WARNING: This post can be depressing if you are the type of person that looks for the negative or positive in everything. I love you, but this post is not for you. This post is for people who are interested in taking responsibility for how they receive the world. Everyone else, I have to direct you to The Care Bears or a Prosperity Gospel site. But if you insist on reading it anyway, let me say that by saying the world is meaningless, I do not mean that it is pointless. I simply am saying that it has the value that we give to it and that we can shift that at any time. But we cannot do that if we believe that we are victims of the meaning we give to it.
New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)
Nothing Has Any Meaning
1 These are the words of the Teacher. He was the son of David. He was also king in Jerusalem. 2 “Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Everything is completely meaningless! Nothing has any meaning.” 3 What does a man get for all of his work? Why does he work so hard on this earth? 4 People come and people go. But the earth remains forever. 5 The sun rises. Then it sets. And then it hurries back to where it rises. 6 The wind blows to the south. Then it turns to the north. Around and around it goes. It always returns to where it started. 7 Every stream flows into the ocean. But the ocean never gets full. The streams return to the place they came from. 8 All things are tiresome. They are more tiresome than anyone can say. But our eyes never see enough of anything. Our ears never hear enough. 9 Everything that has ever been will come back again. Everything that has ever been done will be done again. Nothing is new on earth. 10 There isn’t anything about which someone can say, “Look! Here’s something new.” It was already here long ago. It was here before we were. 11 No one remembers the men of long ago. Even those who haven’t been born yet won’t be remembered by those who will be born after them.
Depressing right!!!! Hahaha. It can be if that is what you make of it. I remember reading this when I was a kid and at first thinking it didn’t really sound like something that would be in the Bible based on the sermons I heard in church. So I brought it up to an older member in the church and she stepped back like I was the boogey man and said she didn’t like that book and never finished reading it. Of course I went right back to the book and reread it. Since then I cannot even count how many times I read it and the longer I live the more I see how true it is.
If you saw the video, you know how I interpret Ecclesiastes. You can also check out my posts Happiness is Overrated and Taking No For An Answer. Look, I want you to know that I am not trying to make you feel sad by sharing my perspective on this. More than anything, I am trying to share the liberating news that because the world itself does not have inherent meaning, we are not bound to the stories that we tell ourselves about it. Better yet, we are free to play with the meanings we give it. So this awareness can actually be pretty fun if that is what you want to do with it. The only caveat is that in order to get the most out of it, you must understand it as universally applicable. That’s what makes it so hard for most people to digest what Ecclesiates is trying to say.
Most of us want people to accept the meaning that we give to things even if we do not want to accept the meaning that they give to it. It really won’t work that way. Another challenge is that accepting this makes it harder to hold grudges and gripes et cetera. It actually makes it easier to let things go. At the same time, it makes it difficult for us to tell ourselves the stories that make us try to hold onto things for dear life. So seek wisdom if you are daring enough to explore what meaninglessness has to offer.