The Meaning of Life
Lecture 1: Introduction

1. Misapprehension
2. Introduction
3. Jonah
4. Crito

March 9, 2012

But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
1 Corinthians 13:10


Greetings and welcome to lecture one of the course of The Meaning of Life. This course will be composed of ten lectures and I, Wendell NeSmith will be conducting these lectures. I hope that I do an efficient job in conveying the meaning that are behind these important and crucial topics that have haunted the minds of humanity since the beginning of known human civilisation and most likely before.

Lecture one will be an introductory lecture that will explore some of the topics that we will cover over the next ten lectures. The way that this course will be structured is that each lecture will be accompanied by a set of readings and these readings can be found below and they will be in audio format to make this process as easy as possible for you. I hope that you do take on this course seriously and consider these topics that I express to you and that these readings convey to you because these topics are the only thing that is important in your life whether you realise it or not. And I hope that you come to understand this as the course goes on.

This lecture will introduce some of the topics of each lecture that we will be going through so I am going to start that now.

In Lecture 1 which is this lecture I hope that you will get an overview of what is going to be covered and maybe even think about these topics before we cover them so that you can compare your own views to the views that you accumulate through the process of these lectures and the relevant readings.

Lecture 2 will be composed of, The Painter, that's what its called, and the painter is the mediator of the Divine and the Divine is the wisdom that the philosopher has found. And the wisdom that the philosopher has found they then take and contemplate for long periods of time and then attempt to express that to convey that divinity to others in the most efficient and practical manner.

And that is what we all do within communication to some degree or another for we are all painters. We are all painting a picture for other people. When you use your words you might say "I am saying exactly what I mean" but no you are not you are saying an abstraction of what you mean and we will be covering this in lecture two. For if I say sit down on a chair, a chair to you and a chair to me are two entirely different things considering I live in the wilderness a chair to me would easily be a log which I am sitting on right now or even the ground or a rock, and that is my favourite place of sitting , a big rock is my favourite. And to you it is probably a LazyBoy or a couch or something else so what the painter is doing is attempting to articulate the abstract. And the abstract is his message of wisdom that he is trying to share.

And when I say he, unfortunately the English language does not have a He/She term yet, and I am hoping they will eventually, so I am meaning One. But One separates the individual, so if I slip up and say "he" that is why, I am waiting for that term which probably will never come unfortunately. So I mean he or she.

So the painter is a poet, they are trying to convey something to the best of their ability without actually being able to convey it directly. So let's think about a painter that wants to paint a picture of the sun, the bright sun, on a canvas. So that painter is painting and he brings the canvas to his friend and says, "Look at my painting, its of the Sun". And that's exactly what it is, its of the Sun it is not the sun, it is a representation of the Sun. And this is what we will be talking about in lecture two for the mediator between the Divine and the Human, the fallible, the material is only somewhere in between.

Lecture 3 we will be speaking about belief and suffering and their interconnections. So why do we have beliefs and why do we hold on to these beliefs and why are they so important to us and why do we suffer and what is it that causes suffering and even what could we do to overcome suffering. And interestingly enough, belief and suffering are two sides of the same coin. So we need to understand both aspects of these sides in order to understand how to go beyond the suffering that it causes and their interconnections will be discussed in more detail in lecture three.

In Lecture 4 we will be exploring the perception, human perception and experience. And what we will be talking about then is from how our senses come to make an image of the world. Let's use an example of, let's say our eyes. That is the easiest for most people to understand. So the light reflects in a certain way and it goes through our retinas and gets sent through a complex system and sends signals to our brain and our brain then paints a picture of what it is that we "see". And what it is that we see is actually cast by our brains into the imagination. So our perception is not really what we see it is just a representation of what we see. Our experience therefore is an experience of an imaginary world, to some degree, or maybe to a large degree, or maybe entirely, but we will discuss that in lecture four.

In Lecture 5 we will then discuss the possibility of existence and knowledge. So do we exist and if we do in what manner do we exist? Does other objects in the world exist and if so in what manner do they exist? And is there at all that we can say to Know? So these questions will be dealt with in lecture five.

In Lecture 6 we then go on to explore The Seeker which the seeker is the philosopher: the lover of wisdom who searches for this wisdom at all times. And we will be speaking of the seeker and what it is that he seeks and then what it is that he attempts to convey and express. So we can then relate that back with the painter and we can see how the painter comes to paint the picture that he then blesses to the world.

Lecture 7 will be reviewing the topic of God. Does God exist or does God not exist? What can we understand from the nature of God if God exist or if He does not exist what meaning can we find in the world. The topic of God is very very controversial in today's society that has placed Science as its highest good and I want to put up red flags about this and you need to think about that especially when we are going through lecture four and five about knowledge and what we can understand to know because science says its knowledge and even though science guides us and helps us with many many things, we need to be careful about what we put our faith in. And putting our faith in science has its ramifications. And we will be talking about that.

Also the controversy which God has created, and diversity, God has started, or people that have said in the name of God have started many wars and caused great suffering throughout mankind's history. And this has put a bitter taste in our mouth about God, especially since Christianity dominated the {Western} world for a very very long time and you had to be in line with the orthodox church because the church was the church and since the state was the church the state punished you if you were not in line. You became a heretic and was either exiled or martyred. And we are going to be talking about these topics and how God and the misconception of God can cause great follies of mankind.

I also want to state before going on to the next lecture, that I am a called man. I am a man of God that follows God in everything. But I look at all religions objectively as I can and learn what I can from these religions. I am religious because I do worship this Divine which is in everything, and I am called, I have been called. There was a point that I was called to do what I am doing now. And I want to also say that I think a lot of these follies that these religions have asserted is God and then work everything else from God. And the only thing that we are given is our consciousness, our human perceptions, our mind, our experience, that is the only thing that is given. And we need work from there to God; to be a true follower of God we are following from ourselves to God and not to God back to ourselves. And modern religion does just the opposite. I am not a fan of organised religion at all and I do not identify with any religions in particular but I learn from them all.

Lecture 8 is "Why Act Morally?". And this is an important topic especially if we are to consider God because in the past God is the reason why we should act morally, and if there is no God then what reasons do we have to act morally. And if there is a God what reasons do we have to act morally? We will be bringing from lecture four and five perception and experience and this idealism that if all we have is our experience then why should we worry about what is outside of our experience. So why should compassion drive us when we are not experiencing these situations directly. Should we not only worry about our experience? We will also be looking at different theories of justice and why one would act morally.

This brings us on to Lecture 9 which is what type of life should I live? This will talk about each conscious second and what we are to do and make with it to have a connection to ourselves and the world and a feeling of belonging to our investments. And what we are to do with the time. And I am going to give you a little bit of a spoiler and that is that you should become a philosopher. And you can become a philosopher in many different ways but the philosopher is the one that searches for wisdom and through searching for wisdom we are learning theories to bring about practical application onto the world. So as a searcher of wisdom we are able then to actualise this wisdom into our own lives and be able to live the best life that we are able to live.

And this brings us then to our final lecture, Lecture 10. And this will be discussing building a meaningful life. We will be talking about how to break the chains that society has shackled to us and how to find the meaning and destiny that we ourselves are supposed to follow. And fate a free will will be talked about throughout this course but this course is a course on practical application which is Phronesis, that is from Aristotle, which we will be reading some Aristotle as well. But this will be about building a meaningful life and what we are to do considering the constraints from being brought into the world that we currently live in.

So we have now gone through lecture one through ten and some of the topics that we are going to cover within these lectures. And now I want to discuss some of the reading material that we will be exploring over the next ten lectures. I want to say that I will not be talking specifically, at least not in great detail, about this reading material that I am providing, but this reading material that I am providing is an aid to understand from different perspectives about where I am coming from. So I am not expounding on this material. I am giving you new material, at least to the most part, that you can build upon to increase the foundations of your own understanding. So I am not going to be reviewing these books. I might be referencing them but that is the extent that these lectures will be functioning.

As far as your reading material for this lecture, and I suggest that you can choose to read the material before or after the lectures, but if it was me I would probably read before that way I understand different aspects of what could be involved in the lectures. But it is your choice and remember that these are available in audio format and go to them so you can do the course , if you just listen to the lectures you are not doing the course, you are just getting a taste. Which is better than nothing but if you are going to do it then do the whole thing; that is what I recommend.

This lecture we have two readings. Crito by Plato is about Socrates and his friend Crito comes into his prison after Socrates has been arrested for corrupting the youth (and all Socrates was doing was asking questions and the youth would come and say, "This guy is interesting, let's watch him" and then they would mimic some of the things that he did and all Socrates was doing was going, "Why do you do that? Why do you take your fruit from this stand and then put it in this stand?" He's just asking questions trying to figure out the why's of humanity and more or less try and teach and help others understand why they do the things they do.

But this is about his being in prison and Crito comes and says, "We can help you escape" and Socrates say's, "No". And you will see his reasonings behind why he wants to stay and carry out being martyred. He did not consider it being martyred and I want to make that clear. He came from a different age and a different culture and he did not have that perception of martyrdom. For him it was the greatest good to be eliminated through a democratic approach which he invested his life into.

We get a little taste of an "Absolute" good. Throughout these lectures I am going to be slamming absolute goods, to some degree, but as I said before the painter is only a mediator and the absolute can never really be reached but we can get as close as we can to it. Socrates then says, you know, is one man's just as good as another man's opinion? And Crito says no. And we can see this: if you go to a wise grandfather and ask him a question and go to one of your friends who is off the rails and ask him a question you are going to obviously get different results. And from those results you are obviously going to take into consideration the two different approaches that are given to you. So one man's opinion is not equal to another.

And not just that, is the mob opinion, which is the opinion of the group, more valid then the opinion of one man. And we can easily see just by looking around that this is not the case. The group does retarded things, like really horrible things, they lose the individual and we can see this in Nazi Germany and we can see this in Stalinism and this is what we are talking about with absolutes. There is some type of absolute that we are striving for and we get different degrees the more wisdom we achieve as to how close we are to that absolute. That is one of your readings and this is a very good reading and I hope that you consider this and reflect and all of these reading and all of these lectures I don't just want you to one time go, "oh yeah, okay". I want you to actually think because that is what we are here for; we are here to think and contemplate, ponder, upon these very difficult questions.

We also have Jonah which is about a man who ran from his destiny. He knew his destiny and he ran. And I did that for a while too, it is only the last two years that I have fully embraced my calling. Before there was bits and pieces - I would pick and choose what I liked from my calling and then just dump the rest. And what I dumped came back on me to its fullest and I suffered and I suffered greatly. This can be related to life. We have the choice. We have that calling there, we might not quite understand or know that calling yet, but we come to learn it if we embrace it. And then we can carry it out.

There is another point of this reading that I would like you to consider and that is Jonah's suffering and I want you to think about this so in lecture three when we talk about belief and suffering you can start to relate different aspects of Jonah's suffering with what we are talking about in lecture three. So those are the two books that we are going to be reading and I hope you guys enjoy this. All of this material that I am providing you is very very popular material, at least it is what passes on through the ages. You go into a book store and you get recommendations from your friends and what you are looking at is pornography. These are books that will wear away in one or two generations. But what you are looking at with philosophy is timeless material that will stay as long as we are here.

And that is what we need to consider is what it is that we are putting into our heads, but this material that I am providing you has actually shifted the thought process of mankind and developed it: the reason that you think like you think is because of this material, and more material, and hopefully as I offer more courses, we will expand upon this material and if you choose to take on those other courses as well, you will be given the tools to understand why you think the way that you think. But these are all passed down, we learn something new, a smart guy comes along and says, "this", and we go "oh okay", so the world is not flat or the sun earth revolves around the sun instead of the sun revolving around the Earth. And at first we go, "no, no!" and gets criticised and ridiculed and martyred and then we go, "oh okay, we will accept that now" and then we lose the meaning of it and once it is over we put it back in the subconscious or the unconscious.

I am here to bring it back out because we need to consider these topics. To understand yourself, to be able to follow your own destiny and create and develop meaning in your life you need to understand why you are the way that you are. And if you don't then you are not master of your own destiny. You can not play an arcade or XBox game without learning how to play your character. So you have a character here that you need to learn how to control. And in order to learn how to control that character you need to understand the strings that that character has.

Throughout this course we will be looking at Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Shakespeare, we will be looking into Buddhism. We will be looking into a few books in the Bible. We will be looking at the great philosopher Kant, Plato, and many more and I do hope that you enjoy these as they are very significant and powerful works, powerful masterpieces. Most of the time I am only going to be able to give you selections of these pieces.

That is what my philosophy degree does, did. They gave me a lot of different information in like just a section of the book that it came from. And it was just a lot and it was hard to understand it all. And over time then I began to learn the material because it all correlates in one way or another. And then after I finished the major I went back and said, "Okay all of this material came from books. Now I am going to read all of these books. And I have read most of them and am still reading most of them. I read a lot. I read probably thirty to fifty books a month. I have read more than that. There is a lot of material that I go through. And I love it because the more that I learn, the more that I can understand, control, and dominate my life and in turn the more that I learn about my suffering and human condition the more that I can overcome that suffering and that condition. And I hope that this course will show you some aspects of that and maybe provide some tools for you to be able to do the same with your own life.

So that is what this course is about and I hope that you do enjoy it. I hope this first lecture has enlightened you to certain aspects of what we are going to cover and interested you as well. I hope I don't not fail in my mission and my mission is to open your eyes to "what is" and when your eyes are open you will be in a much better position to be able to make the decisions in your life because the decisions that we make in our life are the most important thing possible. Not making a decision is making a decision as well and I want you to be aware that every single conscious second we have a decision, "What are you going to do?". This is the question that you need to fight with so you can figure out what you are going to do each moment. And if you are to make a meaningful life, what are you going to do with your conscious seconds, you have been given so many of them.

I hope this has intrigued you at least a little bit. I hope you do continue and take on this course. If you want to contact me then I am happy to have a chat and you can contact me on my site My Reflected Life. These lectures are all a part of my site. I do YouTube to build my website. I do not do YouTube to be on YouTube. If you are a YouTuber coming to this then I recommend you to my website. So YouTube acts as a medium that allows me to build my website. So if you want to chat about any of the things that we talk about in these lectures then I am happy to do that. And I think these issues are so important not to the masses but the individual, and the individual is you. So I want you to be able to take your life under your own control and make it the life that you should be living. And I do not know how that is. That is for you to figure out. And I hope this course helps you do that.