What Is the Meaning of Life? Finding The Purpose of Life.
What is the meaning of life? Why am I here? What is my purpose? Have you ever asked these questions? I know I have. Lots of people say that these questions simply don’t have an answer - Douglas Adams cryptically claimed in “The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” that it was 42. But for the rest of us who want to make a little less light of it, how do we answer it?
The most common way people find their answer is mostly haphazard and unintentional. For many years, if someone asked me “What is the Meaning of Life?” I would answer in the same way as I would to “What do you enjoy doing?”. The interests, ambitions and exploits of my life were the things that gave my life meaning and purpose.
Finding the Purpose of Life
Many people find their purpose of life and a sense of identity in sport. Whether it’s playing or supporting, they will fight tooth and nail to support “their” team. For others, it’s work. I know from experience how easy it is to spend much of your life in perpetual movement, always going after the “next” thing that you think is going to satisfy. If you’re reading this article, there’s probably a part of you that has realized that nothing you try - past, present or future - can fill that hole, that need inside you that keeps making you want and consume more. Many people just settle for the world view that they’ll never find any lasting satisfaction in this transient life, but others don’t.
What is the Meaning of Life During a Crisis
Whether it’s a promotion, a purchase, a person, a goal, it is very easy to just keep going until your body can’t keep up any more. Just like me, many people come to the point sooner or later where the answers they have found just don’t satisfy. Sometimes it’s later in life, for others it’s during a mid life crisis, but many people are given the opportunity to take a long look at the purpose of life for them, and take stock. Many don’t particularly like what they see - both in their pasts and futures. Some will come to the conclusion that life has no meaning.
For many, this is where they ask questions such as “Is there life after death?”, and many other questions like “Why does God allow suffering?” and “Who am I?”. In their search for answers, some will find an expert or guru on the subject, who claims to have worked it all out. Others will turn to books but this takes effort, and they won’t always specifically answer the questions you have. The biggest challenge most people have is finding someone to listen to their questions about the purpose of life who won’t judge them. Most people are surrounded by people who are mostly happy with their lives, and don’t want think about the “big” questions like death, belief in God, right and wrong etc. Asking these questions can make you feel like you’ll be judged or put off the people you love - family, friends or colleagues. The Alpha Course provides a place where you won’t put people’s noses out of joint by genuinely asking a question, however controversial and offensive.
Where to Go to Discuss the Meaning of Life
Many people find it tough going to something new. It isn’t easy sitting in a room with a group of strangers, especially when it’s talking about sensitive topics like what is the meaning of life. The Alpha Course is run around the world, and is set up to make this disconnect as small as possible. Courses are usually run midweek in the evenings, and often include a hearty dinner.
Don't Believe in God? Not a Problem
Just because you don’t believe in God, doesn’t mean Alpha isn’t for you.
The whole aim of the course is to give you a place to explore your view of the world and meaning by comparing it to what one of the greatest authorities on the topic, Jesus, said it was. Some people finish the course with a reaffirmed view of the world as when they arrived, others change, but the overwhelming majority find it a positive experience. In the last Alpha course run at HTB, over half the participants reported feeling more at peace.
The format is pretty standard wherever you do it. After dinner, there is a talk, and then a discussion group. The course explores Jesus’ teachings which form the basis for the Christian faith, in a way that is low key, non threatening, and unpressurised. You get ample opportunity to respond, interact and share your thoughts in the discussion groups following the talk. It’s a great way of exploring the questions which you have - some of which you could never could put your finger on. There is also an optional weekend/day away during the course.
The Alpha Course is run in 169 countries, which means that wherever you are, you’ll likely be able to find a course. It has been done by over 16 million people, lots of whom didn’t believe in God before, nor did they afterwards.
What Would I Gain From Doing the Course?
Practically everyone who comes on the course gains something. If you believe in God, you might learn how it is possible to have a relationship with him through the Bible. If you don’t, you’ll at the very least get that forum you seek to talk about your thoughts in a safe, low pressure environment.