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The Search for the Meaning of Life

The search for the meaning of life.

Do themes of these quotes seem familiar?

"a glimpse of the truth behind the falsity of earthly life"
a brush with death to bring about this spiritual vision"
the vast mystery of why humans are put on Earth"
involvement with mystical practice"

Wait for it. There is a reason for the quotes above and the following discussion. 

If there was ever a subject that was a focus of mankind it would be this one. Religions have provided the answers for many. Other teachings have sought or created various speculations, revelations, insights, experiences and ideas. Even with the exact same belief, each individual might have a different experience of it.

It was just yesterday that I came across this title - The Search for the Meaning of Life -  in a Google search for a Sparknotes summary of the famous novel War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. I had just finished listening to Tolstoy's other famous novel Anna Karenina with the program Audible. Both the book's content and the experience of listening rather than reading were very inspiring. It was a lofty choice to pick a very long 800 page novel, but with the free 30 day trial of Audible my intent was to choose a novel that is considered one of the best of all time, and very long. I was not disappointed.

I chose the translation that was recommended. It was 37 hours of listening. It was inspiring to get into the depth of this novel especially with Tolstoy's created depth of the main characters. After finishing Anna Karenina I was curious about his other famous novel War and Peace. I must have been Russian in a past life !

I must admit that my experience of reading classical books this year (2021) has opened my appreciation for literature even more than before, and as a result, it is a new adventure that I plan to continue, as there are so many classical novels that I have not read and now have an interest in. The list is long and includes classical short stories as well.

Here's just a glance at one of the many themes and reasons that reading novels might be enjoyable. In Sparknotes the following quote is one section of the summary of the War and Peace book. Others of course include plot,other themes, and characters.

Sparknotes : Themes in War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

The Search for the Meaning of Life

"Several characters in War and Peace experience sudden revelations about the absurdity of existence. Andrew, for instance, has a near-death experience at Austerlitz that shows him a glimpse of the truth behind the falsity of earthly life. While Andrew needs a brush with death to bring about this spiritual vision, Pierre spends most of the novel wondering why his life is so empty and artificial. The immediate cause of Pierre’s philosophizing is his marriage to the wrong woman, but his pondering goes beyond Helene alone, to include the vast mystery of why humans are put on Earth. Pierre’s involvement with the mystical practice of Freemasonry constitutes his attempt to give meaning to his life. Tolstoy, however, shows the inadequacies of this approach, as Pierre grows bored with the Masons and dissatisfied with their passivity. Pierre’s involvement with politics, shown in his short-lived, crazy obsession with assassinating Napoleon, is equally shallow. What finally gives meaning to Pierre’s life is the experience of real love with Natasha."

Tolstoy was a sort of Christian mystic radical, and his views of life are reflected in the characters, as they are with so many authors.

So many books in my life have been non-fiction, and contributed in my "search for the meaning of life".

Some of my favorite books in my life have been Autobiography of a Yogi, Lord of the Rings, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Siddhartha, The Old Man and the Sea, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Treasure Island, The Alchemist, and more that I cannot recall at the moment.

My recent focus on classical novels in my mind celebrates the various ideas of the meaning of life without searching for it. At the beginning of the year I was immersed in Hemingway and read four of his novels. Then after listening to Anna Larenina I started a book review blog -- and it is listed in the navigation of my website as "OMG Hemingway".

Whether the search for the meaning of life is a life-long quest, or a fulfilled desire of years ago, or the experience of living in the question, knowing that the mystery of life may be revealed both on this side and the other side, we can only in this moment celebrate whatever insights, wisdom, knowledge, and memories of experiences that we have and accept whatever comes our way.

With love, peace, and my favorite expression - carpe diem
David Lawrence Brown
website - books, blogs, and mystical vibes

1 comment:

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