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A Life of Meaning

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"A Life of Meaning" provides a good, concise overview, both on a spiritual and practical level, of the ideas of Effaism. You may repost and redistribute this book freely, either in part or as a whole, as long as you cite it properly (author: Anonymous, published by: effanow.com, year: 2011).

This text is also available as a PDF file.

A LIFE OF MEANING (2011)
by Anonymous

These words, inspired by love and justice, are a product of a truth far greater than any writer's individual self.
The author is merely a channel, and therefore chooses to remain anonymous.

1:
As we have been told throughout the ages,
I tell you as well:
Do not be selfish.
Do not think that by simply existing, nothing else is required of you here in this world.
Your existence requires something of you. Otherwise there would be no reason for you to exist in the first place.
Thinking otherwise is akin to refusing to swim when water is rising around you.
This world exists for a reason.
This world is a test,
A constant test of our ethics.
How we interact with this world, how we react to the challenges that we face every day, has an impact both on us, personally, and on everything around us.
There are answers that lead us in the right direction, and answers that lead us in the wrong direction.
Answers that lead us in the right direction will have a positive impact on us and on everything around us,
Whereas answers that lead us in the wrong direction will have a negative impact.
It is important to choose the right answer.
It is important to know how to choose the right answer.
There are many tricky questions, many of which pop-up unexpectedly.
Take these words to heart and you will know.

...

These words deal with life, not with death.
What happens when we die is not the focus here.
Choosing and following an ethical path is positive, whether or not you believe in an afterlife.
If, according to you, the afterlife exists, following the ideas set forth here will ensure you will be rewarded.
If, according to you, the afterlife doesn't exist, following the ideas set forth here will lead to a better world
for yourself and others, a very positive result in its own right.
Thus, as you can see, you are free to pursue your own ideas about the afterlife.
The only ideas that should be discarded are ones which directly conflict with the writings herein.


2:
Many people get upset because they cannot figure out the meaning of life.
Some get lost along the way because they are misled by a variety of unscrupulous, uncaring individuals masquerading as guides.
Others feel that they are not lost, when, in actuality, they are very much so.
This last phenomenon is a dangerous one, since complacency, no matter how misinformed, can be incredibly difficult to break free from.
Others still will tell you that we shouldn't try to find meaning in this world,
That the world has no meaning.
I am here to tell you that this world we live in is too intricate and too elaborate on too many levels not to have meaning.
Take the following to heart:
The meaning of life is helping.
The secret of life lies in not focusing solely on your own desires, on your own needs.
The secret of life is to see beyond our own little existence, no matter how all-encompassing it might seem, and to help others living beings around us who are suffering.
As long as we don't actively reach out to the innocent, we will not have understood.
Your reward for helping?
Although people are sometimes rewarded for the help they provide, the act of helping is so noble and positive, it requires no external reward.
The act of helping is its own reward.
When you truly understand this, you will feel fulfillment whenever you help others.

...

While there are no strict rules to helping, there are some things to keep in mind.
Helping can be both active and passive.
Active helping involves real physical acts, while passive helping can be something like making a decision to avoid engaging in certain harmful actions.
Both are positive, though active helping is what we should strive for.
Helping should always affirm life, and improve the life of a sentient being.
The words "killing" and "helping" are almost never interchangeable.
If your idea of helping involves killing, your idea is a faulty one.
Another way that helping can turn negative is when you take on more than you can handle.
Do not overextend yourself, for it will lead to a less effective result.
As for whom to help,
First on your list should be humans who are suffering through no fault of their own and animals.
These are the innocent beings of the world.
It doesn't matter if you choose to help one, the other, or both.
When it comes to helping, an innocent being is an innocent being.
There is nothing wrong with helping people who have themselves to blame for the unfortunate situation they find themselves in, provided that they are guided along a positive path, as described in this text.
What you should be mindful of, is the difference between those who really require help and those who only asks for it because of laziness.
It is important to not to encourage laziness, either in yourself or in others.

...

The ideas described herein should be the motivating factor behind any act of helping, and the advancement of these ideas should be the ultimate goal of any such act.
When it comes to helping, the words written here are the benchmark for purity.


3:
Animals are, by their very nature, innocent.
Helping an innocent being is one of the most noble things you can do.
Alas, nowhere are we farther from the noble side of life than in our current treatment of other animals.
This is one of the primary reasons the world is in such disarray.
For negativity begets negativity.
Murder begets murder.
Hate begets hate.
Fear begets fear.
There are negative consequences to hurting and killing other living beings, whether they are human or not.
You might have been told differently, but, in the grand scheme of things, slitting the throat of a pig is more or less as unacceptable as slitting the throat of another human being.
Donīt get it wrong,
This is not an extreme view, it is a compassionate one.
It is one that recognizes that all living beings should be respected.
An extreme view is one that justifies violence, not one that seeks to abate it.
Take these words to heart:
Hurting or killing any living being, human or otherwise, is one of the most negative things one can do.

...

How naïve and selfish it is for us to think that another living being wants to live any less than we do.
How naïve and selfish it is for us to think that another living being should be made to suffer any more than we do.
Take these words to heart:
Humans and other animals are but parts of the same body.
You now know.
Knowing this, and still continuing on the path of causing death and suffering is a very negative thing.

...

Our relationship with other animals is one of the most one-sided, unethical arrangements around.
It is wrong to think that by virtue of being human, we have the right to dominate all other living beings around us.
Yes, our intelligence is superior to that of other animals, but we should use this intelligence to help them, not to exploit them.
Never bully, abuse, or use other sentient beings for your benefit.
Apply this principle to your interaction with other humans, as well as your interaction with other animals, for they too are sentient beings.
You now know.
Knowing this, and still continuing on the path of causing death and suffering is a very negative thing.

...

Humanity, advance!
Just because someone is physically weaker than you does not give you the right to physically abuse them.
This is a path to darkness and the antithesis of progress.
Just because someone is not as intelligent as you are, does not give you the right to mentally abuse them.
This is a path to darkness and the antithesis of progress.
We use animals for food, for transportation, for clothing, for research, for entertainment.
All of these things should be discarded by anyone who does not want to remain enveloped in darkness.
You now know.
Knowing this, and still continuing on the path of causing death and suffering is a very negative thing.

...

Do not consume the flesh of animals.
No matter how appealing the taste, each bite carries with it the suffering and death that the innocent animal had to endure.
The darkness present in each bite of meat can cancel out the starriest of skies.
Do not make excuses for your bad habits.
Do not listen to others' excuses for their bad habits.
People will tell you that forsaking meat is unnatural.
I tell you right now:
It is much more natural than taking another living being's life, or having someone else do this for you.
People will tell you that changing your diet is difficult.
I tell you right now:
Do not be afraid to go the extra mile in order to live an ethical life. Don't let your selfish interests interfere with improving the lives of countless other living beings and the world as a whole.
Most people continue eating meat because of ignorance, bad information, lack of compassion, or, plain laziness.
You now know.
Knowing this, and still continuing on the path of causing death and suffering is a very negative thing.

...

Those who abuse another animal,
You will be abused.
Those who let a suffering animal walk by without helping,
You cries for help will be ignored.
Those who laugh at the suffering of animals,
You too will be laughed at when all's said and done.

...

I tell you right now: the correct answer is to use our superior intelligence to find better ways to coexist with other living beings on the planet, not to find more effective ways to exploit, kill, and do harm to other beings.

...

To all those people waiting to find fault in these words to justify their bad habits:
What is motivating your desire to kill the spark of positivity in others?
Ask yourself what you have done to advance your own compassion and empathy before pointing out the supposed faults in another person's approach.
The imperfections of someone's compassion do not discount its accomplishments.
Empathy, even if incomplete, is better than no empathy at all.
The goal of these words is not to create saints or martyrs, but to point people in the right direction.


4:
Focusing too much on your own needs is wasting time.
Focusing too much on your own needs throughout your whole life leads to a wasted life.
People often waste their lives without even knowing it.
They go from stagnant pond to stagnant pond, never reaching the ocean.

...

All of you wanting peace and quiet,
Living life just trying to get by,
Focusing only on yourselves,
Thinking your day was successful just because nothing bad happened to you,
I am here to tell you that if you are not actively engaging in helping innocent beings, you are missing the point of your existence.

...

Those of you who think that material gain is the goal of life and only live to ensure that your material situation is sound and secure,
Those of you for whom a good job, a good car, and a good house are the goals,
I am here to tell you that you are missing the point of your existence.

...

Those of you who live for pleasure - for whom sensory stimulation is reason enough to be alive,
Those of you who lead a hedonistic lifestyle,
I am here to tell you that you are wasting your life.

...

Those of you who spend money on new clothes, new gadgets,
On going out every weekend,
Do so, but set aside some of this money, and give it to people or organizations that help innocent beings.
This is a positive step away from selfishness.
Charities are much more worthy of your money than your local bar, or a clothing store.

...

All of you poets, musicians, writers, and other artists, who live for art and believe that your art is the reason for your existence,
Those of you writing songs or stories, painting, taking photographs or engaging in any other such activity,
Do so, but do not allow a smaller truth to obscure a greater one.
An artist can be as distant from the greater truth as anyone else.
For art only sometimes opens our souls to a greater truth, and even then it is not, in itself, a greater truth.
Understanding the difference is vital to leading a meaningful life.

...

Those of you caught up in the day-to-day problems of your existence, - complaining of your job, failed relationships, traffic, your neighbors, and other such worldly matters,
See these matters for what they are -
Insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
When we concentrate on these things, we are actually concentrating on how these things affect us personally, so our reaction to them betrays our addiction to ourselves.
We should fight this addiction, not feed it.

...

Those of you sitting in a warm, comfortable home, oblivious to the fact that other humans and animals around you are shivering from the cold,
You are missing the point of this life.
As long as we ignore the true suffering of the living beings around us, we will bear the consequences of their suffering.
While you do not see that their suffering is also your suffering, you can consider yourself blind.

...

If you think that finding a person that you love and that loves you is the goal of life,
I am here to tell you that your understanding is incomplete.
Loving another person is a beautiful thing, but it is not the reason you are here.
It is as much of an aid as it is a hindrance to realizing the true meaning of life.
Sometimes when we love another person we focus all our attention on that person, and are blinded to the greater suffering.
This is a dangerous thing, as it prevents us from helping those who really need it.
Your life partner is not the reason for your existence.

...

Equally, many people think that starting a family and having children is the reason we exist.
To them I say - what is the point of this?
How is this an end in itself, and how does starting a family and having children ultimately improve the state of the world in which we live?
They say that having children and having a family helps us focus less on ourselves, but this is not entirely true.
I am here to tell you that focusing on our immediate family or on our immediate circle of friends is not enough.
All this amounts to is focusing on an extension of ourselves, and, as such, still prevents us from seeing the greater suffering.
This, too, is as much of an aid as it is a hindrance to realizing the true meaning of life.

...

To those people that have put their faith in their intellect, and feel that they can justify everything around them through a systematic, scientific, intellectual approach,
I am here to tell you that your understanding is incomplete.
A well-written passage, article, or book can be powerful, but if the ideas therein are not backed by a deep realization of the truth behind our existence, their importance is a somewhat superficial one.
Philosophers have often tried to explain our existence in the most complicated ways possible.
They believe that complicated mirages are in some way better than simple ones.
Let's not get caught up in words.
Sometimes one word, or a glance, or a gesture, can be more powerful than 500 famous books on philosophy.

...

If you help individuals who can be said to be in a predicament due to their own bad choices,
Individuals who can be seen as responsible for their own fate,
I will not judge, because you understand the meaning of compassion.
Still, remember that helping innocent beings is more important than helping those who are responsible for their own fate.
Helping the helpless is one of the most noble things one can do.

...

All of you finding fault in the noble actions and decisions of compassionate people,
Don't let your ignorance destroy your mind.
How ridiculous it is to accuse someone of having dirty fingernails while you yourself are wallowing in dirt.
For anyone who truly understands these words will see the purity in pure actions and the relative meaningless of actions that are not pure.
Anyone who attempts to follow a noble path, no matter how small the steps taken, should be encouraged.
People who discourage this, who mock this, who use misguided opinions disguised as facts are the ones leading the world in the wrong direction.


5.
Life is all about choices.
When making important choices, we should try to see beyond our own personal interests, or the personal interests of our immediate friends and families.
Otherwise we will continue going from stagnant pond to stagnant pond, never reaching the ocean.

...

When it comes to helping the innocent, follow the guidelines you have read here.
Grow you empathy.
Let compassion guide you through life.
If your culture tells you otherwise,
Your culture is wrong.
If you parents have taught you otherwise,
Your parents have taught you incorrectly.
If your society tells you that you are wrong,
Your society is misguided.
If your religion says it is acceptable to kill another living being, or to make another living being suffer,
Its message is incomplete.

...

The world is a fickle place.
The world can be quite unfair.
There are those who do positive things throughout their lives and yet are not appreciated.
There are those who speak the truth and yet are not heard.
There are those who are unfortunate victims of a disaster, or victims of a senseless crime.
Do not let the waves of this world sway you from doing good and from pursuing the truths set out here.
Do not let the waves of this world drown you or shipwreck you on a remote island.
For every single occurrence that seems senseless in this world, there is a counterpart that makes perfect sense.
Positive acts resulting in positive consequences are just that - a tangible antidote to the negativity around us.
Do not let hate or indifference overtake your heart, but instead let compassion reign.
Take these words to heart and you will remain on the right path.

...

To all the people who feel saddened by the state of the world,
That understand the great suffering that exists around us,
That empathize with all other living beings,
Count yourself amongst the fortunate.
Do not despair,
Do not feel helpless,
Do not feel sad.
You have been given a beautiful gift - the gift of being awake to the way things really are.
Don't waste your gift. See it as an advantage, and use it to do good.
The only thing worse than not realizing the truth, is realizing what has to be done and not doing it.
As conscious individuals, if we do not act to improve the world we live in, who will?
Instead of wallowing in sadness, let's act to change the world in a positive way.

...

Do not be afraid to act.
Those who do not act to change the world in a positive way are the ones who should be afraid,
For they are the ones who are too blind to do anything worthwhile in their lives.
For they are the ones who are all too happy to remain ignorant.
For they create excuse upon excuse for bad habits, and end up running in circles their whole lives.
For they are the ones who create negative consequences for themselves and the world around them.
For they are the ones who are wasting their lives.
What good will they have done?
How will they have helped?

...

Ignorance can be bliss,
But this is not the type of bliss you should pursue.
Being oblivious to the suffering around you can lead to a life that seems happy, but what purpose will this life have served?
When allīs said and done, what will have been the meaning of your existence?
Do not make the mistake of brushing these questions off as insignificant.

...

These words aim to help you make the right choices.
They are words of love, and their message is one of love -
Love for all the living beings in this world, and love for a positive way of living, which still eludes so many of us.
Their goal is to get everyone to experience the fulfillment of leading a meaningful life.
If there is any trace of negativity in these words, it is only to reflect the negative consequences of ignorance.
I say this to you now:
Follow these words, and the positive impact that you make will benefit yourself and the world around you.

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THIS TEXT IS PART OF THE CORE BELIEFS OF EFFAISM.

Keywords: Effaism, Effaist thought, Effaist philosophy, Effa core beliefs, the meaning of life explained
(c) 2009-2015 EFFA (Equality and Fairness For Animals) / www.effanow.com