The world is meaningless! We need to create our own meaning

World is meaningless -Create our own meaning

The debate whether human existence is meaningless or do we have some meaning or purpose behind our life.
Some of the philosophers have to the extent of arguing that universe is a terrifying place. It’s full of suffering,
tragedies, horrific pain, violence and above all devoid of any meaning. However, some says universe is full of
joy, happiness, beauty, goodness and meaningful purpose behind our existence. However, our life mostly
oscillates between these two extremes.
During earlier times, when majority of people believed in God, their predominant purpose was to live a “good”
life. Their purpose was to do good so that after death, they would be welcomed into heaven. In Hinduism, the
doctrine of karma was the greatest motivator for leading a meaningful life. Karma has to do with the thoughts,
words, and deeds that we send out into this world and their good or bad results in this and future lives. It
meant that all actions good or bad have similar consequences for the individual who acts. If something really
bad happens to anyone, it may be due to the bad karma of his present or past life. It’s this general moral law
which governs not only the life and destiny of all individuals, but even the order and arrangement of the
physical world. This theory was a powerful incentive to lead a life of meaning and harmlessness (ahimsa).
Similarly, in Christianity, for over thousands of years, people who have been good and obedient to Church law,
were expected to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven — the blissful abode after death. This ambition, along with
pleasing their personal Lord and Saviour, provided Christians a strong meaning and purpose. People aspired to
enter the Kingdom either after death or, in some cases, during life itself. This idea remained entrenched in the
Western world till the recent time. For Christians, the purpose of their earthly existence has always been to live
in accord with ‘the will’ of God.
However, things started to change as the scientific revolution got underway. Due to rise in science and reason,
it led to believe that there is nothing like heaven afterlife and some great power punishing or rewarding us
based on our deeds. In that sense, there is no bigger purpose behind our existence. A sense of
meaninglessness and pessimism began to stir among the masses. And as a material-driven culture set in,
passion for wealth and material goods began to take hold and, in the process, connection to ourselves and to
nature lost hold. The emphasis had shifted from a meaningful life to a “successful” one.
German philosopher in 1870s, Friedrich Nietzsche, very famously declared ‘God is dead”. As we started losing
our faith in God, well established divine system got demolished. Life became meaningless. The sense of
meaninglessness or nihilism started surfacing. Nihilism is the viewpoint that suggest the denial or lack of belief
towards the meaningfulness of life. It means life is without objectives meaning, purpose or intrinsic value. In
fact, nihilism expresses the pessimistic view of human life.
The issue whether life is meaningless or absurd, has been examined in detail earlier by many philosophers. It’s
a great philosophical question. Every day on the planet this question is asked by millions of people especially
when they face extreme suffering or adversity. When people feel their life is absolutely meaningless or
hopeless, they even take the extreme step of prematurely ending their lives. Somewhere in the world, every 40
seconds, a person takes his/her life by committing suicide.
A great French philosopher and the author, Albert Camus came out with an excellent piece of philosophical
work relating to absurdity of life – the Myth of Sisyphus. His allegory (short story) revolves around a
mythological figure of Sisyphus, the King of Corinth. He was condemned by the Gods to repeatedly roll a
boulder up a hill only to have it roll down again once he got it to the top. It means he was asked to take the
boulder again and again to the top after it was rolled back from the hill top. Albert Camus wants us to
understand the essential absurdity of life.
Through this allegory he conveys that ‘our life is meaningless and absurd, but nonetheless should be taken as
a challenge’. More importantly, Camus tells us that we should imagine Sisyphus happy. Sisyphus is a symbol
of mankind and his punishment symbolizes what we do every single day during our lives. We keep on doing routine, repetitive and habitual tasks every day. It’s in a way a worthless life. But still we, like Sisyphus, are
happy with this ‘absurdity of life’.
Despite the absurdity of life, we need to live happily. Most of us may be leading our lives without any refreshing
and exciting things to do. Our lives may be full of routine and habitual tasks which we keep on repeating day
and night but still we have some meaningful purpose behind our existence. That is the reason, many thinkers
and philosophers came out with ‘theory of existentialism’. Whatever may be the difficulties or absurdity of life
we face; we all can still have a strong reason to live. Hence, we can create our own meaning of life.
Soren Kierkegaard, a Danish philosopher who is generally considered as the father of existentialism argued
that we are free agents who have control over our choices and actions. Subsequently, many more supported
his philosophy of existentialism. They believed that we all have the potential to live life to the fullest and the
society cannot restrict an individual’s life or actions. Life may be meaningless but we can choose our path of
life’s journey. We are the architect of our own destiny.
When we say meaningful purpose, it broadly means doing something for the greater good in one’s life,
something more than leading a routine and self-centred life. When we start looking beyond “I,” “me” and “my,”
and bring others into the fold of “us,” then we can say we are doing something meaningful for society. Those
who pursue mainly wealth and (their idea of) success live a purposeful life but not necessarily a meaningful
one.
An Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist and a Holocaust survivor of World War II, Viktor Frankl wrote an
extraordinary must-read book titled Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl’s account of his experiences in Nazi
concentration camps inspired millions of people to identify their own purpose in life. By identifying a positive
purpose under back- and spirit-breaking conditions, and then holding on to that purpose while imagining its
desired outcome, Frankl was able to live with both meaning and purpose through the horrors of the Holocaust.
Frankl says we are always freer to live a meaningful life than we recognise, and that life’s meaning lies in
finding a purpose and taking responsibility for ourselves and others. He enjoins us to not see our suffering as
useless. Informed by purpose, suffering may be seen as a challenge. Therefore, even in extremely adverse
conditions, we can find a purpose that inspires us to obtain enough strength to endure and eventually overcome
pain and suffering. Our attitude toward adversities is always subject to change. In every circumstance, we can
find a solid purpose to live and create meaning in life. The meaning in life will not just come automatically. We
need to discover it. We need to achieve.

The world is meaningless! We need to create our own meaning

The debate whether human existence is meaningless or do we have some meaning or purpose behind our life.
Some of the philosophers have to the extent of arguing universe is a terrifying place. It’s full of suffering,
tragedies, horrific pain, violence and above all devoid of any meaning. However, some says universe is full of
joy, happiness, beauty, goodness and meaningful purpose behind our existence. However, our life mostly
oscillates between these two extremes.
During earlier times, when the majority of people believed in God, their predominant purpose was to live a
“good” life. Their purpose was to do good works so that after death, they would be welcomed into heaven. In
Hinduism, the doctrine of karma was the greatest motivator for leading a meaningful life. Karma has to do with
the thoughts, words, and deeds that we send out into this world and their good or bad results in this and future
lives. It means that all actions good or bad have similar consequences for the individual who acts. If
something really bad happens to anyone, it may be due to the bad karma of his present or past life. It’s this
general moral law which governs not only the life and destiny of all individuals, but even the order and
arrangement of the physical world. This theory was a powerful incentive to lead a life of meaning and
harmlessness (ahimsa).

Similarly, in Christianity, for over a thousand of years, people who have been good and obedient to Church law,
were expected to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven — the blissful abode after death. This ambition, along with
pleasing their personal Lord and Saviour, provided Christians a strong meaning and purpose. People aspired to
enter the Kingdom either after death or, in some cases, during life itself. This idea remained entrenched in the
Western world till the recent time. For Christians, the purpose of their earthly existence has always been to live
in accord with ‘the will’ of God.
However, things started to change as the scientific revolution got underway. Due to rise in science and reason,
it led to believed that there is nothing like heaven, afterlife and some great power punishing or rewarding us
based on our deeds. In that sense, there is no bigger purpose behind our existence. A sense of
meaninglessness and pessimism began to stir among the masses. And as a material-driven culture set in,
passion for wealth and material goods began to take hold and, in the process, connection to ourselves and to
nature lose hold. The emphasis had shifted from a meaningful life to a “successful” one.
German philosopher in 1870s, Friedrich Nietzsche, very famously declared ‘God is dead”. As we started losing
our faith in God, well established divine system got demolished. Life became meaningless. The sense of
meaninglessness or nihilism started surfacing. Nihilism is the viewpoint that suggest the denial or lack of belief
towards the meaningfulness of life. It means life is without objectives meaning, purpose or intrinsic value. In
fact, nihilism expresses the pessimistic view of human life.
The issue whether the life is meaningless or absurd, has been examined in detail earlier by many
philosophers. It’s a great philosophical question. Every day on the planet this question is asked by millions of
people especially when they face extreme suffering or adversity. When people feel their life is absolutely
meaningless or hopeless, they even take the extreme step of prematurely ending their lives. Somewhere in the
world, every 40 seconds, a person takes his/her life by committing suicide.
A great French philosopher and the author, Albert Camus came out with an excellent piece of philosophical
work relating to absurdity of life – the Myth of Sisyphus. His allegory (short story) revolves around a
mythological figure of Sisyphus, the King of Corinth. He was condemned by the Gods to repeatedly roll a
boulder up a hill only to have it roll down again once he got it to the top. It means he was asked to take the
boulder again and again to the top after it was rolled back from the hill top. Albert Camus wants us to
understand the essential absurdity of life.
Through this allegory he conveys that ‘our life is meaningless and absurd, but nonetheless should be taken as
a challenge’. More importantly, Camus tells us that we should imagine Sisyphus happy. Sisyphus is a symbol
of mankind and his punishment symbolizes what we do every single day during our lives. We keep on doing
routine, repetitive and habitual tasks every day. It’s in a way a worthless life. But still we, like Sisyphus, are
happy with this ‘absurdity of life’.
Despite the absurdity of life, we need to live happily. Most of us may be leading our lives without any refreshing
and exciting things to do. Our lives may be full of routine and habitual tasks which we keep on repeating day
and night but still we have some meaningful purpose behind our existence. That is the reason, many thinkers
and philosophers came out with ‘theory of existentialism’. Whatever may be the difficulties or absurdity of life
we face; we all can still have a strong reason to live. Hence, we can create our own meaning of life.
Soren Kierkegaard, a Danish philosopher who is generally considered as the father of existentialism argued
that we are free agents who have control over our choices and actions. Subsequently, many more supported
his philosophy of existentialism. They believed that we all have the potential to live life to the fullest and the
society can’t not restrict an individual’s life or actions. Life may be meaningless but we all can chose our path
of life’s journey. We are the architect of our own destiny.
When we say meaningful purpose, it broadly means doing something for the greater good in one’s life,
something more than leading a routine and self-centred life. When we start looking beyond “I,” “me” and “my,”
and bring others into the fold of “us,” then we can say we are doing something meaningful for society. Those who pursue mainly wealth and (their idea of) success live a purposeful life but not necessarily a meaningful
one.
An Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist and a Holocaust survivor of World War II, Viktor Frankl wrote an
extraordinary must-read book titled Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl’s account of his experiences in Nazi
concentration camps inspired millions of people to identify their own purpose in life. By identifying a positive
purpose under back- and spirit-breaking conditions, and then holding on to that purpose while imagining its
desired outcome, Frankl was able to live with both meaning and purpose through the horrors of the Holocaust.
Frankl says we are always freer to live a meaningful life than we recognise, and that life’s meaning lies in
finding a purpose and taking responsibility for ourselves and others. He enjoins us to not see our suffering as
useless. Informed by purpose, suffering may be seen as a challenge. Therefore, even in extremely adverse
conditions, we can find a purpose that inspires enough strength to endure and eventually overcome pain and
suffering. Our attitude toward adversities is always subject to change. In every circumstance, we can find a
solid purpose to live and create meaning in life. The meaning in life will not just come automatically. We need to
discover it. We need to achieve.

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