Saturday, 18 December 2010

Seasonal Invite to Think about the Meaning of Life

A friend of mine forwarded me the following from an email by this organisation.

It's set in a multi-faith context, but carries a seasonal theme. It's the kind of thing you could copy-paste into an email and send to a friend with an invite to a New Year Alpha course tagged on the end. I wonder if there are any of those happening soon... ;-)

A Christmas Thought: Reconcile Your Fear of Death

‘I don’t mind dying. The trouble is, you feel so
stiff the following day.’ – George Axlerod

Dear Phillip, I’m frightened of dying.

Dear Jack, the death-rate is still one per person with a 100% hit-ratio, we’re all going to make it. No-one gets out of this gig alive.

Dear Phillip, WHAT CAN I DO?

Dear Jack, GET A LIFE!!!

Christmas is upon us and for some reason at this time of year, fear of their own mortality strikes many, I get the letters. Christmas seems to be the time when many stop swimming and stick their head above the water long enough to take stock of how far they’ve come. Families get together and remember a loved one no longer among them. Fear of death is compounded by the media’s relentless treatment of the subject as mankind’s last great taboo, which hardly helps. So how do you reconcile your fear of death when you know there is a day in the future for your demise?

Reconciling the purpose of your existence is the fundamental starting point. What do you think is the point of it all? Why do you think you here? Notice the importance of belief systems, which propel motivation.

My famous motivation scale (0-10)

0 - I am dead. No longer breathing. I am beyond human help.

1-4 – I suffer from abject depression. I cannot take action. I am listless, suicidal, physically unfit/unwell. No one understands me. The world is going to hell in a hand-basket. I am often medicated and sedated. I have bad dreams. I have to take drugs to maintain any semblance of normality. Why do I even bother breathing? My parents/wife/husband do not understand me. I eat junk food and watch disturbing TV. I have no belief in any future existence beyond my own. I don’t know where I fit in. I am tormented and just want the pain to end. I…er… oh, it doesn’t matter.

5 – My existence and life bore me. I cannot be bothered with most activities beyond doing those things necessary to my survival. I am apathetic. I walk around looking at others wondering what planet they’re from. I hate my boss, dislike my job, am unproductive and constantly moan. I’m permanently broke. I don’t often travel and never enjoy going abroad. Everyone’s a hypocrite, especially those who think they have the answer to what ails me. What’s the point in looking after yourself? No one gets out alive anyway. Yes, I use cigarettes, alcohol and drugs, do you have a problem with that? OK, so I’m tetchy and hostile - it’s how you have to be to get by. Yes, I’m frustrated. I hate people who have more than I do. Do I care about my life? Whatever.

6-9 – OK. All this makes sense to me. Show me what to do and I’ll get busy. Life’s good. I am curious and interested about things. I like to research and discover new ideas. People say I am pleasant to be around. I am productive. I like helping others. Yes, I have rainy days and trials in my life but that’s the human condition. I am optimistic, confident, financially solvent and have a great relationship. What happens when I die? Not really sure, but I’m trusting in something good. If I get discouraged or depressed, I soon pull myself out of it. I am physically fit and like to take care of myself.

10 – I am on a mission. I can honestly say I am the happiest now that I have ever been. It doesn’t get better than this. I understand something of the world and my place in it. I have a balanced appreciation for others with whom I share this planet. I know I am only on Earth a short while, so I am going to act and live in a way that reflects credit upon my existence. I know there are bad things happening in the world but I am determined to keep positive, strive for excellence, and have no regrets. I am passing through to some ultimate destination. I cannot wait to get there and experience my destiny.

Which one applies to you?

The four BIG questions

Life’s experiences will lead you to develop a belief system, which will give you a context for why you’re here in the first place. At some stage, everyone asks themselves the four big questions:
  1. Who am I?
  2. Where did I come from?
  3. What am I doing here?
  4. Where am I going when this life is over?
Phillip Johnson, Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, writes: “I sometimes wonder why anybody talks about anything else because this is the most interesting topic there is. Where do we come from? How did we get here? What brought us into existence? What is our relationship to reality as a whole?”

Motivational trainer and businessman Brian Tracy believes: ‘To be truly happy, you need a clear sense of direction. You need a commitment to something bigger and more important than yourself. You need to feel that your life stands for something, that you are somehow making a valuable contribution to your world.'

Much misery comes from not possessing the above. Hopelessness sets in that we might have landed in some twilight zone wherein our participation is demanded for no appreciable payback. And anyway, if Darwin was right and we’re all here by blind, random chance, what’s the point of any of it? Why bother getting out of bed in the morning? What if the Hokey Cokey really is what it’s all about?

There are only two choices to explain why you are here:
  • You’re here by blind, random chance
  • You’re part of a highly designed system
We know what Dr Richard Dawkins has to say, and we know what religion says. Twenty years ago I began asking the unpopular question, “What does science say?”

Here’s what I found out.

No comments: