The reality of meaning

What is the inner value as a human being?

The reality of meaning

If there’s one word buzzing around among psychologists and psychiatrists, doing their work amongst people having existential problems, it’s meaning. This concept is also central to doctors, philosophers, coaches, teachers, supervisors of young people, trainers in awareness and so on. In fact the core is a lack of meaning. That is the sad reality that underlies many forms of depression, burnout and feelings of hopelessness. A reality that increases hand over hand, paralyses the human being and is being fought with millions of pills.


The current crisis in the world reinforces this lack of meaning to a point where one has to face it, realizing that it’s impossible to run away from it any longer. Before the crisis, meaning usually came down to ‘doing what I do feel like doing’, and then realizing it. Now when that is no longer possible, we have to go a layer deeper. What gives my life meaning if I am prevented from doing what I feel like doing, and literally have to stay with myself?

What is that self? You will get stuck on this question if you keep approaching the topic from the materialistic layer of life. Then you will be shown what man is doing with matter, what is left of Mosul and Aleppo, of the Amazon rainforest, the icebergs, the glaciers and so on, while you are trying hard not to get depressed about it! Physical reality is severely damaged and  affected by human activities. Meaning seems to be completely lost.

But come on, let’s not be so gloomy, everywhere inspired inhabitants of the world are still busy stopping violence and destruction, busy with rebuilding the world, making fellow human beings aware and caring for them. To these people lack of meaning is not an issue, they do not spend time on that question, they give meaning to their lives on the material plane.

Well, – says the sober reasoning person -, they throw themselves into mopping with the tap open, and indeed, the mopping must continue. Concerning existence, man is dependent on matter, on nature, and nature will continue to give life if we continue to give her the opportunity to do so. There’s meaning enough. But still… see the first paragraph of this article.

But on a deeper level, the underlying consciousness has burned out. That’s what you have to look at, do not focus on the symptoms. It is time for a paradigm shift: the worldview in which the problem lies outside of us, turns to the realization: we are one whole.

Allowing the existential emptiness to continue to exist provokes trauma. You can break through that and start looking for your values as a human being from the inside out. Behind the fear lies freedom! By no longer sticking one distractive adhesive plaster after another on the wound inside, but by realizing that we are experiencing a great transition to the source of happiness, the fundamental inspiration within us, thus says Lawrence Jacobs.

If you google the word ‘meaning’, you come to Maslow’s pyramid – as a single pyramid this scheme is well known – to indicate in which order human needs must be met in order to be able to take the next step. From bottom to top you see: physical needs, need for safety and security, need for social contact, recognition and appreciation and at the top: self-realization.

The pyramid shown here has something special: there is another pyramid with the tip down, called meaning. The two points do not touch each other, but the impression is created here that meaning comes ‘from above’. It seems as if it is something that can be given to man from above, not something that man himself can look for in the material world around himself, such as recognition, appreciation, social contact and safety. It is, as expressed in the picture, something that ignores all those earthly needs; it seems to be a gift of the soul, which can be connected to man who is receptive to it.


This inverted pyramid is reminiscent of the crater from the text of Hermes Trismegistus, the divine mixing vessel that, filled with the forces of the Gnosis, is sent down to urge man to immerse himself in it, the man who knows for what purpose he was created. To know for what purpose you were created is to experience meaning.


The ‘crater’, the divine mixing vessel. [1]

God willed that spirit bondage should be set as the price for the race

within the reach of all souls. He has sent down a great crater, filled

with the powers of the Spirit, and bestoweda messenger with

the command to declare to the hearts of men: ‘Immerse

yourselves in this crater, you souls who can,

you who believe and trust that

you shalt ascend to him who

sent down this

mixing vessel.

You who know for

what purpose

   you were created.

Back to Jacobs: allowing the existential emptiness is traumatizing. You can break through that and start looking for your values as a human being from the inside out. Realizing that we are in a great transition to the source of happiness, the fundamental inspiration within us.

What then is that inner value as a human being? This is the essential question; that  apparently is the beginning of the great transition. Self-knowledge would help a lot. What is my ego, what do I fear, what is my soul, how do my desires work, what is my reason for existence?
The next great help is understanding the greatness of human capabilities. If we take a step higher, in the area prior to the formation of matter, we come to understand that every thought, every feeling is a creation, that you add to the world. If you let this image sink in, it can be a huge eye-opener, because what is humanity creating, what is man in front of you creating right now, and what would you like to create? What kind of world are you pursuing? A nostalgia comes up, a vague memory of a life that was much broader, that was full of soul, full of light and joy, an infinite harmony. [2]

Your soul, yes, the inspiration that makes you live, it wants to feed you, otherwise it will  remain dormant and you will continue to suffer from the emptiness. You can feed the soul with pure thoughts, with beauty, with the heaven that is present within you, with the wisdom of all ages, but above all – and this is the most important thing, the liberating – with love for your fellow man. With self-forgotten serving, to put it in an old-fashioned way. Then the I does not get a chance, you lose yourself in being of service to your fellow man and you build a place of light and comfort in yourself and therefore in the world. That is a light that can be found by one’s fellow man.

What about the mopping? Yes, that’s also part of it, but it also includes awareness. The earth is the training school for us humans, it is not the final destination. If that is your starting point, then you can focus on non-material help in the form of creating a light field. Out of love for your fellow man – for every fellow human being, not one excepted – you know what to do. Any condemnation can be neutralized immediately in your mind; you can always seek the middle, the pure idea from which human existence was created. That gives meaning to your life, then the leaven of love permeates your life, then you experience and pass on inner joy and peace, as an atmosphere that you can spread around you.

Marsilio Ficino, the Renaissance philosopher, says in one of his letters:

So what can be done to regain strength and become vigilant again? We will immediately have to turn our lives in the opposite direction. What we have learned from the many, we must unlearn, because through what we have learned, we have also learned to always misunderstand ourselves. What we have not learned, we will have to learn because as long as that ignorance remains with us, we cannot know ourselves. (…)

To the extent that we have become clean, we will have peace; as far as we have peace, we will shine. And once we awaken from our dreams, we will finally get back on the road, shining in our own true beauty. [3]

In this lies the greatness of human possibilities. Recognizing them, acting accordingly, that is meaning, given as a grace from above.



[1] J. van Rijckenborgh, The Egyptian Arch-Gnosis,  Part 2, Chap. XXI The holy Mixing Vessel, Rozekruis Pers, Haarlem 2017

[2] Peter Huijs, Volmaakt Licht, essays over de wetenschap van de ziel [Perfect Light, essays on the science of the soul], De Morgenster 2006

[3] The Letters of Marsilio Ficino,  Shepheard-Walwyn (Publishers) Ltd


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Date: March 26, 2022
Author: Anneke Stokman-Griever (Netherlands)
Photo: Gerd Altmann on Pixabay CCO

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