9. Does Life Have Meaning?
Voltaire, The Good Brahmin
Albert Camus, Life Is Absurd
Viktor Frankl, The Human Search for Meaning: Reflections on Auschwitz
* John Messerly, The Ascent of Meaning
Bertrand Russell, Reflections on Suffering
Richard Taylor, The Meaning of Life
(The * refers to commissioned for this volume.) And guess what? I replaced the Buddha in this edition! How many philosophers can say that? Move over Siddhartha. LOL!
But seriously seeing my name with people I’ve read and admired for a long time is probably the highlight of my academic career. Yes, from the point of view of the universe one little essay may be meaningless, but it is meaningful to me now. And maybe that’s enough.
What’s interesting to me is how, at first glance, your ego kicks in and you’re proud of yourself. But then you think, didn’t the Buddha warn that ego desires cause suffering? Didn’t he tell us that the self is basically an illusion?
Maybe such questions lead to a bit of Enlightenment. After all, “I” didn’t write the essay. It was written jointly by my readers and my teachers and my teachers teachers and their teachers going back through eons of time. It was written by a universe becoming conscious for a brief moment from one portal, window, or aperture of consciousness. It came to be, not from me, but from some point of universal consciousness.
It tried to communicate all the good things about what is and what could be: truth, beauty, goodness, liberty, equality, justice, joy, love, peace, and meaning.
So even if our work, our loves, and our lives contribute only a microscopic thread to an infinitely vast universe … who knows what effect they might have? After all, our world and the universe are but manifestations of all that happened in the past. And if even a few people find value in this small expression of the universe … then the universe did well.
My most fervent hope is that someday, somewhere, the universe will actualize its potential and all good things, both known and unknown, will come to pass. This hope keeps me going.