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  • Writer's pictureBarry Shirley

Mumbo Jumbo News - Issue 4 - March 2020 - 'The Meaning of Life'

Hi guys. In this blog issue I would like to contemplate the question of ‘life’s meaning’ or more simply put, ‘what is the meaning of life’? As in my previous blogs, I will draw on the views of past and current masters/sages and generally, wise people.

The question is essentially different for everyone. It depends if you are spiritual and/or pragmatic about life, intuitive, religious, egotistical, oppressed, oblivious, uncaring, curious, self-aware etc or just generally influenced by the modern world.

However, if you are actually asking this question you are probably in a mindset that brings you to think that there is much more to life than meets the eye, as it were. The mystery of being human probably demands many of these sorts of questions. If you are committed to this particular question you first need to think beyond what or who you think you are.

As discussed in a previous post, the ego has probably given you an identity based on your upbringing, the influence of your parents, your personality, culture, schooling, religion, social influences and habitual thinking patterns – this is considered to be your lower self (in eastern belief systems). All this is a form of programming that we perhaps need to try and detach from if we want to understand how we are so much more than what we think we are.

In terms of the question regarding life’s meaning – rational knowledge is probably not enough. Is it just the answer that; life is what you make it? – do you need to be anything else other than what you already are? Has there been a catalyst in your life for asking such questions?

Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl (1905 – 1997) survived 3 years in the cruel Nazi death camps (2nd World War) and described lessons for spiritual (and actual) survival based on his own experience (NB his parents, brother and pregnant wife died in the camps). See “Man’s Search for Meaning” first published in 1946.

He argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose to cope with, find meaning in it and move forward (i.e. an absolute power to choose your response to anything cannot be taken from you). At the heart of his theory, later known as logo therapy, is a conviction that the primary human drive is not pleasure but the pursuit of what we find meaningful (i.e. find a purpose – make a choice and change your attitude – find your way at each stage of your life and help others to do so).

He said that, prisoners at the camps who gave up on life, who had lost all hope for a future were inevitably the first to die (they died less from lack of food or medicine than from lack of hope, lack of something to live for).

He quoted Nietzsche: “He who has a Why to live can bear almost any How.”

(i.e. by having a clear ‘why’ we can face the ‘how’ questions of life). He went on to say that you cannot control what happens to you in your life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you. He also said (perhaps surprisingly to some); “that the salvation of man is through love and in love”. And that we should live from the perspective of love for humankind.

George Lucas, legendary Star Wars Director, also wrote a book on the meaning of life (see “The Meaning of Life: Reflections in Words and Pictures on Why We Are Here” – 1991)

He arrives at a conclusion about the interconnectedness of all life and writes:

“it is possible that on a spiritual level we are all connected in a way that continues beyond the comings and goings of various life forms. My best guess is that we share a collective spirit or life force or consciousness that encompasses and goes beyond individual life forms. There is a part of us that connects to other humans, connects to other animals, connects to plants, connects to the planet, connects to the universe. I don’t think we can understand it through any kind of verbal, written or intellectual mean. But I do believe that we all know this, even if it is on a level beyond our normal conscious thoughts.”

He went on to say; “If we have a meaningful place in this process, it is to try to fit into a healthy, symbiotic relationship with other life force. Everybody, ultimately, is trying to reach a harmony with other parts of the life force. And in trying to figure out what life is all about, we ultimately come down to expressions of compassion and love, helping the rest of the life force, caring for others without any conditions or expectations, without expecting to get anything in return. This is expressed in every religion, by every prophet.”

In terms of the Bhagavad Gita (ancient Sanskrit Hindu teaching – possibly 3000 years old) your mission in life is to discover your real Self (Atman-higher Self) to practice union with the Self. You are born into this world only to regain the lost Self. This is your supreme Goal – your sacred duty.


“The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better.”  ― Robert F. Kennedy (35th President of the United States of America).

“We must reach out for our full potential. The potential lies in our inner strength.”  ― Lailah Gifty Akita, (Ghanaian mindfulness Author and founder of Smart Youth Volunteers Foundation).

“The purpose of your life is to realise what you are, to awaken, to grow and evolve. Everything can be alchemised for this purpose through gratitude.”  ― Itayi Garande - (author, lawyer, newspaper editor and businessman based in the United Kingdom).

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” ― (The Dalai Lama).

Begin at once to live, and count each day as a separate life.” ― Seneca - (c. 4 BCE – CE 65 – Roman Stoic Philosopher).

“The only ultimate agenda of the divine universe and law of karma is that we should wake up. Wake up to the truth of who you are – which is consciousness, soul, spirit love, oneness.” – Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati – (President of the Divine Shakti Foundation)

“Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.” – Elbert Hubbard – (1856 – 1915 American Writer, Artist, philosopher).

Take out:

  • Accept everything – maybe stop trying to understand life (all true achievement is in the present moment) - let go of things you cannot control and start living life!

  • If you are spiritually aware, no doubt you are already striving to achieve the benefits of union with the higher Self! Identify your dharma (i.e. find your positive purpose/duty in life – and do the right thing for you, family, community and fellow mankind).

  • Remember, you always have a choice in responding!

  • In any event Just Be (just live) and may the force be with you!

Compiled by Baz Shirley – Ocean Grove – Victoria – Australia

*see also:

& Instagram @bazabstractart

And all my posts on

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