Life either has a purpose or it doesn’t. If it does have a purpose, that purpose is not universally known or agreed upon. This can only mean that the purpose of life is something an individual decides for oneself or accepts as part of an overall belief.
If the purpose of life is something accepted as part of a religion, that religion must also provide meaning for life. The individual accepts both the purpose and meaning, and that’s the end of the matter for that individual. The rest of that individual’s life is only a matter of adhering to the purpose, meaning, and principles taught by the creed.
There are those who don’t follow any religion but still believe that life has a purpose. That purpose may be part of an accepted philosophy or it may be something they’ve decided for themselves. Based on this purpose they then decide what is the meaning of life.
That leaves those who either have not found any purpose or have decided that life does not have any purpose. Those who feel that there must be a purpose and that they only have to search long enough till they come to it, have their meaning ready at hand. Their sole meaning is to seek out the purpose of life.
Or it may be put the other way around. Their purpose in life is to search for the meaning of life. It comes down to the same thing. Purpose and meaning are linked. The purpose is the meaning, and the meaning gives a purpose.
If the universe had a purpose, life would also have a purpose. Those who believe in god and follow a religion do believe the universe has a purpose. But that group has already been eliminated from the proceedings. The ones remaining in this discussion agree that the universe has no purpose.
And the universe has no meaning either. A tree has no meaning. Human life has no meaning. This is the bleak picture that one has to work with. For most people this is unbearable. It’s impossible to live like this. If no meaning exists, at least humans have the ability to create it for themselves.
There are those who have concluded that life has no purpose but who still feel daunted in accepting the complete lack of meaning. They are determined to search for meaning. Albert Camus says, “You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.”
The alternative is to give meaning to their own life.
Henry Miller says “Life has to be given a meaning because of the obvious fact that it has no meaning.”
Joseph Campbell has a philosophy somewhat along these lines: “Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.”
Anais Nin agrees: “There is not one big cosmic meaning for all; there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person.”
Hermann Hesse also has decided not to worry about meaning but to make his own life. “I believe that I am not responsible for the meaningfulness or meaninglessness of life, but that I am responsible for what I do with the life I’ve got.”
Creating meaning for Themselves
Agreed. Humans do have the ability to create meaning for themselves. And most do create it. But that has already been said. Yet there remain those who are not satisfied with a self-created meaning. Such a meaning is a mere diversion for one to be able to live.
If all that is required is a diversion so that one may be able to live, there are enough escapes available. For that is what they are: Escapes. It’s unbearable to face an empty existence, so an escape must be found. In no time at all, life comes to an end. Then there’s no more burden of ever seeking an escape from a meaningless life.
This article is meant to eliminate all others so that only the core purposeless, meaningless people may be talked about and talked to. It means to speak of the merits of living a life without purpose and meaning. What can be the merits of such a life?
None other than letting the universe being what it is and letting life be what it is. Things must be allowed to take their course without trying to control or direct them. One must simply exist. Pure being. It’s almost a mystical stance, if mysticism may be allowed in life without god, religion, purpose, meaning.
A person does not decide to be born. Nor does the person choose the circumstances to be born into. To give up the search for meaning and to give up the pretense of meaning will not bring this world to a standstill. The person will not suddenly stop living and doing the things they’ve always done.
One must just become part of the universe that one already is. One must actually become the universe one already is. Easy to say but not easy to live such a life. But mystics have done it. And a mystical life is the only bearable life. And paradoxically, mystical meaninglessness is the only meaningful life.