Eric Brown • • 14 min read
The Ridiculously Obvious Meaning of Life
There’s an interesting movement underway in society right now: the pursuit of immortality.
Everyone wants to live forever, or at least as long as possible. To extend our lifespan to as many days and moments as we can.
In the buffet of life, we want it all.
But oddly, we are constantly bored by life. We are all addicts of “distraction.”
It’s hard not to see a contradiction.
Why would a culture that cannot find value in individual moments want to live as long as possible?
A fundamental recognition is missing…If you cannot find meaning and fulfilment
on a moment-to-moment basis in your life right now, you never will, regardless of how long you live.
In fact, the meaning of your life increases because of the fact that it is so short.
You are the brief flickering of a firefly in the night sky — make that flicker count.
We’re seeking quantity because we are profoundly lacking in quality.
There is also a hidden assumption here — that by extending the amount of time you have, that time will be filled with desirable moments.
There is no guarantee of this.
Many of us resent that we have to endure “undesirable” states like boredom, anger, jealousy, self-pity, anxiety, etc.
Now, imagine if that was forever!
Let’s zoom up to the experience of “God” or if you prefer, the All, Nature, the Cosmos, etc.
We are referring to that which encompasses all of existence and being. The sum total of Being itself.
For something to be the All, the sum total of Being — everything must be contained within in. Nothing can be left out.
The vast spectrum of human emotions and experiences: the beautiful, disgusting, ecstatic, and all the horrific events that have unfolded over the course of human history have all happened… in The All.
The All has experienced, well, ALL of it.
But there’s a trick here — what is the one thing that the All lacks?
It has no way of experiencing itself.
Think of a book, any great work of fiction. The greatest work of fiction, with all the characters and plots and experiences and possibilities written out on those pages. There is no way that the characters or stories inside the book ever get to look back on the book itself. They are of and within it, lost in the storyline, unaware that they are in the book.
This is the distinction between the content and the structure. The All has all of the content unfolding inside of it, but fails to have a way to look back on its own structure. To take a higher perspective on itself.
The All is a singular entity. ‘Unity Consciousness’. Complete Oneness. If there was a second perspective it could take, that would require it being outside of the All to look back at it — which we’ve established is not possible.
The events in the story cannot look back at the book itself.
So the All is unable to experience itself. To be self-referential. With everything unfolding all at once, everything simply IS. There is no distinction, no separation. It is just an ocean of experience, beyond time, unable to individuate one moment or one experience from another.
What would an infinitely powerful being, with infinite time, do to understand itself? To see its structure and not simply the content?
It would divide itself, create something not bound to the story or events of this epic book, and hide the Truth from this division.
It creates a world of Duality.
A second perspective.
A tool that can look back on itself and understand itself. It does this through two features: Being, and Time.
Being, and Time
You are the byproduct of this division.
As you have been created from the All, you have it inside of you. You are a character in the story, and the reader of the great book.
You have the complete nature of the All inside of you. This is your human nature. It is in your nature to have the sum total of experience and possibility resting as latent potential inside of you. All of the states able to be experienced by humanity lay dormant inside of you.
All of the good, all of the bad. Every sub-plot and storyline. It’s all there.
We often find ourselves upset that we are separate selves. That our egos are always getting in the way. We feel like we are stuck in a body, a minor character in a book, inching slowly through time towards inevitable death. The completion of the story.
Little do we realize, that this experience, this gift of embodiment and self-awareness, is the single greatest gift that we could have been given.
We have the opportunity for self-awareness.
We have self-referential consciousness. We have the ability to directly experience and understand the All. To look at the structure of the book itself, and also to play a role inside the story.
Endowed with these great powers, what is our single-most-important responsibility? What is the over-arching meaning of this life that we have been given?
What is our goal as a character and a witness?
The meaning of our lives is to simply BE.
It is no more complicated than that. The purpose of your life is to be. To be human. To have a human experience. To experience the full range of states available to you, as afforded by the All.
There is no grand purpose.
Or said another way — to be and to experience is the grand purpose.
With this purpose come two stipulations: you must be present in your experience, and you must live your experience. Don’t be distracted, don’t avoid certain experiences or emotions, lean into them. Feel them fully. Experience life raw and direct. Don’t follow others, live your truth. Embrace your preferences, make your own choices, because these are the sacred gifts you have been given as a unique embodiment.
And because you are an indivisible fraction of the All, you have the unique opportunity to choose how you wish to experience this life. This power is entirely up to you.
There isn’t a single rule, doctrine, life script, or program that you are obliged to follow. That isn’t to say that your actions won’t have consequences, but you are truly free to choose.
You are the author of your story, like Don Quixote or Deadpool, a character able to break the fourth wall and witness your own process, to understand the story and the structure of your existence.
Of course, this freedom comes with limitations, it couldn’t be any other way. If you were without limitations, you would be the All, and unable to experience yourself.
Your true freedom lies in these limitations.
In Being. In Time. In the embodiment of your soul. In the ceaseless march of linear time, the flipping of the pages. These are your true freedoms.
The experience of linear time allows you to come into the knowledge of how things are, of how Being unfolds and remixes itself. Of how the story progresses, where it has come from, and where it is going.
“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”
— Alan Watts
The Divine Play
This is a grand game that you are playing with yourself, to understand experientially what you know intuitively.
An epic story. One you are writing, and one you are reading. You are the book itself, and the individual character.
This is called the Divine Play, or Lila in Hindu mythology. The Supreme Self, Brahman, creates a world of illusion, or a theatre, known as Maya, for this play to unfold in, and for the Individual Self, Atman, to experience and interact with.
Your individual, separate Self, not knowing or realizing that it is a game, thinks it’s all real. This creates investment in the process. This adds meaning to the experience. For you are a meaning-making creature by nature, this is what you are made to do.
Through your attention, driven by perception, and your actions, or your will, you create and interact with meaning. This meaning structure is entirely up to you. You can choose to adopt the meaning-structures given to you by others (who are also individual parts of the All and thus also you at a fundamental level), or you can create your own meaning.
You can give anything at all, any level of meaning you wish.
It is a choose your own adventure story on the largest scale imaginable.
The Epic Masterpiece
If an infinitely powerful being, with infinite time available to it, wielding this cosmic paintbrush of creative power and meaning-making were to write a story, to create a landscape the book took place in, what would it look like?
This is what it would look like.
You’re living in it. The Universe. This is the masterpiece of the All. The playground it created to engage with and understand itself.
A perfect circle. A complete creation. Where everything is seamlessly connected to and integrated with everything else. Nothing has gone to waste, everything was created intentionally.
You are living in the Divine Masterpiece of the All.
But we are still running into the same problem — how can you understand the All when you can you only refer to it as the All? You don’t understand much of a book by simply calling it a book.
It seems that we need a way to dissect and differentiate the constituent elements of this Divine Masterpiece.
We need a tool that lets us divide things into individual entities.
This is why we created Language. The words the book is written in.
Because you can give anything you wish meaning, you can also give words and language meaning.
The letters on this page are inherently meaningless, they do not mean anything in and of themselves. You imbue them with meaning.
The world you see around you is a part of the All. It cannot be otherwise, or it would not be the All. It is all within the book of Life.
Through language, you have created structures of meaning that allow you to single out specific instances of the All and reference them.
Tree. Other. Self. Pizza. Good. Bad. World. Atom. Water. Human. Animal.
These terms are fundamentally meaningless, as everything is an expression of the All. But we have given them meaning in order to understand the vast interactions and unfolding in the universe.
The word ‘water’ is just a bunch of strange noises. What we call water is not water, water is the thing that the sound water refers to.
We differentiate the masterpiece of Being in order to understand it. But in this act of division we can lose sight of the fact that though we use language to separate the components of existence apart from one another, we can never be truly separate from it. Nothing is separate. That is an illusion. Everything is connected, a necessary and indivisible part of the All.
Language is a tool, not a fundamental reality. Symbols, not the things they represent. The finger, not the moon.
Stewards of Consciousness
When we believe the Divine Play, that all of this is all there is, that we are somehow separate from the process that is unfolding in front of us — we begin to feel anxious or depressed.
How small and insignificant we are. A minor character in an infinite storyline.
Or, we can experience the opposite.
When we recognize our limitless power, our unbelievable ability to imagine something, and through time, energy, and attention bring it into existence, we feel like we are the true creators of this world.
Both of these statements are correct, and both are incorrect.
You have the essence of the All inside of you. You are the book and the author. It cannot be otherwise, for this is what you were created from. You have all the creative and destructive power of the All inside of you. But your small fragment of the All is by no means the complete expression of the All in its fullness. You are still a character, albeit a very powerful one.
How often have you been overwhelmed in your life? Confused? Uncertain? How many times have you failed? We are but one small expression of the All, nowhere near capable of the power, love, wisdom, or expression that it has — but we are working towards it.
This is why growth is a fundamental component of this world.
You are in a process of re-membering, of self-discovery. Of awakening from the dream of separateness. You are re-discovering your divine power, and slowly increasing your capacity, becoming more and more like the source which you came from with each moment and each lifetime.
You are a steward of consciousness.
A vessel. The caretaker of an embodied experience. What an improbable and impossible gift you have been given! There is nothing you need to do to deserve this, nothing you owe to anyone or anything. Your birth was simply life’s longing for itself expressing itself.
You have been given the Ultimate Gift: conscious, individual experience.
How foolish we have become, to be resentful of this fact! To resent the fact that we were born. To be upset that we have to go through life — and to try to live forever because we have forgotten the source from which we came from and the beauty that awaits us in merging back with the All. To feel that this gift of life is not good enough, and must be extended indefinitely.
You are a steward of consciousness.
An awareness, guiding the source material through a process of Being and Becoming. A process of awakening. Awakening to the reality of our true nature. Waking up from the dream, from the illusion that we are in, and affirming all of existence in the process.
Affirming all of it, for it could not be otherwise. If we want to accept some parts of life, we must accept all of it, for none of it is separate from the All. There is no part of the human experience, or from the unfolding of nature, that we are not familiar with, for we are not separate from it.
We awaken to our role as a steward of consciousness and rise to the responsibility of this sacred gift.
Your Authentic Existence
As the All has created duality to understand itself fully, it must have all of itself represented. Every possible conscious experience must unfold if it is to gain true and full knowledge of Self. Every angle of the book is observed, so that we can understand the structure through the content.
This means that not only is the purpose of life just to Be, but your sacred duty as a steward of consciousness is also to live your deeply authentic version of life.
No one else’s.
No one can do this for you, for they must steward their own experience. You must create and affirm your existence. This is your one Sacred Duty.
You are free to make that absolutely anything you wish, for there is no authority you bow to. There is nothing you need to do, no obligations you have.
All of it is something you get to choose. If you want to play the society game, play it! Knowing that you are making the fully conscious decision to affirm the choice and say ‘YES‘ to it.
If you want to play the son or daughter role, choose this fully and embrace it. The same goes for your relationships, country, partners, identities — everything is available for you to choose, embrace, or let go of.
None of it is required.
All you need to do is Be. All of these are sub-plots, minor storylines. Do not mistake them for the entire Book of Life itself. Enjoy the stories, dive fully into them, they are a part of conscious experience, but do not confuse them as the goal itself.
The goal is simply to Be. To live your story, to play your character, to reflect and come into the knowledge of the Book of Life. To have and own the human experience. Do not run away from negative emotions, for they are no more or less desirable than positive ones. Success is no more or less desirable than failure. Warmth is no more or less desirable than cold. These are all parts of playing a character. Simply Be. Be fully and completely, with every fibre of your being. Be authentic.
You are free to imbue absolutely anything you want with meaning, and as a result of this, you are also free to remove meaning from anything you want. Do you wish you give money great meaning? So be it. Do you want to dedicate your life to the cultivation of wisdom? So be it. Do you wish to pursue hedonic pleasures all your life? So be it. But choose in a way that is an embrace of life, not an escape from it.
Many of us are stuck, frightened by the recognition that everything and everyone is meaningless. Yes, but that need not frighten you. For you also wield the great cosmic paintbrush — with attention and energy, you can create whatever you wish, you give meaning to whatever you want. This is your birthright. You can give meaning to anything you want. Tea, cars, music, art, clothes, relationships, Tibetan throat singing, cooking food, rap battles. Anything.
What is important is that these are done with conscious awareness, with full intention, with a resounding ‘YES’ in affirmation of existence. Know that you are stewarding your conscious experience from a place of Deep Knowing.
Follow embracing instead of escaping, for this experience is no curse, it is not something to be avoided. We must run towards our experience with open arms and be ready to receive what unfolds for us.
Human Giants and the Great Weapon of Culture
We sit in the recognition that we are the stewards of conscious experience. That we are not separate from the entire Book of Life itself. This also asserts that we are not separate from the rest of the people around us. They are self-realizing characters in the book as well.
We are an inseparable and necessary part of all of humanity. For the weight of existence and Being is too heavy for just one of us to hold and steward. It is a weight that necessarily requires ALL of us to hold and steward together.
We come together as a collective intelligence, a single super-organism, and grow into our power as one with the All. This is how we do it. United. For the All to come into its full knowing and full power, it requires ALL of US. The characters unite, realizing that they are the author of the book.
You can see how we do this already, the evidence is all around you. You just need to look. Do not forget that the All is beyond time, and in that space, everything happens instantly.
Though we live in duality and experience time subjectively and in a linear fashion, look at what we have done. The world is exactly the way it is because we have willed it to be that way.
Whatever the human collective thinks of, through time and attention, and wielding the great weapon of Culture, we create and manifest our dreams this in the world.
Cities pop up before our eyes. We literally shape and move worlds. We create and destroy life. We are mirrors of the Gods from which we came.
Though in our separation, we have lost this connection to our Godly nature. In thinking we are separate from Nature, we imagine ourselves also to be separate from Humanity. This could not be further from the Truth, as we cannot truly separate any of these from the All. It is only in a dualistic perspective that we see any difference.
Culture is the unstoppable force of the giant of Humanity. It is the tool we use to enact our will. Whatever we wish, Culture creates it. This is the Truth.
If we are to fulfill our destiny, if we are to steward Consciousness back towards the All, to integrate the experiential and participatory knowledge back into the All, we must again unite as a single collective and being the process of self-referential discovery and growth.
We do this by following Truth.
There will be many who oppose the Truth. The Truth? That all there is for you to do is Be. To steward your conscious experience forward. To be an integral participant in the Human collective and the web of Being.
Everything else is optional. Everything else is for you to choose from.
You will find many along the path who have deceived themselves, they have forgotten this Truth. Do not concern yourself with this.
It is better to sit with nothing but Truth, than to have everything and have it all be a lie. To seek Truth is to embrace life, to pursue comforting lies is to escape from it.
It is better to have one thing locked in a sacred embracing than to gather many things because you are escaping from reality.
Find others who do this.
Find the others who affirm experience. Who affirm Being. Find the Truth seekers. Who write their own stories, and play their characters well. Who author their own existence. Those who operate from a Deep Knowing, from a Deep Re-membering.
Find those who Be.