Excellencereporter.com is a site dedicated to over a thousand essays on the meaning of life. Nicolae Tanase, the site’s owner, invited me to contribute one:
Most people don’t stop to ask what the meaning of life is. The simple act of asking is an opening to knowing greater meaning, provided that we look within for answers.
I used to think that only the peaks of life were meaningful—the milestones, the breakthroughs, the major achievements—but I have come to understand that all of life is meaningful. In fact, life itself is the meaning. We are here to experience life, in all its facets.
I lead workshops and write about the Michael teachings, which are a body of channeled information that explain how we set up our lifetimes. According to them, we are each eternal sparks of the Tao who chose to come to this beautiful, sometimes crazy planet to expand our horizons by exploring new nooks and crannies of love, truth, and beauty. We learn, grow, and create by having experiences. Experience is the raw material of growth. Without it, we cannot know.
All experiences are valid and valuable, not just the “good” or happy ones. On the other hand, learning to have more happy experiences, what Michael calls “growing through joy,” is a great lesson. We do that, in part, by becoming more conscious and skillful in our choice-making, something we can practice throughout each day.
As individuals, we are not isolated, but part of collective consciousnesses of increasing sizes. For example, all of humanity comprises a collective consciousness. All beings on Earth and Earth itself comprise a larger one. And every consciousness is evolving. We contribute our own growth to the growth of the whole. Those who are learning to grow through joy, who live with integrity, kindness, and other elements of high consciousness, uplift the whole. Their influence may not be obvious to the naked eye, but higher vibrations are catalytic on lower ones.
From the soul’s point of view, all lives have meaning. Even those that appear wicked or wasted can eventually bring valuable lessons, especially when understood in relationship to their opposite. When we are stuck, for instance, part of our life’s meaning is about learning why, and how we can become free. As souls, we have a large perspective—we probably know that if we could get stuck, we needed to experience that in order to explore the factors contributing to it. Overcoming obstacles gives us an opportunity to release dysfunctional beliefs, heal, and strengthen our skills. However, on a personality level, we only know that we are uncomfortable; our current situation doesn’t feel meaningful because the meaning will only become apparent later on when the lessons are harvested. Michael refers to this as “growing through pain”—the proverbial school of hard knocks. We are all growing, slowly or quickly, through pain or joy. Those who are primarily growing through pain generally do not know that their life has meaning, which can lead to existential angst.
The key to knowing meaning in life is to make choices that are in alignment with our deeper self; that leads to growing through joy. At times, we all have to do things that don’t make the best use of our talents or are not our favorite activities. However, we can always endeavor to express love, truth, and beauty through them. We can stay present, holding an awareness that all of life is meaningful and consciously infusing everything we do with that meaning. At the same time, we can work toward the goal of doing more of the things we love that make good use of our gifts.
If, for example, to make ends meet, we temporarily need to work at a job that isn’t particularly rewarding to us, we can view it as a spiritual practice, a sort of walking meditation, making the best of it and shining our light into it. Whether or not the work seems meaningful in terms of its material results, we can know the meaning of consciously living from love. At the same time, we can exercise our power as a creator to find work that is more in alignment with our abilities and life task, that feels more meaningful to us.
Many people believe that their life will have meaning only when they achieve certain things. Before incarnating, we planned our life around a core task or tasks we wished to work on. Sometimes that includes specific outer accomplishments, but usually one’s life task is spiritual in nature and can be completed in a variety of ways through daily life. A person’s life task, for example, could be to explore and teach forgiveness of self and others. We find our greatest meaning when we work on our task. Meaning is often more about how we do things rather than what we do. For instance, handling someone’s unkind words with equanimity and understanding rather than reaction can be highly meaningful for both people. On the other hand, writing a bestselling book may not have much inherent meaning if it does not move consciousness forward.
Obviously, not every experience is enjoyable, but every experience can be used for growth. We can make something positive out of everything that occurs, if only by learning from it, including considering how we might have handled it better. Seeking to be in compassion rather than opposition, choosing our words and actions carefully, letting go of stuck anger and fear, and so forth put us in the driver’s seat of our life instead of being a victim of circumstances. By seeking to be more conscious and bring light into what we feel, think, say, and do, we can find meaning in all that we experience. The difference between darkness and even one lit candle is palpable—we can begin to see.