“The meaning of life is just to be alive.”


Alan Wilson Watts wrote, “The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.” We have difficulty comprehending and accepting these words, which is symptomatic of our woefully inadequate view of what life is.

Religion often doesn’t help the matter by focusing out attention on the afterlife, and more or less implying that attachment to the herelife is “worldly,” “ungodly,” and “sinful.” Religion’s apocalyptic view of the world’s end reinforces this further. Why bother if it’s all going up in smoke and flames anyway?

I find it interesting that Christianity puts tremendous emphasis on the birth of Jesus and his death/resurrection, and misses what happened in between… umm… like… his life! Joseph Campbell said, “We save the world by being alive ourselves.” We think of Jesus’ death/resurrection as the salvific part and forget that Jesus was saving the world all along by being alive himself, and showing us what this meant.

Harold Whitman wrote, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Religion so often wants to stir up a lot of drama around what people must do for God, which has included such things as animal and human sacrifices, martyrdom, self-denial and self-flagellation. And yet the Apostle Paul said our walking-around daily life is our expression of “worship,” which is closing the loop of giving what has been given. You have been given a canvas and a set of art supplies – this is your life. What you put on the canvas, what you create – each color and shape and swoosh and swirl is your worship.

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