Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Dharma Cartoon: The Meaning of Life

Click for a perspective on our existential dilemma.

Annotated Script of "The Meaning of Life"

Scene 1

A: What is the meaning of life?
This is the primordial question we ask when we become spiritually conscious enough.

B: You should first ask, "What is the meaning of meaning?"
Before we pursue answers to our questions, we should always pursue to meaning of our questions.

A: Meaning means meaning!
If something means other things? What does "meaning" itself mean? Does it mean itself? In this sense, meaning means "self-essence" or "self-nature" which does not really exists since meaning is derived from interdependent relationships.

B: Then life is life!
Life is itself too, just as the universe is itself. This is the macro view of life on the whole, of dependent origination, interbeing. All aspects of life interlink in itself.

A: But what is life?
B: Life is what you experience now- the sun, the wind and the waves...
Life is none other whan what we experience through the six senses in the moment. It is not beyond what you cannot experience as that is not meaningful to you in the moment. This is the micro view of life for the individual.

Scene 2

A: What does all these stuff we experience in life mean then?
It is perhaps the blessing and curse of sentient beings to question and seek meaning, and to suffer due to unanswered questions!

B: First ask whether they intend to mean anything.
A: I don't think so.
Things that happen to us, that we experience are essentially natural effects from causes and conditions. They do not mean anything by themselves. For example, failing an exam or falling rain does not intend to spoil your day.

B: So meaning is created by us.
A: What does this mean?
B: Everything is meaningless till you put meaning into it.
Life is meaningless to the individual till he has found, or unless he seeks, meaningfulness. This imputation of meaning applies also to each and every act we do and our response to things that happens to us.

Scene 3

A: So life, the universe and everything are essentially meaningless!
Essentially meaningless in the sense that each being or thing has no intrinsic meaning or significance in itself, only on the relative level, in connection to other things.

B: Not necessarily a good or bad thing- if you see what I mean!
This truth is not necessarily a good or bad thing- it is just as it is- till we choose to take sides- which is not necessary too. However, as we are unenlightened, we will habitually take sides.

A: What does it mean to you?
B: It means you are essentially free to create any meaning in your life.
This means we have no moral or spiritual obligations- free to choose to believe what is good or evil, free to choose whether to purify ourselves. But the wise urges us to walk the Noble Eightfold path, as reflected in the following line in red.

A: But why do that, since life, and even death, are actually meaningless?
B: So the only truly meaningful thing to do is to get out of life and death- become enlightened!
Becoming enlightened here can refer to either the goal of self-liberation (Arahanthood) or the goal of liberation of all beings (Bodhisattvahood which leads to Buddhahood). Thus, the end of this film shows why it is perfectly rational to seek enlightenment, whether for oneself or all. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

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