The Meaning of Life: “Rise and Shine!”

“It’s time to rise and shine” says my wife to my daughters some mornings if they’re being slow and groggy. If she means anything by it she means for them to get up and get going and be good and to do their best throughout the day. But it’s mainly just a meaningless expression, a cliché. A cliché is defined as an “overused expression; a phrase or word that has lost its original effectiveness or power from overuse”. But what’s implied is that the phrase once had an original effectiveness or power. Could there be an inherent meaning and power in this phrase? I think so, in fact I think “rise and shine” is a metaphor for the meaning of life.

The question “what’s the meaning of life?” has a lot of implications and facets but for this article I’ll focus on two related questions; “who am I?” and “why am I here?”. Let’s address each question with the two parts of our “rise and shine” metaphor.

Who are You?

To answer the question “who am I?”, let’s start with what we know. You have a physical body, you have emotions (an emotional body) and you have a mind (a mental body), collectively called your human self, lower self or personality. You act with your physical body, you emote with your emotional body and you think with your mental body. They are analogous to the states of matter in chemistry; the physical body is solid, the emotional body is liquid and the mental body is gas. Think of these bodies going from the bottom (physical) to the top (mind) “rising” in their level of refinement.

But the key insight in addressing the question “who am I?” is that you are more than just these bodies. You also have a spiritual body known as the higher self or soul. The soul is the immaterial inner essence that animates and sustains us. It’s often referred to as “the spark of God”. Just as the activities of the lower three bodies are to act, emote and think, respectively, the activity of the soul is to “intuit” (i.e. intuition). The soul’s scientific analogy is energy (as in Einstein’s E=Mc2 equation). The soul is more refined than the personality but that’s not quite accurate because they’re totally different. The soul is abstract while the personality is concrete. The soul is immortal and infinite while the personality is mortal and finite. In my science analogy the soul is with physic’s energy (abstract) while the personality is with chemistry’s states of matter (concrete).

To rise means to realize this but to truly rise and understand you need to know that you don’t have a soul but that you are a soul who created and uses your physical, emotional and mental body to achieve its purpose. As Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955), a Jesuit priest said, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” As the soul you are eternal, that is, you’ve been since the beginning of time and you will always be. You are immortal, that is, you were never “born” and you will never “die”. You are a child of God as Jesus said, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son (that’s you, your spiritual self, whether you’re a man or woman), so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) God created the soul and the soul created the personality. This process is described in the story of Adam and Eve. God created Adam (the soul) and Adam, since it was his rib, figuratively created Eve (the personality). And thereafter spirit and personality became one. This is what it means to figuratively “rise from the dead” or to be reborn (i.e. “born again”). Again as Jesus taught, “I am telling you the truth, that no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born or water and the Spirit. A person is born physically of human parents, but he is born spiritually of the Spirit” (John 3:5-6)

Why are You Here?

So “why are we here?”…we’re here to shine! What does it mean to “shine” in a deeper sense? As discussed you are a soul who has a physical, emotional and mental body to use in this world. The soul wants a personality that is productive, disciplined, esteemed, in-control, together, mature, organized. Why? So that it can effectively use it. What does the soul want to use the personality for? To express itself. What does the soul want to express? Love, joy, beauty, goodwill, compassion, wisdom, peace, patience, harmony, courage. Why does the soul want to express these qualities? Because these qualities are divine, that is they are aspects of God, and the expression of them is what redeems and refines the world. Through their expression we enlighten the world and fulfill the purpose of humanity and God’s plan.

Does this seem too easy, too simplistic? It’s not because the personality has a life of its own and clings to it’s old habits, attitudes and thoughts. It also feels the downward pull of the negativity of the collective of humanity (i.e. mass consciousness). To truly shine you have to understand what it means and how it works. For example we’re not just not being dour but rather we want to actually be cheerful and joyful. We’re not just biting our tongue and suppressing anger but actually being tolerate and peaceful. In a seeming paradox, to complete the process of rising you have to descend. This means that you have to bring the divinity that you register abstractly at the soul, down into the mind, emotions and body to complete the cycle. For example if you often get angry with your child you should intuit that you need tolerance. Then you use your mind to think about how to apply it, use your emotions for the proper attitude and your body to actually act appropriately.

So, rise and shine! Know who you are and why you’re here. Think of “rise and shine” as a seed thought for the meaning of life. You’re more that what you think you are. You’re here to do more than what you think your suppose too. As Isaiah said, “Arise, Jerusalem (read children of God, you and me), and shine like the sun; the glory of the Lord is shining on you!” (Isaiah 60;1) And, as Jesus said, “You are like light for the whole world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl; instead he puts it on a lampstand, where it gives light for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

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