A Quest for Meaning

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Although inspiring, and made many good points, that movie isn’t very Buddhist. It marginally does mention Buddhism a few times.

It puts forth a view of a soul, and repeats “we are all one” several times. Quite syncretistic.

It’s made by two frenchmen, so of course they held the view that it’s all about getting back to nature (preferably nude), and love is the answer (as in, making love).


Not a bad video.
What we forget is we can’t go back only go forward.
The problem is not the technology.
Instead of the master of the technology, we have become the slave of the technology.
When technology is fuelled by greed it becomes harmful.

What is Buddhist in this video is the statement by Margaret Thatcher.

“They are casting their problems at society. And, you know, there’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women”

Does life even have a meaning in Buddhism?

I think Buddhism gives a meaning to the life until you attain Nibbana.

Since when does life need to have a meaning? Can’t it just be what it is? That need to quest for meaning is something we impute on reality, often to our detriment. Furthermore, reality couldn’t care less wether we do that imputation or not (and this isn’t to say we shouldn’t care about the earth or the environment, be compassionate, etc.)

The discontinuation of such imputation wisely moves us in the direction of sloughing off and shedding our sense of self, leaving our sensory input in a raw, uninterpreted format as is possible.


How about acts like giving dana, practicing sila, meditation, learning Dhamma? Is there meaning in these actions?

Yes. :slight_smile:

I guess we can say that meaning is not in life but on how we live it then.

So instead of making a quest to find the meaning in life, we create meaning through our actions.


The very idea we are here for a “reason” implies a creator god, and the “meaning of life” concept is tied to a Judeo-Christian western cultural background. Also affiliated that the world is something that will grow to some fixed point when things are “right”. This idea is pervasive even in western atheist circles.

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I am not sure it is the French who came up with that world-view? It might be less harmful than getting a job on ‘Wall Street’?

There are different understandings of ‘oneness’. There is the metaphysical idea that we are all spiritual-beings who are one with the supreme-spirit. This is found in some forms of animism and in later forms of theism. I think Samkhya and Jainism got rid of the supreme-spirit (Goddess/God/?).

There is another way of reflecting on oneness that has more to do with ecological insights. As organisms we arise out of the natural world and what we do to the natural world in which we are embedded will have an impact on the ‘whole’. We could think about oneness as a synonym for wholeness - we should live holistically (holy lives). This life - our way of being in the world - can be care-full and respectful of the natural world (the ecology). Caring for sentient beings as a mother protects with her life, her child, her only child! I can see how this dovetails with Buddhism. It is not the same but, it is not incompatible with Buddhist insights.

“The path is, but no traveler on it is seen”


The word ‘meaning’ has more than one meaning! We also use the word ‘purpose’, our actions can be without purpose and they can be purposeful. Presumably, what we share here is something we find meaningful? We are saying things that convey some kind of meaning or we are sharing gibberish - is anyone practicing glossolalia? We share our reflections for a reason - don’t we We hope to communicate and convey some kind of understanding that can be shared. Something that may be useful or helpful to reflect on - at least, I hope so? If, we did not intend to convey something meaningful if, this was not our intention, we could string words together in a random order or spell words backwards etc.

I assume most of us have an interest in Buddhist practice because we find it meaningful, valuable in our lives? Is anyone who is contributing to this thread involved in Buddhism for no purpose at all?

Meaning, purpose and, goal directed activity must have something to do with why we communicate with each other and practice Buddhism. The ultimate meaning and purpose of what we do - what Buddhism is for - is to wake up to the nature of reality and liberate the heart from suffering. In the process we try to help others in their heart-felt wish to be free from suffering.

When there is liberating insight, the realisation of the 3rd Noble Truth, we understand directly, the meaning of ‘being without desire’. Before this happens we do not fully understand the meaning and implications of the teachings.

To realise the true-meaning of freedom means that our life has been touched by, transformed by, the truth which liberates. By realising the true-meaning of freedom our life and our death becomes truly meaning-full. What is the true-meaning of death - of cessation - for the fully awakened? There will be no more coming to any state of being - peace at last! In the meantime lets take care of each other and this living planet for those born and, to be born?

Our lives can be meaningful on more than one level. On the ‘conventional’ level of everyday life we can live purposeful and meaningful lives for the benefit of one and all. We would like to be of benefit to ourselves - and others - in as many ways as we can. Some of us may be able to lend a hand in small ways and others may be able to help a lot. Every bit of care-full assistance we give and receive is a cause for joy.

Buddhists, are open-handed (generous people). They are not stingy, selfish and greedy. They have discovered the joy of giving! We don’t wish to exploit or take advantage of anyone - correct? We know how to be mindful and care-full inwardly and outwardly. Ultimately, as practice deepens, we can live this way consistently, even when the going gets tough we can still live a heart-full life of selfless-love and deep wisdom.

When we give fully of ourselves - selflessly - with loving kindness in this moment and the next, our inner peace and tranquility deepens naturally. Letting go comes easily - effortlessly. Nothing can keep us from Jhanic bliss and equanimity. The heart/mind will be like a clear lake full of life-giving water. Calm and beautiful beyond belief we dissolve in freedom and vanish.

can mental cultivation be similar to mining…???

All phenomena are unsatisfactory -
but the Noble Eightfold Path is the best of all phenomena (sutta?)

With metta

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Buddhism is a good heart set free!

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You seem to be saying that those who lived in the past never asked about the meaning of life and living unless they believed in a creator God. Those people who still believe in a creator-god also believe in ‘meaning’.

Apparently, some atheists have taken up the habit of thinking things are going somewhere. This is a bit like the god-botherers with their belief in judgement day and peace on Earth (the lion will lie down with the lamb).

Are you saying it was Judaism and Christianity that are responsible for people asking why they are here and, what is the purpose of their existence?

The idea that everything must be going somewhere! Moving towards some kind of final state is not necessarily connected to the quest for meaning.

We can still find meaning and value in living without believing that everything is moving towards some kind of final completion etc. Where did you acquire this theory/belief?

Where did you acquire your beliefs?

  • all from conditioning

All beliefs regarding meaning and purpose are a result of conditioning

Conditioned perceptions and cognitions can’t show reality as it really is. Isn’t that why the Buddha emphasised that cognition around many things was simply a hinderance - the preponderance of thought > the desire to question > to know the exact answer > which only causes doubt and an insatiable quest to get all the best information until you get the correct answer. Which is impossible since it is all delusion/conditions. Instead the Buddha emphasised experiencing things for our selves… Of stopping cognition…

There is no higher meaning or purpose to life… round and round it goes… dependent origination. Even as regards the Noble 8 fold path, I understand that it is simply a tool to affect the degree to which we are each subject to suffering.


Why did the Buddha teach?

The Buddha set out on a quest when he left the life of an aristocratic. He had a deep sense of the pointlessness of his existence and he was in search of answers to his pain and suffering.

Some people seek and hope to find the meaning of life. Some people don’t seek the meaning of life but they may aspire to realise - actualise - a way of being in the world that they find meaningful.

The quest for meaning does not mean the search for the meaning of life - does it?

We all know how to waste our time and energy in useless and/or destructive ways. We also have a sense of time and energy well-spent. We all know what futility is and what is wholesome and beneficial. When we live in a way that is wholesome and beneficial we appreciate the meaning and purpose that motivates this kind of behaviour.

Sometimes we behave in ways that are regrettable and we understand why and open our hearts to ourselves. We acknowledge, forgive and learn. Is this not the meaning and purpose of our lives as Buddhists?

I often find this sort of argumentative strategy frustrating. It’s just related enough to the post to not be able to dismiss it - but yet veers off in a different direction, without addressing any of the substantive points raised.

My problem - easy fix :grin: