The Meaning of Life

Work? There is so much pleasure in work. I would not have believed it, years ago—or has it actually, already been decades? A world away from this, now. Here. It is surely personal, the theory of what may matter, and I think not that the judgments of a dream can ever be distilled into a logic without passion. Where is life without passion? There are antiseptic actions which do concoct a steady reasoning, it is true, but never would they have been initiated without some investment of the heart. To be useful to this world: this is finer than any reproductive urge, by far, in quality’s name. All is vanity, and chasing after wind… except work? That which rearranges entropy so that life is possible; that which formulates beauty in the design of the physical world, letting imagination spill into it.

And then there is love, of course. Some (many?) short circuit the question of what meaning may be by leaning with all our body weight on those overused four letters. Yes, I know what you say when you say that the meaning of life is love. Of course it is. But do you have any idea of what you’re saying when you say exactly that? In my own surveys, I have always thought that you do not need to believe in God in order to believe that God is love. And that love is so simple, we’ll never understand it. And more: love costs. Do you believe that love is measured by how much work it inspires? What is love? It is like a nothing that is an everything, like how time causes all things to happen, and is actually not doing anything of itself at all.

This is how we start. It is always thus: here, now, this—me. From there, everything that may be accomplished comes to pass. With that, and sorrow. Is it true that the house of wisdom is a house of mourning? Even if that equation exaggerates the issue, I conjecture that anything more than a surface meaning of things must dip into such dim wells, and remember their flavor. Then to say that the meaning of life is simple, dead simple: if you are alive, you already know it. Or no, you do not? You do not know it just as a fish does not know what water is. I remember back, in a dream, when the Lord asked me, “What do you want?” Whereupon I said, “I don’t know.” He said, “That means you are lost.” The worst place to get lost—in yourself.

At the other end of my soul, the fantasy won’t let me be… that of EUTOPIA. Not Utopia, which means “nowhere”, but with that initial “e”, it is “the good land”. Some people, when they believe that some task is impossible, they say, “that’s Utopia”. In a perfect world, yes? Except that things don’t have to be perfect to mean something. We deal with imperfections every day, and we make them work somehow. Destiny appears often rough hewn. It might be true that we become who we are in the dreams we forget, that the Process is a mystery—and perhaps there are reasons for that. Two shapes which are random cut fitting together with fantastic symmetry. The messianic age, which people of Jewish persuasion point out did not happen in the time of Jesus of Nazareth, actually seems to be happening now: as a thousand years is to God a single day, it were two days that the messiah had lain in the earth, to emerge with God’s will done on earth as it is in heaven: it is happening now, these two days later in that cosmic scale. The beginning is near. The beginning is here.

Would you believe me now if I say that I am a scientist? Indeed, in my brash university years I was known as a devout atheist. Much has happened from there to here, but let this pique your curiosity: if you claim yourself a skeptic, I say that you do not doubt enough. What is it if you start not to take logic for granted? When you do not hold that truth need be true, false be false? Impossible? Idiocy? Truth must always be true, and the opposite? What if there is something more primal than these? And if I tell you that God only exists to me from my point of view, and not necessarily yours, does that invite a better perspective of me?

We don’t notice that miracles happen every day simply because they happen every day. This is a clue to how the world works. Science, where we get a bundle of clues, tells you what is true, whether you believe it or not—if the things in question are within its jurisdiction. You can go overboard with that, where we enter a realm called “scientism”, in which we believe only science has any valid answers in any school of thought. Still, such a position is arguably better than fundamentalism, which claims that the universe was made in 6 24 hour days, and that somehow Adam and Eve were the parents of everyone who has ever lived. But are both extremes missing something very simple? Is it that life itself is its own meaning?

I need no reason to be because I am. Is the purpose of life… to be alive? This certainly seems to be true of the animals, and perhaps further, the plants and fungi, even the algae and bacteria. Animals seem to get by just fine, without any hint of existential crisis. Humans, on the other hand, my thinking is that even the meanest, basest of us, they will come to a point where they look in the mirror and ask, “Why am I here?” It is not enough for us just to be. In my understanding, “religions” like Buddhism actually stop at that point: they tell us that we should be content just to be. To meditate, to sit without any need for validation. Enlightenment, then, to find the state of being that perhaps the flora and fauna seem to take for granted? In my idea of things, I think, no—this solution seems less than satisfying.

The world has been described as a powerful play; it is indeed an epic current that drives into the new spacetimes at breakneck paces, if one indeed opens one’s eyes at the billion actions at every moment, in all the places where the tumblers are flipped, and we all channel that awesome river of rivers into the unknown, and so it becomes known, the fantastic reality. See, if you have eyes to see.

Understand: we do not wish to renounce this world. We do not wish to be lifted from the stresses and troubles that present themselves to our attention. We do not wish to evacuate ourselves of sweet sensations, just because we can. EUTOPIA calls us: the land of justice. We do not desire to move ourselves into the desert to be favored of some deity; we want to make something of what our forebears left for us. We want to be fruitful, and multiply. Go to your nirvana, if you have had enough of blue sky and fields of golden grain. I desire to remain attached to all the people I have met and loved. I wish to value the coins of silver I have collected. We are so close, right now, to the promise we have read about, scarce to hope. Truly, it is at this time now, here in this waking universe, that there is a path there from here. That all we need is to keep going on the direction we are generally moving towards. That all it requires of us is work. Not magic. Not miracle. Not blood. Just sweat.

What gives anything you do meaning? You get a birthday gift that is just what you wanted, and it means something to you because it is apparent that the giver put a lot of thought in it. What would make a life mean something, then? Perhaps we should modify that big question: “What is the meaning of your life?” or even, “What is the meaning of your life to you?” Is the meaning of life to achieve some goal you have set for yourself? Is the meaning of life to make some difference in the world? Would that not give meaning to your life? Significance. Purpose. And you know what? that has everything to do with love. Because in the final analysis, love is all there is. What are material things, after all, if they are just things? That perfect birthday present: there is love in it. Love = meaning. That is what we name when we say that the meaning of life is love.

But that’s not enough, do you not see? What might be the question we really ask: “What is enough?” What is enough to make life have meaning? One is tempted to think that it is a different thing to different people, that the buddhist monk who has reached enlightenment has found the meaning of life, or that family man with a good job, loving wife and 2.5 kids, 1.3 dogs, a big house in a great neighborhood, hybrid car, etc., etc., has found the ultimate answer to all those esoteric questions that those of a deeper mind have been wrestling with for millennia. If only it be enough… Because you have heard stories told, felt that desire when driving home from the store, that outside temptation not to turn left onto your street—that curious urge to just keep driving, and not look back.

Thus it is usually told that riches will not give you the meaning that you might be seeking through it, nor pleasure, nor power, nor esteem. Because what is enough? It’s never enough. Then there are the paths that are said to give you inner peace, so that whatever you do have, that will be enough. A lot of people (a lot of people) will refer to a God-shaped hole in the heart, that what is required to find all the meaning in life that you could possibly want is to find the infinite, and to house That within you. …and we’re back to “God is love.” One might be tempted to take this as perhaps a fundamentalist would (in a perfect world): that “love” is actually talking about a material substance, and that God is made up (entirely) of this one substance. A love transcendent. In addition, a corollary: since we are made in the image of God, that we are made in the image of that love, that love transcendent.

Jesus! One thing that most people overlook when talking about the Son of God, maybe because it’s thinking a little bit backward, is that if we are to believe the account of Him (that he dined with “sinners” and infuriated the rich and powerful, ultimately to end up dead while having committed no sins Himself)—if this is correct, then from the example that He is, we can therefore conclude that God (or Dad, as He called Him), is also good. The thing about the triune God is that to keep with the Judaic “God is One”, it means that the Son and the Father share the one nature that God is. To be the Son of God means that He is God, and in fact in the Gospel accounts, this is the blasphemy He is charged with, “this man says he is God” (which is punishable by death). It is well known that when there is a certain way that religious leaders act in their relation to God, this changes the nature of God for everyone within that leader’s influence. “God is love” is not in the Old Testament. Basically, He needed to show everyone Himself what Dad really was like. The picture, before Jesus, had been an incomplete one.

Understood there are millions of people who believe in God who don’t believe Jesus was His Son, and perhaps even more who don’t think there is a God at all, but when you bring up the topic of the meaning of life, you cannot ignore them. It is also understood and there is some agreement with philosophers (a- and theist) that there is ultimately no meaning without that there is a God. For instance, if in the far, far future, the universe experiences the death and dissolution of everything, what has it all been for? Even not considering that, there is something to be said about the thought that we are part of something larger.

God is love. These are arguably the most profound words ever writ. There is no ineffable: God is love. Better than anything Jesus is supposed to have said; and I speak no heresy here, for He said there would be greater deeds done by those who followed after Him. There you go. Even if you do not believe there is anything like a deity anywhere, you understand the sentiment. You understand the dream that is being had. It is the best possible thing in all the worlds anywhere, and here. Because you know, if it’s somehow true: if God really is love, then there is a reason for everything, however horrible things may be or become, or have been: nothing is in vain. And is that it, what some of us really want when we ask for the meaning of life? Just a steady voice to tell us that everything is going to be alright…

And just like trying to put all one’s eggs in love’s basket, we mayhap should not press upon the idea of God to solve everything for us. Even believing in Him, He gave us all our own conception, of our own selves and of the world. He gave us the capability to be autonomous. The parent’s duty is to make the child independent! Remember this simple thing: that if you have known love, you have known God. Believe it or not.

So, in one sentence, state the purpose of all humanity. You have 5 minutes. Go. OK, one hint: it is love, but you can’t use that in your answer. Because reasons. And you know, if you’re full of God and/or Jesus, you don’t even ask. (The reasons are because this is an unfair question.) The answer must be immediately recognizable as correct, and will last as the definitive of all answers for everything for all days, up to and including the end of days… Does nothing come to mind? There’s a reason for that! Like we all are made in the image of God, all answers are a shadow of the ultimate of answers. From the One Answer one may solve all the questions ever to be created, just like “because God” is trivially the answer to all mysteries.

The meaning of life is a secret no one knows, because it is too obvious. It is a secret that is not a secret, knowledge like the comprehension of zero. (There are zero matadors killing zero bulls, every one of them dressed in red.) What is love? In this is the secret most plain: love is work. Did you not know? Have you not heard? That fluffy, hazy, clouds-in-your-eyes sensation of being in love may be what some people think that all love is, or should be. Indeed, some scholars have denied the equivalence of “love is God” for just such a reason. But that love—love transcendent, the One Love—it is both in the natures of all the basest ideas of love, and higher than time. There is nothing greater.

The meaning of life is the proof that there is magic in the world. We all once knew, we all once believed, that anything was possible. Remember? That one moment when everything was right with the world, that one time when everything made sense… And it didn’t last, a transient strawberry that tasted so fine when you were on the ledge of a cliff, with a tiger above you and a tiger below… But o, its taste was sweet! You could not handle the meaning of life if it revealed itself to you in the everymoment; there was a soul who saw the infinite light which was the barest trim of His glory, and he knew what it meant that one could not see God and live. The meaning of life will never make sense if you seek after it, and surely will not unveil itself if you do not look for it. You know what it is. Remember?

Was there a promise you made to yourself, when you were so little, that you would never forget what it was like, just then, that you would always understand, like how you imagined all the grown ups never knew. That was how it seemed. And now, caught up in the world, did you forget? The rationales that came in the growing up, that you could never have imagined when you were that little, the responsibilities heaped upon you that could not have been thought of back when—excuses, excuses! You are still that little. Will you make that promise again? Because the meaning of life is to realize that: that you are a small child in the face of the unfathomable deep of the cosmos. This is where you fear God, for that is the beginning of wisdom. For you do not comprehend the Infinite, and you never shall; the Know is deeper than that unfathomable deep. Or how you might imagine is the depth of nonexistence. Love is deeper.

Did you hear? Love is deeper. Let death die. The meaning of life: love is sweet poetry. And true love? Does your love last forever? That is true love’s only qualification! The meaning of life: love is an electric dream. When love lit our senses (I remember you)… We have never been here before, exactly where we are now—any second time, it is not the same river, and it is not the same you. The meaning of life: whatever the cost, love is free. When we complete the circuit, everyone in the world loves everyone else, and we become not just a collective mind, but a collective spirit, a collective soul, a collective heart: this is EUTOPIA, which is landing as we speak. This is when the world loves us back (as you sow, you know?). And the meaning of life? The meaning of life is all that we forgot that did not forget us. And that, my friends, turns out to be Infinite.

When in the dream, we reach for something we know is there, in the ether—a missing part of us, perhaps, some treasure from our childhood, maybe, priceless but ephemeral—and we wake and forget what seemed so crucial, to our very existential significance and essential quality of our being—gone. Perhaps death is not sleep, after all, but when we awake to discover that what we had held so dear in that dream which is life… is not so very much of anything, after all. Even love. We love perhaps as fools love, love that is folly. Have all of us known what it is to love beyond our means? Yet love, even in folly, has its place in the Physics.

There is so much pleasure in work. Whatever you do, if it makes the world go in the smallest part, do you understand the word, “worthy”? Of worth. It means something. What makes life mean something? In general, right? Well, what is love? Is it not the one billion faces of possible kindnesses acted upon? Surely there are more, in fact. We do not have to gather all such things in a heap to comprehend what is there. Most of us, for the greater parts of our lives do not think anything of getting up and out of bed in the morning. The meaning of life is there, just there. And you know what makes some people rise and shine? That sense of purpose. Of work to do. What is the meaning of life? Get to work. Do something. At that point, and only then, are you worthy enough to ask if there is something more. What is the meaning of life? That which is the meaning in life. Nothing more, nor less. Sometimes it is small, sometimes it is great. Don’t count out the little things. For most of us, what saves us are these. And you wanted maybe some universe shaking Reason to Be? Be careful what you ask for; that’s a lot of work you’d be signing onto.

What about love? You are not worthy. God is love. And one thing we true believers understand is that in the proper definition of God is One who is unspeakably good. In fact, many of the misconceptions of Him are indeed because of that aspect of Him. He makes the sun shine on both the virtuous and the vile. Why hasn’t He done anything about the problem of evil? Why haven’t you? He has a plan, and it’s called Judgment Day. You don’t get to judge without that kind of knowledge. Love is always right above you, possessed in that heart where Heaven touches down into this sphere of dirt. What is it that is expressed in a better and truer way in the poor and humble rather than the rich and spoiled? We forget—nay, we never have known—that which is infinite in its goodness, and infinitely as gentle. It seems so rare when it is upon you, like no one has ever loved before you like you love now. You are right. And yet, it is in the reach of anyone who decides to open themselves to what is possible.

Do you not yet see? Yes, the meaning of life is love, but you do not understand what life is, and you understand even less what love is. Even when you are so sure you have it, have it all… You would yet be hard pressed to see the reason why some things in the world happen as they do. After the Holocaust, there were Jews who decided: it is too much, I can no longer believe. No one could blame them! And what do we say to them? What is the meaning of life? Where was the love in that horror? And yet, if you believe that there truly is a meaning of life, like we have always understood what that might mean, if there is a God—He will make good on that pain, even that pain.

What is the meaning of life? God is love. You do not need to believe in God (or even love!) to believe this. Just like you wanted the meaning of life to be. Get to work, and enter into this world a citizen of EUTOPIA. This is what you were meant to do. Do everything out of love. Believe. And if you do not believe, hope. There is always hope—when you believe this, it will be true!

To love is to be found. No one is too lost. Dream a dream bigger than what you are. Love, no matter what. At least try. Light is not an illusion. Darkness does not exist. And the game of life can be won when you decide never to be defeated.

 

Victory

THE EMPIRE NEVER ENDED, Philip K. Dick wrote. The Empire being the Roman Empire, and also being what he called the Black Iron Prison, which encompassed all the world. Which you could not fight, because “to fight the Empire was to become part of the Empire”. It had continued on, in his reckoning, at least in spiritual form. He saw traces of it all around him when he walked the streets of 20th century California, a psychological construct meant to enslave the entirety of the world, superimposed upon the material world at large, which nobody ever sensed was there: because it had been so all-pervasive, as ignored as the air we breathe. But perhaps it is also an even stranger thing.

If the Empire never ended, had it ever begun? One interesting intersection is that the Roman Empire is referred to in scripture, at times, as BABYLON. The big deal about Babylon, of course, was that way back in 586 BC, the Babylonians destroyed the temple of YHVH, and basically kidnapped everyone in Jerusalem. This had been so traumatic an experience that when you did refer to Rome as Babylon, every Jew would nod their heads and agree, yep, I know exactly what you’re talking about. But does the Empire go back even farther than this? How about Egypt, which had enslaved the whole of Israel for 400 years? But upon that topic what is remembered instead was their Exodus, and the Passover, and that of which eventually led to their inhabiting the Promised Land.

But what if the Empire was not what Phil believed it to be? Not in its spirit, but its representation. The Empire was Rome, and Rome was Babylon, and maybe… something else? Babylon fell, as we all should know. And then did Rome, too, fall. You could even progress it further into the future: might you say that the Empire was also the Third Reich? Of which we know they took a few cues from the Roman Empire, when convenient. Indeed, this would further strengthen the argument: THE EMPIRE NEVER ENDED. Though Babylon fell, it continued; though Rome fell, it continued; though Nazi Germany fell, it continued. The idea: it is still around. And there is no way to fight it. The Empire saw your birth, and it will remain after you are long gone. Unless…

What if you could fight the Empire? That the first qualification to be able to do so was to read between the lines, to work it out for oneself: you would become a part of the Empire if you fought against it violently: Phil wrote that you couldn’t fight it because theirs was a way of violence. But what if one wages, not war, but peace? Because one of Jesus’ titles, and perhaps his best, is Prince of Peace. Phil had an idea that the big JC was going to come back sometime soon, like many, many apocalyptic prophets of the New Testament. See, you fight the Empire like Our Master fought it: take up thy cross and follow in his Way. In this wise the authorities proclaimed him King of the Jews—quite literally, and of their own free will. And now—you have cause to rejoice in this, the new news, that not only have we fought against the Empire, but we have defeated it.

So, right, the Empire indeed has no beginning. Reading the above might have given you a clue to that idea. Moreover, that that statement can be read in two ways, one of which (if we had not won), would have meant that the Empire would have become an eternal construct. But as Phil wrote at the end of VALIS, in the “Tractates: Cryptica Scriptura”, he saw that the Empire was defeated—though not here on Earth. The vision he had of this in 1974 was reflected in the resignation of Richard Nixon, who was of that Empire. In eternity, then, it had been accomplished, but here, it continued, and THE EMPIRE NEVER ENDED. But now, there is something new that is emergent in the world. As you are reading this, you can be told the truth of that which is Eternity, which too is the true name of Now: THE EMPIRE NEVER WAS….

Shadows without a source. We find that these were all that could be said of what anyone truly knew of the Empire. Philip K. talked about some visions he had had, and which some others had also glimpsed, the ephemeral shifting shades of another world or worlds. So much worse than the one currently around us, which the forces on high prevented from happening. That there were competing realities, and thank God this one was the one that won out. And the Empire was of that ilk. Myself, I had a different vision of it… Whereas he saw the darkness superimposed on the waking world, I entered headlong completely contained within the Nightmare. Yes, drugs were involved, but truly—I was no longer on Earth. Not just any “trip”. What I was not allowed to think while there (this I felt in my bones, that I could not even rouse the word, if even I knew where it was I had to have been): I was in Hell.

Think, what do we know about Hell? Something not that many people are aware of was that Christianity in its first few hundred years had no such thing as eternal damnation. The whole of the church were Universalist, which meant that at some point, even the Devil himself was saved. Christ’s sacrifice for all literally meant all. It was in the hands of (so-called) Saint Augustine that the idea gained in popularity. But when you start piecing things together, experiencing what I have experienced, you come across the realization that if there had been an actual Hell, that would have meant that the ’Prison had become eternal, and what would be of this consequence? That we had lost the War in Heaven. The true existence of Hell, as advertised, would have meant that THE EMPIRE NEVER ENDED. Forever. Into the future, into the past, inescapable. Destroying worlds.

But just tilt the thinking, just a bit. What would it mean if we had won? Phil had thought that there were epic shiftings of multiple realities. But what I have discovered is that God and Nature basically work by the Principle of Parsimony. Evidence is the fact is that all physical things go toward their lowest energy state. This means that one quantum mechanical idea, that at each decision point, all reality splits into two realities, both just as real, except that there’s the one difference between them? No. That would be an incredible waste, truly. No. There is ONLY ONE reality. Deal with it. Reality is more precious than you can imagine, the meanest parts of it. There is reality, and there is illusion. Illusion has no substance, but rather, has the minimum amount of material integrity to be perceived at all, and in fact is not really anything more than the perception of it. And it turns out, the Black Iron Prison never existed. Shadows without a source. No beginning to go along with no ending. Because… THE EMPIRE NEVER WAS.

Here’s a thought experiment: consider the cosmology of the Zoroastrians. They believe that there are two gods who contend with each other, Ahura Mazda (“Lord of Wisdom”) and Angra Mainyu (“Destructive Spirit”), equal in power and scope. Which is nowhere like the Christian sense that there is an all-powerful good God and really, Satan is not God’s opposite. Satan is finite. The Zoroastrians are where much of the common ideas of good vs. evil, light vs. darkness gets its inspiration from, even if theirs specifically does not fit into the Judeo-Christian ideation. But what if? What if in the eternal struggle between Ahura Mazda (Light) and Angra Mainyu (Darkness), that Light had won? In Eternity? Would it not then be as if the living Darkness… would it look to have never existed at all? All that would remain of the Evil would be as scraps of material, that actually held nothing of genuine Darkness, only just a figment of what might have been? Like what exists now?

Like, as if the Black Iron Prison, as if Hell itself, never had existed. Like as if there was nothing more to the visions of Hell than just its idea. Letting this story, or set of stories, mix a bit as we stir the cauldron, I am telling you that that notion above must ultimately remain a thought experiment. A conspiracy theory. As it happened, we did win the War in Heaven, the good guys. Like Phil. The idea of Hell (and everybody has one) was never allowed to be material, ever. I believe that this was one reason I was not even permitted to think the word “Hell” when I was “there”. The Empire that Never Ended… well, in fact it had never begun. Because it never was. The Empire Never Was. This is the escape from its psychology, which all its constructs ever were: illusion. That simple. You are free because you always have been free. To achieve enlightenment is to realize you are already there. Saints before me have glimpsed the place reserved for them in Hell. But ashes to ashes, dust to dust, we always find that the soul cannot be kept in irons.