The Essence of Meaning

Shi Yao Hai/ November 6, 2016/ Consciousness Growth, Happiness, Understanding Mind/ 0 comments

A Summary of the second type of happiness:

There are three types of happiness:

∙ State of mind based in not living from wanting

∙ Meaning embodied as learning

∙ Behaviour that is conducive to the “flow” of skillfulness

The Buddha’s teachings are founded upon recognition of the real need for the developing of skillfulness. The development of skillfulness applied in life, is at the heart of all of the Buddha’s teachings. Meaning is either skillfully created or it is the result of unaware unskillfulness.

Meaning does not need to be looked for because it already exists. Meaning is rarely found in attempts of looking for it in the world. Why? Because all forms of experience of whatever happens in a person’s life, the way that it is experienced, is that person’s meaning. Meaning already exists within an individual.

Meaning is internally created from the way a person chooses to view their life. Anger and resentment interfere with the creating of a happiness based form of meaning. Sometimes a person’s past can hold them back from a life of contentedness and joy. A person if they wish, can stay in the unpleasant memories of the past. This is often done for the reason of staying in a state of blaming others or circumstances for the individual’s unhappiness and/or lack of success. Often they defend their blaming by saying they have a right to do so, and so they do. No one can convincingly tell someone who chooses to stay in the mental-emotional role of victim any different.

What is often not understood is that by holding onto the negatives of the past, one empties the present of virtually all possibilities for happiness. A view that chooses anger, misery, apathy, fear, or any other negative emotion, directly creates patterns (or habits) of negative ways of experiencing life. Adopting and holding onto mental-emotional negative states is an unconscious choice to live from suffering.* What one chooses as one’s view of life based upon the past, consciously or unconsciously, is a choice for how one’s life will be experienced. Not in circumstances necessarily, though this possibility should not be ignored, but in feeling and perception of life.

How a person experiences life, is the basis for that person’s meaning in life and ultimately their happiness. It does not matter what a person wants, or does not want in life, or whether they can get what they want or not. It does not matter what has happened, in terms of what an individual can choose to do and experience in the present moment in life. All the wanting or not wanting in the world will not change a person’s interpretation of their life experiences one iota. It is not any idea of what is more or less desirable that creates meaning. No, it is what a person perceives is possible in life that creates the basis for their meaning. This perception is an interpretation, an idea that can run a person life and ways of experiencing.

It is what a person believes is possible for themselves that creates the motivation and hence the attitude out of which meaning may be created. Recognize that without action, meaning can not be created. The absence of the skillful use of action results in the ultimate negative meaning, the vacuity of meaning, which is meaninglessness. Meaninglessness is the greatest mental-emotional pain. Further, it is those possibilities and attitudes, that if made into plans or action steps and then unskillfully or skillfully acted upon, that ARE themselves an individual’s meaning!

This is key – It is either the interpretation of past and projection into the future; or it is the development and use of skillfulness in the present moment, that creates the foundation (or ground) for all meaning. This aspect of meaning is the same as one’s state of mind. Attitude is the mindset that arises out of state of mind. It is attitude that is the fuel (or motivation) for all accomplishing in skillfulness, or not being motivated to do in the case of unskillfulness. When attitude is made to manifest by first planning action steps and then acting upon those planned steps, this results in consciously creating Meaning.

Unskillful meaning leads to the experience of negative meaning. This is based in and comes from unskillful interpretations, no planned action steps and no follow through of actions.

Skillful meaning (a part of the meaningfulness process), arises out of skillful interpretations and skillful attitudes that engender possibilities from a positive mindset. This, accompanied by action steps and followed by actions – this is skillful meaning. Skillful meaning is a strong foundation for the creation of powerful Meaning-fullness.

Meaning is not easily sought or found in the world because meaning is a byproduct, a side effect of skillfulness. Skillfulness is created out of the predominant types of attitude, which in turn is the basis of not what is done, but rather the way that it is done. It is most importantly the way something is done, that is, the behaviour that one habitually uses to act and react within life. Behaviour is inseparable from the skillful utilization of meaning. Behaviour as such is in essence Applied Meaning. For meaning to change, it must be consciously and skillfully chosen. For meaning to be sustained it requires learning something new. This is the path of “Bhavana” (skillful practices of behaviour).

Recognize that being present in the moment is the foundation of skillful use of experience. Understanding that meaning is created out of one’s own actions, begin practice with the skill of being mindfully present.

Mind strengthening – the mindful present:

Begin by paying attention to your immediate physical environment. Become aware of the details of things around you. If thoughts arise beckoning for your attention, relax and re-engage your focus by looking at the details of what is around you. Details can be specific to a single object, or they can be the spacial relations of one thing or many things to each other.

From this process of being present, calmness arises. From calmness, the “opportunity” for choosing arises. Use calmness as a refuge from your own reactive thoughts and emotions so that your mind may become non-reactive and clear.

* Suffering = dissatisfaction, despondency, dysfunctionality, unhappiness, restlessness, uneasiness, worry, stress and a vast array of negative emotions and experiences.

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