how can they ever expect to answer this question with any kind of certainty or finality?
I took an online poll, asking anyone who would answer, "What is the meaning of life?" I asked them to answer and give a brief description of themselves. My audience was diverse in background, age, nationality, religion, location and culture. Below are their answers in no particular order:
"The meaning of life is to perpetually re-Create the Self through Infinite Experience."
"Life it is change, so the meaning of the change becomes personal exploration of who you says they are in it... meaning equals judgment....now that is the big picture of words. For me it has been nothing short of living until I die. When I bring judgment into the picture it seasons my life with meaning... and maybe that is what you want to know. It is unfair to judge your life at the beginning. Because you have no idea of the movement that events will give you...and that too is true for the end of your life; meaning is only understood sometimes, from a distance...my label is long, child, adult, parent, alive.....going to die one day. amen"
"I'm a 26 year old (male) Star Trek fan, and I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that the meaning of life is to explore."
"I think the meaning of life is to enrich other people's lives, so as each generation passes life becomes more full and meaningful. I don't think life on earth, or life in any capacity, is for the purpose of some great epiphany but just for the general bettering of life. That's why I think people end up seeking things like religion and "their purpose," because subconsciously everyone knows we're meant to make things better for people around us in some way specific to who we are.
I'm a (female) high school senior from the East Coast."
"There is no inherent meaning to life, except perhaps continuing (but that isn't what i believe), life just is
we all make our own meanings. for me, life is about experiencing as much as i can before the end.
As for the last part, right now i am a 26 year old, unemployed, single, male, recent college grad with a BS in Bioinformatics and a BA in Biotechnology."
"Student: We live to enrich ourselves and enjoy ourselves while bringing the most happiness to those around us as possible. We live to grow and develop on a deeper level, and then we die. Then, something happens. Or nothing happens."
"In the terms of my faith, the meaning of life is to love God and to grow closer to God. My God is unknowable, an absence, in the Sufi sense. This reminds me that, taking my lead from God, absence of self is key, so i personally interpret this as meaning i should find something to do that makes me feels good about myself, but which is not about myself. Much Love." (Male)
"Freud said that even as babies, we live by the pleasure principle....turn towards what feels good and turn away from what feels bad. Only with maturity, that can change to also being quite interested in another person`s quality of life as well as our own. You might want to think about the many various forms of satisfaction there are. Freud called that process "sublimation". How else would we make work feel good? LOL. And last but not least- "meaning"? That will have a deeply personal content for everyone. My meaning might not be yours."
"Do all the good you can at all the times you can in all the places you can for all the people you can in all the ways you can for as long as you can. And love will steer the stars."
"Family. This covers both the religious view (Be fruitful and multiply) and the scientific view (continuation of the species) fairly well."
"I think the meaning of life is to just have fun and experience as much good as you can. To avoid pain. I know that sounds selfish and a little depressing, but I can not see there being a master plan present for each person. We are all just floating through life."
The answers I received were diverse, to say the least. Those were the responses I got to life's biggest question from the elusive internet world; people like you and me, evaluating the meaning of our lives. To be sure, as you read them, you were more comfortable with some of those statements than others. You identified more with one point of view than the others or found traces of what you have learned and become in their words. There is just one problem with the nature of their answers. They are all different answers to the same question...to the most important question. They cannot all be right, and what's more, there is a high degree of probability that the answer encompasses life now and for eternity.
Will you side with Freud and allow yourself to be reduced to an animalistic force of an unfeeling and haphazard chance? Will you make yourself the biggest thing in life and subject all of reality to the narrowness of your limited view? Will you bind up all the meaning of the universe in the handful of people that constitute your family and friends? Is the meaning of life to avoid pain at all costs while you are here and make the most of your time? All of these things may make up a great deal of human values and energies, but they are all under the sun. Is there some overarching reason, some ultimate source from which the origin of life and its meaning flows?
True, there are countless claims from religions and opinions as to where we emerged from and our purpose, but they are NOT all equal. Truth is NOT dead. There are competing truths, to be sure, but as we all know in practice (whether or not we will admit it in argument or words) some things are "truer" that others. What if it is God who has "set eternity in the hearts of men" (Eccl. 3:11)?