We need a sense of meaning in our lives, and especially when we find ourselves in challenging life situations.
We can find meaning in many different ways depending on the situation and what works for us. We can make a situation meaningful to us even if we at a very human level don’t like it.
And if we want to take the next step, we can investigate meaning itself. Meaning is created by our own thoughts, and especially when we invest them with energy and hold them as at least partially true. This meaning typically tells us something we like or don’t like. In either case, it can be freeing to investigate these thoughts creating a sense of meaning.
The word meaning is here used in two slightly different ways.
In the second paragraph, it refers to a sense of meaning in our lives or for a situation we find ourselves in. We can make our life or a situation meaningful to ourselves.
And meaning is also something that’s in any thought as long as it makes sense to us. We can invest a thought and meaning with energy, hold it as true, and identify with its viewpoint. And we can also examine this meaning and how our mind creates it for itself.
The first sense of meaning gives us a meaningful way of viewing and approaching a situation. And investigating meaning itself, the ideas of meaning we have about the same situation, gives us freedom from these ideas. In my experience, both are valuable and helpful.
How do we investigate meaning? The easiest is perhaps to take an example from my own life. With my current health problems (CFS) comes thoughts and ideas about how terrible it is and also in what ways I can make it meaningful (or life makes it meaningful for me).
So I can identify these thoughts, and then explore them in inquiry (for me, The Work + Living Inquiries). In The Work, I can identify some of these thoughts through the Judge Your Neighbor worksheet, and other beliefs tend to come up in the inquiry process. In Living Inquiries, some are found in the initial exploration and most through the process.
As I mentioned earlier, I find both of these approaches valuable and helpful. It helps me to find meaning in a life situation. And it helps me investigate any thought that gives me a sense of meaning – whether I like it or not – about the same life situation.
One helps me orient towards the life situation and find a productive approach. The other lightens the weight of any thought offering me an opinion about it.
- Finding meaning, and freedom from meaning
- challenging life situations, or just regular life
- find meaning (significance)
- make it meaningful for us
- and freedom from meaning (any thought)
Here are a few examples of thoughts that can serve as starting points for my inquiry (I have explored these and many more). Since our minds tend to work with likes and dislikes I’ll organize them the same way.
I am mentioning this topic since I have noticed that some in the nondual or inquiry world talk about this in a one-sided way. They acknowledge the value in inquiry but dismiss the value in finding meaning. And most people, of course, know the value in finding meaning but are perhaps unaware of the value in examining any thought that gives us a sense of meaning – whether we like it or not – about our life situation.