When I was about 12 years-old, I was possessed by a question once asked by a famous astronomer. It was unlike any question I had ever encountered before, because it wasn’t about anything mundane, like “what’s the weather going to be tomorrow?” nor something weighty and imponderable such as “What’s the meaning of Life?” Instead it posed the question of whether our individual and collective efforts could amount to anything at all, in a universe devoid of meaning — and it was that which captured my attention. This sentiment — that seems so ingrained in our most basic modern understanding of life — that the universe was not so much an infinite void filled with marvelous sights, but rather, an incredible accident of pure chance devoid of any meaning at all, and that was incomprehensible to me.

But it made me consider what I was going to bring to my own life. What I would do to prove that such a sentiment about the universe was false. But not for me. My question was what would my life mean for others. I had already been doing my meditation practice for seven years and it had deeply affected me. So I couldn’t just spend my life focused on entertaining myself, satisfying my physical and emotional needs, striving to get ahead, doing something charitable now and then, like I could see the adults in my life doing. My question was how I could help the world be better than it was before I came into it. Because I intuitively felt that it wasn’t the universe that was devoid of meaning, it was the direction our lives took that could be empty of meaning.

I couldn’t get this question out of my mind, nor that astronomer’s phrasing of his question, which had so affected me, so I typed his question onto a once white index card and put it in my wallet, where it still rests today, a half century later, as a reminder to me. I even used red ink so that it would stand out on the card. I had, at one point, ripped it in half, thinking that it was silly of me to think I could do anything to make a better world — but something stopped me from throwing the ripped card in the garbage. I put it back in my wallet so that it might continue to lead me to find a way to matter to others. This is that card:

I didn’t know what the answer was, although I would think about what I was doing at different stages of my life and question whether that was going to be the meaning of my life. I had no great plan, and I had no examples in my life that seemed to resonate with me. I even got into the habit of taking a moment to look at my reflection in a mirror in the morning before leaving for work, to remind myself silently that “today is the day you’re going to die.” It kept “The Question” alive in my mind. I couldn’t let the answer be what that astronomer had posed.

It wasn’t until 2013 that I suddenly realized that everything in my life — so many threads — all contributed in some way or other to the possibility of accomplishing one particular thing that I could do, and that could be meaningful: to help others see the world and themselves in a different way, one that filled their life with the possibility to connect to something greater than themselves. A heroic path, because a hero is someone who finds such a connection and dedicates their life to it — even sacrificing their life for it. In Buddhism this person is called a bodhisattva when they dedicate themselves to helping others reach enlightenment, and that resonates with me.

My goal, though, is more mundanely focused. The thing that I have discovered that I can do, is to share a series of meditation techniques, and what they have brought to my life, so that others can use them to fill their own hearts with great compassion in order to make this world better than it otherwise would be.

It’s a way of seeing the world differently, that encompasses a reality that is not devoid of meaning, but is instead effulgent with meaning that we all can bring into our lives. And it starts by envisioning the world in a different way than the one we are all so sure is the only possible way to see it — meaningless, sometimes frightening, and always uncaring. If you are curious about what I mean by “seeing the world differently,” please read “What is Experience, Where is Mind, What is Consciousness, and What About Time?” which I have recently posted to Tranquillity’s Secret.

Thanks for reading!


In the hope that all beings be comforted — no longer suffering in fear, resentment or anger.

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