What's the meaning of this?

Discussion in 'Religion & Philosophy' started by Consider This, Apr 19, 2016.

  1. Consider This

    Consider This Member

    Mar 2016
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    Few academic philosophers concern themselves anymore with the “the meaning of life.” The subject is just too muddled, too imprecise. But probably everyone thinks about it occasionally, especially in early adulthood and old age.

    Is there any point in thinking or writing about it? I believe so, now more than ever. The pace of social and technological change has accelerated so drastically over the last fifty years that a vague sense of groundlessness, of being somehow unmoored and drifting, is increasingly common. Coming to grips with some version of meaning in one’s life can be, at least partially, a kind of reconnection.

    A useful strategy in this process of coming to grips is to consider how meaning in life has been approached by others, including the strengths and weaknesses of those prior views. The current essay is an effort in that direction.

    Approaches to meaning, whether ancient or modern, seem to circle around three dimensions: purpose, significance, and engagement. Purpose refers of course to having a goal; it is a property of a conscious agent, intent on some outcome. Significance is a separate but closely related issue. It is a judgment—by oneself or others—of the goal’s importance, however that might be conceived. Finally, engagement refers to one’s psychological state while pursuing the goal. It concerns one’s affinity for the project, how much it absorbs or resonates with you.

    Religions involving a supernatural deity established meaning by focusing on God as the conscious agent. God had goals for everything and, because they came from God, their significance was inarguable.

    The dimension of personal engagement received less emphasis. Certainly believers were encouraged to take joy in God’s inscrutable plans, and perhaps even to search their hearts for a calling. But if this faltered, if life became only unremitting misery, it was still, by divine definition, meaningful.

    Beginning especially in the later 19[SUP]th[/SUP] century, supernatural belief systems came under siege. Newer approaches to meaning changed the focus to humans themselves as the conscious agents. The issue was not the meaning of life, but rather themeaning of my life. The dimension of engagement became more central, and those of purpose and significance became more fluid.

    Two examples will suffice. Perhaps most dramatic are the twentieth century existentialists, particularly Sartre and those following him. They suggest we are all cast adrift in a world without pre-ordained meaning. It is incumbent on us, against all odds, to have the courage to choose our own purpose, regardless of how its significance might be viewed by others. And above all our commitment must never be in bad faith but rather authentic, reflecting what truly engages and resonates with us.

    Among less dramatic and more research based approaches, the work of psychologist M. Csikszentmihalyi stands out. In his classic text Flow he focuses on a particular state of mind. It is the one that emerges from an engaging, goal-directed activity in which one’s skills are adequate to the task, and feedback about success is available. In the resulting state of “flow” there is typically intense concentration, reduced self-consciousness, an altered sense of time, and as a by-product, happiness.

    He suggests that a sense of meaning in life springs from having one or more overarching or long term life goals, each of which is then approached through activities that engender the flow experience.

    These modern approaches to meaning have the advantage of highlighting engagement and thus ensuring immediate personal relevance. However, the dimensions of purpose and significance tend to become floaters—less fixed, more questionable.

    Without attempting to present pat answers, consider some of the questions that arise. To what extent should a purpose be an outcome—say, finishing a novel—as opposed to a process, such as simply the writing itself? If we are including life processes, which seems reasonable, how far are we willing to stretch that notion? Could our purpose be to lead a life devoted to the expression of a particular personality trait?

    How do we proceed when we have several important purposes and some of them are, at least partly, contradictory? What happens when major goals change and much of what went before now seems invalidated? And then there are the conflicts between purpose and significance: what if the wider culture considers my goals trivial? Or immoral?

    There are wisdom traditions that cut through this morass, but not without their own limitations. Some Eastern religions make reference to the underlying unity of all things. As you might imagine, actually having a deep and direct sense of such unity, rather than merely thinking about it, does temporarily silence the interminable, hair-splitting chatter about purpose and significance. But, by their own admission, even meditation masters have these deep experiences only intermittently, and unpredictably.

    So where does this leave us? The most sensible advice is probably not a particular conception of meaning. Rather, it is an admonition—unfortunately rare today—to take the subject at least somewhat seriously, and to give it at least a little thought.

    In this way we do more than find our meanings. We help those meanings find us.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 8, 2016
  2. Alex

    Alex Senior Investor

    Apr 2015
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    I have my own definition of what a purpose is, but for each of us that is predestined and subconsciously tucked away while we carry on learning our goals in life.

    We can debate meanings from well meaning philosophers, but still they are theories and not answers, as there is no one answer to fit us all. The ability to comprehend things varies greatly and you only need to read Facebook comments or even ones on a forum like this to figure out there is a wide diversity of perceptions and ability to grasp more challenging beliefs.
  3. djordjem87

    djordjem87 Well-Known Member

    Nov 2015
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    Again, too much thinking about nothing. I like to write a lot and my style is very rouged and rough. my poetry is raw in every sense and I believe that is the point of writing. To be honest and simple. Too much thinking creates lies and people eventually recognize that. I am not sure that we should think about the meaning of life because we always make it to be the sole reason of our existence. That is terrible for you can realize that you were wrong and the whole reason of your existence comes to your dying. It is not pessimistic point of view but more like warning to let go of unnecessary philosophy.
  4. manoharb

    manoharb Senior Investor

    May 2015
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    Meaning of life answer of that you can find only in your breath ,breath is main reason of everything. 1side, Meaning of Life is 'Illusion'. You can find that anywhere. we are wasting time in achieving that which we will leave on this earth after death. You will ask 1 question, many will answer that. 1 among that answers, your mind will accept as right answer according to nature. this is sign of imbalanced breath. 2nd. side meaning of life is 'knowledge' by controlling breath, you can neutralize all illusions and achieve spiritual level of 'Truth'. that's the reason in eastern religions like Buddhism, Jainism etc. Breath control or Meditation is important. imbalanced breath creates illusion and by controlling breath, you can find Truth.

    During 1910-30, To hide from Bolsheviks, 1 Russian Count Odennowosky, entered in Tibet via Mongolia, where he saw many miracles like , 1 monk killed another monk and in minutes dead monk got alive again.so what's life and death, illusions. He wrote this in his book, 'Beasts, Men and Gods'. In Raaj-Yoga also mentioned 'janmoushadhi mantra tapah samadhijah siddhaya' meaning birth is not in anybody's hand we born according to karmas in previous life but by medicines, chanting mantras,meditation we can defeat all illusions and see the truth. Indian Monk, 'Nagarjuna' to whom still Chinese Buddhist prays , he was scientist,doctor and Meditation expert. Indian Monk 'Padma-Sambhava' called as 'Lamarinpoche' he was master of 'Darshanshastra' (6 ancient Indian books on science in which atomic science, Medical science..... all inclusive) who visited Tibet hundreds years ago such many examples shows, world is not limited only upto this earth and mortal things behind we daily running. Today's education teach us only 'how to feed your family' which is very bad for human spiritual growth in my eyes. Eat,sleep,pray, work etc. as per daily routine can be a part of human life. but human life or spiritual growth don't ends here. life means improvising knowledge ? or daily routine of running behind illusions ? is individual decision of all humans. what's money ? 1 illusion but this illusion became truth for many people because of many reasons. after crossing deadline of stomach or greed spiritual journey starts, after all 'spiritual journey' that's hard way of life. who have strength,confidence,will power etc. only he/she can walk on that. ugly truth of today's world or ugly illusion in today's world.

    everybody have his/her own definition of life, level of that definition decides what will be future of them ? after all, all are humans, and humans can become angel,prophet too and animal,criminal too.

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