Judy had just seated herself in one of the visitor’s chairs in my office. After the usual pleasantries, Judy asked question. “What does it mean when I seek the meaning in life?”
I then used the cliched therapist’s return question, “Judy, what do you think it means?”
“Well, I find that good things give my life a certain purpose. My husband and I set a goal of getting, say, a new couch. So we save for that item. Our kids get allowances so if they want something real special, they have to save for it. Sometimes we give half to their efforts. Sometimes they take on odd jobs around the neighborhood to earn the extra money needed. But once we acquire some thing, the goal has been fulfilled and meaning just runs out.”
I said, “No lasting meaning there, then?”
“Oh, it’s nice to have a new couch or whatever,” Judy said. “But the niceness stays in the object, but does not stay in me. It’s the same with my health. I have no problems to speak of, but even my health seems external to me. I mean, I exercise, watch my diet, avoid stress. You know. But that’s just for my body. I find it important but I do not see any meaning there.”
“So, physical things do not give lasting satisfaction?” I asked.
“No, and …” Judy hesitated, as if she just ran out of steam.
“I think you want to say more, but you are slightly afraid to. What is it you need to say?”
“Well, …okay. My husband I are still intimate quite regularly. I have also a nice circle of friends. We share feelings and sometimes secrets. But with all that closeness, I still sometimes feel empty. You know?”
“I think I am getting the picture,” I said. “There is more to life than intimacy.”
“Yes, and even in our coaching community, here, I feel very much a part of it but that only lasts hours after we go home. I find myself deep into spirituality when interacting in this gathering. But it doesn’t last. What’s wrong with me, Dr. Bob?”
“I don’t think there is anything wrong with you, Judy. As a matter of fact, I think you are quite normal. Only, you’ve been looking for the meaning of life in all the right but wrong places. I mean the things and events you mention are all good. They just don’t fulfill you like you want. Many, many people think they can find the meaning of their lives in good things, like a new sofa. Or they think they can meaning through good health, or intimacy, or community, or even in spirituality. Obviously good health and the others are great to have and participate in. But most people do not find the meaning of their lives in any of these.”
“What’s the idea, then?” Judy asked.
“Meaning in life starts from the inside out. You see, you have been looking for meaning from the outside in. Even spirituality if keep as an outside achievement, still remains outside. For example, you can be very good at meditation, but if you view meditation as something you achieve rather than experience, you have missed the point. The point of meditation is gain something internal. This where you have missed the meaning you are looking for. Everything you have is good. But you need that inner connection with The Soul Of The Universe.”
“But I try,” Judy said. She was almost in tears.
“I know you do, as I have observed you over the years. I still remember the first time you and your husband brought your newborns to be with us in community. You parents both beamed with joy on those occasions.”
“But still something is missing,”Judy insisted.
“Yes, Judy, you have simply missed your inward link to The Soul.”
“How do I get that connection?”
“In meditation you find The Source.”
“But I do meditate,” Judy said, with a red flush to her face. Frustration I imagined.
“You’ve not done anything wrong. Let’s just do a mediation here and now to help.”
We went through a centering. Then a calming of the mind. Then I had Judy, entirely in her own spirit, imagine a connection of golden light between her and The Universal Consciousness. I only expected to have Judy experience a near-to-The-Source-bond. Few people feel a strong link that first try. So I hope for a beginning where the person finds an actual nexus with The Divine. Just an opening.
The room grew very quiet as I got out of the way, so to speak, and let Judy have her experience without any outside distractions, including my words. After a time, I assured her that she could come back into the room when she was ready.
When she opened her eyes, I could see that something extraordinary had happened. Judy had the biggest smile on her face.
She said, “I felt it, I felt it. I felt The Soul. I have never felt it in that way before. Wow! That is meaning, … and happiness. Wow!”
Needless to say, Judy changed herself in that hour. She had found the true meaning of her life. When you connect with The Divine (whatever name you give it), as an internal reality, you have found the meaning of life, which is to be happy in a way that external, no matter how good, cannot give.