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What is the Meaning of Life? Give it your best shot.

We've all stared at the stars and wondered this question. In terms of finding an answer, I'm no closer than anyone else, but maybe collectively we can work something out. Douglas Adams fans, limit yourself to one post about 42. :)

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    Sep 4 2013: Have a look at the 30-page list of TED Conversation titles containing the phrase "meaning of life". (Located above the RECENT COMMENTERS (sic.) photo gallery. Oh, by the way, the meaning of life is to know God and enjoy him forever.
  • Sep 4 2013: Why should my opinion mean more than yours? or yours more than mine? The meaning of life varies from person to person. Let's appreciate all the rationaly ones.
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    Sep 9 2013: Congratulations. You are the one millionth member to start a question about What is the meaning of life. You are also the one millionth to fail to specify whose life you are asking about. If it's your own life, the answer is up to you. If it's my life, it's up to me. We make the meaning in our lives. Decide what you want your life to mean, and have at it. Don't expect others to provide it for you.
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    Sep 5 2013: To bring life, peace and joy to the world.
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    Sep 4 2013: Survival - all other answers come after surviving - hierarchy of needs justifies my position.

    Try wanting to find meaning while you are starving to death. Try to be loving when it's you or your neighbor that can only survive. Try to be compassionate with someone threatening your children (your lineage). Try to be apathetic towards finding the meaning of life, when you are near-death and feeling as though you did not make more meaning.

    There are many answers, but I think 'survival' is universal enough - beyond human understandings of chemistry, [meta]physics, biology - to suggest it is an element where meaning of 'essence' and 'purpose' can be found for anything.
  • Sep 4 2013: "The meaning of life is its adaptability; the value of life is its progressability--even to the heights of God-consciousness."

    "Animals respond nobly to the urge of life, but only man can attain the art of living, albeit the majority of mankind only experience the animal urge to live. Animals know only this blind and instinctive urge; man is capable of transcending this urge to natural function. Man may elect to live upon the high plane of intelligent art, even that of celestial joy and spiritual ecstasy. Animals make no inquiry into the purposes of life; therefore they never worry, neither do they commit suicide."

    "Animals know not the meaning of life; man not only possesses capacity for the recognition of values and the comprehension of meanings, but he also is conscious of the meaning of meanings--he is self-conscious of insight."

    Not my words, but words I like. Offered as food for thought. "Art of living" is a clue for addressing this oft-asked question.
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    Sep 4 2013: It may mean nothing or it may just mean everything.The answer is not general as everyone differs from one another yet we're the same.So I guess it is up to each one of us to figure out on our own before this short span of time called "life" ends.Do you catch my drift? ;)
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      Sep 4 2013: I catch your drift Muhammad, and I agree that life is what we make may mean may mean everything!

      The meaning for me personally, is to be totally, fully, wholeheartedly engaged in every moment of the life experience, with the purpose to learn, grow and evolve as an individual while contributing to the whole. And, I totally agree with Pat's very profound statement....."to have fun":>)

      We've seen this topic presented several times on TED and I'm wondering if Harrison Horst has checked out any of those other discussions.
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        Sep 4 2013: Like my grandmother always say : "let the unspoken wisdom dictate you and everything will be wonderful".When you treat each moment of your life with full appreciation, your lived your life.For someone who never went to school, my grandmother is a genius!

        P/s : It's great seeing you still active on Ted!! Glad to see you friend :)
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          Sep 4 2013: She is indeed a genius Muhammad, and facing the life adventure with appreciation and gratitude can change the whole life experience. Nice to see you again my friend:>)
  • Sep 4 2013: To me, the meaning of life is to inspire someone to do something they otherwise wouldn't have considered. Inspiring somebody from my own life is the most amazing feeling in the world - knowing you have changed the course of somebody's life is incredible.
  • Sep 4 2013: The meaning of life and the human experience:

    The meaning of life is to perpetuate creation and structure out of chaos while exhibiting sensitive dependence. We observe form that is the resulting manifest of the intangible. Therefore, we may rationalize that the resulting patterns that emerge permit abstract connotations allowing for 'the word' to be our means of interaction with the aforementioned form.

    "You see like a seed, the word gives life
    Like a lamp, the word gives light
    Like a mirror the word reflects
    Like water, the word washes
    Like fire, the word cleanses
    Like a hammer, the word shatters
    Like a sword, the word cuts
    Oh but like medicine, the word heals
    And like a counselor, the word comforts
    You see the word is alive, and it is waiting
    Waiting for you to summon it like a soldier, and send it into battle
    So speak"
    Manny Scott

    Generally speaking, we inherently create unifying measures through which we translate the world around us. As we interact with our environments, we give meaning to life by the forms observed and their interactions of which is the foundation of our appetite for creation that ultimately serves the purpose of maintaining a physiological state of 'homeostasis' which aims to avoid conflicting values that determine our rationalizations, negating the intangible while adopting a consciously tolerable paradigm. We effectively lie to ourselves, disregard the unknown, and have the tendency to practice the application of anthropomorphism to things or events beyond our knowledge.

    Ok, that was a mouth full....

    The creation of philosophies derived from either the 'natural' world, geometry, numbers, or any other recognizable patterns often fail to acknowledge the intangible and/or chaos/entropy of the universe.

    The meaning of life is to create. The meaning of creation is to achieve equilibrium. The meaning of equilibrium is to maintain and ensure existence. All of which relies on 'the word', healthy communication and dialogue.
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    Sep 8 2013: Spiritually the meaning of life is to discover your own unique facet of the multi-faceted thing called Truth.
  • Sep 7 2013: Life is for living,
    because it is like the last three letters of the word "life".
    It's ....if.....e .......(iffy).

    Life is simply experiencing everything we (humans) once knew.
    But never had to go through.
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    Sep 6 2013: Just a thought for consideration,

    Depending on where you live have you ever looked up at the stars while lying on the sand on a warm summers night ??, Or have you ever looked up at the stars from a field, an open plain a forest or wood where the stars are mottled by the branches of the trees? Or walked out on a cold clear winters night to collect firewood and seen the stars seem brighter due the ice crystals in the air???
    Have you ever considered that the meaning of life maybe to discover what other life surrounds us.

    That maybe, once, we have understood the species on this world and indeed ourselves maybe then we can we venture forth and by discovering what life exists beyond our small part of the universe and our Little blue planet..

    We have a long way to go but we have discovered Evolution and we are still discovering it. When we come to the point where we understand each other and what surrounds us maybe then we will be ready to understand what lies beyond , maybe that is when we will discover the meaning of life not just for us but all existence wherever and whatever it maybe.
  • Sep 5 2013: like all animals, survive and continue the species
  • Sep 5 2013: Have we ever wondered that whenever reference to 'Life' comes up, one tends to think only about Human Life. Is that the right perspective?

    Some religious beliefs take the concept of life to an entirely different plane, through the 'Karma' route, in addition to re-incarnation. Such beliefs - the Hinduism for example - I think believe that life is eternal and there is neither a beginning nor an end. Very similar to the Physics concept of Energy - that can never be created / nor destroyed.

    Then, in this line of thought, what is life?

    Is it the physical state of being alive?

    Unless one is clear about what is their belief on Life, the concept of 'After Life' becomes elusive spread of a wide spectrum. Let me restrict my views on only 'Life'.

    Let us resume our focus to only Human Beings when we talk about Life :

    I feel that even if we do not take efforts to understand what is Life, what matters is how we live our lives. How fruitful it is to us, those closely related to us, then as an extension, to the rest of the wider circle of human beings. Do I mean Fruitful to be Useful? May be..... Am I referring to Materialistic Usefulness? Yeah, that also, but not restricted to that only.

    According to me, a person who has lived well, should have contributed something to those around him / her. Touch their lives in some way - positively. Make life Better !!!

    Some are dead, even when alive and vice versa.
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    Sep 5 2013: I think life is like a journey, you can make it meaningful by finding your true self and value, being happy and peaceful with yourself , enjoying your life experiences with other people appearing in your life.That is to say, life is all about looking for the meaning of your life.
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    Sep 5 2013: "42" and "So Long and thanks for all the fish"

    Douglas Adams

    Says it all really ( this is the one post ;-) )
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    Sep 5 2013: .

    For us, it is to keep our DNA alive.
    Happiness drives us to do it.
    Happiness is the short-time feeling of things being a-step-better for keeping our DNA alive.
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    Sep 4 2013: you are here now.

    making music.
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    Sep 4 2013: I take the biblical line. Our three score and ten are but a kindergarten to prepare us for the main event.

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    Sep 4 2013: Well, theres no any meaning. If you want to invent someone...OK
    • W T

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      Sep 8 2013: Do you mean a 'literal' meaning of the word Jaime?

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    Sep 4 2013: To be engaged in a way that produces good feelings
  • Sep 4 2013: If it is true, as I feel it is, that there is a generative life force that responds to habitable planets by generating life, and an evaluative force that responds by shaping the life process toward higher evolution, then advanced contemplative life forms reach a point of self awareness as humans have. Once self aware, intelligent beings will contemplate the meaning of life, and thoughtful individuals among them may well conclude that the meaning of life is found within the individual.
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    Sep 4 2013: I think it's to enjoy life, to feel good, to get pleasure. I can mean intellectual pleasure, or sensual pleasure, or whatever kind of pleasure one enjoys. However, I'm talking about healthy pleasures, not pleasures that hurt you or someone else.
  • Sep 4 2013: I honestly don't think there is a meaning.
    A meaning would suggest some manner of intelligent design. If we're here by "accident" (perhaps not the word, as that also suggests an intelligent design coupled with a mistake), or rather purely by chance, that why should we have any meaning aside from ones we assign ourselves?

    The current scientific consensus seems to rest pretty firmly on the "by chance" origin, which lends itself well to "no reason at all".

    I'll also take this opportunity to use my one Hitchhiker post limit and answer that 42 is as good as any answer you're likely to get.
  • Sep 4 2013: Not my intention to spam :)

    Admittedly, my previous post may come off a little pseudo, appealing to a more metaphysical synopses. So I've decided to provide some relevant links to articles that may serve to further reiterate my theory of the "Meaning Of Life"

    Human Brains Are Hardwired for Empathy, Friendship
    Aug. 22, 2013

    Language and Tool-Making Skills Evolved at the Same Time
    Sep. 3, 2013

    Brain Wiring Quiets the Voice Inside Your Head
    Sep. 3, 2013

    "In this study, Mooney used a technology created by Fan Wang, Ph.D., associate professor of cell biology at Duke, to trace all of the inputs into the auditory cortex -- the sound-interpreting region of the brain. Though the researchers found that a number of different areas of the brain fed into the auditory cortex, they were most interested in one region called the secondary motor cortex, or M2, because it is responsible for sending motor signals directly into the brain stem and the spinal cord.
    "That suggests these neurons are providing a copy of the motor command directly to the auditory system," said David M. Schneider, Ph.D., co-lead author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow in Mooney's lab. "In other words,they send a signal that says ‘move,’ but they also send a signal to the auditory system saying 'I am going to move.'"

    Other interestin relevant links(crossmodal perception and multisensory integration in support of 'unifying measures, and gaining meaning from observations)':

    Bach to the Blues, Our Emotions Match Music to Colors

    Learning and Memory May Play a Central Role in Synesthesia: Link to Childhood Toys Containing Magnetic Colored Letters
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    Sep 4 2013: I like to share one of my more meaningful revelations, that I hope other may find comfort in.
    At one point in my journey I experienced the deaths of several love ones in just a few months, two from old age wasting deaths (cachexia). For months I was emotionally down and could not see why the reward for living a long life out of harm’s way, would be such an ugly death. Then one night I fell asleep watching a documentary of India, and it most have been on Buddha when I fell asleep. Foe when I awoke I realize their deaths where only ugly from my point of view, but from their point of view it was no less then spiritual enlightenment. For like Buddha, they had let go of all earthly desires.
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    Sep 4 2013: 10 years ago my life changed with a diagnosis of incurable disease and instead of being stuck in “Why Me!” I looked inward and spent many years pondering the meaning of life.
    *Firstly there is no one size fits all answer; we each must find our own meaning of life, and way to give our life meaning. here is some thoughts I hope will help others find the answers they seek.

    *I don’t believe life is just a pass/fail test, to me we are here to experience and learn from earthly things that we can’t experience in heaven, and thus learn in heaven. So we can be better heavenly soils.

    *Rather an experience is good, bad or indifferent does not matter, there are lessons in them all, so embrace them all.

    * Don’t view hardships as punishment, but instead as lessons/puzzles, for I have found once you figure them out you can more on to new lessons. (It could be said that a new drug gave me some quality of life but, and I will not deny that. But know I was done learning from looking inward and it is now time for me to seek my path to giving meaning to my life. )

    *accept that others are on different path and have different lessons to learn, for we all are unique here on earth and in heaven.

    I can’t sum up many years of pondering the meaning of life into a simple quotation, for me it involved many layers of finding answers, convergent and divergent thinking.
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    Sep 4 2013: Meaning can only be assigned by the individual.

    Therefore the meaning of life is whatever you want it to be.
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    Sep 4 2013: Here are some famous people's replies to this so often posed question:

    Many are beautiful, short articulations of the most common positions people hold on this question.
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    Sep 4 2013: This is a very profound statement so listen carefully as this is very heavy and solemn and taken from the bottom of a very large tomb and should taken with the strictest insouciance.

    To have fun