What is it that gives our lives meaning? For that matter, why does seeking meaning even matter?
Why is the search for it a relentless impulse that runs through Humanity — across all barriers of race and culture, sex and politics, and even time? To seek meaning in life is as integral a part of being human as the blood that runs through our veins and transmits life. And why is that?
One may as well ask why we breathe. Because sooner or later for all of us, and to varying degrees, the need to feel meaning in this life expresses itself. For some, it may take the form of strict adherence to a religion whose belief system fulfills that need. For others, it may involve immersion in a given interest, study or job, or in social service. Yet for others, it is the underlying theme that fuels one’s activities of daily living, a search for that Greater Reality in all the silent and empty spaces in our lives.
I believe the reason a search for meaning is universal to all of us humans is because it is an expression in the realm called Earth of the divine, just as the flight of a bird is an expression of its very nature. And by divine, I do not imply any of the definitions codified by the various established religions. I believe that established religions are the human expression of the urge to maintain communication with the eternal. The structures and formulas offered by religion are a handy, and comfortable tool to wield in a world which would often not make sense, otherwise.
But I do believe that “otherwise” is the rub. Because as much as religions function in that useful manner within our societies, and offer a varying degree of comfort and guidance, they are limited by the very structures they impose, and upon which they rely.
The issue which all religions are built upon is that of Meaning. What is the meaning of our presence here on Earth? The cascade of all other resulting religious questions can be traced back to that original one. And I believe that the answer to that question can be achieved by each and every one of us, only by each and every one of us, for ourselves. But achieving the Reality of Meaning for each of us is, I believe, beyond the limitations of thought and accepted feelings and behavior dictated by the structures of religion. Because the answer to the question of Meaning lies in the realm of essence, while religion, by its very nature, is built upon structure, albeit in an effort to grasp essence. But the limited cannot contain the limitless. And the need and incipient impulse to be true to one’s self — thoughts, feelings, experiences — lies at the root of that essence. Because God, whoever or whatever each of us conceives Him/Her to be, instilled and melded into each of us the wisdom to achieve and grasp meaning for ourselves.
And so, the impulse and commitment of truth in self must never be compromised by the necessarily less enlightened demands of any given religion. We are each created by God, and the perfection, therefore, of who we are was not intended to be compromised by the man-made structure of religion, however well-intended. One of the traps of giving oneself over to a religion, under the guise of “faith” is that it serves to dull and disempower our divine responsibility to think and feel for ourselves. And so, over time, we lose the use of our innate and God-given wisdom. The underlying premise here is, of course, the belief in a God who would not be so cruel as to send us upon this school called Earth without the native ability to recognize and pass all of the tests. I believe that in God’s book, the trial-and-error method is acceptable, and in fact expected, as long as it arises from a sincere impulse to learn, evolve, and expand our Consciousness.