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The Meaning of Life


Akuji
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There's a difference between self-interest and selfishness. Lack of self-interest/self-esteem can be unhealthy, most specifically as that tendency manifests itself in indolence and in extreme cases suicide. Humility and self-interest can coexist, humility and selfishness cannot.

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The Meaning of Life

Most great acts of kindness and compassion are motivated by selfishness. The buddhist who carries out charitable acts does so because they believe it brings them closer to enlightenment. ... Maybe I'm just cynical but I can't believe anyone could be so generous if there wasn't some perceived benefit in it for them.
The question, really, is--is that really a bad thing? Buddhism doesn't seem have a problem with the idea that charitable deeds bring the doer happiness, as it is in line with karma (a fundamentally active force). I don't think true selflessness is really possible because in some way or another altruism feels good, but in the end I don't think that really matters--if everyone involved is happier, isn't that a good thing?
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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

Life finds a way, life has it's own purpose, but to whether I believe life has a meaning I'm not quite sure. As far as scientific knowledge knows, we're all here by pure chance, chance that arose out of the chaos of the universe we live in. We're so insignificant and tiny compared to the grand scale of the fabric around us that I find it hard to believe life has a meaning, but that being said it doesn't mean we can't enjoy the wonderful experience that it is. When you really think about how lucky we are to be here, fully equipped to experience this consciousness you don't really need a meaning, you just need to take in everything our rare little time spans have to offer. Explore, love and learn as much as possible before your rounds over.

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When I was eight, I thought about it for the first time: my conclusion was "the meaning of life is to live". Whatever that might mean. Now, of course, I've got a lot more experience, and have had my eyes opened to worlds of which we're simply unaware in the West. I can safely say that the meaning of life is to find out the answer to the question "who am I?", though there are other ways of putting it, other paths that will lead to the same destination/understanding. I'll try and explain my take on it here (forgive me for diving in at the deep end): Typically, we think of ourselves as being "aggregates of phenomena": I am some collection of the things I perceive. For example, at the most basic level, I am a brain operating in a body, or I am a soul operating in a body, or I am a mind projecting an experience, etc. My name is such-and-such, I'm this many years old, my parents are these people and I was educated here. I now work in this profession, have these hobbies and these habits, and identify as gender, race, creed, and political persuasion. I'm this tall, with this colour hair and eyes, these identifying marks, and typically wear this kind of clothing. Notice, however, that these latter facets are "about" you: they do not constitute "yourself". All of the things you believe about yourself are things you believe about yourself; they are not yourself. In fact, even the very basic identity as a brain, mind, soul, or whatever - this very basic identification on which all your other beliefs are founded - is something of which you're aware. That is, you are aware of the idea that you are this thing. The idea alone does not make you that thing: you must be whatever is aware of the idea (which must be something entirely different). Beyond any idea, thought, or even feeling, the answer to the question "who am I?" has to be yourself. It turns out, on inspection, that what "I" am is basically nothing. That is, I am not a "thing": I am not an object, but a subject. I am not the body, because I am aware of the body; I am not the mind, because I am aware of the mind; I am not the senses, because I am aware of these; I am not even that which identifies itself as any of these things, because I'm aware of this identification. All of the world passes in front of my awareness - everything comes and goes - but I'm always here to watch it coming and going. I never find myself in my experience, because I'm the one who's having the experience. Not being of this phenomenal world, I have no primary qualities (extension, mass, etc.); I do not change over time, but observe all change occurring; I was not born, and do not die. Curious, eh? I wonder how many of you will get it ;) Of course, it's one thing for someone to say this, another to believe it, and an entirely different order of things to experience it as the truth. If you're interested in this line of questioning, don't take anything that I or anyone else has said as gospel truth, but enquire for yourself, and for your own sake. What I can promise you is that once you have found out what you yourself are, questions such as "is there a God", "what happens after I die", or "is this a morally right action" are rendered meaningless. Until this kind of question really piques your interest, you're better going with what seems to be the general suggestion here - the meaning of life is whatever meaning you ascribe to it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

This is not a new notion by any stretch of the imagination. Philosophers have been pondering this idea for centuries. Personally that side of philosophy never piqued my interest. It stands to reason that life in and of itself has no meaning. From a purely existential standpoint however life does have a purpose: to procreate in order to facilitate the survival of one's species and one's genes. Any further purpose is a creation of the individual as opposed to mere instinct.

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Many drives we may have in common revolve around power i.e. ability to attract the opposite sex, acquiring wealth, status, good jobs, respect, security, influence, leaving a legacy, etc. Another thing that most people have in common is to have kids sometime in their life, so you could argue that the meaning of life is to create life, like a never-ending cycle. If you get too specific though, obviously you will view the meaning of life as highly subjective, we share many drives, just not in the specific details of our desires.

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  • 4 weeks later...

We must agree, first, that there is a Reality; that there is Truth. It is impossible to deny this, as without a fundamental reality, any denial would have no base, and so could not come about. Thus: reality is. What it is we can leave aside, for now. However, it certainly seems to me that the purpose of life must be to find out exactly what reality is. Furthermore, there are tools and methods available to us so that we might do this (i.e. spiritual disciplines). I don't think one can really find out what reality is, in the descriptive or normative sense. Rather, one realises that one is reality. Have you ever woken up from a horrible dream, totally relieved that it was all a dream?

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We must agree, first, that there is a Reality; that there is Truth. It is impossible to deny this, as without a fundamental reality, any denial would have no base, and so could not come about. Thus: reality is. What it is we can leave aside, for now. However, it certainly seems to me that the purpose of life must be to find out exactly what reality is. Furthermore, there are tools and methods available to us so that we might do this (i.e. spiritual disciplines). I don't think one can really find out what reality is, in the descriptive or normative sense. Rather, one realises that one is reality. Have you ever woken up from a horrible dream, totally relieved that it was all a dream?
There are two types of reality we can consider - objective and subjective. Objective is the one you considered in your 1st paragraph. Subjective is your own experience and interpretation of reality. I also agree that you cannot know objective reality - as you can only use your own understanding and knowledge as a tool to assess and consider other ideas.
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There are two types of reality we can consider - objective and subjective. Objective is the one you considered in your 1st paragraph. Subjective is your own experience and interpretation of reality. I also agree that you cannot know objective reality - as you can only use your own understanding and knowledge as a tool to assess and consider other ideas.
Hello, Plato.
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  • 5 weeks later...

Who gives a fuck about meaning? We'll all be rotting bags of meat in the ground sooner or later, and in all likelihood we'll cease to exist. Everyone we've ever loved will meet the same fate. Every accomplishment of ours will eventually be forgotten by time, assuming they were even worth remembering in the first place. Existence is a silly concept, so I choose to view it with detached amusement, while doing as little as I possibly can to get to my goal of living on a tropical island and running a beachside bar where my fellow expats can sip margaritas and where unfortunate shirts. Slacker nihilism is the only sane answer to this whole bit of nonsense.

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