From birth we start to build on meaning. You could visualize it as towers of meaning. First, they consist of the things we see around us like mom, dad, food, toy and so on. Day by day we learn new things and create different towers. Some are shorter and others taller, depends upon how much time you have put on building them. The longer the tower the more meaning it has in your life. At first it feels great to build all kinds of different towers, but as time passes on, you start to feel your limitedness with time. You start to see that you can’t build all of these towers at the same time, so you have to make a choice. Either make many small towers with little meaning or bigger towers with lots of meaning. This choice will obviously be painful, because you have to abandon something dear to you. But this must be made, there is no meaning without sacrifice. Meaning is created by the effort.
But no matter what you choose, it has the potential to fall if it’s based on something that can change. If your spouse dies or you lose your job, life might grumble like a house of cards. So, what is the solution? As I said, there is no meaning without sacrifice. So, if you want to find meaning, you have to sacrifice. Once your whole life becomes a sacrifice, everything will have meaning.
This doesn’t mean to kill yourself, but to pursue towards the truth and sacrifice the untruth no matter how dear it is to you. If you still suffer, it might be a sign that you are holding on to something which isn’t true.
And that is more than likely. Often that which will set you free is something you hold most dear. In the story of Cain and Abel, Cain decided to sacrifice something with little value, while Abel’s offering was one with great value to him.
“In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor.”
You have the power to create the rules of the game, but if your rules don’t match with the rules of nature, you will stumble. You will hit your head against the wall until you follow the truth. Cain played by his own rules and worst of all didn’t learn from his mistake.
“So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.”
When a drug addict is looking for his next fix. He can continue his habit and curse God for his miserable life or sacrifice what he holds most dear and overcome himself. That darkness is an opportunity to overcome and see what’s on the other side. That’s what Cain could have done, but he decided to walk toward darkness and put himself to a worser position that he was before. He went against his nature and came to a point where he can no longer bear it.
“The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear.”
His towers were not following the course of nature, but his own will based on ignorance. He was not ready to face the truth, but choose the easy way out, which of course will not last forever. Eventually he must face his true nature.
A lion can try to be a cow, but no matter how hard he tries, he will never be a cow. He will get sick from eating grass and can’t produce offspring. He will look different and be a weak and miserable representation of a lion. Once he starts to experiment with different things and listen to his own responses, he will see that meat might be a better alternative to grass. he is beginning to figure out who he really is.
But the journey is not easy, because every step forward is a step towards chaos. A step towards the dragons within your soul. That is the only place for growth. If you decide to stay in the side of order, you will never grow. You will avoid the dragons and try to find only cheap happiness.
In Taoism they have the yin-yang symbol, which tries to express how all things in the universe exist as inseparable and contradictory opposites and meaning is to be found on the border between the ever-entwined pair. To walk that border is to stay on the path of life, the Middle Way or the Divine Way. In other words, to walk on the border between chaos and order.
This chaos will be uncomfortable, but it is better then the alternative.
As Dostoyevsky said: “Which is better – cheap happiness or exalted sufferings? Well, which is better?”
You will suffer either way. Like buddha said: “Life is suffering.” But this suffering isn’t anything negative, it’s the path of overcoming. It’s the journey of a hero.