Have we come closer to answering the ultimate question, “What is the meaning of life?” Imagine for a moment that someone came up with an answer. Directly or indirectly, most of the traditional answers have crossed everyone’s path.
The meaning of life usually comes down to a higher purpose, such as: To glorify God; To glorify God’s creation; To love and be loved; To be true to oneself.
As with many other spiritual questions, I find it difficult to imagine how these answers could be tested. If someone holds down a good job, supports his or her family, pays taxes, and obeys the law, is that an example of glorifying God or of being true to oneself?
In times of great crisis, such as war, does the meaning of life change? Perhaps it is all one can do to stay alive and be reasonably happy in a crisis.
One way to test the answer to the question “What is the meaning of life?” would be to write it down, seal it in an envelope, and mail it to a thousand people picked at random. If the answer is right, anyone who opens the envelope would read what is written and say, “Yes, you’re right. That’s the meaning of life.”
This might seem like an impossible test, however, since there might be absolutely no answer that would satisfy everyone. But what if the piece of paper is blank, or if it said, “The meaning of life is everything”?
In the one reality, these aren’t trick answers but very close to each other in reading the truth. The blank piece of paper indicates that life is pure potential until someone shapes it into something.
The meaning of pure potential is that life is infinitely open. Similarly, to say that the meaning of life is everything indicates that life leaves nothing and no one out. “Everything” is just another way to embrace the infinite range of possibilities.
Adapted from The Book of Secrets, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2004).