What Is the Meaning of Life?

by David Life |
May, 2015
What Is the Meaning of Life?
Who verily knows and who can here declare it, whence it was born and whence comes this creation?
Rg Veda

The Rg Veda uses a vernacular that still survives today when an unanswerable question is asked. We shrug our shoulders and say, “Who knows?” Really we mean that no one knows. One individual who is separated from the truth cannot know the truth, in its fullness. It can only be experienced when knower disappears into known. The eye cannot see seeing, nor the nose smell smelling. The perception of smell in the brain, and the act of smelling are intrinsically bound by, and invisible to each other. We actually don’t have to look for meaning in life. It refers only to itself. Life has intrinsic meaning and value without any other reference. Life is an effect, not a cause. We can search out the cause of life as a spiritual pursuit. The spiritual struggle is not to discover the meaning of life (or death,) but to use the opportunity of life to realize what the Rg Veda calls “That One Thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature; apart from it was nothing whatsoever.” Nothing is apart from the One Thing – the One Thing is everything. While living we have the opportunity to feel it, know it, and become the One Thing. This is not an objective experiment this is a subjective approach to infinity that cannot be described, only felt. Life doesn’t point anywhere else, life embraces infinity in the guises of creation and it has it’s own inherent value.

Every day that we are living, life is revealing it’s meaning to us. We are taught to work hard to attain a goal in life and sometimes in pursuit of those goals we can fail to experience each passing day as full and complete. We only see the lack of the goal achieved. The meaning of a life can be attached to the achievement of a goal, that when unreached, produces a meaningless life. We don’t need to forfeit the goal, but “all the way to heaven should be heaven,” otherwise you may be on the wrong road. Life is living life, not putting living off for a while until you achieve a goal.

Are you a physical being having a spiritual experience or a spiritual being having a physical experience? We can be reasonably sure that we are a physical being, and sometimes we have what we could call a spiritual experience. It is very difficult to be a spiritual being having a physical experience simply because we identify ourselves as separate from spirit. We can verify that we have a body and mind, but it is difficult to verify the subtle existence of spirit with the intellect.

Spirit is felt – so feel more and think less.

There was an ashram in the mountains where young monks were trained. One day two monks were sitting and gazing toward the prayer flags in meditation. The younger monk remarked, “The wind is moving.” The elder monk scoffed at him and replied, “The flags are moving.” They began to debate what is known and what is unknown, and were still debating whether the wind or the flags were moving when they arrived at dinner. The cook for the ashram was a very wise woman who had seen many generations of monks come and go over the years. She was an enlightened soul in disguise as a simple cook. When the cook overheard the monk’s argument, she was standing near their table. She was wearing a large cloak with her arms hidden inside. She looked at the monks and began flapping her arms furiously giving the brilliant message that we do not know flags or wind moving, we only know that “flapping” exists. — Zen tradition

“Be here now” is a cliché in yoga, but the truth is that if we can experience life unfolding in each moment with wonder and curiosity, the meaning of life is revealed. A life with meaning is a life that celebrates each moment as a moment in the presence of the creator’s creation.

Before you undertake any action ask yourself, “Will this action get me closer to the essence of life, or will this action only mire me deeper into ignorance?” Sometimes this is a very difficult decision to make, and we rarely have the time to sit and ponder our next move. That is why a yoga asana practice seeks to reveal unconscious tendencies and habits of mind that keep us running the same treadmill, unfulfilled. When unconscious tendencies become conscious we are awarded with a moment of deliberation before we react. Unconscious tendencies are replaced with a new structure for movement that is in alignment with the forces of the Earth. The geometry of the yoga asana practice opens the subtle pathways throughout the body and mind to the flow of prana, gravitation, levitation and electromagnetism. The fearless application of yogic techniques reveals the meaning of life – to live as a conduit of Universal Consciousness and become a “knower of The One Thing.” Living is the meaning of Life.

Teaching Tips

  • Meditate on letting go of past and future and developing appreciation for the grace in the immediate moment. This is a perfect moment. Nothing is lacking. There is no other place or time than this moment. The moment is a moving celebration. Instruct the use of the Let-go mantra. “Let” on inhale, “Go” on exhale.
  • Observe unconscious tendencies – both in the body and the mind, by teaching alignment as a mirror. The grid of alignment provides a comparison for placement of all body parts that reveal to us learned structural imbalances. Have students tape a (straight) centerline, the long direction of their mat. Place a second piece of tape on the short direction, (in the place where the heels of feet or hands would line up,) at 90 degrees to the first line. This grid will give a comparison between a structural ideal and a habitual divergence from the ideal.
  • Teach alignment with poles, strings, compasses, levels, planets, stars, architecture, etc. Refer to Yoga Assists for illustrations of the dominant line of force experienced in various asana. Teach asana as a search for the full experience of this line of force. Rather than concentrating on a lot of different things like hands, feet, arms, legs, etc. focus on the primary line of force and bring all separated body parts into alignment with that force by feeling it more. Do not focus on history in a particular asana, or on some desired future goal of the asana, instead immerse yourself in the feeling now, and diminish anything that limits your ability to feel more.

Download audio (mp3) files of David Life reading the Focus of the Month


  1. Who Knows?
  2. The Goal
  3. Spiritual or Physical?
  4. Ashram in the Mountains
  5. Be Here Now
  6. Living is the Meaning of Life