The Meaning of Life
Insignificant mortals, who are as leaves are,
and now flourish and grow warm with life,
and feed on what the ground gives,
but then again fade away and are dead.
Homer, Century IX b.C.
What's the significance of life? Who are we?
Is human life mostly a dream, from which we never really awake, as some thinkers claim? Are we submerged by our feelings, by our loves and hates, by our ideas of good, bad, beautiful, awful? Are we incapable of knowing beyond those ideas and feelings?
Listen to Shakespeare and Joseph Conrad:
We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep…
William Shakespeare, The Tempest (Folger Shakespeare Library)
A man that is born falls into a dream like a man who falls into the sea.
Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim (Penguin Classics)
Is the reality we know a reality imposed to us by nature? Is the reality and the meaning of life a creation of men, such as music, or love or colors (science tells us that there isn't such things as music, harmony or colors in the physic world. Just traveling molecules: «There is not, external to us, hot or cold, but only different velocities of molecules; there aren’t sounds, callings, harmonies, but just variations in the pressure of the air; there aren’t colours, or light, just electro-magnetic waves», said H. Von Foerster.).
Are we - and all living beings - «survival machines, blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes», as Richard Dawkins wrote? Are we incapable of knowing beyond the frames imposed to us by nature?
We and the Universe
Is there any significance for life in a Universe of billions of stars that ignore us? Is there any significance for life in an Universe whose dimensions and nature overcome our understanding?
Listen to the words of Pascal, in the seventeenth century:
«When I consider the short duration of my life, swallowed up in the eternity that lies before and after it, when I consider the little space I fill and I see, engulfed in the infinite immensity of spaces of which I am ignorant, and which know me not, I rest frightened, and astonished, for there is no reason why I should be here rather than there. Why now rather than then? Who has put me here? By whose order and direction have this place and time have been ascribed to me?»
Pensees (Penguin Classics)
This site is about these themes, and the thoughts they create.
Love and cruelty on our lives
Love gives meaning to our lives – as do friendship, or art or faith in God. These are factors of true happiness, of inner peace, of feelings of harmony, allowing meaning to our existence.
But there is the other side. There is the cruelty of life, the pain, the evil, not to talk of death. They are the hidden tigers, ambushed and ready to attack the imprudent, to use an image present in the Buddhist Scriptures.
Is between these pendulums - the positive, the one that gives happiness and meaning, and the negative - that our lives are lived. And when we meditate about all that, we arrive at a diverse and disagreeing set of thoughts about the meaning and purpose of life.
This site is also about these themes and thoughts…
Poetic reflexions about the brevity of our lives
Insignificant mortals, who are as leaves are, and now flourish and grow warm with life, and feed on what the ground gives, but then again fade away and are dead.
Homer, Century IX b.C., Greek poet, The Iliad (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
To see more:
Life is too Short
Speculations on our place on the Universe
When I consider the short duration of my life, swallowed up in the eternity before and after, the little space which I fill, and even can see, engulfed in the infinite immensity of spaces of which I am ignorant, and which know me not, I am frightened, and am astonished at being here rather than there; for there is no reason why here rather than there, why now rather than then. Who has put me here? By whose order and direction have this place and time been alloted to me?
B. Pascal, 1623-1662, French philosopher, physic and mathematician, Pensees (Penguin Classics)
Speculations on the purpose and meaning of life
Why is there something rather than nothing? We do not know. We will never know. Why? To what purpose? We do not know whether there is a purpose. But if it is true that nothing is born of nothing, the very existence of something – the world, the universe – would seem to imply that there has always been something: that being is eternal, uncreated, perhaps creator, and this is what some people call God.
André Comte-Sponville, French philosopher, The Little Book of Philosophy
What is the purpose of life? I believe that the purpose of life is to be happy.
Dalai Lama, Tibetan political and spiritual leader, Voices from the Heart; The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living
Thoughts about love and friendship in our lives
At our mother breast, we tasted not only milk but also love – just enough love to know that it was the only thing that could ever satisfy us and that we will miss it forever.
Compte-Sponville, French philosopher, A Small Treatise on the Great Virtues: The Uses of Philosophy in Everyday Life
Philosophy of life thoughts
Therefore don't be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Each day's own evil is sufficient.
Bible, Matthew, 6:34
Sarcastic and well humoured thoughts
Isee the better, and approve. But I follow the worst.
Ovidius, 43-17 a.C, roman writer, Metamorphoses (Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana)
To see more:
Humour about life and life meaning
Thoughts connected to science
We are survival machines - robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes. This is a truth which still fills me with astonishment.
Richard Dawkins, English biologist, The Selfish Gene: 30th Anniversary Edition--with a new Introduction by the Author
Thoughts about the importance of wisdom
The wise man has the sun and the moon by his side. He grasps the universe under the arm. He blends everything into a harmonious whole, cast aside whatever is confused or obscured, and regards the humble and the honourable.
Tchuang-Tseu, Chinese philosopher, III b. C., Book of Tchuang-Tseu
Thoughts about the cruelty of life, pain and death
Nature separates beings, after having surrounded them by love. It divides them, and demands that they still love each other.
G. Leopardi, 1798-1837, Italian writer, Poésis, Le Coucher de la Lune
Thoughts about what we are in the Cosmos
We, sons of the water, earth and sun, are no more than small straw, foetus of the cosmic diaspora, scraps of solar existence, insignificant sprouts of the earth’s existence.
E. Morin, French philosopher and sociologist, Method V
Thoughts about who we are
However sage anyone is, he is, after all, but a man.
Montaigne, 1533-1592, French writer, Montaigne: Essays
To see more:
Human beings and human condition
Positive and negative thoughts about the meaning of life
There may be trouble ahead,
But while there’s moonlight and music and love and romance,
Let’s face the music and dance.
Irving Berlin, 1888-1989, American songwriter, Follow the Fleet
Thoughts about the illusion present on our lives
Dreams are true while they last, and do we not live in dreams?
Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1802-1890, English poet, The Higher Pantheism; Tennyson: Poems (Everyman's Library Pocket Poets)
To see more:
Life is dream
Thoughts about old age and youth
There will be a day when you, that now are escaping from love, will see yourself old and deserted, condemned to drag through the nights alone, in your frozen bedstead. Because of you will not anymore grow nocturnal disputes, wishing to force your door, nor will you have scattered roses, by morning, at your threshold.
Ovidius, 43-17 a.C, roman writer, The Love Books of Ovid Being the Amores, Ars Amatoria, Remedia Amoris And Medicamina Faciei Femineae of Publius Ovidius Naso
To see more:
The life best years
Thoughts about death
Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward, and the spirit of the animal goes downward to the earth?
Bible, Ecclesiastes, 3:21