Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Meaning Of Life

If you do a search on "meaning of life" on Google, you'll find more theories than I've had hot dinners... and that's a lot!

There will be different definitions depending on whether you :
- are questioning the meaning of life because you've been unhappy
- want to know the meaning of life because you feel useless
- want to see their answer so that you can prove your intellectual prowess by poking holes in it
- don't understand why bad things happen to good people
- think that most of the rest of the world seems completely insane
- wonder why there is so much hatred in the world.
- wonder why there is so much violence in our society
- really don't care about the meaning of life, you're just surfing

On the other hand you could ask a philosopher (A philospher can best be thought of as someone who thinks a lot so you don't have to.)

- For Erich Fromm, man makes his life meaningful by living productively, and by using his powers of love and reason to their fullest capacity.

- For Abraham Maslow, meaning is experienced by the self-actualized,growth-motivated person who delights in using his creative powers for their own sake, and who can affirm himself and simultaneously transcend himself through peak experiences.

- For Rollo May, meaning is experienced by a person centered in himself, who is able to live by his highest values, who knows his own intentionality, feels the power of his will to choose, and is able to love.

- For Krishnamurti, the world is experienced as most meaningful when through the knowledge of self gained through self-observation, man frees himself of the self and attains the state of passive awareness and self-forgetfulness which is love.

- For Paul Tillich, man can choose to make his life meaningful by surrendering in faith and love to Jesus. By opening to Jesus and experiencing His acceptance and forgiveness, one experiences the joy and freeeom of "new being" and the courage to be oneself.

- For Abraham Heschel, man experiences his life as a meaningful when he lives in God's presence - not simpy by encountering God in the world, but primarily by serving God in everyday life, infusing every moment with the spirit of God, and by dedicating himself to ends outside himself.

- Finally, for Viktor Frankl, meaning is experiencing by responding to the demands of the situation at hand, discovering and committing oneself to one's own unique task in life, and by allowing oneself to experience or trust in an ultimate meaning - which one may or may not call God.

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