My Thoughts On the Meaning of Life...

Why are we here? Do we serve a greater purpose beyond the pleasure or satisfaction we get from our daily activities – however mundane or heroic they may be? Is the meaning of life internal to life, to be found inherently in life’s many activities, or is it external, to be found in a realm somehow outside of life, but to which life leads? In the internal view it’s the satisfaction and happiness we gain from our actions that justify life.

This does not necessarily imply a selfish code of conduct. The external interpretation commonly makes the claim that there is a realm to which life leads after death. Our life on earth is evaluated by a supernatural being some call God, who will assign to us some reward or punishment after death. The meaning of our life, its purpose and justification, is to fulfill the expectations of God, and then to receive our final reward.

But within the internal view of meaning, we can argue that meaning is best found in activities that benefit others, the community, or the Earth as a whole. It’s just that the reward for these activities has to be found here, in the satisfactions that they afford within this life, instead of in some external spirit realm.

An interesting way to contrast the internal and external views is to imagine walking through a beautiful landscape. Your purpose in walking may be just to get somewhere else – you may think there’s a better place off in the distance. In this case the meaning of your journey through the landscape is external to the experience of the landscape itself. On the other hand, you may be intensely interested in what the landscape holds.

It may be a forest, or it may contain farms, villages. You may stop along the way, study, learn, converse, with little thought about why you are doing these things other than the pleasure they give you. You may stop to help someone who is sick: in fact, you may stay many years, and found a hospital. What then is the meaning of your journey? Is it satisfying or worthwhile only if you have satisfied an external purpose – only if it gets you somewhere else? Why, indeed, cannot the satisfactions and pleasures of the landscape, and of your deeds, be enough?

drvicki drvicki
41-45, F
4 Responses Feb 13, 2009

Like your thinking. We all have some sense of being, as do many animals. So it's natural to wonder as to our purpose, especially I feel as we get older.

Wonderful thoughts. Wish society would catch up.

you are obviously a lateral thinker....are you talking about external vallidation?<br />

Seeking approval of a higher being for a life well led ..... sounds like a sales pitch for any of the worlds religions ?<br />
Life is it to have a purpose a selected path ? Cant life just be that..... life ...... a humans life , better than say a plant , a particle of zoo plankton in the oceans depth both unaffected by conscience or guilt . Homo sapiens the only ones who have need of a heaven and hell a right a wrong , good and bad , which affect the judgement of some "god" on the the day of reckoning . Or do we as life..... just pass through life .... in order to experience life.