Psychologist and Jungian analyst in Barcelona and online.

17 February, 2022

Finding the meaning of life

A part of the population, especially but not only young people, has difficulties in finding a deeper meaning to life, especially in times of crisis. And sometimes there is a predominance of “business as usual” and a more positive or more resigned adaptation to the environment.
That is why it is important to stop and think and try to trace a path to answer two fundamental questions: Who am I? and What have I come to this world to do?

But the first thing I must say is that for a sector of “thinking” these questions make no sense because the answer they would give you would be: “you are whatever you want to be” and “you have come to do what you set out to do”.
This would be the prevailing thinking of our time, in which clearly relativistic sociological and psychological theories predominate, but it has its counterpoint, a position in which I place myself quite clearly.

My answers, and those of the more deterministic, would be: “You are only what you already are, and therefore, your mission is to discover it”, and “You have come to do what you are genetically, biologically and psychologically configured to do, in clear interaction with the environment”.

This dichotomy is historical and universal, from Aristotle to Plato, from Skinner to Jung, from chaos theories and the entropic view of the cosmos (the tendency to disorder and expansion) to the existence or not of God or a higher entity, or an energy. Everything passes through these two basic conceptions of life.

 

Let’s go with a sentence of Einstein and a question.
Einstein in the last years of his life said “Past, present and future are nothing but an illusion that the brain needs in order to function”.
If we give it a couple of turns we can deduce that time, according to his criteria, would not be linear, but would exist in parallel dimensions or in a not necessarily chronological order (Chronos, god of matter).
The I Ching, the Chinese book of wisdom, which I spent a lot of time studying, says that the present is nothing more than the materialisation of a future that already existed, therefore we should consider that we live in the past because what there is has already been. And it was in conditions that were not physical, but energetic. Very platonic, true, but it gives food for thought.

And the million-dollar question, the big question: “Does chance exist?”
We’ll do like in the old adventure books where you could choose an answer and continue on one page or the other depending on what you had decided.
In this case I will say that if your answer is Yes, you may not want to continue reading.
If you answered No, then welcome to the club of determinists, those of us who believe that you cannot be more than what you already are and that your life will be no more than what is predetermined by your biopsychological configuration in interaction with the environment and that, of course, the universe responds to a perfect mechanism of which we are all a part.
Does that mean that you have no room for action?
Of course, but within certain limits:

  • The physical-psychic balance intrinsic to the human condition.
  • Harmony with the spatio-temporal conditions in which one has lived (time, geographical area, culture, etc.).
  • Capacity for progressive transmutation of the lower aspects of the self (in other words, when you leave this existence, will you have evolved as a human being, in the sense of sacrificing lower aspects for the sake of higher ones, or will you leave as you came in?)

The question is, in my opinion, and as Michelangelo said when asked how he had achieved such a beautiful sculpture, I don’t remember if he was referring to the Pietà or the David, his answer was: “I simply removed the stone that covered it”.

If you were to remove your fears, unnecessary prejudices, the weight of a customary tradition that perhaps suffocates you, your over-adaptation to the environment and the need for everyone to like you, and increase your self-esteem and your sense of freedom, maybe you could begin to feel who you are (you would remove the stone that covers you).

People can know what we like and what we don’t like, what excites us, what makes us vibrate, what calms us and gives us peace… but inner freedom is a precondition for this.
And I emphasise the inner concept because “I and only I (and it is a generic I) know my truth, regardless of how adaptable and flexible I am in the environment in which I live”, with this sentence I am not talking about me, I am writing it for you to make it your own and reflect on it.

If you were to ask yourself, during any given week, what makes you truly happy, who do you admire, what life would you like to lead, what gives you peace and calm, what would you like to learn, where would you like to live, you would probably know something more about yourself.
Forget about concepts such as: millionaire, luxury, being very happy, being famous, having lots of sex, etc. These are clichés that lead nowhere and only reflect an inner emptiness.
We need to go deeper and find what truly defines us.

 

The fact is that the vast majority of people move through what we could call “common places” and have difficulty in connecting with what they truly are, spending their lives with no more meaning than what they are doing.

At this point I propose an exercise, whatever age you are, take a pen and write down fifty things, places or people that you really like, don’t censor yourself or put anything because it would be bad for you not to do so, be spontaneous and radically free.
Then look at it and analyse if you have been honest, and if so, that’s part of you.

And, above all, remember that human beings have limits, we cannot be “supermen or superwomen” but neither can we be reactive monkeys who live exclusively at the whim of their whims and desires.

Self-knowledge comes first and then the freedom, based on this, to create one’s own life.
If you do this with serenity but with determination, a beautiful life can await you, and it is never too late.

Damián Ruiz
Barcelona, 16 February, 2022
www.damianruiz.eu

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