What’s the Meaning of Life? A Response, Part 1

Marty Nemko, a career coach, author, blogger and radio talk-show host in the San Francisco area, who has very practical career and educational advice that I highly recommend, wrote a very personal article titled “What the Hell is the Meaning of Life”. This article is the first of a seven part series in response to Marty’s question. It’s an introductory article that gives an overview of the “big-picture” spiritual perspective that’s needed before addressing the specific points Marty raises.

The question “what’s the meaning of life” has to be approached from a broad perspective or a higher point of view. The confusion that everybody has with this question stems from trying to “figure it out” from a narrow, limited perspective. A higher perspective is reached by contemplating, in a detached and impersonal way, why we’re here and who we are. I address this in more detail in my article “The Meaning of Life: Rise and Shine” but the following is a brief summary.

First, let’s discuss who you are. This may seem like a ridiculous question. Of course you know who you are. You are your name, age, sex, family, nationality, religion and occupation. This is who you are, right? Well, yes but I’m referring to a deeper understand of self. You are a human being with a physical body that you use to act and get around. But you’re more than just a body. You also have feelings, i.e. an emotional body, which expresses your mood and attitudes. You also have a mind, i.e. a mental body, which you use to think and figure things out. Each of these “bodies” has conscious and subconscious components. The conscious part is what you are aware of at any given moment while the subconscious part is what goes on automatically such as bodily functions and emotional and mental functions like habits and memories. Collectively the physical, emotional and mental bodies are known as your lower self, ego, human self or personality (I refer to it as the personality).

But you are not just this personality. You have a “higher” body that we call the higher self, true self, divine self, real self or soul. It is your inner essence. Your soul is that part of you that was made in God’s image. It’s an aspect of God, often referred to as a child of God or a spark of God. What a wave is to the ocean or a ray of sunlight is to the sun, so the soul is to God. The soul is refined and abstract while the personality is dense, materialistic and concrete.
Why aren’t you more familiar with it? Because it is more subtle and abstract than the personality. For most people the soul operates behind the scenes however it’s there and active whether you’re aware of it or not. Just as you use the physical, emotional and mental bodies to act, emote and think, respectively, you use the soul to intuit. Intuiting is when you think abstractly about what you should do, why you should do it and what it means. It’s what you use to consider the vision, purpose and meaning of your work, marriage, friendships and life. Alas, most of us aren’t familiar this and we drift through life in a sea of confusion.

However this confusion starts to lift when you intuit that you don’t have a soul but that you are the soul. Your real self is as this soul who uses the physical, emotional and mental bodies to operate in this world. Your true self is as this eternal, immortal soul that is here to fulfill God’s plan.

What is this plan? Why are we here? We’re here to express the divine ideals of love, joy, beauty, peace, compassion, courage, wisdom and goodwill in the world. We commonly refer to this as developing and expressing our character. By expressing these qualities we are redeeming and refining the physical, emotional and mental worlds and bringing heaven to earth. Figuratively we are bringing “light” to the world.

With this meaning-of-life background we can now address each of Marty’s specific points about life from a higher, spiritual perspective.

Next time – is money the answer to the meaning of life?

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4 Responses to “What’s the Meaning of Life? A Response, Part 1”  

  1. 1 Marty Nemko

    Dear Brendan,

    I am honored that my article is a trigger for your exploration of the meaning of life.

    I do believe that issue is something we all should spend more time contemplating.

    Here are a couple of reactions.

    I am an atheist, believing that man created the concept of God to deal with life’s pain and the fear of death. That seems to me a far more likely explanation for people’s belief in God than that there really is a God. If there really was a God worth having faith in, would he give man free will to commit Holocausts? Would he allow millions of innocent babies to be born with painful diseases, who often die soon after, leaving bereft parents? Either God is mean, impotent to stop such horrific things, or most likely, doesn’t exist.

    Onto another issue. The people willing to spend the money on me are disproportionately a combination of well-off financially and/or a below-average worker. Otherwise, they likely could have found a job without me. Thus, if I help, for example, an accountant, to get an accounting job, I dobelieve, there’s a better than 50/50 chance, I’ve made the world a worse place. In teaching my clients the strategies needed to maximize their chances of getting a job, I am often dressing a wolf in sheep’s clothing–manipulating an employer into hiring a worse accountant than he would had my client not learned all the self-packaging/marketing techniques I teach him. There’s only a need for so many accountants. So, if I get this guy a job, there’s another, perhaps more worthy accountant who is now unemployed. Sure, it MIGHT be for the best, but, on average, it won’t be.

    Finally, yes I do my work out of guilt and obligation to society If I didn’t have those motivators, I’d play all day.

    Wishing you all the best,

    Marty Nemko

  1. 1 Spirituality and the Meaning of Life in Summary at Brendan McPhillips.com
  2. 2 What’s the Meaning of Life? A Response, Part 2 at Brendan McPhillips.com
  3. 3 What’s the Meaning of Life? A Response, Part 3 at Brendan McPhillips.com


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