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Transpersonal Life StreamsExploring the Meaning of Life
The interwoven Transpersonal pages of anunda , Lifestreams and LifeSkills 
Dictionaries give the “meanings” of words through references to other words. But, remembering the times we have feelings of being hurt, angry, put down, encouraged, or complimented by what someone said or wrote .. is it not possible that meanings have more to do with our lives than merely with other words in a dictionary?

Exploring Meaning

The Search for the meaning of life represents our search for patterns that would provide us with some sort of continuity between events and our experiences, in different times and different places. Meaning has to do with our individual attempts to make sense of what we experience going on in our inner and outer worlds.

Meaning is a label for our attempts to build bridges between what we know (or think we know) and what we know we don’t know - bridges between the data that come to us through our senses and whatever else we suspect is going on in and around us. Our unceasing and pervasive search for a meaning of life provides us with undeniable clues - messages from “our-selves” to “our-selves” - that we do not know it all. This is the principle of "The Mirror that is Life".

We look for relationships, patterns, and connections to satisfy our need to know and understand our reactions to what’s going on; we look for clues that will help us get along better, obtain what we want, avoid problems, lessen stress, improve performance, and make better plans and decisions.

Nothing in or of itself has meaning.

No thing, event, experience, situation, or word is its own meaning. Meanings cannot be divorced from interpretations and interpreters. The meaning or meanings of anything is not to be found in the thing, but in your perception.

The meaning of a sound, painting, piece of music, dream, or statement will not be found in the sound, or music, or statement. If the meaning of a thing was a part of the thing, how would we know where the “meaning” ended and the thing began?

“Meaning” refers to processes in psycho-physiological environments. Features of these environments include curiosity, surprise, anger, prejudice, opinions, beliefs, humor, fear, attitudes, values, and so on. Meaning does not exist in geographical environments as such; we cannot point to a meaning.

Meaning is unique according to our personal conditioning.

Each one of us creates our own meanings - or has what we think is meaning created for us. And since each of us has our own unique ways of seeing, experiencing, and thinking about things and situations, no two of us will give the same meanings to situations we find ourselves in or to words we have heard or read. In view of all this, it would seem more reasonable for us to ask, “What does this mean to me?” than to ask, “What does this mean?”

Because words do not have meanings in themselves, we attempt to bridge the enormous gap between what we hear or read and what is intended by a speaker or writer. Frequently, we confuse and identify what we feel and understand, generated by what we hear or read, with whatever message a speaker or writer intended to convey.

Meaning is a Transient, an experience only of a moment.

In a world of infinite numbers of relationships, where everything is dynamically interrelated with other things, a world where not all of these relationships are known or can be known, human meanings (despite our tendencies to hang onto the familiar and traditional) cannot be final or complete.

As we get to know more about ourselves, our world, and ourselves-in-our-world, what things mean to us changes.

As we see more, hear more, travel to new places, meet and talk with people, and acquire skills, the ways we “see” things change - despite our beliefs that we are the “same” persons.

If we accept that situations, behaviors, or statements do not have meanings in and of themselves, then we cannot reasonably and responsibly say that anything is “meaningless.” Saying that something is meaningless is another way of saying that it does not mean anything to us at this time. We can, if sufficiently motivated, make sense of and give meanings to anything we choose.

Meaning is purely personal.

Because meaning has to do with our deep need to find continuity and consistency in ourselves and in our worlds, the meanings we give are interrelated, integrated, and coordinated.

The meanings we give to our experiences, or to what we hear or read, depend a great deal on the meanings we have given both to other experiences and to other things we have heard and read .. or been taught or conditioned into believing.

This integration and consistency of meanings makes it extremely difficult for our conscious mind to change attitudes, prejudices, beliefs, values, and behaviors, even when we realize that it is to our advantage to do so.

Recognizing that meaning is so vital in all areas of our lives, that things are not what we or others say they mean, that we have the inalienable option to change our interpretations as we please, could greatly increase our levels of self-confidence and personal power.

We could accelerate our personal development, increase our intelligence, and improve our personal and professional relationships by being more sensitive to , more sensible about, and more responsible for the ways we interpret and the meanings we give to our experiences and to what we hear or read.

However, making interpretations and giving meanings are basically automatic processes - reactions based on what we hold onto in terms of how we have been programmed in the past. With some practice, we can become more aware of these goings-on. It requires catching ourselves doing such things as explaining, giving opinions, criticizing, expecting things to happen in particular ways, and agreeing and disagreeing.

Meaning plays an enormous role in our lives. 

To repeat, meaning is not just a matter of words. Our values, prejudices, beliefs, sciences, philosophies, religions, and artistic activities are based on meanings. We live our lives in terms of the personal meanings things have for us. The kinds of societies we create and support develop from the interpretations and meanings we give to our experiences, especially to what we hear and read. Meaning to a great extent, consciously or unconsciously, directs our lives. 

Since we are capable, to some degree, of recognizing, reviewing, and modifying our interpretations, we can also direct our meanings to some extent. To be able to identify what something means to us, how and why, allows us to make choices for our future experiences.

"Exploring  the Meaning of Life"  was written, published and © by Transpersonal LifeStreams®, Tasmania, Australia. The URL's of this page are http://www.anunda.com/lifestreams/meaning.htm and http://www.lifestreams.com.au/lifestreams/meaning.htm

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