Excerpt taken from The Almanack of Naval Ravikant
What is the meaning of life?
"A really unbounded, big question: what is the meaning and purpose of life?
That’s a big question. Because it’s a big question, I’ll give you three answers.
Answer 1: It’s personal. You have to find your own meaning. Any piece of wisdom anybody else gives you, whether it’s Buddha or me, is going to sound like nonsense. Fundamentally, you have to find it for yourself, so the important part is not the answer, it’s the question. You just have to sit there and dig with the question. It might take you years or decades. When you find an answer you’re happy with, it will be fundamental to your life.
Answer 2: There is no meaning to life. There is no purpose to life. Osho said, “It’s like writing on water or building houses of sand.” The reality is you’ve been dead for the history of the Universe, 10 billion years or more. You will be dead for the next 70 billion years or so, until the heat death of the Universe.
Anything you do will fade. It will disappear, just like the human race will disappear and the planet will disappear. Even the group who colonizes Mars will disappear. No one is going to remember you past a certain number of generations, whether you’re an artist, a poet, a conqueror, a pauper, or anyone else. There’s no meaning.
You have to create your own meaning, which is what it boils down to. You have to decide:
“Is this a play I’m just watching?”
“Is there a self-actualization dance I’m doing?”
“Is there a specific thing I desire just for the heck of it?”
These are all meanings you make up.
There is no fundamental, intrinsic purposeful meaning to the Universe. If there was, then you would just ask the next question. You’d say, “Why is that the meaning?” It would be, as physicist Richard Feynman said, it would be “turtles all the way down.” The “why’s” would keep accumulating. There is no answer you could give that wouldn’t have another “why.”
I don’t buy the everlasting afterlife answers because it’s insane to me, with absolutely no evidence, to believe because of how you live seventy years here on this planet, you’re going to spend eternity, which is a very long time, in some afterlife. What kind of silly God judges you for eternity based on some small period of time here? I think after this life, it’s very much like before you were born. Remember that? It’s going to be just like that.
Before you were born, you didn’t care about anything or anyone, including your loved ones, including yourself, including humans, including whether we go to Mars or whether we stay on planet Earth, whether there’s an AI or not. After death, you just don’t care either.
Answer 3: The last answer I’ll give you is a little more complicated. From what I’ve read in science (friends of mine have written books on this), I’ve stitched together some theories. Maybe there is a meaning to life, but it’s not a very satisfying purpose.
Basically, in physics, the arrow of time comes from entropy. The second law of thermodynamics states entropy only goes up, which means disorder in the Universe only goes up, which means concentrated free energy only goes down. If you look at living things (humans, plants, civilizations, what have you) these systems are locally reversing entropy. Humans locally reverse entropy because we have action.
In the process, we globally accelerate entropy until the heat death of the Universe. You could come up with some fanciful theory, which I like, that we’re headed towards the heat death of the Universe. In that death, there’s no concentrated energy, and everything is at the same energy level. Therefore, we’re all one thing. We’re essentially indistinguishable.
What we do as living systems accelerates getting to that state. The more complex system you create, whether it’s through computers, civilization, art, mathematics, or creating a family—you actually accelerate the heat death of the Universe. You’re pushing us towards this point where we end up as one thing.”