In modern society, both within and without the new age community, we joke about the meaning of life and becoming enlightened. Quite outside my work as writer/facilitator/teacher I often hear remarks and jibes of that nature, so it has been obvious to me for decades that many people are pondering that issue. Obviously it comes up sharply when there is suffering and death in the family and circle of friends, particularly in the childhood years.
Committed religionists will defer to the ‘God working in mysterious ways’ option, ways we poor humans cannot hope to understand. They will quote from their ancient sacred books and pray. They will tell you that submission to the will of god is what saves the suffering human from despair and meaninglessness. Of course, agnostics and atheists will use the same argument to indicate the actual source of that suffering. That peace of mind can be gained from such submission is obvious from the number of calm and settled believers in our midst. And again, there are great numbers of humanists who achieve much the same through accepting the severe limitation their concept of one-life-then-obliteration. The religionists distance themselves from divinity and consider any approach to be not only impossible, due to our inherent unworthiness, but also quite heretical. The humanists, of course, find this pointless, as there is no divinity to approach.
The religionists say, “I aim to be a decent, god-fearing human being”. The humanists say “I aim to be a decent, ethical citizen.” What does the newager/mystic/gnostic say? “I aim to explore the mystery of incarnation?”
After many years of seeking, finding, and seeking again, “Gordon” has come to the conclusion, perhaps partial, that the meaning of life, at least on this planet, is to gain as many types of experience as is possible in the varied societies and epochs of our evolution, and seed that experience as sub-conscious wisdom in the psyche, to be employed in assessing and completing the ever more complex challenges of incarnation. Concepts, emotional states, thought patterns, belief systems: all are incorporated in the gradual accumulation of experience data. And when those data banks are full, incarnation is no longer necessary, unless one chooses the bodhisattva option of aiding others to move toward their eventual enlightenment.
Does knowing the meaning of life enhance one’s experience of it? It would seem so, though the gradual unfoldment of understanding which occurs to the seeker and disciple, adding stone by stone to the castle of wisdom until the mason is satisfied that The Work is complete, is so infinitesimally slow that the shifting balance between ignorance and knowing, suffering and bliss, can be tough to assess at any one point. Some would say that being unable to distinguish between suffering and bliss is enlightenment. One arrives at a plateau of understanding, feels remarkably wise, and then notices the steep climb ahead. Sometimes one feels that serenity has been installed as a safety measure.
I have noticed that many who might wonder and ponder about the meaning of life, shy away from the actual understanding as I have portrayed. Surely it cannot be that simple? After all this sweating and slogging uphill, you tell us this? Where is the reward for all our effort? They do not wish the mystery to be solved, they do not wish the maze explained. They love the mystery because it’s a mystery, and they have become comfortable being on the outside, peering delightedly in. They do not realize, and I cannot seem to satisfactorily explain, that peering delightedly out can be just as much fun, if not more.