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The True Meaning of a Life

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The True Meaning of a Life That Has Passed

A friend whose husband died wrote to me these poignant words:

“I marvel sometimes that everything he aspired to and achieved in his life, the hugeness of it all, has passed and, to be frank, has little meaning now. On some levels it could be seen as cruel and disappointing. I don’t go there. None of us wants to think that might be the case.”

She had touched on a universal problem, a secret anxiety that no one wants to admit: what if our little lives, in which we struggle so painfully, with many losses and sometimes worldly gains that we regard as victories, have no meaning? As I was considering how to reply, this daily quote from Meher Baba (see below) arrived in my mailbox, and it seemed to provide the perfect answer:

When the meaning of a person’s life is seen as stemming from its connection with the one Reality, which is our true existence, then we can be assured that the triumphs and disappointments of that life were not in vain. They contributed to the journey to unite with the one Reality — a journey that continues unbroken when one body is set aside and a new life is taken up.  —Kendra

“True spirituality requires the surrenderance of the ego-centered outlook and attitude. The ego-centered consciousness looks upon everything and the entire world as a possible field for its own enjoyment and appropriation. It tries to glean the meaning of everything that exists or comes within the ken of its experience from its own point of view. A thing is good or bad according to how it affects that particular ego-centered being. If it does not, in any way, affect that being or ‘I,’ it has no meaning at all. This mode of gleaning meaning from life is disastrously false and misleading. The query is vitiated by wrong assumptions from its very starting point.

“A wrong perspective must give wrong results. It is not correct to look upon the one Reality as being intended solely for any one manifestation of itself. It is saner to look upon each and every manifestation as being intended for the one Reality. This means that the ego-centered point of view has to be fully surrendered to appreciate and know the Truth. God does not merely exist for any one form. All forms exist for the sake of God. God is in all forms; but the significance of His being is not to be measured or understood in terms of any one form. The significance of all the forms taken collectively must be measured and understood in terms of God or Truth. They have no meaning in themselves apart from God. Nor can anything else reveal its true purpose or meaning if it is taken exclusively in relation to some particular form or forms.

“This is the key to unraveling the true meaning and purpose of everything. All things and forms, individually as well as collectively, derive their existence as well as value from God. As soon as any form is taken in its separateness from God it loses its significance. Far less can it endow other things (entering in relation with it) with any real significance or purpose. The ego-centered outlook has to be replaced by the Truth-centered outlook. Only then is there a correct appraisement of anything in the world. Only then is there any true spirituality.”

—Meher Baba, Sparks of the Truth (1971), ed. by C. D. Deshmukh, pp. 87-88

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