The Meaning of Life

There is a great joke I heard on American T.V. that for me epitomizes the answer to this question.

 A guy from America was searching for the meaning of life (like all of us). He had heard of many great gurus in different countries, met many, but was unsatisfied. Then, someone mentioned a recluse who lived in the Himalayas, and said he would not disappoint him. Finding him after many months of trying, this American went up to the meditating man in some corner of the mountains. He waited until the guru opened his eyes.

 Explaining his quest, what pains he had to take, and the good things he had heard about the guru, the man asked him the question he had been longing to get an answer for. “What is life?” The guru replied instantly, “It is a fountain with water flowing out of it,” and fell silent.
After waiting for more, the American asked him,“That’s it? Is that why I came across the seven seas to you? This cannot be the answer to my question…blah, blah..”  “You have to give me the real answer.” “Ok”, the guru said. “I will tell you the real answer. Life is a fountain with no water flowing out of it”, and fell silent again, for good. I find this story hilarious, but also insightful. We are so full of ourselves that most of the time, we are blind to the abundance of life forms, and inanimate objects in nature. The universe is so big and unfathomable, that whatever we might achieve, we are dwarfed by it. Essentially, life is what you choose to make of it, or believe it to be.

 I find some writers particularly insightful at explaining the niceties of the inexplicable in a palatable way. J. Krishnamurty, the teacher-philosopher, is one of them. He advocates freedom from all dogma, and not to believe anything unless you have experienced it for yourself. If we look around, we will notice that everyone has an agenda. Also, everyone has limited experience, based on which they generalize. For example, before I visited the U.S., I could not have visualized what a 4-lane highway looks or feels like, because I had not seen or driven on one in India. Essentially, think and experience things for yourself before you start believing in anything, is the learning from this man. 

Another writer I found very good at philosophical yet understandable writing is Richard Bach. From Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, the story of a seagull who is grappling with questions about the meaning of life, to his other books, he has a good take on life, rebirth, reincarnation, religion, and many other issues.
 Among current writers bordering on the philosophical, Robin Sharma and Paulo Coelho are probably the best (also indicated by their sales). With a simple yet effective style, they are able to get beyond the ordinary stories that they tell.

I would also rate Osho as another great author. The sheer volume of his writings is amazing. His wide sweep of all possible religions, belief systems and his interpretations are a treat to read/listen to. He was a unique guru in many ways, who dared to confront the hypocritical ideas of all religions and yet explain the good things about each one of them. His persecution at the hands of the U.S. and other governments proves that they were really scared of what he was preaching, maybe because much of it was true. One other trait I liked in him is that he was not scared of the white man. Many of the ex-colonies of white nations seem to carry the slavery in their minds even today. 

I also have a theory of life. I call it my Mega Theory of Life, and it has a simple explanation for all that we do-BOREDOM. We are all trying to get ourselves out of a state of boredom, by doing whatever we do. See if it explains everything or not-the wars, the seeking of pleasure, the quest for money, the religious discourses, and so on.

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