View Full Version : "What is the meaning of life?"

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10-31-2003, 06:38 PM
I'm currently in my first full year of teaching (high school music), and I thought it would be good for me to spend some time checking out some of the more experienced teachers among the faculty. Today, one of our world history teachers was gracious enough to let me sit in, and I think I learned from watching him teach, but there was something in his lesson that struck me.
He was covering the culture of India, including various concepts of religious beliefs, and at one point he said to the class, "Ok everybody, for the benefit of showing off for our guest Mr. Bayard, who here knows the meaning of life?", and the majority of them raised their hands! Then the teacher moved on, which left me wondering a bit what that was all about. Beyond that though, while of course I've heard that question before, I found it a bit startling. Perhaps it was the manner of its delivery in that setting, kinda like, "Everybody know the meaning of life? Ok then, lets move on...." (chuckling!)
Anyway, I thought I'd present that fun question here, figuring a thread on that might well collect an interesting array of answers ranging from the profound to the humorous. Personally, I'm not sure if I could come up with any single answer to that question, but arrive at different answers at different times and under different circumstances. The one that occurred to me when it was asked in class was, "The purpose of life is to live." Comedian Eddie Izzard once rather emphatically declaired, "I want to live my life until I die!!!" It was presented as a joke, but in retrospect, I think it makes sense. Live while you're here, die when you die.
Tag, you're it! :D

10-31-2003, 07:07 PM
"Thank you, Topper ! I can kill again ! You've given me a reason to live !"

- "Hot Shots: Part Deux"

10-31-2003, 07:16 PM
Hi !

On the serious level ,this is how I've come to phrase it :

The meaning of life is to find out what Gods

meaning with your life is !

Though it sounds simple,I've actually spent

a deal of time trying to phrase it right.

A good night to you all !

Paula Lydon
10-31-2003, 07:22 PM
"Life is for the living"--Rabbi Yeshua ben Joseph, aka Jesus.

I take that two ways:

Understand that you are alive (full of life energy, breath of life) and embrace that truth.

Wake up, get up and LIVE! :)

10-31-2003, 07:36 PM
Just fun to mention that during that world history class sesson on India that I sat in on, the teacher played a segment of a Ravi Shankar recording and grinned at me, saying, "I hope they're not just tuning here...."

10-31-2003, 08:55 PM
IMHO, the meaning of life?

What is worth living for? What is worth dying for? What is must music, poetry, and art written about? What does all self-help books preach and what does every psychology book say we need? What question does philosphy ask but never answers? What is every spiritual practice based on? What do you want more than anything?

When we get quiet, we all know the meaning of life.


10-31-2003, 09:01 PM
Life is like a day that has a destiny,

Like the plants that come from seeds,

tiny seeds, living seeds…

All the things around you still and alive;

People seems to forget, God gave us wisdom,

I don’t understand what life means to me…

The poem was supposed to be the lyric of a short melody composed by a classmate of mine way back my elementary days of schooling. But because of the poetic nature of the verse our music teacher encountered difficulty in attuning my written thoughts to the given harmony, but her effort is a helpless gesture of poesy in music. Thus at the end of the school year, I received a ribbon from her with an inscription of “Poetic” sort of an appreciation to my inclination to the abstract arts of words.

From birth to death life is just a series of breath...

10-31-2003, 09:27 PM
People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life. I don't think that's what we're really seeking. I think that what we're seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. That's what it's all finally about, and that's what these clues (myths) help us to find within ourselves. The Power of Myth 1988, pg. 5:cool: Cool

aubrey bannah
11-01-2003, 02:25 AM
Calm acceptance of Death

11-01-2003, 04:05 AM
Don't waste your time. Life is meaningless in itself.

11-01-2003, 08:27 AM
In the heart of your hearts there's the tiniest part of an urge to live to the death.

Warchild---Jethro Tull
That's always struck a chord with me.


John Boswell
11-01-2003, 08:36 AM
Isn't it obvious what the meaning of life is?

The answer: 42.



Actually, living life for all its worth is its own meaning. I wrote an essay/short story on this some time ago. I'll be back later to post it.

In the meantime, enjoy life!
:ai: :ki:

11-01-2003, 09:06 AM
I don't claim to know the meaning of life, but my objective in life is to add something positive for the society.

If you can count making someone happy and safe as something positive, helping put people in that position would be enough for me.

Esteban Martinez
11-01-2003, 10:07 AM
Somwhere it was written that the end of the path is not what is important but the path itself. So Death is the end of our path, but that's not important but how we get there. You'll know the meaning of life when you get to the end and look back.

11-01-2003, 10:19 AM
regarding the history teacher-

i feel that in order to teach a subject, it should be done by someone who respects said subject.

anyone who is making that kind of joke about one of India's greatest musicians has no right to be teaching the history of India.

42- the Answer to the Great Question about Life, The Universe and Everything. Now what was the question?

Kevin Leavitt
11-01-2003, 11:58 AM
the meaning of life is to "get it right".

Once we do, then there is no further reason to live!

11-01-2003, 11:59 AM
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong!

Why do you all persist in saying 42?

That computer was wrong!

11-01-2003, 12:02 PM
I had a existential psychology lecturer (also a martial artist), who walked in on the first day and said in her fantastic Greek accent, "Write down on the back of your paper...what is the meaning of.... yoouuurrr life". I left it blank, but immediately liked her weirdness.

Can be worth differentiating between:

What gives your life meaning?

And what is the meaning of life?

Quite happily answer the first (family, love, poetry, children's education , aikido, friendship, spirituality, Stella Artois) travel, etc)

But don't see why life should have a meaning anymore than a turd should. If your religious that's your business and fair enough.

Why do people need things to have meaning?

Spent some time asking people "What is the meaning of aikido in your life?", as part of a study. Most of them didn't know, and thought it an odd question.

Rambling thoughts, I dont know, gotta go make a bonfire now. Put em on there.



p.s. Jeff, did you ask the students? It's of my getting to know you games when I meet a new group of kids. Popular answers amongst the 7 - 12 year old aiki masters include, "Sweets", "to have fun" and "to annoy adults".

Kevin Leavitt
11-01-2003, 12:25 PM
I think the mean of life and the meaning of YOUR life are two different things.

I think the meaning of all life in general is to simply live for the sake of living. We live therefore we are.

The meaning of YOUR life depends on your own delusion of your percieved self importance!

Kevin Leavitt
11-01-2003, 12:26 PM
Oh, Happiness gives life meaning. Without it, why live!

Anders Bjonback
11-01-2003, 03:00 PM
Suffering gives life meaning, for without it, we cannot know happiness!

On a more serious note, I don't really know if there is a "meaning" to life. I can understand "what makes your life meaningful," but how is there a "meaning" to life? Life just is.

My teacher for my Zen class at Naropa said the fact that there is nothing more than right here, right now, that there is no underlying meaning or reason to it all, is a very sobering thing to realize. Then again, if you realize that, maybe you can realize that the happiness and suffering of every being is contained in this moment. Maybe one can realize that joy isn't found anwhere else but here.

But this is just more discursive thought, anyway.

11-02-2003, 08:07 AM
This can be a great Zen koan. The answer is found by dropping the question about the meaning of life and to start living it.

Its like talking about Aikido or actually training.

Jim ashby
11-02-2003, 02:27 PM
Life has no meaning. Accept that and start living in the moment.

11-02-2003, 03:01 PM
To Jo Adell: I want to reassure you in response to your comment on the teacher I was observing. I think perhaps you're taking the joke out of its context, and I also think you may be overreacting (to be honest, I found that I took offense to how you attacked this teacher in that post based on a little joke he made to me. You don't know him and weren't there to see that class session, so your attack was based on a simple joke. You're not aware of the respectful and intelligent manner in which he handled the subject material, and his rather gentle and respectful manner in how he expertly treats his students and manages classroom discipline as well).
Aside from being HIGHLY qualified in both knowledge and respect/appreciation for the subject material, incidentally this teacher appears to enjoy and appreciate the music of Ravi Shankar, and was merely joking to me in a manner intended to feign ignorance on the subject, since I myself am a music teacher. The joke was said to me on the side as he passed by me while the music was playing, and considering the music's unique nature relative to what we're (and more pointedly to the joke, our young students are) accustomed to in our own culture here, I found the joke rather humorous and witty. In my opinion, the fact that the joke was made, and the fact that I found humor in it, doesn't reflect disrespect to or a lack of appreciation of the talent and abilities of Ravi Shankar. In fact, before playing the recording to the class, I believe the teacher described Shankar as a giant.

As a music teacher, if I never allowed a few "all in good fun" jokes to be directed at various musicians, it would create a rather stiff and uptight atmosphere that would prevent the students from having fun. Heck, I make a few jokes myself here and there, but the students understand that that's intended as simply some light fun, and of course doesn't imply a lack of respect and appreciation for the talents and skills of the musician(s) in question (otherwise, why would I be subjecting the students to it in the first place?).

So anyway, be assured, Jo, it was not a ferocious attack on Ravi Shankar, his style of music, and the entire culture and belief systems of India as a whole. It was just a joke from a history teacher to a music teacher.

Back on topic, concerning the meaning of life, perhaps meaning lies in perspective. As illustrated and pointed out in this thread so far, different people will come up with different answers to the question, "What is the meaning of life?" So if there is some universal meaning of life, maybe it's a matter of individual people finding there own way there, similar to the many religions finding their way. If you think about it, they all try to address the same questions and concerns, and they all basically worship the same god (even polytheistic religions tend to set aside some form of "head honcho"), so it's simply a matter of approaching the same god from different perspectives in different manners. Maybe it's the same thing with seeking the meaning of life. Even if there's some "universal truth", maybe it's still a matter of individuals finding their own way there, and in so doing, finding greater meaning and understanding in it than simply trying to follow in blind obediance what someone else tells them.

I also agree with the sentiment already proposed in this thread, that basically, "It's not the grail, it's the quest." Sometimes the reward is more in the act of seeking the answers than in whether or not you actually find them.

11-02-2003, 03:36 PM

No offense meant. It helps me to have all of this information so that i may take your anecdote in context. I admit i have made the exact same statement but in the context of one person who undertands the Grateful Dead to another- to anyone else, some of their music Would sound just like "tuning".

Apologies &Thank you for clarifying.

11-03-2003, 08:04 AM

Looking back over what I wrote, perhaps I too should apologize. Though I tried to reign it in and keep it positive, I may have jumped on you a bit and overreacted myself, not exactly keeping centered in how I responded. I am very much a work in progress, and though I hope to continue to be a work in progress for my entire life, I also hope to move forward by improving with each experience whenever possible.

Anyway, my apologies if I was discourteous to you in my manner of response, but I'm glad we've both cleared things up. Peace and warm regards!

11-18-2004, 08:21 PM
I would say that that history teacher hit it on the head. There is no incorrect answer. Thats why he posed the question but not as an actual question. Douglas Adams, (author) said it best: the meaning of life is 42.

....then again, if I spend my life trying to understand it, I will never have the oppportunity to live it.

Timi Cone
11-18-2004, 08:49 PM
It's the ability to grow and aspire in a manner that is meaningful to you and knowing that you are content with your choices.

11-21-2004, 12:26 AM
I've always wondered why philosophers and religious folk ponder this question. Life is definitely not meaningless. It is my theory that spending your life searching for its meaning is like spending your entire life trying to strike it rich. Even if you succeed, you just die with lots of money. What is the point in dying with the answer to such a worthless question??
Besides, each life is different. There could never possibly be some kind of universal answer to this question. Even if one person finds it, it will mean nothing to the next person. What is the point in looking? Live life while you can, then spend eternity trying to solve the problem. Doesn't that seem like a good time to do it? Then you can talk about it with all of your eternity buddies and laugh about why the hell you didn't realize what the meaning of life was while you were alive.
I'd be willing to bet that the answer is really simple and it just gets overlooked or dismissed.
The best thing about life is that I get to eat bacon and eggs when I get up in the morning.

11-22-2004, 10:45 AM

The answer to Life, the Universe and Everythin is 42. It wasn't the computer that was wrong it was the question.

11-25-2004, 10:51 AM
as far as the meaning of life, i think its just to find something you love and then pass it on to at least one other person before you die... be it aikido or country music or reiligion.... i mean every persons life is strung to tightly to another persons life and thats what keeps the human race going... is passing on life and culture and ideas!

a really really awesome book to read is "The Celestine Prophesy" it kind of touches on the purpose of life. and it good!

Lan Powers
12-17-2004, 07:57 PM
Life's meaning is to touch another heart....

12-17-2004, 09:31 PM
Life is second chance for our soul to repent and be free of dharma so that we may join God in his kingdom or to escape the cycle of birth and death and be at eternal bliss (nibhana).

Bill Danosky
12-18-2004, 08:36 AM
To me, the meaning of life is for existence to be revealed. What would be the point of having all this miraculous reality with no eyes to see it, no ears to hear it, no mind to take it all in?