What is the meaning of life?
That is the ultimate question. According to author, philosopher and humorist Douglas Adams, the answer is "64."
Why? Because it is simple and absurd.
I believe that the real answer is both simple and logical.
While I believe that it is important that we use the talents we are born with, I don't think the answer is the career we choose.
I believe that life is another period of gestation. When we are in our mother's womb, we can perceive light and shadow, but not really see. We can hear, but not clearly. We are comfortable and secure. But one day, everything undergoes a horrifying change.
We experience fear, discomfort and pain, and then are thrust against our will into an alien environment.
After we are born, we can see the objects around us, but not their true essence. We can hear sounds, but not truly know the heart from which they came. We experience smell and taste, but cannot understand more than the outer surface of our environment. We grow comfortable and secure. But one day, we experience fear, discomfort and pain, and then are thrust into an alien environment.
I believe that the meaning of life is found in the journey toward death. Does this sound nihilistic? It's not. The spirit, which animates our human form, doesn't die but goes on.
The question becomes: What happens after death? To the best of my knowledge, every religion believes in some sort of life after death, which is at least somewhat dependant on how we lived our life.
The whole point of life is what happens after death. A sign in front of a church summed it all up nicely: "I wouldn't trade Heaven for the world."
The meaning of life is not found in pleasure, comfort, or success. It's found in how we shape and improve our souls.
"Well, why is it that bad things happen to good people?" (Shouldn't it be more like Heaven here on Earth?)
This is something that nearly everyone has struggled with at some point in time. I respond to the question with another question: "What is bad? Is death bad? Not if the descendent goes to Heaven. Is suffering bad? It is if you spend your time self-absorbed and focused on your problems. If you suffer from cancer and you use your illness to change your life or inspire others, is it bad?
Bad, or evil, is a matter of intention, a matter of will, and not an event or condition.
We have all known someone who could win millions in a lottery and still find things to complain about. All of us have also known someone who is so disgustingly happy, you could rip off their arms and beat them to death with the bloody stumps and they would still smile. We all have the ability to decide how we respond to things that happen to us.
I offer the following analogy: Gold ore is perfectly square and comfortable under the Earth entwined in quartz and rock. As it is dug up, its environment, its comfort zone, is destroyed. It is transported to crushers to remove most of the rock. It is placed in a furnace to melt it and remove any impurities and is poured into an ingot. It is placed in a furnace to melt again and pour into a mold. The molded gold is then cut, filed, polished, touched up with heat and solder, as stones are set into it. Finally, you have a thing of sparkling beauty. I believe that the human soul is transformed in a similar way.
Not satisfied? Here is another analysis.
It seems that "bad" things fall into two categories. Some are the results of your own actions or the actions of others.
Others are acts of nature; what I call the clock work of the universe.
If God were to prevent the evil acts of others, or the bad choices we make, saving people from harm, we would no longer have freewill. Without freewill, we can neither merit Heaven nor deserve Hell. Then life would truly have no meaning.
Weather phenomena and disease are potential causes of suffering that have no will and no intentions. It is my observation that no one is so high and mighty or so lowly, neither so rich nor so poor, that they do not have worry and suffering.
Worry and suffering must be part of God's plan for all of us as it is a universal human condition. Moreover, worry and suffering does not seem to be something that angels and spirits experience. Therefore, it must be an important aspect of living a human life.
Heaven was never intended to be part of our life here on Earth. To not expect, to not accept, "bad" things is to deny the nature of our temporal existence.
I believe that the meaning of life is not about the job you take and the notoriety you achieve. Rather, it is all about our brief journey to that which is beyond earthly life.
It is about how you affect others and reconcile yourself to the universal phenomena of worry and suffering. It is about using the times in the furnace, under the sheers, and rubbed with abrasive, not to be destroyed, but to be transformed into a thing of beauty that could not have happened without it.