Eric Maisel (born in 1947) is an American psychotherapist, teacher, coach, author and atheist.
The Atheist’s Way (2009)
- We are on the threshold of understanding a shining idea: that each individual’s life can have meaning, even if the universe has none.
- p. 53
- You and you alone are the sole arbiter of the meaning in your life. The second you turn to someone and say, “What does life mean?” or, “What should my life mean?” you have slipped into a mind-set that courts inauthenticity and depression. The second you agree with someone simply because of her position or reputation, whether that someone is a guru, author, cleric, parent, politician, general, or elder, you fall from the path of personal meaning-maker.
- p. 53
- These doubts must be met in the following way. You announce that meaning does not exist until you make it, and then you don the mantle of meaning-maker. The minute you do this, all previous belief systems, both those that told you what to believe and those that told you that there was nothing to believe, vanish. You suddenly enact the paradigm shift that I believe we are now ready to embrace: the shift from seeking meaning to making meaning.
You let go of wondering what the universe wants of you, … and you announce that you will make life mean exactly what you intend it to mean. This is an amazing, glorious, and triumphant announcement. The instant you realize that meaning is not provided (as traditional belief systems teach) and that it is not absent (as nihilists feel), a new world of potential opens up for you.
- p. 54
- To define what we are is to reduce and distort what we are: to say that we are nothing but our desires or nothing but our self-interest is to misrepresent us.
- p. 62
- Before you can make meaning, an odd kind of election process must occur. You must nominate yourself as the meaning-maker in your life and as the hero of your own story. Then you must consciously elect yourself to that position.
- p. 65
- You nominate yourself to be the one who will courageously do what you think ought to be done, even if everyone is pressing you to do something else.
- p. 65
- Few people actually nominate themselves in this way. Most defer to the meaning-making apparatus of their culture, taking comfort in the fact that others have built a meaning nest for them. This built-in cover allows them to avoid taking responsibility and at the same time causes them to grow grandiose, narcissistic, and egotistical. As soon as you put on the robes of your culture and add gravity to your mere humanness by wearing the badge of your profession, your club, your gang, or your clan, you … refuse to engage in the process of personal meaning-making, with its requirements of honesty and self-awareness.
- p. 66
- To nominate yourself as the hero of your own story is to step outside society, not with the intention of turning your back on it but with the intention of not allowing it to dictate to you.
- p. 66
- This individual is regularly nominated not only by himself but by others as well: by the ordinary townsfolk who beg him to save their town, their world, or their galaxy because they see that he has the strength and integrity that they lack.
- p. 66-67
- “I nominate myself” means “I won’t follow.” This isn’t hubris: it is simply the fruit of your decision to live on your own terms.
- p. 67