What is the meaning of Life? – To live… consciousness of consciousness in existence

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I have contemplated the meaning of life and when asked what it is I usually defer to, “I don’t think that my brain is evolved to understand such things,” or “I am not sure that I am supposed to know… and I find that lack of existential responsibility to be comforting.” Today I will offer that perhaps the meaning of life is simply to live. When I say such a thing most people jump to anarchy, hedonism, and/or an existence without ethics and morality. To that I would reply that I believe that morals, ethics and structure are a part of existence, which life’s consciousness quantifies with terminology, relationship, math or language so that we reach some degree of understanding of the apparent balance of all existence. So to clarify, the meaning of life is then to live within the balance of existence… and to have life means to have a direct individual experience of this balance… to be able to experience this interconnectedness of everything from an individual perspective. 

What is life? Life appears to be consciousness.

What is the meaning of life? The meaning of life is to interact with your consciousness of consciousness and to experience the sensations of doing such.

Consciousness of Consciousness? perhaps consciousness existed and then became conscious of itself… Consciousness used math (apparently) to quantify the dimensions of itself and reality was then born. For some reason all that we can be conscious of seems to be quantifiable using math… this puzzles me.

And why do morals, laws, and cause and effect seem to exist? because life is made possible by its’ collective consciousnesses’ agreement to perceive structure in a sea of infinite chaos… if consciousness did not project a balance or an order onto chaos then it would have nothing to be conscious of… morals are a way for our current state of consciousness to understand the balance of the greater consciousness… morals, laws etc are our way of understanding how consciousness ordered chaos into that which is conceivable… within balance, existence became conceivable… consciousness therefore begat itself from an intention which it held before its apparent existence.

Which came first the chicken or the egg? Both

What is balance? Everything

How do you differentiate one thing from another? Collective agreement… as everything is the other thing.

 

Do you have any idea what you are talking about? I have thought about it long enough to know that I will never be able to think this into certainty… I will never know how to know what I am talking about.

This is all conceptually impossible! I agree, that is why I simply state that the meaning of life is to live.

 

That sound defeatist! And accepting?

William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.

Chaos, structure, rigidity, compassion and acceptance

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Quick summary: The path to “enlightenment” is indeed a bit confusing and as I was contemplating my own journey I came to an interesting point of discovery. I have not reached enlightenment and therefore do not know exactly what it is … perhaps until you reach the state, the experience of enlightenment in mostly inconceivable; I will offer some interesting notes that pertain to my current journey. I was thinking about how a path of chaos or a path of structure might lead a person to acceptance and compassion (generally thought of as the more important ingredients in an enlightened entity).

I will define acceptance as – freedom from automatic reaction, freedom from automatic categorizing, living in the moment, instantaneous forgiveness, unconditional love and compassion for all, and a drive for harmony and balance with a genuine empathy for that which disrupts the balance.

Most people have heard the ideas about not judging your environment so as to reach a point of universal compassion and acceptance… what choices affect this end goal? I could choose to align with chaos to reach acceptance… in this way I will hold no consistent beliefs or morals and will therefore be better able to accept most anything (any occurrence, philosophy, perspective etc) without the stress and anxiety that arrives when existence proposes something contrary to the constructs I might have otherwise held in order to explain my existence.

The chaos model promotes a general indifference which is not necessarily in line with the concept of compassion, which is generally associated with enlightenment. If nothing is good or bad then I would have no basis for concluding whether or not an action was compassionate.

The opposite (according to some constructs) of chaos is structure. With structure I could neatly arrange my existence to create somewhat of a linear path toward enlightenment. I would use theories such as deductive reasoning, probability, and other cause and affect based beliefs to create a path that was mathematically most likely to arrive at the variables associated with enlightenment. The Jedi (Star Wars movies) generally used this modality – Yoda even made comments about love – something like, “love leads to fear… fear leads to anger… anger leads to hate.” on such a path one might avoid certain types of love as doing so could make attaining acceptance more difficult (it is easier to have acceptance for the murder of a person you are not so connected to… if someone murdered your child or you spouse it would be very difficult to come to a place of acceptance). Structure can carry a degree of rigidity that distracts a person’s attention from what is… this can creates a resistance of the present moment.

Both paths seem to carry a strong theme of avoidance for me… and on my current journey I have found myself confused. Avoiding structure can make acceptance easier while avoiding certain experiences or beliefs can also make acceptance a bit easier. So which is the path?

I have been trying to use dialectics to aid in this philosophical inquisition. When using dialectics the path to enlightenment becomes both chaos and structure (as opposed to structure or chaos) – this means that perhaps the constructs which suggests that opposites can’t simultaneously exist (this is called dichotomous thinking) is what makes the subject so difficult for my growing mind to comprehend.

Perhaps the variables which could clear some of this up are the ideas of destiny, intuition, and living in the present moment without resistance. Trying to find a “path” is ultimately a choice to engage in future thinking… the future is uncertain and does not exist (except in your mind). If I focus my attention on the future and believe that I can create predictability then I will be distracting myself from the present moment (which is all that truly exists).

I would suggest that universal compassion, acceptance, authenticity and empathy are perhaps more difficult to achieve when you decide to live outside of existence … or outside of the present moment.   (This usually means that you are living within the constructs of your brain – you are using your brain to create an existence that is separate, to a degree, from the shared existence.)

In this philosophical inquiry I am reaching a point of understanding based ironically on simplification – chaos and structure are both mostly irrelevant and/or unproductive if they are used as mechanisms to resist the present moment – to resist existence.

All that one needs to reach enlightenment is in the current moment… acceptance is allowing one’s self to experience the flow of the river as opposed to finding ways of making that flow predictable. As you accept the flow of the river you will intuitively know what is required from you in the moment to maintain the balance of the whole – the while is the parts and the parts are the whole. The river is chaos and structure.

When in the present moment you can accept and hold compassion for all as you free yourself to see that you are the all… and so empathy and selflessness is understood.

Some people will flow towards hours of medication in areas removed from the complexities of a diverse array of relationships… some people will flow towards a diverse array of relationships.

 It is not the type of flow which is perhaps most important… instead it is the acceptance and the dropping of resistance towards the flow, which will guide you in the present moment… enlightenment is for everyone… it already exists… our resistance makes it elusive… sometimes our resistance is born of our method of dropping our resistance.

 

“Chaos is the resistance of structure while structure is the resistance of chaos.”

 

“I entered chaos to find the structures of my acceptance and the structures of my resistance”

 

“In structure I found the acceptance of chaos.”

 

“Follow the breath… water the sole.”

 

“Existence is chaos and structure”

 

“If you are striving for enlightenment than you are trying to live in the future (which does not exist)… enlightenment is an occurrence of existence… enlightenment is in the now.”

William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.

Existentialism – meaning, meaninglessness and your life

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Quick summary:  “It is not about finding the correct answer to questions pertaining to life, death, suffering, bliss, meaning, and meaninglessness… it is about creating a meaning which is most helpful, comforting, and peace provoking to you as an individual.” In this blog I will talk about some of the affects that existentialism (or the innate drive to make meaning) has on peoples lives, and how existential themes contribute to therapy.

Existentialism is a school of thought which is concerned with meaning and meaninglessness; the philosophy attributes more significance to the meaning we individually place on occurrences and existences than on an objective truth concerning an occurrence or an existence.

Some existentialist believe that we make decision based on the meaning that we assign to different actions and our decisions are not always based on the facts pertaining to an action (facts dictating an action is rationalism).

Existentialism is another one of those philosophically complex terms that ironically “means” something different to different people.  

 

Have you ever asked yourself any of the following questions? –

– What is the purpose of my life?

– Why did this happen to me?

– What is the meaning of life?

– Why do I do the things that I do?

– How could such a terrible thing happen?

– Why do people die?

If the answer is yes (you have asked yourself one of these questions), then you have asked yourself an existential question.

 

What impact does your answer to any of the above questions have on you? Existentialism appears in the field of therapy under the belief that the answers that you give to yourself (the meaning that you assign) will have a significant impact on how you perceive your existence – or how you perceive the quality of your life.

 

–Note – I would propose that any ‘why’ question is an existential question – to any answer that you give to a ‘why’ question, the question ‘why’ can be asked again – until there in no answer = meaninglessness.

  • Example – why is the sky blue? – The refraction and reflection of light. – Why? The process enables the longer wavelength to be perceived. – Why? Longer wavelengths are blue and shorter wavelengths are red. – Why are longer wavelengths blue? Color pertains to light wavelengths and colors are on a spectrum. – Why aren’t short wavelengths blue instead or why does the color spectrum exist? – Meaninglessness…

 

As humans many of us our conscious of the fact that there is no one correct answer to the above questions… Our inability to know the answer to those questions is believed to be a major source of anxiety, despair, and dread etc.

 

The existential solution to the anxiety caused by the meaninglessness of life and death is an individual’s freedom to create your own meaning and your own purpose to life.

 

One of my top ten books of all time is Victor E. Frankl’s – “Man’s Search for Meaning” Victor was a Jewish psychiatrist (among other things) that was sent to various concentration camps during the Nazi occupation. He attributes a large degree of his ability to survive the concentration camps to his ability to maintain a sense of meaning throughout the chaotic and meaningless suffering that he and others were forced to endure. I highly recommend reading this book – it offers perspective on the resilient potential of the human spirit that can arise from within one’s self without altering the suffering which inevitably surrounds us.

You might have heard that there are ‘existential therapists’… what does this mean and what do they do? In my opinion, existential therapy simply implies that the therapist believes that he/she can help a client by assisting that client in creating meaning pertaining to an event which is causing the client distress (and in some cases that distress might be producing very observable mental health concerns).

  • There are no set techniques in existential therapy and the therapy process can differ dramatically from one therapist to the next.
  • The goal can be to assign meaning or to change the meaning that a person attributes to a certain occurrence (person, place, thing, action etc) – the client changes the meaning and not the therapist. This is done under the belief that a person relieves distress by embracing their freedom to assign their own meaning to the meaningless.
  • Meaninglessness is thought to be fundamentally universal – Individuals have the freedom to subjectively assign meaning to an existence that has no universal meaning.
  • This can be both theologically based and not – for some philosophers it was god who gave humans the freewill to find meaning, and for others, they believe that there is no god and our drive for meaning comes from nowhere.
  • Sometimes the drive to create meaning out of a traumatic situation leads us to continually engage in selfdestructive or socially destructive behaviors. Some in the therapy field believe that this is part of the reason why people who are perpetrated on sometimes end up perpetrating on others or why people who grew up in abusive households end up in a relationship with an abusive partner – In both examples the individual is unconsciously re-engaging in the meaningless suffering to try and ‘find’ meaning.

 

In short – my existential quotes to provoke discussion and thought –

 “It is not about finding the correct answer to questions pertaining to life, death, suffering, bliss, meaning, and meaninglessness… it is about creating a meaning which is most helpful, comforting, and peace provoking to you as an individual.” -Will

“It is responsibility that offers a meaning to liberty is an attempt to address the chaos inherent in freedom.” – Will

“You can look endlessly for purpose and meaning only to ultimately find that you held the freedom to create your own meaning and purpose the entire time.” -Will

“Suffering is both inevitable and infinite… peace then is not found in the annihilation of suffering and chaos (as this is not possible), but in the meaning that a person assigns to that suffering and chaos.” – Will

William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.