For most of my sixty years I've seriously pondered the Big Question, "What is the meaning of life?" So much so, I've assumed that anyone who doesn't engage in similar pondering is shallow, clueless, frivolous, unaware.
After all, Socrates said: "The unexamined life is not worth living."
But there's intriguing evidence in Phil Zuckerman's "Society Without God" that most people in Denmark and Sweden simply live life, without questioning its meaning. And the citizens of these nations are among the happiest in the world, according to comparative surveys.
So what gives? Zuckerman lived in Scandinavia for fourteen months, interviewing about 150 Danes and Swedes and conducting other sociological research. Here's what he says at the end of a chapter about fear of death and the meaning of life.
Having conversation after conversation like those excerpted above led me to some deep thinking. Some serious pondering. But not about the meaning of life. Rather, I deeply pondered the deep pondering of the meaning of life.
Put simply: I began to seriously question just how important and significant "knowing the meaning of life" really is for people, after all. Is it truly such a burning matter? Is it really such a deep, universal concern?
...Based on my research among Danes and Swedes, I have started to theorize that most people, most of the time -- at least in certain cultures -- don't actually worry too much or actually even care about the "ultimate meaning of life."
...Sure, every human who has ever lived may, from time to time, wonder why we are here and what the point of it all is at certain special moments, now and then. Call them fleeting moments of existential pondering.
But I would argue that these fleeting moments of existential pondering come and go, and are not necessarily the moments that people construct their lives around, or devote inordinate amounts of energy to. At least not contemporary Scandinavians, who are living proof that the quest to know the ultimate meaning of life need not be a deep or vexing human obsession.
Here's some examples of what Danes and Swedes told Zuckerman:
Do I wonder about the meaning of life? No, I don't go that deep.
I don't know if I think about the meaning of life. The meaning of my life, I think, is just to have a good life for myself and the people I care about.
It has no special meaning. People try to find some special meaning. We are born, we live, and we die.
But sometimes you can ask yourself, now you are here what are you going to do? Do something, you know, so that when we get to the end you can say I did something good for other people.
I basically think that life is about what we do now, and whatever makes us happy and feel like we're achieving something. That's the meaning of it. Because if you think of it, look at animals. They just live and they're happy. I hope, at least.
The meaning of life is living your life and having a good life, and you should not be living life waiting for something afterwards.
Amen to that. More and more, I've been coming to the same conclusion:
"The meaning of life? Life."
"Maybe the meaning of life is...life"
"Meaning of life is right now, or never"
I am a dane and have been reading this church-site for a year. I had my first guru-hit in 74.Its nice to meet a saint, where you feel loved to the bone and seeing all the light and still have a connection, to whatever it is.With a buddhist oriented philosophy I see no problem. Like the sun and rain are no problem, merely a blessing for living our worldly ordinary life.
But are the danes and sweedes so happy?
Forget about it. It is truly miserable here :) But what we did was to make in the thirties a socialist non-violent revolution and are still living on that basis, though now a right wing lying government is trying to spoil it all. So we are still happy, living in a small country, 5 mill, and we care- but it is a split society, like in US.
So we are happy with free schools and we are taken care of from birth to grave, with help and jobs, we are protestants, we work and if we get sick you got all the help we need.Thats the rule.
Young criminals? WE ask why did the public not interfere? While in US you execute people. You murder people from a poor background!
Meaning of life.Denmark are the center of many european spiritual movements.We filled a lot among the hipsters in India and Nepal in the sixties, we are a lot different from americans in the scandinavia. Danes and sweedes differ a lot too. But all those polls: who wants to know? Who Pays?
I was provoked by this piece about Danes so I learned that I can comment here.
God bless and
Are you Happy?
Dane: Am I ? I should be..so guess I am
Posted by: c. Nielsen | March 04, 2009 at 10:42 AM
c. Nielsen, thanks for sharing a Danish viewpoint. I didn't know that you had a right wing lying government. Join the club -- we just got rid of ours, after eight years of George Bush. Hang in there... things will get better.
On my other blog I've talked about how I'm ready for European "socialism." Bring it on, Obama. That's my attitude. See:
Posted by: Brian | March 04, 2009 at 11:23 AM
"a right wing lying government. [...] we just got rid of ours, after eight years of George Bush. Hang in there... things will get better."
-- That opinion, although naively optimistic, is not at all informed... so I must strongly disagree. Here are just a sample of the reasons - the tip of the iceberg - as to why:
The Obama Deception:
About the Obama Deception & the on-going globalist agenda (in Audio Blog format):
Obama’s War Machine Needs $800 Billion For 2009:
Obama Urges Americans to Invest in Plummeting Stock Market:
The Never-Ending Bailout -- from the Obama Treasury Department, much like the Bush Treasury Department:
Obama’s Stimulus Bill is a Banker Contrived Debt Scam:
The U.S. Economy under Obama - Designed to Fail:
Terror Memos Reveal Total Destruction Of U.S. Constitutional Freedoms - and no official reversal from Obama, so illegal practices will continue:
The False Right-Left Facade Slips: Coulter Praises Obama:
From Bush to Obama -- From One Assault On The Constitution To Another:
Obama administration hopes to abolish Second Amendment gun rights:
Majority Of U.S. States Join Sovereignty Movement, Assert 10th Amendment Rights -- A majority of the people believe the U.S. government (both previous and current) is corrupt, out-of-control, and does not represent the interests of the people:
Russian Scholar Says Obama Will Declare Martial Law in US:
More Info available at Infowars.com:
Infowars Daily Radio Show (24/7) - Streaming Audio:
Listen Now: http://www.infowars.com/stream.pls
Listen with Windows Media Player: http://www.infowars.com/infowars.asx
Infowars.com Featured Stories Index:
Posted by: tAo | March 04, 2009 at 02:20 PM
This post reminded me of Janwillem vander Wetering's two books on his experiences in Zen communities. "Empty Mirror" describes his efforts to comprehend in a Japanese Zen monastery.
"A Glimpse of Nothingness" limns his experiences in a Zen community in the US.
Whereas the first book beautifully sums up the difficulties of grasping the ineffable, the second describes his ultimate achievement of "satori" as: "You mean that's all there is to it? Just try my best!!"
I quote from memory so this is perhaps not a perfect rendition. But it has always seemed to me to be the most useful answer religion can offer.
Posted by: Martin Langeland | March 04, 2009 at 04:35 PM
Some info about Obamanomics:
"Well, President Obama’s 2010 budget has attracted a lot of attention. $1.75 trillion? That’s not federal spending. That’s new federal debt!
A good measure of fiscal policy is federal government tax revenues. Revenues for 2010 are projected at $2.19 trillion, off 13 percent from a year ago, due to the recession. With the huge bank bailouts and Obama’s $787 billion economic recovery program, 2010 expenditures are estimated at $3.94 trillion, an increase of 33 percent over 2008.
Then there’s the interest taxpayers must pay on the national debt, which will likely reach $600 billion in 2010. Of course almost 100 percent of all new federal debt is financed by foreigners, mainly China .
But don’t worry, the recovery program will succeed, and the economy will start growing again. THE GOVERNMENT PROMISES! Obama’s budget forecasts such a strong upsurge in economic activity by the end of 2009 that the net for the year will be GDP growth of 1 percent. (Yes, that’s what it says.)
Is it a contradiction that the government is conducting “stress tests” on the nation’s banks in which it is predicting that the recession will last at least until 2011 to see if those banks are strong enough to weather the storm? Yes, it is a contradiction. Even the Federal Reserve does not see recovery coming as quickly as Obama’s budget. Neither do any economists. The budget is not an honest document.
It gets worse. The budget says growth will then continue as far as the eye can see—the projections go out to 2019, when we’ll have a GDP of $22.86 trillion, 61 percent higher than 2008. Happy days will be here again!
So go back to sleep, America . It’s official. The recession we are in right now will end soon and is the last one ever.
This means that the financial industry will soon be fixed, plenty of good jobs will be available, climate change and drought will be overcome, the government budget will be right-sized, and America and the world will be content and at peace. All because of the decisions being made by the Obama administration and approved by Congress during these few critical weeks we’re in the middle of right now.
But there are a whole swarm of flies in the ointment. I’ll mention just two.
One is that according to University of Massachusetts economist Thomas Ferguson, who spoke at last weekend’s Eastern Economic Conference national conference in New York , the Bush/Obama bank bailouts alone will cause a permanent addition of interest payments on the national debt of $100 billion a year forever. That means every American will pay, during the course of his or her lifetime, over $20,000 to rescue the banks from their bad loans. To put that number in perspective, it equates to 2-1/2 years of tuition at a state university that instead will be paid to the government of China or a similar foreign investor.
Yes, America , that is what your elected Obama government just decided you WILL do.
Another is that the U.S. has had virtually no real economic growth since the early 1970s, because since then we’ve lived in a bubble economy. Look it up. Most of our industrial output has been flat or has declined. Whole industries, such as steel, are shadows of their former greatness. The automobile industry is on life support. We’ve imported huge amounts of foreign capital by selling them our real estate and businesses. As stated on the Economy in Crisis website:
“The United States now no longer controls many of its domestic industries. Over the last 10 years alone foreigners have spent $1.2 trillion to acquire more than 8,000 key US companies. Already as of 2002, foreigners owned fully 20 percent of American manufacturing. In many high-tech and defense-related industries, the proportion is far higher. Such US industries as mining, cement, publishing, engine and power transmission equipment, rubber and plastics, and sound recording and motion pictures are now largely foreign owned. Even in industries like pharmaceuticals, chemicals, industrial machinery, transportation equipment, electronics, metal industries, and coal and petroleum industries, foreign ownership has recently become very high.”
Until the last year, the biggest growth industry within the U.S. had been the financial sector, producing profits of over $500 billion as late as 2006. In other words, the U.S. has replaced working for a living with the manipulation of money and the extraction of interest, either by lending it or by brokering the lending and investment by foreigners. In order to enrich themselves, the financiers, with a lot of help from the government, created the merger/buyout bubble of the 1980s, the dot.com bubble of the 1990s, and the housing/equity/hedge fund/derivative bubble of the 2000s.
All this time, the federal, state, and local governments have tried to keep up by taxing every financial transaction they can get their hands on, including by raising property taxes on the inflated value of family homes. But now, with the last of the bubbles deflating, the tax base is vanishing. So governments, along with the private sector economy, which has been living on capital gains in the absence of job income for all but the very rich, have gone into the tank as well.
President Barack Obama’s economic recovery program, along with the budget just released, is an attempt to substitute a federal government bubble for the failed private sector ones. Like the private sector bubbles, this one is also based on debt. This is because debt is the only way anyone in the U.S. can any longer think of when it comes to creating a national money supply. It includes the president’s proposed $5 billion federal infrastructure bank for lending to state and local governments. This bank will probably offer better interest rates than the bond markets, but it’s still debt."
*** Note: the preceding essay was copied from:
Posted by: tAo | March 04, 2009 at 05:25 PM
After reading an article about Obama using NLP hypnosis techniques in his speeches I became quite disillusioned.
Also, although I understand people were desperate for change, I find the way people are kind of worshiping him like he is some sort of messiah is a bit scary.
Posted by: zenjen | March 04, 2009 at 05:41 PM
Only 6-12 months until Full-Fledged Fascist Martial Law
Posted by: tAo | March 04, 2009 at 11:30 PM
There are those who actually think and believe that there is a real government "Of the People" and a true 2 party system!!!
To bad they don't see that the true seat of Power in Washington is the “Invisible Government”, which exercises its total control from behind the scenes. Who is this Invisible Government? It is a small elite group of individuals who own and control the Giant International Banks and Corporations, and who exercise their control through the Military-Industrial Complex. Through their foundations and organizations, like the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the Trilateral Commission, they train and groom those who would be the “movers and shakers” of both U.S. political parties; in other words, they own and control the Republican and Democratic parties.
This criminal cabal of power elites, banks and corporations, government officials, and the mainstream media have effectively destroyed our economy, and the foundation of constitutional government which we have taken for granted. These evil people have stolen the wealth of the US Treasury whilst exploiting the power and might of the US Military to achieve their agenda.
Meanwhile, corrupt government officials continue to pass unconstitutional laws to the benefit of themselves and the elite. They believe our Constitution and Laws don’t pertain to them.
If the Republicans or the Democrats could have fixed this nation, they would have done it long before now. The more you look, the more you see that both major U.S. political parties (and their respective US Presidents) are all dominated and controlled by this “Invisible Government”. They represent the global elitists; the super-rich foundations; the NGO's; the global bankers; the global corporations; and lobbyists. Bankrolled by the Rothschild money dynasty (principal owners of the federal reserve banks), they have emerged as our present day aristocracy, the “ruling elite families” which includes generations of Rockefellers, Kennedys, the Bush family and others; perennial “intellectuals” like Kissinger, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Albright, Christopher, and Rubin; all the members of the “Council on Foreign Relations” and the “Trilateral Commission”; and all of the one-time and/or yearly attendees at the annual “Bilderberg” conference.
On January 6th, CNBC interviewed Henry Kissinger on the floor of the NY Stock Exchange. Kissinger stated that Obama had the perfect setting for the establishment of a 'New World Order': “His task will be to develop an overall strategy for America in this period when, really, a new world order can be created. It’s a great opportunity, it isn’t just a crisis.” The phrase “New World Order” is the elite’s way of saying “World Government” under their totalitarian control.
In David Rockefeller’s Memoirs (2002) he revealed on page 405 that he’s part of a “secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States… conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure – one world, if you will.”
In a letter written to Colonel E. Mandell House, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the large centers has owned the government of the U.S. since the days of Andrew Jackson.”
Speaking before Congress in 1957, Nevada Senator George W. Malone stated: “I believe that if the people of this nation fully understood what Congress has done to them over the last 49 years, they would move on Washington; they would not wait for an election... It adds up to a preconceived plan to destroy the economic and social independence of the United States.”
Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, in 1952 stated “The real rulers in Washington are invisible, and exercise power from behind the scenes.”
Today it is no different.
Posted by: tAo | March 04, 2009 at 11:43 PM
Brian said: "a right wing lying government. [...] we just got rid of ours, after eight years of George Bush. Hang in there... things will get better."
-- Will they? Why so sure about that?
The Obama Deception
Posted by: tAo | March 06, 2009 at 07:08 PM
Check out the Power Hour - they present some very good interviews
Posted by: Bob | March 07, 2009 at 09:09 PM
Thanks Bob, but I already know about the Power Hour and I've been there and done that. There are no doubt a number of good alternative news sites, but Infowars.com and the Alex Jones daily internet radio program is far and above all the rest. Btw, have you heard about the very recent deadly live H5N1 avian flu that was just combined with million of doses of regular flu vaccine to make it airborn? It was being shipped to 18 countries. Check it out.
Bottom-line, those who don't listen to Infowars.com, probably know little or nothing about the serious shit that is really happening in the North America, Europe, and the world.
Posted by: tAo | March 08, 2009 at 08:45 PM
Thanks for the tip, Tao. And, yes I tune into Alex Jones quite frequently.
No, I am not familiar with the avian flu/flu vaccine mess - but why am not surprised!
These monsters will do anything to advance their sickening agenda.
Glad to read that you're doing your part to inform people.
Posted by: Bob | March 08, 2009 at 09:39 PM
Swedes are some of the most helplessly dependent and brainwashed people on earth. Indeed they are also in complete lack of any deeper cultural or religious tradition, making them the perfect drones for whatever politically correct drivel their rulers/elected representatives come up with. If happiness is to be plugged in to the Matrix battery-grid, then, yes, Swedes must be REALLY happy.
Posted by: John L | May 31, 2009 at 12:21 AM