WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?

Is There Anyone Who Can Tell us What God is Like?

by Ernest O'Neill

Program 31

What is the meaning of life? What is why are we alive? Why are you here? Why are you sitting in this car? Why am I talking to you like this? What's the meaning of it all? What's the purpose of it all? Where is it all going? Where are we going to end up after the sixty, or seventy or eighty years are over that we have on this earth? That's the question we've been discussing for some weeks now.

We've shared how many different people have ideas of why they're alive. Many of us here are answering that even by the way we live. Some of us are living just to make the money that we need badly. Some of us are living to establish the significance that we think we ought to have. Some of us are living just to be happy. So, already, many of us are answering that question by the way that we live.

The question is, "Why, really, are we here?" We're all answering it in all kinds of ways just because we have to live some way or other. But deep down in our hearts, most of us are wondering, "Well, is that all there is? Is that all there is to life, just getting a good education, to get a good job, to produce children that will get a good education that themselves will get a good job so that they will have children, etc., etc., etc.? Ad absurdum."

Many of us feel the sheer futility of that whole theory. We've therefore, asked the question, "Is there any clue that we can see in the universe itself that there is any meaning to this life at all? Is it anything other than a tale told by an idiot?" And, of course, what we've been sharing is that when you look into the very fiber and the very framework of the world and the universe itself, you see it's full of meaning.

There's meaning everywhere. There's meaning and order and design wherever we look. It's all through the world of nature; it's all through the world of astronomy. It's all through the world of physics. It's all through the world of chemistry. It's all through the world of medicine. There is incredible design and order and evidence of some conscious planning in the whole universe around us.

As you know, one of our greatest geniuses, Albert Einstein, makes this statement: "My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable, superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God." Really, most of us are driven to that conclusion.

We see that around us is a world of design, of conscious order. We see how our heart beats; we see how our muscles work together. We see the chart of the elements. We see the order in the orbiting of the planets, we see the constancy in the very functions of nature itself. We are drawn to conclude that this all must have come from some preconceived, premeditated plan by an intellect that is at least as great as ours. Many of us have reached that conclusion.

We have of course, a further difficulty, and that is this one. If there is such an intellect, is that intellect an inanimate intellect? Is it an impersonal intellect? Is it an Elan Vitalle? Is it some astronomical force? Is it some atomic energy? Or is this intellect a personal intellect?

We have taken the further step of saying, "How could an inanimate object create an animate object? How could an impersonal force create a personal being? How could a lower form of life create a higher form of life? How could a dog make a man? In other words, it seems obvious that the power behind the universe must be at least as personable as you and I are. Otherwise, that power could not make persons like us.

The further question is the obvious one. If there is such a person, why hasn't he tried to communicate with us in some way? After all, all we're sharing up to the moment is circumstantial evidence. It's evidence that claims that the only substantial and rational explanation of it is the existence of a Supreme Being who is also a person. But, really, that is circumstantial evidence. We're simply saying, "Surely he must exist in order to be able to explain all that we see around us. Surely, we have to believe that such a person exists." But if that is the case, is there any empirical evidence that such a person exists? In other words, surely that person would try to communicate with us human beings in some way. That is the question that we're beginnig to answer this coming month.

Has this Supreme Being behind the universe ever communicated with us in any rational, reasonable intelligent way? Is there something in that communication that holds within it the guarantee that it is a communication from the Supreme Being behind the universe? Is there any way in which we can be sure that that communication has come from outer space and is a signal from beyond to us men and women? Is there any evidence, any empirical touch- and-see evidence that such a Supreme Being exists?

Down through the years, all kinds of human beings have claimed to be able to tell that they had information that came directly from the Creator of the universe to them. There have been all kinds of neurotics, and all kinds of fanatics, and all kinds of mystics who have come to us down through the centuries, telling us, "We can tell you a message that we have received from the Creator of the universe."

Many of us say you can go into any psych ward or any asylum of the country and you'll find all kinds of people who say that they are Napoleon, or say that they are God himself, or say they are a messenger from God. So generally, we, as a sane, sober, thinking people, have been very sceptical of this kind of story.

There have been many such people. Buddha is one such man. He is respected by great numbers on the earth's surface. He was a man, you remember, that lived about 500 B.C. What he did was... he outlined what is virtually a psychological, (though a kind of psychic, mystical) method of escaping from the sense of pain that we experience in the world, day by day.

He said that the answer was in a form of meditation, by which we were able eventually to negate the "self" and therefore, to negate desire, and therefore, to negate the pain that is caused by desires. But Buddha, himself, strangely enough, did not believe in the existence of a personal Supreme Being such as we are positing during these days of discussion.

He actually believed that if there was anything, there was kind of a vague spirit in the universe into which we could eventually merge ourselves. You remember, when we were examining some of his statements, we saw that Buddha is really more of an agnostic or atheist than he is a believer in a Supreme Being.

And yet, thousands of people, of course, naturally say, "Buddha told us what the Supreme Being was like. Buddha told us messages that he received from the Supreme Being." Actually, Buddha didn't. He never claimed actually to be sinless; he never claimed to be someone who could tell us directly what the Supreme Being of the universe was saying to us. He was devising, through his own experience, a method of escaping from the "self".

Is there anyone else who has claimed to tell us what the Supreme Being is saying to us? Well, yes, there have been others. We'll just summarize some of them tomorrow and then try to probe further into the question, "Is there anyone, anywhere in our world who has ever told us what is coming to us from beyond space, from the Supreme Being who is behind it all?"

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