Maria Popova recently shared an excerpt from a collection entitled The Meaning of Life: Reflections in Words and Pictures on Why We Are Here in which George Lucas’s thoughts are recorded. Popova’s Brain Pickings is always great to read due to her wonderful curating skills, but this excerpt by Lucas stuck with me more than most:
My best guess is that we share a collective spirit or life force or consciousness that encompasses and goes beyond individual life forms. There’s a part of us that connects to other humans, connects to other animals, connects to plants, connects to the planet, connects to the universe. I don’t think we can understand it through any kind of verbal, written or intellectual means. But I do believe that we all know this, even if it is on a level beyond our normal conscious thoughts.
If we have a meaningful place in this process, it is to try to fit into a healthy, symbiotic relationship with other life force. Everybody, ultimately, is trying to reach a harmony with the other parts of the life force. And in trying to figure out what life is all about, we ultimately come down to expressions of compassion and love, helping the rest of the life force, caring about others without any conditions or expectations, without expecting to get anything in return. This is expressed in every religion, by every prophet.
What I find most interesting is the portion I put in boldface. I don’t know how every religion expresses this thought, but I do recognize that living in harmony with those around us–particularly by being loving and useful to our community–is a wonderful way to find contentment and meaning in life. This is why Seneca is featured so predominantly on Rise and Converge–seeking peace is important. There are many people and organizations that posit the importance of seeking happiness, but I think their aim is misguided.
The pursuit of happiness is not sustaining in the same way that the pursuit of peace is. Peace will bring happiness at times, but it will also garner contentment and stability. More importantly, it spreads tranquility into the lives of others in a way that happiness cannot.
And it’s this tranquility–this willingness to be a part of a community for symbiosis, harmony, and love–that brings meaning to one’s life. For myself, I believe the Bible is the most excellent source for strength from selfish ambition and vain conceit. It’s in valuing others that we find true joy.
So with that thought, may the force be with you today.