Real Leaders

The Meaning of Life

jonathan granoff
Have we forgotten why we are here, who we are and how to pose and answer these most important questions? I believe we are here to learn and know through essential love. This process can guide our actions and reveal the birthright of being human.
We are deeply inquisitive creatures sent into this creation to discover something which may not look like anything we can see. We are to learn of something which we cannot control, measure or own. We are able to know through love, and that knowing helps make us human. To know the mystery of that which sent us into the world we must know the self, the consciousness within the body, that is knowing. We must inquire into who we are. If we do not gain this knowledge then what have we gained?
What is it that cannot be seen but without which there is no vision? What is it which cannot be heard but without which there is no hearing? What is it that cannot be known but is awareness, knowing, consciousness itself? It can never be an object, yet, no object can be known without it. 
More valuable than learning of any object is knowing that which is knowing. This treasure is resplendent with the radiance of the soul and emanates love and kindness. It cannot be measured for it has no form and those who know say: One!
Weighing ink on paper
the size and structure of
                      each letter
                      even the paper’s fabric itself
Will we know the meaning of
                      the words?
Measuring the bones, the skin,
                      the blood, the house,
                      the nation, the planet,
                      the solar system,
                      all the galaxies
Will we know the meaning of the measurements?
Will we find and know
Measuring all these gestures
                      will it be known —
this immeasurable
By observing the outside, the portion understood with the senses, mind and desire, the essence will not be known. By observing with wisdom we can know ourselves, and through such understanding, know the one who is observing all. When wisdom dawns in the fullness of love, it brings a tranquillity that the intellect cannot measure and leads to knowing without symbols and thought. It is such wisdom that governs the investigation of the unchanging, that which is real, that which neither comes nor goes, the mystery which sent us in the first place. This Mystery created us so that It could be known. 


Would you follow a fast sports car with a bumper sticker that said, “I may be lost but I am really moving”? What is the purpose of our social institutions? What is the purpose of an economy? Does it help create communities of human beings or is it a kind of Stuff Olympics? US Senator Byron Dorgan questions whether “the gold medal goes to the nation that consumes the most stuff and racks up the biggest GDP.”
What is the purpose of art? Does it awaken beauty in the beholder? Or, does it become only a technique of commenting on human techniques of expression without a meaning?
What is the purpose of law? Does it establish justice? Or, is it only a social procedure for controlling economies, and people who do not fit in?
What is the purpose of medicine? Is it an art for healing, and all that implies? Or, is it only a high technology business to keep people breathing indefinitely?
What is the purpose of religion? Is it to improve human hearts and qualities so that wisdom, love and compassion might awaken? Or, is it a kind of theater of rituals that only define groups from one another and increase their respective sense of security in feeling special?
What is the purpose of philosophy? Is it to stimulate inquiry into the good? Or, is it only an intellectual technique to criticize the limits of intellectual techniques?
What is the purpose of education? Does it include drawing out the self knowledge of students and improving character? Or, is it only to train workers for the institutions that help rack up a large GDP?
How are we to judge the success of institutions if we do not know how to judge the success of our individual lives? Without a standard of being human, without a human purpose how can we determine what direction our institutions should go? We live in a time in which the pursuit of the good and the pursuit of the real are divided. The hard sciences claim the epistemological high ground, relegating all other methods of knowing to mere aesthetics. What cannot be measured is marginalized. The self, love, compassion, consciousness and the soul are not part of “truth discovery” since they are not amenable to measurement and control, criteria for scientific knowledge. The real and the good need not be separated. In human traditions of wisdom the pursuit of virtue is the necessary condition for understanding the real.
If original purposes are lost the important questions cannot be answered. If what it is to be human is not first understood all the efforts expended lack purpose. Procedure overcomes purpose. The how overshadows the why. When there is no why and nihilism grows, the human is reduced to a mere pleasure seeking creature with no limits of appetite. Economy becomes greed and security can never be obtained for no inner awareness or peace is nurtured. There is never enough and ignorance leads us into apocalyptic futile attempts to obtain security by ever increasing destructive capacities.
Lacking the courage to face our own inner inadequacies we project all unease upon the external environment and attempt to own and control it entirely. It is our own ignorance, our own qualities of egoism and arrogance, that bring about the most suffering.

The Quest

It is tragic if a king sends a messenger to bring back a particular thing and he brings back hundreds of extraneous items of no value to the king. It is glorious when that which is most valuable is obtained.
There was a king who instructed his prime minister as follows, “There is a kingdom to which I will send you. I understand there is a king there whose beauty and knowledge is without compare and above whom there is none and below whom there is none. I give you this book to use when instructions to know this king become necessary. Use it carefully. Come to know this king and report back to me of his wonders.”
The minister set out for the kingdom. He travelled across a dangerous expanse where he carefully walked along a one foot wide plank. On the right was quicksand and on the left was swamp. He looked up and saw that on the walls of the kingdom were cannons. Should a cannon shoot at him he knew he would fall off into his demise.
At the gate of the kingdom he asked the keeper, “I hear there is a tavern within the kingdom which contains all taverns. Within this tavern is a story teller who contains all the stories of the kingdom. Please direct me to this place.”
At the tavern he asked the storyteller who said, “Beware this is a dangerous kingdom where your greatest treasures can be taken if you are not diligent. Yet the ruler is beautiful and just. If approached correctly, all can and will be understood. Make your way in this kingdom, work with its inhabitants and you will learn your story.”
The minister entered into business with five attractive partners. They robbed him of the goods he had brought. They conspired and cheated. They deceived him at every juncture and when he took them to court they changed evidence, prevailing at the first level.
The minister was diligent and appealed to a higher court where he was instructed that his case could only be resolved at the highest court of the kingdom.
The parties appeared there together and the minister could not see the judge, the king  himself, for he was hidden behind a veil. Frustrated he began, “I entered into a partnership with these five and they have lied at each step, stealing me of my most valuable property. Justice has been denied me in the courts below and now I cannot even see you.” He began to become angry but remembered the book he had been given at the outset of his journey.
He opened the book and the page was a clear mirror in which he could see his own qualities in his face. He abruptly realized his condition and reflected openly, “A king of wisdom would indeed hide his beautiful face from those who cheated and abused. Such a king would only show himself to the appreciative. Those who know how wonderfully the kingdom is ordered and whose hearts have gratitude might behold his face.” His heart filled with gratitude and peace.
The veil opened and the king appeared. His beauty and grace was so overwhelming that the five were stunned and rendered senseless. The king handed the minister a book and said, “This book is to be brought back to the king who sent you as evidence of our meeting. Look at it carefully and know your fulfillment.”
He opened the book and it too was a mirror, the tilt of which captured an effulgence of light such that neither an image, a reflection or even the mirror itself could be seen. Only light in its most beautiful essence could be seen. The minister knew then that indeed the king whom he had found was the same king who had sent him at the beginning.
The king is the great mystery from which we all arise, beyond gender or description, known through mercy as infinite light and love, with names numerous and exalted such as God, Allah, Yahweh, Siva, Unnamable. The minister is the soul, the spark of light and consciousness sent into this world to discover itself and its source. The Prophet said, “God said, ‘I was a hidden treasure loving to be known and so I made creation.’” He further stated, “The one who knows himself will know the Lord.” Knowing oneself is fulfilling the divine purpose of the great mystery of life.
To do this wisdom is needed. Wisdom grows where the heart is filled with human qualities of love and compassion.
The plank is the path of clarity and determination. The quicksand is the mind which generates infinite images and symbols and the swamp is desire which can never be satisfied. We can all fall into these traps and only through grace do the cannons of worldly sorrow such as sickness, old age, and poverty for example not overwhelm us.
The gatekeeper is reflective inner awareness that directs us to the heart where conscience explains to the soul the nature of this world. It warns us and explains that each of us has a personal story to discover. The five partners are the five symbolic elements which disguise our identity and steal our most precious gift, time. We identify with earth as form and weight, fire as energy, air as thoughts, water as emotions and the pull of attachments and sensuality, ether as dreams and spiritual realms. These elements pose as ultimate reality in the realm of the five senses. When the soul tries to claim back its heritage and goes to the court of the intellect, the intellect which is unable to transcend the five senses cannot even find the soul and thus rules against it.
With determination, wisdom directs the quest deeper and in the court of the inner heart where the mirror of wisdom shows us our true qualities we can purify ourselves. When the attitude of pure gratitude dawns the king can show himself. The book of wisdom that the king grants reflects the infinity of pure illumination which is the wonder of the source of our being which sends us here in the first instance in order to know ourselves and to know and love him.


  • Jonathan Granoff is an American lawyer, screenwriter and lecturer, widely known as President of the Global Security Institute. In 2014, Granoff was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

About The Author

Jonathan Granoff

Jonathan Granoff

Jonathan Granoff is an American lawyer, screenwriter and lecturer, widely known as President of the Global Security Institute. In 2014, Granoff was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • Jonathan Granoff is an American lawyer, screenwriter and lecturer, widely known as President of the Global Security Institute. In 2014, Granoff was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

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