Sunday, February 12, 2012

Life is Meaningless!

Sermon today was rather depressing. In fact, the whole book of Ecclesiastes that we're currently working on so far, is depressing.
Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless! (Ecc 1: 2b)
I wanted to share these three things that the author talked about in this very-depressing book of the Bible:

1) Pleasures are meaningless
Now ain't that true. Everything that is pleasurable in life--sex, laughter, fine food and drink--never lasts. I think that in this age of self-gratification and pleasure-seeking, it is even more painfully obvious. We either live a life of pleasure right now, or we're "saving up" so that eventually we can live a life of pleasure.

Either way, whatever pleasures that this world can offer is only temporary. If it weren't, we wouldn't want to keep doing something that feels good, or keep searching for something new for a taste of what once felt good.

2) Wisdom and folly are meaningless
Who is a wise person? According to the dictionary (online and off-), a person who is wise is someone who is learned or, more importantly, possesses the ability to make good judgments or discernment, based on a deep understanding or experience of life. (A mature, older person comes to mind.) But the author said:
The wise man has eyes in his head, while the fool walks in darkness; but I came to realize that the same fate overtakes them both. (Ecc 2: 14)
What fate, you ask? Why, death, of course.

It means that, doesn't matter if I'm a genius among a bunch of idiots, a saint among jerks, we're all gonna die anyway. It's not like my intelligence or my good works are gonna spare me from death. We're all gonna die. And because life is unfair, I may not even live as long as my enemy. >.<

And you know what's worse?
For the wise man, like the fool, will not be long remembered; in days to come both will be forgotten. (Ecc 2: 16a)
No matter how great our contribution to humanity, many many many years down the line, nobody will know, or care, who we were.

(Well, unless you are the one who finds the cure for cancer, I suppose.)

3) Toil is meaningless
After all our hard work, our slaving like dogs, everything that we have amassed for ourselves will be handed over to the one who comes after us when we die. We are all very clear of the fact that, no matter who you are, nobody gets to bring their possessions with them in the afterlife. I think what hurts most is that we don't have any real control over who  gets it (unless you state it in your will I guess) or what they do with it when they do. Imagine, your millions or billions, your properties, everything you own, just given to someone who did nothing to earn them. And they squander it all on useless things! What's the point of working so hard then?

Like I said, depressing isn't it? If everything I mentioned above is meaningless, then...

...what's the point?

I believe God gave us this one gift: the ability to enjoy. The ability to enjoy a delicious meal, to enjoy a nice cold drink on a hot day, to enjoy a good laugh with good company, to work hard and take pride in our work, to fall in love, to help another.

Although what we can enjoy here on this earth is temporal and short-lived--who knows how long we really have?--appreciate the fact that we can enjoy everything in our lives, right here, right now.

I guess, as mortal human beings whose knowledge of this vast universe and world we live in is so limited, all we can do is cherish the present, and live for today.

(Ugh. I hate sounding so cliche! >.<)

Yes, it's cliche. We've heard it a million times before, we've seen millions of that familiar quote and saying. But do we practice it?

For me, it is still a challenge. One that I have to keep reminding myself. While it isn't wrong to spend an entire day on the net doing "nothing", I'm not sure I want to spend as many days as I seem to be spending doing just that. >.<

Living for today doesn't necessarily mean doing all the crazy stuff like reaching the North Pole, skydiving, bungee-jumping off a cliff... It just means allowing yourself to truly enjoy the simple things in life that we can enjoy, despite the busyness. I think a life like that may be enough for me :)


Hannah said...

well, the conclusion that the writer of Ecclesiastes made at the end was: therefore fear God and obey all his commandments, for that is the whole duty of man. So i guess that is the key to a meaningful living. =)

k0k s3n w4i said...

michael swanwick's the iron dragon's daughter discuss the same depressing themes, and dare i say did so in a more convincing and less on-the-nose way. as an atheist and having no access to any convincing evidence for the existence of god or his/her purpose for us, devotion to a very particular, very specific, very narrow idea of god seems like a strange gamble to make. what if that god doesn't exist. what if god exists but had provided no afterlife? more than the threat of hell, i fear the waste of my one life. i, like you, live for the modest pleasures the world has to offer and vow to leave it a better place than I have found it.

if anything, the promise of eternal life is what render life meaningless. the only reason we appreciate life as much as we do is because there's only so much of it we know for sure we possess.

Liz said...

Yes, that is true. Wanted to put my own personal thoughts into it :)

>>k0k s3n w4i
I do understand what you mean, and it makes undeniable sense. As you know, I'm struggling myself. haha, There are things I have admitted to YOU that I have not to others. ;)
True, there is no absolute certainty that there is an afterlife. And learning to enjoy life's simple pleasures may not necessarily be based on that premise. But I'd like to think that the very fact that we have the ABILITY to enjoy all these little things MAY point to something more than us. I mean, if we needed nourishment to survive, we could just open up a compartment in our stomach, put it in, and voila! Instant digestion! But no, we have taste buds on our tongues, to enjoy food. Know what I mean? (But all that stuff about certain animals being able to enjoy sex as well kinda stumps me =.=)

k0k s3n w4i said...

Cats can't taste sweetness. Do you know that? Considering their diet, there's no reason for them to actively seek the pleasure of sweetness - unlike humans and other animals.

The tongue is a sensory organ and like the chemotactic senses of protozoas, it enables us to recognise what is good for us. Sweetness is associated with carbohydrates, sugars, and the likes - which are energy dense. You must remember that there is no such thing as inherent sweetness. Sweetness and the pleasure of sweetness, is merely an interpretation of our brain when faced with a certain chemical signature.

If we do not feel hunger or pleasure in food, we would not eat. If we do not enjoy sex, we would not procreate. These are traits which are naturally selected for in our evolutionary heritage that ensured our continuing survival. Look into the genome of a cat and you'll find the mangled, non-functional gene which coded for the ability to taste sweetness. It is unimportant to cats and thus, without selection pressure, it was allowed to mutate.

Pleasure is a very primitive function found in most higher animals. We humans, being far more intelligent, tend to imbue it with more meaning than it actually represents.

k0k s3n w4i said...

In short, the tongue is not here to provide us with pleasure. The pleasure is not the goal. The thing that gives us pleasure is. Pleasure is a mean, not an end.

Nath said...

yes, God gave us the ability to enjoy. But we much choose wisely that we may not sin with the freedom that God gave to us :)