I believe that the only purpose and meaning to
life is the one that each of us creates for ourselves over the
course of a full lifetime.
It is our individual responsibility to find our own purpose and
meaning. We must pursue this quest relentlessly from the moment we
are born until the moment we die.
We must never settle on fixed beliefs. It does not matter if they
are of our own making or, much worse, based on somebody elseís
There is no such thing as absolute truth.
There is no such thing as absolute right or wrong.
There is no such thing as a divine deity that rules over the
universe, negating us having to take responsibility for ourselves.
All of these myths are simply limiting conceptions and stagnated
beliefs held by individuals who have abandoned their duty to
continually seek purpose and meaning.
Just because a belief may be held in common does not mean that it is
Just because a belief is empowering does not mean that it is true.
Just because a belief is useful does not mean that they is true.
Just because a belief is emotionally satisfying does not mean that
it is true.
At some level all beliefs are powerful, and all beliefs are
We can learn from people whose beliefs raise our own limitations,
but at some point we must break through our ethical apprenticeship
and raise ourselves to a higher standard of personal accountability
and self mastery.
One persistent limiting belief is that if you take away a divinely
ordained system of ethics then everything degenerates into murky
moral relativism. We must break through these limiting ideas and
challenge them at every opportunity.
Everything we think, feel, value and believe is contingent on our
perception of the reality in which we seem to exist. We must always
recognise that we are all still trapped in Platoís dungeon. If our
conceptions of morality, virtue and ethics are those of the chained
man, then so be it. If they serve us in the confines of the cave
then that is entirely appropriate. In fact they cannot be otherwise.
The idea of divinely inspired morality is simply another limited
conception of the chained men in the cave.
Imagine, for example, that our perception of time was not linear,
but we could experience every moment of our lives completely at
will, complete from beginning to end. We would always know
everything we had ever done and everything we would ever do, as
clearly and completely as if we were always in the present moment.
What would happen to ambition? What would happen to greed? What
would happen to guilt? These ideas would simply not exist, as they
would not have any power to explain what we were thinking or
experiencing. No doubt new and different ideas would arise that we
could not conceive of in our current reality.
If that example is too challenging then let me offer something a
little more prosaic. Imagine if the human race developed a genetic
flaw so that the human memory span was reduced to 24 hours. Imagine
that everything we did revolved around day to day survival with no
sense of continuity, history or consequences. How would divine
ethics hold up? Would it be wrong to kill to eat? Would it be wrong
to steal to survive? Would it be wrong to worship the sun and fear
Imagine that one tribe of unaffected humans with long memories
remained. How would they apply their moral code to their mutated
brethren? Would they treat them as animals, as a new species of
primate, not human and thus exempt from their own code?
This is not an idle speculative exercise. This is simply an allegory
of how existence really is, with every individual limited by their
perceptions and chained to their pre-existing beliefs. We cannot
change the way we perceive our reality, therefore we must
continually release, revise and expand our beliefs, day by day, hour
by hour, until we cease to exist.
At this point you may argue that I am advocating the worst kind of
moral solipsism. Surely no society could survive long with everyone
deciding for themselves what moral standards they will choose to
follow. With every man for his ethical self you are imagining a
universe of infinite conflict, no longer between nations, or races,
or religious affiliations, or tribes, or even communities; but at an
individual, person to person, man to man level of conflict. Well so
what? What else is new?
This is another example of a limiting belief that we must overcome.
As long as we believe that we must all share the same beliefs we are
doomed to conflict. Even within ourselves we are conflicted when we
believe that we should believe something that someone else believes
(but we donít really believe it). How can we possibly imagine that
we can ever be happy and fulfilled living up to somebody elseís
values, no matter how much we seem to be in agreement. This is the
worst kind of delusion. Ultimately consensus is about one individual
gaining power and control over another individual through guilt and
acquiescence, expanded to a global scale.
The answer to this dilemma is tolerance.
Tolerance is not about respecting somebody elseís opinion while
clinging steadfastly to your own; that is called patronising. There
is nothing more hypocritical than believing that everyone elseís
beliefs are as sacrosanct as your own. If you hold fundamentally
incompatible beliefs you still think they are wrong and you are
right; itís just that you are too politically correct or weak
spirited to uphold your position. That is called lying.
True tolerance is when we recognize that everybody, including
ourselves, is wrong. There are no degrees of wrongness; we are all
stumbling in the dark as much as each other. Our beliefs hold us
until some better insight comes along.
We should tolerate any beliefs except for those that are intolerant.
If we learn to recognise that someoneís current beliefs are just an
indication of where they are on the journey to wisdom it becomes
easier to be practice tolerance. If someone believes in something
that you have outgrown, then donít try and push them along, just
respect where they are and hope that they will someday get to your
level. If someone believes in something you never have, then they
are either further advanced than you are or they are on a different
path. Doní try and pull them back down, or make them change course.
Eventually we all end up in the same place. Nobody gets out of here
One final word about beliefs. We need to share them with other
people. Not so we can convert them. Not because people need to
accept them. And certainly not to justify ourselves or seek social
vindication. We need to share our beliefs so that people can take
from them whatever is useful, reject what they are not ready for,
and help to lift themselves to a new level of understanding and