Saturday, September 6, 2014

What kind of meaning is most meaningful for you?

When we consider what a free and responsible search for truth meaning is we have to assume as Dennis Ford points out in his book, The Search For Meaning, that the meaning offered in our culture is no longer persuasive or satisfying, in other words, we aren't buying it, and that living without meaning is not acceptable.

The existentialists have been telling us for decades that life is meaningless and God is dead. The existentialists argue that there is no inherent meaning in life for us to discover, but rather the meaning of life is whatever we want to make it. It's on us. God is dead because the myths that traditional religion has been selling about God are no longer believed and don't work any more to help us create satisfying and fulfilling lives.

In this 21st century, for those in the advanced stages of faith development, meaning is no longer satisfying settling for just buying more stuff and keeping up with the Joneses, vicariously living meaningful lives through our children's achievements, investing ourselves in the fan club of our favorite sport teams or celebrities, drinking, drugging, gambling, pursuing promiscuous sex, eating ourselves to greater and greater levels of obesity, giving our lives over to some corporation where we can work for 40 years to receive a gold watch at the end of our sentence.

The disenchanted usually become anxious and depressed and seek solace from their primary care physician who will prescribed psychotropic drugs to ease the symptoms of the dis-ease. And then there are those who turn to religion or what today they call "spirituality but not religious." There are those who look for guides and more actively engage in a search and those who just coast through life taking it a day at a time and living as if it were a do-it-yourself project.

For those who investigate Unitarian Universalism they receive permission and encouragement to engage in the search itself but that's about it. There is little guidance offered other than referrals to the six sources and joining groups where other seekers supposedly seek too and share anecdotes of the views from their experience traveling through life. The professional ministerial staff if there is one are not people of God, holy people, but rather professional hand holders who are more like the stewards and stewardess of an airplane that the pilot steering a plane to a previously agreed to destination.

The key to the answer of what will make me happy, how can I create a  happy life that is satisfying and fulfilling, is within not without. Jesus is clear about this when He tells us in Luke 17:21, "The Kingdom of God is within you." To what extent does Unitarian Universalism help us with the inward search?

Osho has said,

 "Man can live in two ways: either he can live according to the dictates of others - puritans, the moralists - or he can live according to his own light. It is easy to follow others, it is convenient and comfortable, because when you follow others they feel very good and happy with you.
     Your parents will be happy if you follow their ideas, although their ideas are absolutely worthless because their ideas have not made their lives illuminated, and it is so apparent. They have lived in misery, still they want to impose their ideas on the children. They cannot see a simple fact: that their life has been a failure, that there life has not been creative, that their life has never tasted bliss, that they have not been able to discover truth. They have not known the splendor of existence, they have no idea what it is all about. Still, their egos insist that the children should be obedient; they should follow their dictates."

How do you help people become a light unto themselves? Isn't this what the fourth principle is encouraging? And yet no method is provided. No field manual. No map. People are left to wander. The simple answer to the question is, as Dr. Freud taught us in the 20th century, to make the unconscious conscious. Socrates put it simply 2,000 years earlier "an unexamined life is not worth living", and yet how many people live examined lives in your observation? How does Unitarian Universalism help people live examined lives? How does Unitarian Universalism help us make the unconscious conscious.

Life has meaning of all kinds for all kinds of people in all kinds of cultures in every period of history since homo sapiens evolved into conscious, reflective creatures. The huge question is what kind of meaning is most meaningful for you in your life when and how?

1 comment:

  1. That's about as clear as mud. Meaning is whatever we want it to be. Is that it? I think there is a little more to it than that. You make it sound like we are all living in Alice in Wonderland where the Mad Hatter or whoever says "Meaning is what I say it is. It's as simple as that?" I think meaning is co-constructed. One person alone can't do it, and so if we dig a little deeper we might ask, "How does that work?" I think you came up short with this article, but thanks for trying.