I watched a conversation on meaning on a talk show on Swedish TV last night, including philosophers and others. (Which in itself says something about why it is more meaningful for me to be here in Scandinavia than in the US, at least in terms of the general culture!)
The conversation mostly stayed at the conventional level, but it made me curios about meaning. Specifically, what is meaning? (Strangely, not addressed in the program.)
To me right now, it seems that meaning is experienced when there is an alignment of our stories of what is and should be, or seeking a closer alignment of the two.
I want a nurturing intimate relationship, so see it as meaningful when I find it or work towards it. I want more money, so find it meaningful when I find or work towards that.
And within a should is an attraction and an aversion, or a seeking of freedom and fullness. Seeking freedom from something and experiencing the fullness of something else.
To take some examples: I experience money as meaningful, so I want the fullness of money and what it gets me. I see relationships as meaningful, so I want the fullness and intimacy of a good relationship. I want to find meaning in life, so I want the fullness of a sense of meaning. Similarly, I experience it as meaningful to find freedom from limitations, suffering, stuckness, certain situations, and so on. (The fullness may be in the forefront unless there is a critical need for freedom.)
(We can explore this for ourselves by taking any desire or wish, the more petty the better, and then see what we hope to get from it. What is the freedom I am looking for? What is the fullness I hope to find?)
This freedom and fullness shows up in different ways at different areas and levels.
As a human self, it has to do with freedom and fullness in our relationship with the world and ourselves, with the outer and inner. This can take many different forms, from an exclusive pursuit of money and status (which works to only a limited extent) to a wider embrace that also includes finding our own wholeness as a human being (which can be with us always).
And as Big Mind, it has to do with noticing the freedom from beliefs and identifications, and the fullness of the whole world of form, that already and always is here. Finding ourselves as Big Mind is the ultimate freedom and fullness, free from identification with any and all beliefs and identities, and full of whatever arises.
There are also widening circles of what is experienced as meaningful.
At the level of the (raw) personality, things has to line up a certain way to be meaningful. It has to fit the attractions and aversions of the personality. Then, as we work on noticing and living our evolving wholeness as a human being, most or all situations are fuel and material for this shift. And finally, as Big Mind awakens to itself, it is free from all views on meaning, so the human self functioning within this context is free to use, engage and play with any of them.
We can also say that meaning is God seeking to know itself as it already and always is.
Or rather, a sense of meaning comes when God is identified as a human being (or any other being for that matter), has an intuition and knowing of what it already and always is, and seeks to notice and live this more consciously.
Meaning arises in the tension between what God temporarily takes itself to be, and what it knows it already and always is, and in the closing of this gap through seeking to notice what it is and living it through a human life.
And this shows up in all the different ways we know from a human life: seeking money, status, relationships, health, joy, wholeness as a human being, God, awakening. It is all God seeking the freedom and fullness that it already knows it is.
It is seeking its freedom and fullness as Big Mind, or Buddha Mind, or Brahman, or the Divine Mind. This field of awakeness and form inherently absent of an I with an Other, yet still functionally connected with a human being.
And it is seeking freedom and fullness at all levels. As a human being living in the world, healing, maturing, developing, interacting, relating, engaging. Through to Big Mind noticing itself as what it already and always is, this field of awakeness and content, inherently absent of an I with an Other.
One is a freedom and fullness within the world of form. The other is noticing the freedom and fullness of what we already are, independent of what happens within the world of form.
Why leave one of them out?
So to summarize…
- A sense of meaning comes when we find or seek a closer alignment of our stories about what is and should be. Reality, as we see it, is – or is about to be – closer to our shoulds.
- Within any should is aversion and attraction, seeking freedom from something and the fullness of something else.
- As a human being, we work on finding this freedom and fullness in relationship to the wider world and ourselves, and we do this in many different areas and forms.
- The final freedom and fullness comes when what we already are notices itself, when Big Mind awakens to itself.
- There are widening circles of what is experienced as meaningful, until Big Mind awakens to itself and is free from any ideas of what is meaningful, so also free to engage and play with any of them. (The human self functionally connected with Big Mind awake to itself is free to engage and play with any and all ideas of meaning.)
- All of this can be seen as God seeking its own freedom and fullness. It temporarily identifies with a tiny part of its own content (this human self), knows intuitively what it already and always is, and seeks to notice and more consciously live the freedom and fullness of what it already and always is.