THE MEANING OF MEANING
SOMETHING TO BE CLEAR ABOUT
"Life is meaningless."
A common saying among many philosophers, but...see sidebar..and see the
quotes at the end.
"THE most important thing you can do in life is to create meaning intentionally in order to create the greatest experience and happiness of life. Do not take this lightly, for it is the essential ingredient for life and for all the value of life itself!"
This can't be!
OMG, I'm screwed! Life is screwed! F it all!
BUT WAIT A MINUTE!
Hey, wait a minute.
Don't stop at that famous quote, keep going...
The saying is meant to have us realize that life in itself is not assigned some meaning by some entity that existed before we had life.
There is no fixed meaning - anywhere, on anything.
The crappola that we add in terms of meaning is not implicit in life; it is something we added.
And if we added it, we can subtract it (take it back) and put something else in its place - as we simply 'made it up' anyway.
I repeat "it's only made up". It's not real. It's not fixed, permanent, solid, or like a piece of furniture.
It is, instead, a manageable vehicle to use to create happiness in life.
Victor Frankl's philosophy, in his classic "Man's Search For Meaning", is based on the premise that meaning making is essential to human happiness (and he delineates three avenues to finding meaning). Virtually every philosopher has addressed this as a major part of how humans have developed to create meaning to life and to everything in life. It is essential that you become clear on this: meaning is created by the individual, and the meaning that we add to life is what creates the meaning in life. It is up to us to create a perspective such that we can create positive meaning, which is the major component in our values (or is the equivalent). Indeed, our "job #1" is to maximize our "Life Value Productivity" - which I have written a book about (link to it from that page.
THE 'REST OF THE STORY'
The 'rest of the story' is: that we evolved as humans to seek explanations to what we observe and to create a "valence" (a negative or positive 'value') for everything, so that we could use it for navigation through life. These are often madeup and not true, yet we operate from them. (See the piece explaining this: The Believing Brain.) That's what we do. We make it up.
And let's not make up that it's bad that we make it up - and then think that that is true, real, fixed, permanent... Let's not make up that something has less meaning if we are the ones assigning the meaning instead of some made-up great entity.
Yes, we might want to be given from some source a meaning that we are to believe in - but that just means that we are making it mean something that some source gave a meaning to something and that therefore it is more credible, true, fixed, real.
But it has no more value coming from another source than it does from ourselves. Wouldn't it be preposterous that somehow value has more value or less value based on the source? (Yes, a good source is a credible source, but can't we become that source if no other thing is around to source it?)
THE SOURCE OF VALUE AND MEANING
We assign value and meaning to something - and therefore, because of that assignment, it has value and meaning. (Which, of course, we can change at any time. But meanwhile we 'get to', as a privilege, to experience that value and meaning! Of course, if we assign it a negative meaning, then it is not such a privilege to experience it, but we don't have to suffer from it if we know we just made up that meaning and we could just give it a different meaning!
Gobbledly gook! Aerie faerieness!
Nope. It is not those - you are only assigning that meaning.
The fact is that there really is meaning to something that we assign meaning to. It happens in our brain and we get to experience it all - and it is experiencing something that has the meaning called 'value' that is really the value of life!
Meaning does have meaning! I know that, since I created that, and I know you can also create that.
[There is nothing implicitly bad, though I don't particularly like pain - but I don't add to pain, since it would be stupid to add suffering to pain! Pain happens. I don't prefer it. It might be built into evolution and my DNA that I experience it as negative, so I can accept that - and I also choose to not add to that negative.
WHY DOES THIS CRAPPOLA MATTER?
The reason this matters, the reason why I am assigning this some meaning, is that if you understand this sufficiently you will see that you have no reason to be unhappy. You will be able to see that it was just made up that something is bad and then you made up that you were to be unhappy about that bad thing, but in reality there is nothing to be unhappy about.
Once you understand it, you unravel all those meanings that have created 'inner fears' from which you have suffered, though there was no 'reality' to them.
You believed in a fiction that you made up - and forgot that you made it up in the first place, so that you now think it is 'the truth'. It is still bullbleep, even if you think it is true, because you made it up from zero.
And you 'get to' make up anything you want. But it is stupid [I made this up!] that you would believe something is real that just exists in a conceptual form, basically a connection of neurons in a pattern in the brain, and which you cannot find out there in the 'real world', the physical world.
It is vital that you understand that you are the one who gets to make it all up - and that's what you've done so far, but you [stupidly, ignorantly] made it up that it was, somehow 'the truth'.
And, in a sense, it is all bullbleep, or as Werner Erhard once said (in an event I attended in the Oakland auditorium), paraphrased:
"It's not that this isn't bullshit. It's that it is a higher and better form thereof!"
A FAILURE TO DIFFERENTIATE...
So, will you now vow to not be a sucker for believing as 'the truth' a story or another type of made-up that you made up?
EVEN SHAKESPEARE THINKS IT'S SO
(Even old Shakespeare knew this (but we pass over the idea, almost as if it is trivial or an 'I already know that, but there is nothing I can do about...):
Hamlet: What have you, my good friends, deserv'd at the hands of fortune, that she sends you to prison hither?
Guildenstern: Prison, my lord?
Hamlet: Denmark's a prison.
Rosencrantz: Then is the world one.
Hamlet: A goodly one, in which there are many confines, wards, and dungeons, Denmark being one o' th' worst.
Rosencrantz: We think not so, my lord.
Hamlet: Why then 'tis none to you; for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison.
(So, this brings up questions. Was Shakespeare really a Buddhist? Or did he go to a popular life philosophy workshop?)
"Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it. The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be"