What is the meaning of life? Do your actions have a purpose? Is the universe friendly?

Here is an excerpt from the first chapter of “Living in Flow” that sets up the direction of the book:

The cosmos is responsive

“What is the meaning of life? Do our actions have a purpose? Is the universe friendly?

I believe the third question above provides insight into the other two. Is the universe a friendly place? Amazingly, I believe this is a question that physics can tackle. The theory I will present, based on some well-established science as well as some new science and some speculative ideas, states that the universe is neither friendly, hostile, nor indifferent to us. Rather, it is responsive. We live in a cosmos that responds to our actions by bringing us more of the same. To oversimplify for a moment, if we act friendly to the world, we find that circumstances emerge that reinforce our belief that the world is friendly. Similarly, if we act hostile to the world, we find our perspective justified because events arise that confirm our preconceived notions. When we align with circumstances, circumstances align with us. We can call this flow.

How does meaning emerge?

However, it is not as simple as it initially sounds... Singular events are like forks in the road. They are points at which our choice of action makes a significant difference in the course of future events. If we envision all possible outcomes existing on a tree of forked branches, singular events are the forking points where one major path diverges from another.

My view is that we can find the essence of any spiritual teaching through the simple practice of responding to the experiences of life and seeing how life responds to us. Our job is to see what meaningful lesson each experience provides… If the universe is indeed responsive to our actions, then we are the source of the meaning in our lives. Experiences outside serve as a mirror for experiences inside, and every event can be a meaningful opportunity for learning about ourselves.

Acting with a sense of purpose

So what does it mean to act purposefully? Every action is meaningful in some way, but a purposeful action is more difficult to achieve. A purposeful action is one whose meaning is aligned with a coherent plan on your part. To act purposefully, you must know what you intend and then take actions in alignment with your intent. This alignment can be quite elusive to achieve.

There is a difference between “finding our purpose” and “finding a sense of purpose.” The first phrase implies a very big statement about life goals, as if there is something we are supposed to be doing with our lives, and we have to find the right thing. I like the second phrase better. I think the universe responds to the choices we make by bringing new events into our lives that match those choices. Therefore, each of our daily actions becomes really important. Making each action purposeful is a habit we can develop. It’s like tending a garden. You aren’t a factory farm, pumping out only one cash crop. You are a community garden, planting different seeds at different times and for different purposes. Some of your actions purposefully build love within your family; others of your actions invest in your success in your career. Still other corners of the garden hold seeds you plant purely for the growing of your own joy and fulfillment in life. Finding a sense of purpose focuses more on the “sense of” part than on the “purpose” part; the purpose can be any goal or intention you take on, but your sense of purpose is unique to you. Finding a sense of purpose is about finding the essence of yourself in everything you do.

Sky Nelson-Isaacs