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Avoid 3 Errors in Search of Meaning in Life

Uploaded 8/25/2021, approx. 6 minute read

We all look for meaning. We all look for significance, direction. We all look for understanding and interpretation, because in the absence of some structure and some order and some pattern, there is no mental health. Depression and anxiety are the outcomes of capriciousness, arbitrariness, unpredictability, dysregulation, lack of boundaries, lack of consensus, inability to compromise, to negotiate, and to communicate.

So we all, individually and as collectives, try to impose meaning on the world, but the world resists our attempts, because the world essentially is chaotic, is random, is meaningless, is insignificant.

But the truth is that if we focus on individual meaning, the meaning not of life, but the meaning of my life, answers are there. Yet when we search for the meaning of our lives as individuals, we tend to commit three mistakes.

These mistakes are cardinal and they prevent us, prevent us from finding meaning, prevent us from imposing an organizing principle on the apartheid kaleidoscopic tsunami that we call life.

And these mistakes had been noted time and again for millennia by numerous sages, wise people of the ages, and yet we keep committing these mistakes.

I'm not quite sure why, you see, even I don't have all the answers.

But I would like to point out to you these errors. Maybe you would be the ones to avoid them for the first time in human history and you would be the ones to find meaning, at least meaning as it is confined to your life and to the lives of your nearest and dearest and loved ones, because we can't aspire for more.

We can't have the mind of God if God exists. We're finite, limited, frail, broken, damaged, fragile, vulnerable creatures. Any pretension to have insight into the mind of God is grandiosity. It's pathological. It's an element of narcissism. We can never decipher this fabric that we're embedded in. We can just try to understand our role in our own lives. We can just try to make sense of our own lives by introducing into it some structure and order as it relates to other people because meaning is always relational. Meaning comes from the inside only when it interacts with the outside.

Relationships are the fount of meaning and love is the source and foundation of relationships.

Ultimately, it's this very old message, worn out, cliched, love is it.

But there are three errors that we commit.

Number one, never choose the path. Never choose the path. Let the path choose you to claim that you know what's good for you, to assign valence, to assign some kind of meaning to events in your life, to say this thing that's happening to me is bad. This thing that's happening to me is good for me.

That is to assume the mind of God, which you do not possess will never have. That is not only pretentious, it's self-destructive. You can never know what's good for you or what's bad for you. The path chooses you. You're handled along the path by forces, connections and interconnections and interactions that are way beyond a grasp, even in principle.

When I was sent to prison, I was much younger as in my 20s, 30s. I thought the world had crashed. I thought I'd hit bottom. My wife had left me for another man. I had lost a business empire. I was left bereft all alone among seriously dangerous people in one of the worst prisons in the world.

And I thought it's the end, but it was not the end. It was the beginning. It was there in prison that I had authored Malignant Surf Love: Narcissism Revisited, the first book ever about narcissistic abuse, a book that gave light and hope and guidance to millions of people.

This could have never happened had I not gone to prison. I needed this experience.


You see, I, with my limited human mind, sincerely believed that my prison experience was the worst possible thing that could have happened to me. But in truth, it was the best thing that had ever had ever happened to me. The best by far.

You never know. You are incapable of knowing. Never choose the path. Let the path choose you. Be humble. Accept. Submit.

In certain religions, it's a tenet. For example, the word Islam means essentially submission.

Mistake number two. We have all the answers we need all the time. All of us feel that we have no answers for some reason. All of us experience this knowing sensation that our questions are unanswered, that there's an enigma out there, that it's a mystery, that we will never ever unravel and resolve, but nothing could be further from the truth.

We have all the answers we need all the time, every second of every minute of every hour of every hour of every day of every month of every year of every decade. The answers are there. All of them. All the answers.

What we lack is not the answers, but the ability to identify them as answers, the ability to discern the answers, the ability to notice the answers and the ability to adopt and embrace the answers.

This is what we lack. This is what we miss.

The answers are always there. We just need to open our eyes. We need an awakening. We need a self-induced epiphany to see the answers.

And no, the answers are not the same for everyone. There's no set of universal answers. Each of us has a set of idiosyncratic, tailor-made, custom-made answers.

But we need to notice them and to accept them, again, to humble ourselves.


The third mistake is it is wrong to seek the correct answers.

You should focus on asking the right questions. I repeat, don't seek the correct answers. Don't hunt for the correct answers.

Instead, focus on finding out, formulating and asking the right questions.

Getting the questions right yields the answers which are correct for you.

Remember, the answers are there. Getting the questions right is enlightenment. That is the path to these answers that are awaiting you.

And this is the chain of evidence, if you wish.

Ask the right questions. Get the correct answers. Find the meaning, your meaning, the meaning of your life.

Walk towards this meaning. Let the path choose you.

This is not as abstract as it sounds. For example, not focusing on answers is a very practical advice. Focus on questions.

For example, opening your eyes and realizing that the answers are out there is just a question of reframing, redefining your reality, thinking outside the box or asking a good friend to help you, to provide you with respect. Letting the path choose you is a question of humility, a question of getting rid of your vanity and grandiosity and accepting that the totality of humanity and the entirety of the universe probably have more information than you, including more information about what's good for you.

Let it be. Simply let it be.

I want to read to you something that Dalai Lama had written.

When asked what surprised him most about humanity, Dalai Lama answered this.

Man sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.

And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present.

The result being that he does not live in the present or in the future.

He lives as if he were never going to die. He lives as if he were never going to die and then he dies having never really lived.

Dalai Lama.

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