THE MEANING OF LIFE
People who follow one of the major religions don’t have to worry about finding the meaning of life. It’s spelled out for them. The major religions all prescribe the same attitudes and behaviors: treating others kindly, being honest and faithful, respecting parents and elders, obeying the laws, observing moral behavior, etc.
For those who don’t practice a religion, orienting oneself in the world is more problematic. The moral force of religion has diminished greatly over the past century. This, while the complexities and ambiguities of life grow ever more complex and ambiguous. We face more choices with fewer guidelines. We still need spiritual growth.
Secular people need a compass, too, or they won’t know where they’re going. How do you find the purpose of living if you don’t have a religion to tell you what it is? And what happens to you if you lack understanding of your life’s purpose? The path of least resistance beckons. And that’s not necessarily the best path to travel.
Personal and emotional maturity might be a reasonable goal for the secular individual. This means cultivating the self, learning the lessons of life, reaching one’s own potential. We have a “higher self”, even if we have no God. Our higher self wants us to be better.
Living in the world, doing business, having relationships and loving, we have opportunities to learn and grow. Allowing our experiences to affect and change us, we continually replenish ourselves, gaining wisdom and awareness. Eventually, we figure out what’s important and cultivate that which matters to us. If we look for our best self along the way and try to express that, we discover the virtues of maturity: patience, tolerance, forgiveness, compassion, generosity, wisdom, courage and faith. These bring us peace and fulfillment at last. Do we need a higher goal than that in this life?