The Meaning of Life « Vlastimil Marek

The Meaning of Life

12.6.2013

One of my female readers wrote me asking about meaning of life. Her thoughts were: „In my opinion, the meaning of human life is to realize our individual experience in the physical body, with all sense perceptions and thought processes, the relationships with other people, our spiritual development, gaining wisdom and be kind to self and world around us. I presume that every person has their own purpose and meaning in life. But how do I find mine? A human life can not exist only to preserve life, as survival of human form (physically). There must be something more spiritual involved. For example, when I go horseride or walk around the countryside with my dog I feel in complete harmony with myself and my environment. I don’t think or judge, just perceive – myself, my horse or my dog, the sun and the beautiful nature around me. I don‘ t worry or need or want anything, I just simply am. Is this state of mind the meaning (purpose) of life?“Her questions touch a few aspects of a subject that is close to my heart, and my answers to her and others will follow in similar fashion:

Yes and no. The true paradox of our conscious existence as human race is to keep the human race alive. We are here to pass on our genetic code to our next generation. If this wasn’t part of our purpose (of being alive), the human race would gradually die out. Our biology rules us much more than we want to admit – and it is the same for all of us, whether you are the philosopher or a mathematician or any person believing in complete freedom of our choices. The nature and the evolution „built“ us with certain limitations. Our free thinking and free decisions are always and only within a certain scope and our abilities. Yes, physically we can improve in almost anything we put out minds into, but at some point we will reach our limits. We can get better at running faster but at some point we will reach the maximum speed achievable for our species and no matter how hard we try and train it is not possible for us to run 100m in 5 seconds – for example. Similarly, the impact of hormonal changes is more pronounced in women (and while the following is an exaggerated example it will work well for illustration) – a (female) mathematician capable of very abstract and complex thinking may have difficulties adding up at certain period of the monthly cycle (pre- and post- ovulation), and especially from the 3rd month of pregnancy – her brain is impacted by hormonal changes which prioritize different things at that particular time, like for instance preparing to be a mother..

If we learn to plan with this cyclic emotional „handicap“ in mind, it can work to our advantage. Allowing for this, will enable us to be more efficient – even simply by knowing when we should take time off and when to keep our focus and work harder– on some days we may be better at sports, or learning new things, and by understanding the impact of these cyclic changes we can understand ourselves better. We already know how to improve our brains by working some part of it, but our whole body and our biology is actually „a brain“ of its own. What I mean is that, our brain manages and controls every little part of our bodies, every millisecond of our lives. And while our evolutionary progress continues, we still (ufortunately) focus much more on the negative things than the positive ones.

Any one of us can experience a state when everything we do is working as if by magic, somewhat automatically and most efficiently. This happens especially when we work on ourselves to figure out our own ways – what motivates us and drives us, what gets us down or annoy us, when it’s best time or day to do what – simply our own way of being efficient. Just like a sprinter who trains for many years to focus and produce maximum speed in those darn 10 seconds. At this time his body works in a kind of automated way, his mind doesn’t have to think anymore how the muscles should move to run real fast. For that period of time, his brain is kind of switched off and paradoxically this is when he’s most efficient, achieving the best results possible. Such state of perfect harmony of mind and body are a result of one’s work on themselves and with themselves, finding the harmony and meaning (purpose) of life, rather than that state being the actual meaning of life.

 All spiritual teachers, and wise men of all ages, and particularly zen masters, have figured it out: they taught and emphasized one thing to their students (or monks) that seeking and achieving englightenment is fine, but then you still have to pick up the basket and go to the market to purchase some rice for your food – just like before the enlightenment. Our usual way of thinking directs us to the usual conclusion that: „I will work on myself and once I achieve enlightenment (my goal) I will put my feet up and take some rest. All who achieved the ultimate goal – enlightenment – know more than ever before that it is from this moment on, that everything you do is at its best, your meditations are the most calm, your every effort crowned with perfection – so why would you stop right before you can truly realize yourself to the best you are? When you reach that moment, one thing will become clearer than a day (to all who have been there): you will start helping others. Helping others achieve their enlightenment.

 The meaning (purpose) of life for us right now (i.e. at this stage of our development as human race) is to provide the next generation with the best set of genes (start by improving your own), and be the man or a woman in harmony with the perfect nature as we observe it around us. To give (epigenetically) our next generation the best start and chance to improve themselves further as well as our overall genome to be more coherent in everything we/they do and have potential for.

And yes, you are right, without the ability to experience and perceive the harmonious states of mind and body, we would never be able to find our meaning (purpose) of life. One can not exist without the other – like a computer, without software (program) the hardware (the actual physical computer) is useless. These harmonious states are when our brain finally relaxes, taking rest from always having to solve things – and once it is relaxed it works most efficiently. Especially for women, the connection with the cycles of nature is often interrupted by cultural indoctrination, false or society forced emancipation, pressure to behave certain way – this all contributes to women constantly feeling unsure about the best way to do things  and this alltogether is resulting in constant dissatisfaction with most of things in life. It’s as if we are putting obstacles in our own way. As if we were preventing ourselves to be our best, when our true talents and potential could not be realized in our everyday lives – but oh yes we can change that! As I said above, the change is to come within each and every one of us – by changing our ways, our approach to everyday things we will impact the lives of others – inthat is the best argument for making it good, making it positive.

In other words, what my good reader described (the horse ride, or walking her dog) is in fact helpful in switching off the (indocrination) programming of the mind, and allowing her to be true to herself – to be a woman. She probably learned that letting her body and mind to work the way evolution (and nature) intended is the best way to be efficient. In that sense, the meaning of her life is to be the woman – true, kind, loving, the bearer of life, the giver of best genetic potential to her children and her children to theirs… her wonderful ability to take the best care of her family and children, and bring happiness to herself and others.

The meaning (purpose) of life of a child is to play and learn in play (which is much different to the learning at school, consisting mostly of memorizing a lot of stuff that one never uses in life). When a woman is in harmony with herself, or with the nature (as when horse-riding) she works like the most perfectly designed piece of machinery – totally harmonious and efficient.

Allowing herself to be truly and deeply herself (uninterrupted by demands of the society), experiencing the bursts of joy (and at the same time lacking any criticism for anything or anyone) is the true way to Harmony and Peace. But in the school of life (for everyone of us) every question is a very valid one: If a student would ask the Zen master about meaning of life, the master would likely answer with a metaphorical question: “Did you have your breakfast yet? Yes? Then go wash up.” Life goes on and those who found out the best way to live it, simply live it without having to question the life itself. But these questions all lead to the same Truth and I smile with appreciation of her thoughts and efforts.