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The Meaning of Life is Not 42

This is a brief essay I wrote a few years ago. I added the last sentence today (2011) to make it seem "nicer".

THE MEANING OF LIFE

by Andrew Somers

Looking for answers? Struggling to understand it all? Why are we we?

First, consider why you feel the need to find answers in the first place - perhaps the real answer lies in the need to have an answer.

As humans, we have evolved and survived for a number of reasons. Two key reasons are:

1) We have a questioning, rationalizing mind, that seeks answers to problems. 2) We have a strong ego or sense of self.

Item one allowed us to develop technology - stone tools at first, graduating to metals then plastics and so on. This allowed us to survive, thus it is a selected trait.

Item two provides us with motivation, the will to survive, and self–determination. Again this is a selected trait that has aided our survival.

Thus:

A) Item one causes us to believe that there must be an answer (to life, the universe and everything), because we are compelled to find answers as a function of our survival.

B) Item two causes us to believe that there must be an existence after this life, because our ego and will to survive disallows us to believe that it is possible to cease to exist.

Once you accept A and B, then you are left with the following answer:

There is no reason or meaning to the universe - it simply exists and that is all. It is because it is. Creation is a random product of chaotic systems with natural selection giving the appearance of order. Existence is nothing more than we can perceive and believing otherwise is purely an exercise in stroking our egos.

This is the fundamental reason for religion. Religion exists solely because it soothes our egos, reducing the pain of mortality by claiming an eternal existence.

In this way religion is a form of drug. Happiness is just a certain balance of chemicals in our brain. If religion makes you happy, then it's altering your brain chemistry - not really all that different from altering it using a recreational substance.

Bleak? Perhaps. The unbearable insignificance of being, coupled with the incomprehensible understanding of limited existence is a force capable of shattering one's ego to the point where the rest of one's life can be consumed with angst.

And, it makes one question what is real. What is real? Love? Happiness? Contentment? Love is just a balance of chemical reactions in the brain, selected because it promotes successful breeding. But it is as "real" as anything else, which is to say that it's as real as a rock.

So then what is the importance of real, and what is not real? Is there something we can grasp onto for some form of salvation? What is salvation anyway?

Where does that leave us? Ultimately I think we can each only serve our nature.

Me - I like eating dinner at Mimosa Restaurant on Beverly, I like making love with a woman. I like being creatively engaged in a design or film project. I like to work to raise awareness and seek to change problems with our socio/political system. I like my cats.

These things make me happy, yet when I cease to exist they will be meaningless to me because meaning is only something that I place on that thing.

In other words, the meaning of life has no meaning at all, other than that which you yourself assign to it.

This does not mean we should wallow in nihilism. Instead, allow the acceptance of this truth to lead your own personal path to happiness.



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