Value Realisation: The Meaning of Life

The gist of Nietzsche’s philosophy is this: life is value realisation. The principle of Seth’s teachings on consciousness is this: evolution is value realisation and “you create the reality you know”. The core teaching of Castaneda’s don Juan Matus is this: this is a universe of intent, and the intent of the universe is… value realisation. And what Nietzsche calls “will to power” is what is called intent in Castaneda. What is called “creativity” is value realisation.

Properly understood, this should blow your mind. That the meaning of life is value realisation should come to you as what Zen Buddhists call a “satori“. The problem is — the problem of why we do not perceive this clearly and without doubts  —  is because we have a very deficient and very distorted understanding of “value”.

I also put this to you: what Carl Jung called “the archetypes” are, in effect, values. And when Joseph Campbell suggests that every man and woman lives out a myth, that myth is the activity of their value realisation. This is called “purpose”.

Let’s assume this as a premise, at least, and see where it leads us and whether it helps clarify things: life (and evolution) is value realisation.

If life and evolution (which are pretty much the same thing) mean value realisation and value fulfillment, then there is no such thing as “random variation” or “chance mutation”. “Chance is ignorance” is even a Buddhist objection to theories of random variation and chance mutation. When Jean Gebser also insists that what is called “evolution” is the unfolding of a pre-existing pattern (and a pattern that is also implicate in Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality”) this is also connected to value realisation. That pattern is the pattern of a mandala, and in Buddhism it is symbolised by the lotus and as “the Jewel in the Lotus”.

In human terms, this means that all human activities — work and play, the pursuits of the arts and the sciences, philosophy and religion, politics and economics — are all involved in the process of value realisation in one way or another, and all this activity of value realisation is called “creativity”. The objective of all this activity of value realisation is the “concretion” of the value — the imagined world made real, and this is the work of desire and imagination. The concretion of the value, by which it is made presence and reality in space and time, is called “fulfillment”, or even “epiphany”.

It seems obvious enough, does it not? So, why is it so overlooked?

Our understanding of value is too narrow, too limited. And that, in turn, is limiting our own abilities and is further constricting and inhibiting the unfolding of our human consciousness. This is connected with the contemporary problem of “value nihilism”. Much of contemporary rationalism and scientism aspires to be, and even pretends to be, “value-free” in the name of “objectivity” or “disinterestedness”. Purging the phenomena of existence of all “subjective values” in the name of objectivity is also distortion, if not self-contradiction, and ultimately self-negation. For the sake even of a purely objective and quantitative language of description, any internal or subjective factors involved in evolution — such as values — are systematically excluded. “Subjective values” are simply seen as so much baggage and not wanted on the voyage.

Such an approach and attitude is devastating for life, which is root, stem, branch, and flower the process of value realisation and value fulfillment.

This is reflected in the problem of economism, which is the reduction of all value to price. You may recall the definition of the cynic as offered by Oscar Wilde — someone “who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”. In truth, the cynicism (which is another term for nihilism) is the refusal to recognise value realisation in any form or activity other than labour or economic production, and in terms that can be quantified.

I know a businessman, for example, who once told me that he considered singing and dancing to be “a waste of time” because, in his view, they weren’t “productive”. By “productive” he meant producing value. I think of him as the Canadian Talib, in fact. He is also a workaholic. He is very stiff and controlled, too.

The fact is that creative play is an even truer, more authentic, form of value realisation than measurable, productive work. Work is, of course, value realisation. But it is hardly the only activity that constitutes value realisation. Play is often truer to life’s purposes than work, and art more honest than science.

If the meaning of life is value realisation, then we have drastically narrowed the spectrum of life’s possibilities and, therefore also, of our awareness by reducing and perverting value to meanings of weight, number, measure, and price, or what is decided by “the market” and by exchange.  That, too, is “blowback” from a false philosophy.

It is said that “the love of money is the root of all evil”. But what that means is, to reduce value to price, and to submit it to a cost-benefit analysis, is the root of all evil.

The meaning of life is value realisation. And you can take that to the bank.


5 responses to “Value Realisation: The Meaning of Life”

  1. abdulmonem says :

    And that is the message of the third book I talked about in my previous comment on the karma and dogma.

  2. Dwig says :

    Two thoughts:
    It might be useful to distinguish between “paid work” and “intrinsic work” (not happy with the terms, but they’ll do), the latter specifically oriented to the service of values.

    In this light, how are we to interpret “higher values devalue themselves”?

    • Dwig says :

      I just found your post of June 26, 2013, which nicely answers the second question

    • Scott Preston says :

      Well, you know the old saying about how someone is lucky enough to be doing the work they love and getting paid for it, too — the happy confluence that seems to be exceedingly rare now. “Hobby” or “pass-time” is how people now describe the work they love doing. You’re not considered to be a “hard-working Canadian” or “hard-working American” unless it’s really hard and painful.

      Paid work is value realised in exchange, while the “intrinsic” is value realised in love — the meaning of “amateur”. An amateur is a lover engaged in joyful work, and doesn’t produce for exchange, primarily. But most of the great revolutions in human culture were the work of these same amateurs, or just “tinkerers”, or artists whose works no one wanted to buy in their day (including Nietzsche) simply because they were too ahead of their time. Way ahead, in some cases.

      The difference in approach has sort of congealed around the polarity of “work” and “job”. It’s probably not coincidence that “job” recalls the torment of Job. In that case, you have the degradation of the value of work into a mere “job”. Making a living rather than a living work. You know there’s really something wrong when life is divided in terms of “work-life balance”. One is merely working to make a living, but not really living while working. That pretty much describes a “job”. In that case, the debasement of work into “job” is itself a kind of nihilism.

  3. LittleBigMan says :

    It’s all true. The only thing I would add is that just as there are many ways to work, there are also many ways to play. I say this because my way of play seems like work to the vast majority, if not all, of the people I know.

    For example, my work has become so routine that it feels like riding a bicycle at the end of a cul de sac – round and round. It’s a tragedy for me as well as those I am supposed to train in my field.

    Fortunately, there’s a large block of time that’s ahead when I will be allowed to work on any project I want. My plan is to use this time to create innovative ways of doing things such that the monotony of the work is forever destroyed for those whom I am training.

    Now, in the past, whenever my colleagues were granted a similar opportunity, they used it to make extensive trips around the world, and two of them even used it to get married and go on honeymoons. But when they ask me and I tell them about my plans for the free time I have been granted, they say “Will you ever take a break?” I smile and tell them “This is my break!” 🙂

    So for me it will bring extreme joy to dedicate my time to complete and bring to fruition the two ideas I have. Because once this is done, the products of that work will help many hundreds in future to enjoy the work I will ask them to do and that will in turn help those young people realize their own dreams and values.

    The distinction that Dwig is making above between “paid work” and “intrinsic work” very concisely captures what I want to say. The “intrinsic work” I do is my way of play (even though all my colleagues view it as work) and, given my personality, is also a way of realizing my values. It makes me very happy to even think about the plans and objectives of my intrinsic work, let alone to have the time to actually work on them.

    P.S. Thanks to FireFox browser, once again I can access all your essays from home 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: