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What is 'The Meaning of Life'?

Updated on July 22, 2017
Stella Kaye profile image

Stella is interested in philosophical, social and religious concepts and has written several articles on this subject

'The Meaning of Life' is...

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Impressive Names and Guessing Games

No-one knows what the meaning of life is or can reveal the true purpose of the universe. Whether you're an eminent scholar with letters after your name or a typical person in the street - nobody knows. We're all playing guessing games. It doesn't matter if you're another Stephen Hawking, expressing beliefs founded on profound mathematical theories, or an ordinary bus driver asking his passenger ‘What’s it all about?’ There could be aliens on other worlds asking themselves the same question! Always a philosophically minded soul, I would ponder the meaning of life even as a small child and eventually came to the conclusion that nothing really mattered. I was only going to die at the end of my life. As I grew older, I changed from this all too basic and simplistic attitude to one which was far more profound - maybe everything mattered, after all.


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‘Life, The Universe and Everything’

The Jehovah's Witnesses called at my house, one day, proselytising their collective angle on the meaning of life and the next day the Mormons came. They were both unshakeable in their beliefs so it's up to everyone to formulate their own individual stance on the matter. Rarely do you find someone who says: ‘I don’t know,’ rather than pretend they do know about ‘life, the universe and everything’ as Douglas Adams wrote in The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to The Galaxy.

We all know the real answer isn't ‘42.’ Perhaps we're not supposed to know. Why should we care anyway? A cat lives its life, content being a cat and doesn't (as far as we know) debate its existence. It won't gaze up at the moon and wonder how to get there as humans have. We ponder because we're equipped with reason but maybe it's a burden or even a curse since we're never satisfied with the way things are. We always wonder and want more.

What other species on this planet desires an afterlife? Only humans crave more than this physical realm. Who are we to expect more? Everything in the universe lives and dies, bequeathing its elements to posterity. In their death throes, stars that shone billions of years ago, spewed their stardust into the cosmos to create our sun. Their atoms became the carbon in our bodies. All entities on Earth are children of the stars.

If the universe exists, it exists for a reason and the reason is to sustain life. Thus it would be logical to conclude that the meaning of life is life.

Religions influence people to adopt their principles and science does too, but neither has the answer. Religious sects never agree and scientists are as guilty. This leaves sceptics to battle their way through a maze of misinformation, hoping to find that ever-elusive meaning of life.

We can only strive to progress and discover more of our cosmos because like Mount Everest - it’s there and we're the only known life-forms who are aware of it. We may be the very personification of the universe itself.

Both theists and atheists would agree, if God created the universe he'd want us to appreciate it and if the universe came into being all on its own as most scientists believe, one way or another it's still there for us. That thought alone should give greater meaning to your life.

Give meaning to your life and the lives of others by returning to the universe what you've taken. If everyone in their own small way endeavours to leave the world in better shape than when they arrived, their ideas and achievements will continue. This will be useful to their descendants for the greater good of humanity and the whole of nature. Everybody can do this whatever their personal beliefs - religious, scientific or otherwise.You can strive to make the world a better place and leave your positive traits to your children. You can teach them to be creative rather than destructive and they will learn tolerance and not intolerance.


The Cat and The Moon

Religious or not, we can all strive in some small way to leave the Earth a better place and pass on the knowledge of a lifetime to the next generation. Of course, we also need to find personal fulfilment in the enjoyment of our own individual existence and build on our skills to become productive members of society. Everyone needs some meaning to their life even if they can't figure out what the meaning of life actually is!

The Meaning of Life Has Nothing to do with Monty Python but This'll Make you Laugh!

The Monty Python Team, renowned for their unique brand of comedy entertained us with their many films and sketches back in the 1970s and some of them are just as entertaining today. Watch them and laugh but don't expect to find the meaning of life although it might give some meaning to your life. The person who is happy and can see the humour in everything will be guaranteed to get through life a lot easier than someone who is a complete misery!

Monty Python's 'The Meaning of Life'

Hedonistic Humanity

Some folk go through life without ever contemplating its meaning or questioning whether there's any real purpose to life on Earth. On a fundamental level, the purpose of all living entities is to thrive and survive long enough to reproduce and sustain their young. Humankind, having achieved this, is the only species who aren't anxious about just surviving.Those fortunate enough to live in affluent countries not ravaged by famine or war can guarantee it.

When freed from the basic struggle for existence, people often become hedonistic. In this search for pleasure, there's a perpetual need for money to fuel their dreams and this desire overrides everything else. Their lives aren't enjoyed to the full and in the pursuit of happiness, it's easy to stumble along the way.

Most people live from one payday to the next whereas the wealthy gain more wealth to support a luxury lifestyle. Either way, money rules, so when people work longer and harder to accumulate wealth, both pleasure and fulfilment get overlooked and if this goes on too long, life loses any real meaning. People will then become trapped on a brutal treadmill and ponder the futility of life instead.

The purpose of life is universal. Life is the purpose of life. Life always finds a way however harsh the conditions; from bacteria frozen in the tail of some distant comet to microbes bubbling in hot sulphuric springs. It's only humans who desire more than life on Earth offers. Many can't cope with the thought of non-existence and crave an afterlife whereas this life alone is ample for every other species.

Humans expect happiness and need three things to obtain it: time, money and health - only three things - but a rare combination. When was the last time you had all three? In youth, you may have plenty time, excellent health but no money. In mid-life you may have health and money but no time and in old age, you may have time and money but no health!

All living things hold testament to the meaning of life but humanity misses the point. Earth has supported life for millions of years and that Status quo will continue for another billion. Humanity will never halt the quest for answers to profound questions on mortal existence. In a spiritual sense, there may be other dimensions where humans can progress; but if the physical universe is all there is, the meaning of life must be found here.

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© 2015 Stella Kaye

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