The Origin of Meaning

The Origin of Meaning

“Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.”
– Joseph Campbell

We’re meaning-makers. We don’t find meaning in life by looking for it. We find it by creating it. And that comes from having life experiences and recognizing what is important for us. What has meaning for us. For one person, being in nature will have the most meaning. For another, organizing information. For another, creating the ultimate music. And so forth.

This doesn’t mean the world is just chaos and we’re overlaying a false story. The world is rich with intelligence and order. But what does that mean for us? How do we interpret that in our lives? This is meaning-making.

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”
-Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell famously framed meaning in terms of Myth, what I describe on this blog as our stories.

“Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths.”
– Joseph Campbell

The question we must periodically ask ourselves – is my story serving me, or am I serving it? Does it bring my life meaning and purpose or does it enslave me to what has been?

“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
– Joseph Campbell

The trick with this is making the story or myth our own. Not just adopting someone else’s ideas but finding out what sings true for us. We may at first try on someone else’s story for a fit, but as Joseph Campbell observes, this is the Hero’s Journey. It is not the easy path, already taken.

“If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s.”
– Joseph Campbell

How do you tell it is your path? For one, it is an exploration into the new and unknown. For two, it will inspire you and bring you happiness.

“Follow your bliss. If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living.
When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be. If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.”
– Joseph Campbell

This is how you find meaning and joy in life. It’s very simple really. But not so easy. Yet the rewards are beyond imagining. One step at a time.

Buckminster Fuller encouraged us to see our life as an experiment. We test our direction by finding out what is supported. In Critical Path, he said:

“I assumed that nature would “evaluate” my work as I went along. If I was doing what nature wanted done, and if I was doing it in promising ways, permitted by nature’s principles, I would find my work being economically sustained — and vice versa, in which latter negative case I must quickly cease doing what I had been doing and seek logically alternative courses until I found the new course that nature signified her approval of by providing for its physical support.”

As I wrote about, the result is he “found my family’s and my own life’s needs being unsolicitedly provided for by seemingly pure happenstance and always only “in the nick of time,” and “only coincidentally.” He spoke only when asked, never tried to persuade, and committed unreservedly.

“…only the “impossible” continued to happen…” He mentions intuition, frequent course correction, and paying attention to what was evolving. This is not something we attune to once but rather is an ongoing tuning to the shifting flow of life.

The approach requires some courage and patience at first but as you get used to it, life becomes an adventure, full of meaning and joy. Just as it was meant to be.

Last Updated on March 19, 2017 by Davidya

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