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.