Lesson 20: Meaning

Life is not a story

Humans conquered the world because they could tell stories. And they became pretty good at it. Stories, that sometimes are real, but are mostly abstract and fictitious. These stories helped people to unite and to defend themselves against their enemies. Religions and ideologies are just stories. They were created no earlier than 10,000 years ago, and still many people believe in them. But all such stories are not real because they don’t have a true beginning and a true ending. We don’t know exactly what happened at the beginning of the universe, and we don’t know what the end will be.

So, why do we believe in these different stories? They give us identity, they give us meaning. They are built on beliefs of people around us - parents, neighbors, etc., so “they must be real!”

Do humans have free will? It depends on how you define it. If free will is the freedom to get what you desire, then yes. However, if you define free will as the freedom to choose what you desire then no. Humans have no free will.

In order to understand ourselves, we have to acknowledge that we have a brain that is a storyteller, and the “self” is nothing more than just a fictional story created by that part of our brains. In order to understand what the “self” is, you should observe your body, your breathing, your emotions, your desires. And forget about Facebook and Instagram - those are not real.

According to Buddha, life has no meaning and we don’t have to have any meaning. We have to realize that there is no meaning in order to be liberated from the suffering of the world. From the attachments and identifications of all fiction stories around us.

Instead of asking ourselves “what is the meaning of life”, we should be asking “how to get out of suffering.”

Principles to follow