Some aspects of meaning that I find in own experience…
First, there is a sense of meaning that comes from culture and personality. This sense of meaning comes from moving towards what a story tells me should be, and it tends to feel a little hollow. Some examples here are living a “good life” for the purpose of aligning with an idea. Patriotism. Giving ones life to the corporation. Eating vegetarian even if we don’t quite get why at a gut level. Living up to a certain image. Or living up to any “should” in the culture/subculture in general. (Tools to explore these stories: The Work.)
A variation of this one is to see meaning as somehow fixed, an objective purpose “out there”, to be found or missed, and the objective meaningfulness of our life hinges on finding and living it. This is a good way to create stress for ourselves since we will always wonder how to find this objective purpose, whether we have found it or not, if there isn’t something more, and to what extent our life measures up to it. (Tools: The Work.)
There is also a sense of meaning (at least for me) in finding wholeness at a body-mind level. In moving towards it, taste it, live from the wholeness of who I am that includes body and mind. I can find this through body-centered practices (yoga, mindful exercise), mediation, allowing/being with experience, working with projections/shadows, and many other ways. There is a sense of coming home in myself and of a nurturing richness and fullness. Also, independent of the external circumstances, there is little or no sense of being a victim or lacking. (Tools: Body-oriented practices such as yoga, tai chi, chi gong, aikido etc. Meditation. Allowing/being with experience. Working with projections/shadows through The Work and the Big Mind process. Mindful exercise such as Total Immersion Swimming.)
Related to that one is the sense of meaning that comes from feeling connected with the wider world. With others, a landscape, life, Earth as a whole, the universe as a whole. This can happen in many different ways, and often through receptivity and an open heart, and (with the intention of) living our life for the benefit of the larger whole. (Tools: Tong len, well-wishing, prayer, intention to live for the benefit of the larger whole, Joanna Macy’s practices to reconnect, the universe story.)
And there is also a sense of meaning from the soul level. The soul level can express itself in many ways, for instance through an alive presence in/around the body which is timeless and in time, universal and personal, and has a sense of being infinitely insightful and kind. Or from recognizing all as awareness and all content of awareness as one. The sense of coming home goes even further here, is even more independent on life circumstances, and is even more nurturing. (Tools: Prayer, soul level shaktipat, unraveling knots at personality level.)
Then there is the sense of meaning that comes from how I relate to situations. I can use any situation as an invitation to – and material for – healing and maturing as who I am, and what I am noticing itself. (Tools: The Work and any other.)
And related to that, the sense of meaning that comes from listening to and following our heart and intuition, in daily life. Or just notice what brings up a sense of meaning for us in daily life, even in small ways, and follow that with curiosity and receptivity – as an experiment to see what happens.
Finally, at the level of Ground – when what we are notices itself – any sense of meaning is seen clearly as just coming from and happening within content of experience. What we are is inherently free from and untouched by any sense of meaning or purpose. Meaning and purpose is just the play of what we are, within form.
Here, there is a full freedom to play with any sense of meaning and purpose in our human life, and we also come to see meaning and purpose as a tool for our human self to function in the world and – sometimes – invite what we are to notice itself.
Trigger: The teacher so often referred to here, presenting meaning and purpose as objective, “out there”, and our lives only having meaning and purpose if we find it and live according to it. (His sense of meaning seems more related to the soul level.) I see that my view of meaning may be more aligned with a postmodern view, and his a premodern/modern view – which also makes sense considering each of our backgrounds.
- Sense of meaning from stories about what should be (from culture etc.)
- moving towards what a “should” tells us (feels a little hollow)
- can see as somehow fixed, an objective purpose “out there”, to be found or missed, and the objective meaningfulness of our life hinges on it (good way to create stress, make ourselves crazy)
- Sense of meaning from wholeness (centaur + soul level awakening)
- taste of, moving towards
- Sense of meaning from soul level (alive presence)
- alive presence, infinite insight/kindness
- Sense of meaning in any situation, from how we relate to it
- allow, inquire into beliefs (opportunity to practice, invitation to heal/mature, wake up)
Meaning as created or somehow “out there”
- Easy way to make oneself crazy: try to figure out what purpose the universe has for me, especially if I think it is different from what is here now.
- Although can of course use practical tools to tune in to intuition/heart etc. + find the meaning here now, as is.
- Either there or not, depending on preferences of personality/culture
- Can see meaning as “out there” and need to find it – is fixed, preset, need to find it but can miss it (either collective or personal meaning)
- Can tune into it here now through heart/intuition
- Or as created here now
- Can find meaning/purpose/gift in anything
- No need for meaning/purpose – all in itself, as it is, meaningful
Trigger: Teacher who see meaning/purpose as something fixed and “out there”, something we may find or not, and if not – live an existence without purpose (even when we experience something as meaningful, is without purpose if we don’t find the “cosmic meaning” of our life)! Want to do inquiry on b/c seems patently bizarre to me, which is a clear sign of holding onto a fixed position in relation to it.