« Meaningful meaningless meditation | Main | Honoring the mystery that is me (and you) »

April 13, 2007


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

If you want to experience meaninglessness get a job at a for profit company and spend your life on the goal of accumulating money, power and status. Or do anything, including trying to attain mystical states, for the selfish purpose of gratifying your ego in the attainment.

If you want to find meaningfulness get a job and provide things that other people find useful, treat your coworkers with respect and kindness, and do your best.

Meaningfulness and meaninglessness come from your own attitude towards what you do. If you are motivated by selfishness you will find meaninglessness.

If you want to experience meaningfulness understand that you are an immortal spirit and that your time on earth is for the purpose of developing characteristics that will have eternal value because you will use them in the future forever. This is how we are "rewarded" for being good. We are not given rewards, we don't earn them. We create them in ourselves through our efforts to do what is right and good and to improve.

Wonderful series of posts. I've enjoyed them very much. I've been thinking along similar lines myself recently.

Dear nmdswkh3...,

The "you" that seems to choose to work as a greedy profiteer or philanthropist is purely illusory, a conceptual phantom. Life goes on of its own and whatever role you find yourself in is just fine as far as Existence is concerned. There is no judge, no high court. It's all equal, interwoven threads in the incomprehensible, magical mystery of the play of consciousness. What seems to be good may actually be bad and vice versa.

There is the well-known story of the farmer who has various events in his life that at first appear to be good or bad, but the end result is the opposite which appears to be good or bad but turns out to be its opposite, ad infinitum.

As the "I" sense drops away and oneness is apperceived one tends to find oneself (in language I have to use some kind of identifying term) functioning in ways that from a relative standpoint appear to be kinder and more harmonious because when everything is what you are, there is a natural affinity and feeling of benificence to all. However, this is not necessarily so. It all rolls on of its own accord. There is no "you" to make any choice.

Meaningfulness and meaninglessness are merely concepts..little bubbles in the sky of awareness. Our 'time' on earth has no purpose for "developing characteristics" that will have eternal value for some future use. There is no future. There is no time. No reward in some imagined future for deeds done in some imagined past. No "you" to get the imagined reward. No eternity in the sense of a progression of linear time. There is only what is now, as it appears now. It is as it is. It has no more meaning than that.

Great post. I've been thinking along a similar path myself, if not off stumbling in the ditch alongside the path.

What you're calling meaninglessness, I thought was transcendence. Or, at least recognizing that I can't know it is transcendence. But now I'm not so sure.

What Park calls relative meaninglessness, I would have called idolatry: seeking meaning in meaningless things, or in symbols that point to true meaning. But again, I'm no longer so sure of my definition. I am somewhat familiar with the Existential Meaning that lies somewhere just between nihilism and angst, but I haven't read his page yet.

Ultimately, I think that meaning is in the same car with happiness meandering down the road of pursuit.

Bill, you're right. I do consider "meaninglessness" to live in the same neighborhood as "transcendence." Along with "mystery" and "ultimacy."

Meaninglessness gets a bad rap. It gets confused with depression, anomie, smoking unfiltered cigarettes and sipping super-strong expresso in a Paris (or anywhere) cafe and talking about how nothing matters, including talking about how nothing matters.

I see it more as "beyond meaning." The "lessness" part of the word can mean either than you've lost meaning, or that you've moved past meaning.

When we don't know what, if anything, lies beyond the relative, limited, material meanings we're aware of now, the door leading to the realm of meaninglessness is ajar.

We may never be able to get beyond the threshold. But even putting our ear to the door and getting vague hints of the mysteries that lie beyond--that's good.

Its good to have meaning in the meaningness.
Just like dancing little flies..in the sun.

Brian, is your "meanlingless" akin to "no-thing-ness"? I ask, because that's how it appears to me.

Helen, yes, I'd say that it is. No-thing is pretty much the same as meaning-less. Meanings are about relationships, analogies, metaphors.

When there's nothing, no-thing, how can you have meaning? We like to make Mystery meaningful, but that just makes it into another thing.

I'm prone to this. I admit it. But at least I'm beginning to realize the loopiness of what I'm doing.

Might not be able to resist writing more about this unwritable stuff tonight.

I think you're right - that if your supposition is that meaning is to be found in sentences that purport to describe being or reality in its totality or ultimate state, you're bound to be disappointed.

ela file Brian,

by Nikos Kazantzakis

(Translated by Kimon Friar)


WE COME from a dark abyss, we end in a dark abyss, and we call the luminous interval life. As soon as we are born the return begins, at once the setting forth and the coming back; we die in every moment. Because of this many have cried out: The goal of life is death! But as soon as we are born we begin the struggle to create, to compose, to turn matter into life; we are born in every moment. Because of this many have cried out: The goal of ephemeral life is immortality! In the temporary living organism these two streams collide: (a) the ascent toward composition, toward life, toward immortality; (b) the descent toward decomposition, toward matter, toward death. Both streams well up from the depths of primordial essence. Life startles us at first; it seems somewhat beyond the law, somewhat contrary to nature, somewhat like a transitory counteraction to the dark eternal fountains; but deeper down we feel that Life is itself without beginning, an indestructible force of the Universe. Otherwise, from where did that superhuman strength come which hurls us from the unborn to the born and gives us - plants, animals, men - courage for the struggle? But both opposing forces are holy. It is our duty, therefore, to grasp that vision which can embrace and harmonize these two enormous, timeless, and indestructible forces, and with this vision to modulate our thinking and our action.


Good stuff, Brian. Have been a number of studies about how evolution set our brains up to seek meaning in everything (an article by Paul Bloom comes to mind). Had a survival value in the jungle and savanna, still helps with computers and technology, but needs to be considered on the philosophical / existential level. Of course, that stuff is all about meaning, by definition. So, in order to mean anything, meaning needs to doubt why it needs to mean anything. Sounds like a 'strange loop'. (I really need to get around to reading that book!).

God created everything. Who created God? Superstrings form everything. What forms superstrings? Get the strange loops out.

Good koan material! Not that I'd really know a koan if it bit me. So please excuse the last bit of brain debris I'm going to leave here. Your topic reminds me of an episode from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Was called "The Nowhere Affair". Something to do with an abandoned mining town in Nevada called "Nowhere". Final scene, agent Napolean Solo asks the femme fatale from THRUSH, "do you know where you are". She answers, "nowhere", in a manner all dripping with multiple meaning. To keep up with all of the strange looping going on, Solo comments: "then you are somewhere". Fade to black, cue theme song.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)


  • Welcome to the Church of the Churchless. If this is your first visit, click on "About this site--start here" in the Categories section below.
  • HinesSight
    Visit my other weblog, HinesSight, for a broader view of what's happening in the world of your Church unpastor, his wife, and dog.
  • BrianHines.com
    Take a look at my web site, which contains information about a subject of great interest to me: me.
  • Twitter with me
    Join Twitter and follow my tweets about whatever.
  • I Hate Church of the Churchless
    Can't stand this blog? Believe the guy behind it is an idiot? Rant away on our anti-site.