Meaning from the Meaningless

The More

 

Where does the need to find meaning for my life come from?  Is this an innate force that comes from within, or is this a learned behavior that is so engrained I don’t even know the original source?  I think about all of the situations I’ve been in, the people I’ve met and how perfect the timing has been.  How is it possible that there is no purpose behind these events?  It seems impossible to me that everything that has happened and all that exists is a continuous result of pure random chance.  I’m not saying that I believe there is some all-knowing power out there that has a detailed plan for my life and I am simply acting out a predestine part.  What I’m coming to see is that there are natural states of being that attract or repel the like or unlike.  Could it be that there is no true intelligence out there that has an agenda for each aspect of my life, but rather that there is an ebb and flow of life energy?

I’ve spent the better part of my life seeking meaning in all things.  This fact has really been the core of virtually all my struggles with depression, the resulting anxieties and pent up anger that, at times, consumed me.  I would analyze and pick apart what a person said to me, or didn’t say; how a person would look at me, or not look at me, why I wasn’t happy at my job, what I was lacking as a husband and father, etc.  Each time I looked earnestly for the answers to my “why” questions, I come to a dead end or I find myself going in circles around “situations” that have no answer or meaning.  I see this search now as futile and my role as a Seeker of meaning to be pointless.  Seeking answers for things outside of me, for justification of what has happened, is happening, or is going to happen is really not only a waste of time, but also a huge drain on energy.

I can clearly see now why religion was and is such a perfect “solution” to the dilemma of wanting meaning to life. While it doesn’t necessarily answer all of the questions, I think it gives the person enough to satisfy and abate the bigger aspects of one’s questions. However, I see the destructive nature of religion being that it instills a deep unworthiness inside us.  If you were to ask someone with deep religious convictions about this unworthiness, they would deny that meaning and say that they are accepted by their God because they believe in some constructed rule-set that allows them to be accepted or saved.  When you look at the rules laid out by Christianity, you will see that each one is based in judgment, worthiness, and conditions in order to be saved.  I’ve always been confused at putting human emotions on God.  How He will be angry or upset or jealous if we do not follow a set of rules.  This picture of the Christian God has always reminded me of the stories of Zeus and other gods of Olympus.   I see Him looking down from above upon his subjects and seeing only their disrespect and misbehaviors and him getting mad, stomping around in “heaven” yelling and cursing at his disappointment in how he is being treated.  And if his “rules” are not followed, he brings upon the earth all sorts of disaster, pestilence and bad luck to all those who need to be taught a lesson.  And these “lessons” are what we conjure up to give meaning behind things.

Recently I was sharing with a friend my personal perspective on my beliefs.  One of them is that I believe that no matter what path I take in my life (good or bad) I will still end up going into the great energetic “collective” of the Universe (a.k.a Heaven).  I also shared with him that I don’t believe in Hell as it’s described in the bible.  I told him that I believe Hell is here on Earth – in that how we treat ourselves, how we treat others, how we deny ourselves or separate ourselves from our true Divine nature.  While I consider my friend to be a pretty calm, level-headed individual and very intelligent, he became visually and emotionally agitated in what I was saying.  His response was that he believes “Satan” has me wrapped around his finger and exactly where he wants me.  For me to believe that all is well and there are no concerns for my soul being saved seemed irresponsible to him and he said he would and is praying for me.  While I knew he was completely serious about this accusation, I couldn’t help finding it a bit humorous and very interesting.  It seems that his version (Lutheran Christian’s view) of God is very judgmental and God’s love and acceptance is conditional.  This makes no sense at all.

So when we seek meaning in our lives through religion, what we are taught is that we as humans are not completely worthy of love unless we follow a set of rules.  We are taught this from a very young age and so begins the illusion of unworthiness that inundates and infects us as we grow.  This idea of conditional love is rampant in everything from the stories we are told, books we are read, in school, and in social circles.  Unless we prescribe to acceptable rules, love and acceptance is withheld and given to only good girls and boys.  We continue this idea of unworthiness into our school years, college and then on into our work world.  We constantly are comparing ourselves to others, to people on TV shows, to advertising, etc.  We look for meaning in what we are doing and whether it is acceptable to others, whether we measure up and if we will be included and accepted.  Is this really what life is about?  I don’t believe this at all.

I don’t believe that God or any “higher source” has a master plan for my life, I believe I choose.  If you were to consider there to be any “plan” at all, it would be to give love, to experience love and to explore our own vast abilities in each day of our existence.   I see religion’s version of life to be about conditions, judgment, pain and suffering.  My view on life is to combine love with others, to grow and exponentially create and expand to become greater than the sum of the parts.  It is to enjoy our own selves and others for who we are and to support those who need help to recognize their true selves and abilities.  To find the meaning in my life is irrelevant in order to find love and enjoyment of myself and everyone else in my life.  It has been said that what life is, is just simply what it is and nothing more.  We choose how we will be and interact with all that is around us.  I say, choose wisely and with Love in your heart.

Dwight Raatz

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2 Responses to “Meaning from the Meaningless”

  1. TS says :

    Dwight – I’ve been following your blog for quite some time but have not felt the need to comment. I was recently told, however, that you might welcome some comments to know people are reading your words. Based on that, I think this post is a good place to start.

    What I will say is simply this: if what you’ve stated here is a true representation of what you believe Christianity is about, I’m not at all surprised you turned away from it.

    I am surprised, though, that someone who was raised a Lutheran and who spent a good part of his adult life regularly attending Church can have such a skewed, at least in my opinion, view of the central truth of the Reformed Church’s beliefs. That central truth, as I understand it, is that we are loved by God and saved by Grace alone, rather than through our own actions. The only “condition” is that we profess our belief in his Grace. There is no requirement that a Reformed Christian live a “perfect” life from then on and ever after.

    What you are describing seems more accurately applied to Judaism or Islam, which both believe that salvation is based on submission to God’s will.

    I’m almost done reading the book you gave me. I’d love to talk with you about it sometime.

    • Dwight Raatz says :

      TS:

      So glad you took the time to respond. Thank you!

      I also believe I am loved by God – completely, fully and without any – ANY condition. The difference for me here is that I don’t need “saving”. For me, “saved” tells me that I’ve done something wrong that doesn’t measure up to an expectation. This is a condition of acceptance to me. Perhaps you can explain more about what is meant by “his Grace”?

      As for what I’m describing sounding like Judaism or Islam and submitting to God’s will, I couldn’t tell you anything about those religions as a comparison. But I’ve heard enough sermons, scripture and liturgy over the years to hear time and again about there being prerequisites for acceptance to heaven. I recently attended church in my home town and again found myself being able to truly listen and understand the pastor’s sermon as I am now truly awake to the messages being spoken. He had many valid and what I would consider “truthful” statements, but I would say at least half of what he said was speaking about humans as less than worthy. These words are sprinkled liberally throughout the liturgy and made to sound truthful and without question, like “we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves” – that we must confess our lesser state of imperfection in order to be acceptable. I believe we have all the power to free ourselves from any issue and situation through simple choice and action. I believe we have the power and choice to accept who we are as a part of the Divine or not, as part of our life here on Earth. If we choose not to be part of the Divine, and deny our true selves, we will bring upon us our own “hell on earth”.

      I consider the over 30 years of struggling with depression to be my personal hell. It wasn’t until I decided to take responsibility for all of myself, including my spirituality, and accepting who I really am that depression no longer has a grasp on me. This was a decision made by me, from within me and my own power. God simply flowed through me and in my acceptance of me being a part of Him, peace came with that. I had to do nothing else. I did not have to feel like I needed to apologize for who I am, because God is within me and IS me. My human incarnation just doesn’t fully remember who I really am, but that is why I’m here; to experience life through remembering who I really am.

      I look forward to hearing from you if you like.

      Namaste,

      Dwight

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