Meaning of Life vs. Experiencing Life
Are you actually seeking the experience of being alive or are you searching for the meaning of life? Is there a difference? Campbell states, “People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”
― Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth
Contrary to popular belief, Campbell did not advocate doing whatever makes one happy. Typically, the more a person seeks happiness alone the more they become a miserable pathetic wretch. But Campbell had the wisdom to know that ‘meaning’, or ‘purpose’ can’t be generalized. It is going to be unique to each individual. This is why our heroes come in different flavors. The way of the scholar is not the way of the warrior, or the preacher, or the mystic, or the artist, or the explorer, or the entrepreneur, or the politician. Campbell says there is something in you that knows when you’re on the beam and when you are off. Campbell’s philosophy is really an answer to our tremendous affluence and freedom. Throughout history, and for most of the planet today, life choices were and still are fairly limited and simple. But those of us with options have to be reminded that one can’t just veg in front of a television and be happy. There’s more to life.