The Basic Practice

Meaning is one of those overview terms that seems to sum up the spiritual life. Many people, in fact, define spirituality as the search for meaning and purpose. But this is also a specific practice that can be learned, developed, and applied. It involves both seeking and making.

Seek meaning by looking for the big picture encompassing your experiences. Watch for patterns in the world and in your own behavior. Make meanings by attaching analogies, metaphors, symbols, and stories to things and events. See what messages come to you when you regard them in this way.

Expose yourself to the various values assigned to everyday life by the popular culture, philosophy, and the world religions. Learn more about how you can understand things. Take a course. Go to a lecture. Listen to an audio book.

Why This Practice May Be For You

The universe is a friendly place, and everything in it has meaning. Nothing happens by chance. To everything there is a purpose. If you find yourself hesitating upon reading these statements, you are not unusual. We live in a time of rampant cynicism. This is a major block to spiritual literacy and the practice of meaning.

If we think nothing deserves to be taken seriously, then it is easy to regard what happens to us as insignificant, pointless, and capricious. After all, what really matters if the universe is characterized by random occurrences? On a personal level, this translates to the feeling that there is no direction to our lives.

If what you are doing doesn't seem important, it's time to work with the practice of meaning. Your place in the larger picture may not become apparent immediately, but you will increase your ability to discern the possibilities available to you. Eventually, the regular practice of meaning yields understanding, not only of who you are but why you and everything else are here.

Daily Cue, Reminder, Vow, Blessing

  • Reading a new book is a cue for me to participate in the great adventure of finding meaning.
  • When I hear a soul-stirring lecture, I am reminded of my obligation to make meaning from my experiences.
  • When I leave a theater after seeing a movie, I vow to ponder its meanings slowly and seriously.
  • Blessed is the Old Wise One who blesses me with new understanding.