Rediscover the Meaning of YOUR Life
For thousands of years, men and women of every age, race, and culture have sought to understand the meaning of life. The people of our own time are no different.
Throughout history, scientists and philosophers, theologians and artists, politicians and social activists, monks and sages, and men and women from all walks of life have discussed and debated many questions in the quest to discover the meaning of life. And while their discussions have been many and varied, to my mind all of humanity’s searching for knowledge and answers can be arranged under five headings, each of them a question.
These are the five questions that humanity has been asking consciously and subconsciously ever since human life first existed. Although we may be unable to articulate them, you and I are constantly asking these questions. Whether we are aware of it or not, our whole existence is a searching to answer these five questions. We seek the answers to these questions directly and indirectly every day of our lives. And how we answer these questions determines the shape, form, and direction that our lives take on. These are the five questions that humanity longs to answer:
1. Who am I?
2. Where did I come from?
3. What am I here for?
4. How do I do it?
5. Where am I going?
All religious texts are centered upon and seek to illumine the five questions—including the sacred writings of Israel and the Christian scriptures. The five questions also form the major themes in the writings of Confucius and Homer, Shakespeare, Plato, and Aristotle, Dostoyevsky and Aldous Huxley, Ernest Hemingway, C. S. Lewis, and Henry David Thoreau. They are the questions that testify to humanity’s age-old search for the meaning and purpose of life. They are the questions that hungry hearts place at the center of their lives.
The second question, “Where did I come from?” introduces us to the ideas of creation and life. Within the fifth question, “Where am I going?,” we become intimate with the realities of time, death, and eternity. Most religious traditions answer the second and the last question with “God,” but the ideas that these questions unveil are complex. And though now is not the time, and this particular book is not the place, the second and the fifth questions deserve serious study and thought in their own right.
Questions three and four, “What am I here for?” and “How do I do it?,” give birth to the mysteries of love, joy, misery, happiness, suffering, fulfillment, discontent, and, especially, the never ceasing struggle we witness and experience between good and evil. We live our everyday lives in the realms of questions three and four. And owing to their practical implications, we usually become fascinated and preoccupied with these questions. But in order to answer these questions, “What am I here for?” and “How do I do it?,” it is imperative that we give serious thought and reflection to question one: “Who am I?”
Philosophically, this may all be very sound. Practically, however, the process of answering these five questions and conforming our lives to the answers we find is very difficult.
Each of us seeks to answer these questions in our own way. Experience is an excellent, though sometimes brutal, teacher. Yet at the same time, it is only the ignorance of youth that believes experience is the only teacher. As we grow wiser, we realize that life is too short to learn all of its lessons from personal experience, and we discover that other people, places, and times are all too willing to pass on the hard-earned wisdom of their experiences.
But where should we begin?
It has been my experience that nothing changes a person’s life more than the discovery of one solitary truth: There is meaning and purpose to life. More specifically: There is a meaning and purpose to your life.
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