Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Meaning of Life

Yes, I know the meaning of life.

It came to me one night as I was thinking about the pain of relationships, and why we have to suffer from self-doubt and embarrassment, and what is the point of having to struggle for happiness.

And then it occurred to me that the struggle was the whole point. Not because we are supposed to struggle and prevail, or because we are supposed to struggle and lose, but we are supposed to experience the struggle.

In Conversations with God, Neale Donald Walsch expresses his own view of the purpose of creation. In his version of Genesis, there was nothing but God in the beginning, and God created a physical reality and people within that reality so that there would be something that is not God. God could not see or appreciate His/Her/Its own divinity until there was something that was not divine against which to compare God. There is a difference between merely knowing something and actually experiencing it, and God wanted the fullness of experiencing Itself. Walsch reports this explanation from God:
[T]he All of Everything chose to know Itself experientially. ... It reasoned, quite correctly, that any portion of Itself would necessarily have to be less than the whole, and that if It thus simply divided itself into portions, each portion, being less than the whole, could look back on the rest of Itself and see magnificence.
Hinduism has a similar view of creation, beginning with a One which is alone and finds no joy in being alone and so fragments Itself into millions of little pieces which then proceed to play a game of hide-and-seek with each other. The fragmentation and diversity of creation is a kind of game that God plays with Itself.

A Course in Miracles says that we each share a part of the mind of God. Quakers talk about "the Light within" each person.

All of these expressions point to the same conclusion, which is that we straddle the line between what is God and what is not God. We experience both the love and joy and communion that is God and the fear and sorrow and loneliness that is not God. It is the experience of both that makes us human.

And we can't choose between them or embrace one and exclude the other. There is no such thing as joy if there is no sorrow, and there is no such thing as love if there is no fear or anger. There is no peace if there is no pain. We must be able to experience what is not God in order to know and appreciate what is God. The purpose of our lives is to experience both so that, through us, God may know just how wonderful God is.

Life is, as is often said, all about the journey, and not about the destination. Once we trust in God and accept the assurances of Jesus that our destinations will all be the same regardless of what path we take, we can stop worrying and take the time to appreciate just how marvelous it all is.

Which is our function, after all.