In the wake of the September 11 tragedy, a pair of documentary filmmakers, Jules and Gedeon Naudet, wanted to understand more about the whys underneath the religious conflicts plaguing our world. They began a quest to meet the world’s spiritual leaders to ask some very deep and specific questions, and to hear directly from them what the world should know. The adventure culminated in a film and a book entitled In God’s Name: Wisdom from the World’s Great Spiritual Leaders.
Not surprisingly, one of the questions is “What is the meaning of life?” Below is the response, in its entirety from the Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, Spiritual Leader of Tibetan Buddhists:
“[The meaning of life is] To be a really peaceful man, conscious, not having fear, if such there be, that is what I think is perhaps the significance of life. There is no joy if we have wealth but fear in one’s mind. So many of us who are attached to the external materials and name, experience fear in mind and live under a great stress. That is why people become old before being old. And they die before the time of death.”
“The external facilities are no doubt important, but along with that, it is very important to stay peaceful, happy and conscious. Thinking only about the material development, the external facilities, and not giving attention toward the creation of inner joy, is fulfilling only one out of a pair of the requirements in one’s life. And again, claiming to have inner peace and living deprived of external facility is a sort of another half life. We have a physical body; we need external material development. But we have a mind, and this mind has different emotions, on the basis of which we have to inculcate joy and happiness for ourselves. In this context, if we don’t pay attention to the way of inner thinking, our life will be just like a machine; we will be like mechanical people. We have to be peaceful and serene in mind. And the external materials cannot make us joyful in mind. This cannot be purchased by money. This cannot be created by machines.”
The Meaning of Your Life
Now it’s your turn. It’s time to go inward and check in with your heart. What is the meaning of your life? How are you living and what legacy are you creating? Are you a prisoner of fear? Or perhaps your material success and/or your exterior focus are what have you trapped in a life that is without true joy, inner peace, and freedom. What is the meaning of your life?
If you’re having trouble answering, here are some steps to help you get clarity:
- Create a list of the things to which you give your greatest attention and focus. The things that we spend the most time and energy on tend to be our reasons for being.
- Assess the items on the list. Are these default reasons for being, or did you consciously choose them? Defaults like your job (marketing executive) or your identity (mother) are probably not what you want your life to stand for. Lives that have meaning are created from conscious choices nurtured by committed action.
If you don’t like what’s on the list, before trying to change it, engage in a little heart work:
- First, where are you on the map of your life and how did you get there? What were the key decisions that you made and choices you avoided that were the linchpins for where you are today?
- What values, perceptions, fears, and personality traits most influenced those decisions?
- Are you willing to change any of those things or do they still hold weight in your way of being?
- With this deeper understanding of you, you are better equipped to ask and answer this critical question: Is what I’m doing, and why, fulfilling me and giving meaning to my life?
If your answer is a whole-hearted and enthusiastic “YES!” then hallelujah! Keep on keeping on! If not, do not beat yourself with judgment and disapproval. You are where you are, and it doesn’t need a value judgment placed on it. And for heaven’s sake, don’t compare yourself to someone else. Their journey is theirs just as yours is yours.
You should actually rejoice! You have awakened to the fact that you want your life to mean more. You want it to be different. Until you come to this awareness, you can’t change anything. Because you took time to contemplate the questions and search your heart for some answers, you now have a wonderful opportunity to step into a more glorious experience than ever—the chance to create the life that will bring you more joy, peace, and abundance!
Yes, precious Soul, you are at a choice point. You can choose to complacently accept the life you’re living as your fate, or you can empower yourself to step toward your destiny. The answers to the meaning of your life lie inside you. Go there and spend some time uncovering the hidden desires of your heart. Start with this one key question:
- What things when I do them, seem to make time stand still and I focus and produce effortlessly and joyfully?
It doesn’t have to be hard or scary or dark to go inward and ask your Self some questions. Having your own Heartful Awakening can be simple when you trust that you have the answers and you remain open to whatever comes. Connect deeply with the divine wisdom that is inside you and chart your course with confidence and freedom.