Jungwon Oh / San Francisco
It feels like finding the true meaning of life is a miracle. The meaning might be somewhere in this world, but it’s definitely hard to find.
I would like to share how I discovered the meaning of my life.
My childhood up to the age of 9 was really beautiful and happy. I was born on an island that is so small that it is difficult to find it on a map. The island consisted of about 10 households, and I lived with my parents and sisters. Everyone in the neighborhood lived like a family, and even without a grocery store or any money, the mountains and the ocean had plenty of food for all of us. Even if we didn’t have electricity for all 24 hours, I had friends to play within nature, so I was not bored at all. When I think about it now, it feels like a fairy tale.
There was no school on the island, so when I was 9, I was sent away without my parents and my friends to a city where my grandmother lived.
From that point, my dark and gloomy life began. Boys in the city were mean. They made fun of me and bullied me. Even though there were grocery stores, I was always hungry because I didn’t have enough money. I picked up empty bottles and sold them to buy snacks, carried concrete blocks to buy ice cream, and sometimes stole food from markets.
I spent a lot of time alone, being bored, wandering alone on the streets. I cried so much that I felt like I had no more tears to shed for the rest of my life.
My teenage years basically felt like going through a long dark tunnel, and then finally I entered college.
I was an honor student, so I was provided with a full-tuition scholarship, room and board, and a stipend. I had money, and I got a girlfriend too. No one bothered me anymore, and there were many students on the campus. It was an ideal place to make as many friends as I wanted. However, I felt like I was not part of the world; I felt like a drop of oil floating on the sea, and I was inside the drop of oil. I was still lonely, and even though I was living in an ideal environment, the feeling of emptiness in my heart got even bigger.
I had my goals in life, so I studied hard every day to achieve them. Nonetheless, when I reflected back at the end of the day, everything I did that day felt like a bubble- it was there, but it disappeared. Whether I reflected back on my day or my life, there seemed to be nothing different. I started to question- What is the meaning of all this? Why do I live and where am I going? These questions always lingered in the back of my mind. So I think I drank a lot because of that anguish.
When I was 22, my professor invited me to go to a meditation retreat that could help me overcome myself, and I agreed without any hesitation.
At the meditation retreat, for the first time in my life, I learned what the human mind exactly was. I also realized that I was not living in the world, but living inside my own mind world. The meditation guides taught me and guided me on how to discard/cleanse my mind. I stayed up all night and meditated diligently. As I reflected on my life I lived and discarded my mind, again and again, my perspective towards myself and the world changed. Simultaneously, a lot of inner changes and enlightenment came.
The resentment towards my parents who sent me to the city when I was 9 years old, the anger at the kids who bullied me, the pain of being rejected by the first two girls I liked, the countless pretending to be not hurt, the shame of my hypocritical behaviors to fill the void in my heart, all the things that were tangled up, were being released one by one. I shed a lot of tears that had dried up for a long time. The tears were different from the ones I shed when I was 9 years old. These were tears of repentance.
As many of my distressed minds disappeared, and many of my life’s questions were resolved, I started to be happy again. One day, I was reminded of the “Heart Sutra” that I had memorized while following Won Buddhism in college. At that time, the mantra I had repeated without knowing the meaning was completely understood with my heart as I replayed them in my mind. The “Heart Sutra” was talking about the Truth that was within me.
I thought that the Truth is something that only extraordinary people like priests or monks were able to find. However, as I discarded my human mind, the Truth, the universal mind, got revealed within me. That truth was where we came from, it was our true nature, and it was our true selves. At the time, all the questions like… Who am I? Where do I come from? How should I live? Where do I go when I die?… were all answered clearly. I didn’t go to the meditation retreat to find the Truth. I attended because I felt so stuck and distressed so I only focused on throwing away my mind according to the method I was taught and the Truth was found. I found my true self, and I, who wandered in my mind, did not belong to the world, finally belonged to the world. In the world of Truth, I live forever, and I am so happy and grateful that every day feels like a dream now.
This is how I found the meaning of life. The true meaning of life is to find the Truth, become the Truth, and live happily eternally.
As all the holy scriptures say that God, Buddha, Allah is within you, the Truth is within me. Because I was trapped in my mind world, the Truth was hidden.
If you are also interested in meditation to find the meaning of life, the video below will help you. Thank you.