Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Ultimate Meaning of Life

The Ultimate Meaning of Life is a religious, spiritual or philosophical question; the core concern or first principles of the life of an individual or community, religious or non-religious.

The ultimate meaning of life according to the teachings and understandings of my religion or belief system as a born again Christian has always been that Jesus Christ is the messiah of which the Old Testament foretold. He more than anyone during his brief lifetime was both man in the flesh yet was fully self-actualized and epitomized a level of holiness ascribed to very few individuals throughout history (e.g. Mother Theresa, Gandhi, Abraham, Saint Francis). In addition, his wise teaching along with the bold and radical example that he provided by 'walking the talk' caused a fundamental change in the way that people interacted with one another. In large measure, it is in Christ's teachings that I found the morals that I choose to make my blueprint for living and have sought to use as a clear path toward righteousness.

For me, the two most significant lessons that I have learned in the process is that God in a most mysterious way can use anyone and anything to point us towards him and the divinity that is achievable when we open our hearts and minds in a manner that expresses empathy for the suffering of others, charity, love, and a desire to do for others. "Life is full of meaning and satisfaction IF we live for God and are doing HIS will."

The ultimate significance of living in the world really began to unfold for me after reaching a point of deep despair, futility and hopelessness. Then and only then was I able to acknowledge my limited power and significance and begin to seek spiritual wisdom, become more contemplative, develop an interest in the healing power of prayer, trust in the mysterious power of the holy spirit, and become capable of both receiving and freely giving out love.

The doctrines and sayings of my faith revealed to me the serious questions of why am I here, what is the meaning of life, does God exist and if in fact he does, does he really care about me? These questions are a seemingly inherit part of our yearning as living beings endowed with a consciousness of ‘self’ and the ability to discern what is right from that which is cruel, hurtful or unfair to others.

Our very basic five senses consisting of sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste all together fail to completely satisfy the deep hunger of our souls. For most of us, the more that we identify with those who previously and or presently provide enlivening examples of love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control the more it seems we become convinced that it is here that we are most able to enjoy meaning, purpose and satisfaction in the living out of our daily lives. If we are so blessed in this way, it then becomes possible for us to began to recognize and ultimately share our unique gifts and talents in ways that actually serve to benefit all others.

Contrary to traditional evangelical fundamentalist Christian teachings, I do not see God as being incapable, indifferent or otherwise unwilling to communicate with humankind outside of a single religion or belief system. Moreover, it seems to me that when we elect to ascribe such limits to the Almighty, that we are essentially confining God to that of an anthropomorphic, deficient, destructive, exclusive, failing, often hostile, dismissive, and otherwise predictable image. For me, it simply does not hold water. My heart informs me that I am to treat all others with the same compassion, dignity, forgiveness, grace, honoring, loving-kindness and respect that I too yearn for.

Our morality must be visible at all times, preceded by humility, and accompanied with a heart that continually seeks a greater understanding of other perspectives, learning and listening to the inner-self, and challenging the conventional ways in which we may have incompletely chosen to do things in the past and in what is now fast becoming a shrinking world.

No one has the right to deny another person "freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief" or the freedom to "worship, observe, practice and teach others about their belief system. It is for this reason, that I contend the two biggest abnormalities of my Christian faith tradition are its exclusive claim to the ultimate truth with all other religious views being deemed false along with the emphasis that it places on converting the rest of the world to its proclaimed worldview regardless of one’s established culture, history, language, and teachings and traditions.
None of us avoids assimilating our culture's foundational beliefs, and disengaging from these even temporarily can be tricky. We assume that whatever we do as "thinking" has to be done. Powerful learning is open to what has not been thought previously, and so it must begin outside the confines of any personal patterns.

So from our usual cultural vantage point, the first step in such learning would appear to be to step in the wrong direction. We generally ignore the not-knowing part since we prefer to think of learning as something like gathering valuable nuggets of information, preferably ones that fit in with and support what we already believe. Instead, I'm suggesting we look in a direction other than the one that follows from what is known. The shift required to do this is both subtle and open-ended, and it may take some effort at first. The main thing to grasp at this point is that it's simply not possible to wonder, to truly question, unless we acknowledge that what we already know is not what we want to learn. In short, by definition, we want something unfamiliar to us, something new.
- Peter Ralston, The Book of Not Knowing

Increasingly, there is a need for understanding, the need for loving others, the need for becoming familiar with other worldviews, the need for building mutually open and respectful relationships, and the need for wide ranging generosity. Now is the time to build a new world for the ages one that is viable ecologically, humane, and spirit-lead.
All men should be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no way diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.”
- Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom