Alter Est, Ergo Sum
About the Book
After a long, frightening journey, a Seeker of Truth reaches the top of a mountain and finds the cave of the Wise One. He says, “O, Wise One, I have come many miles and suffered many hardships, to ask you one question.” “Ask,” says the Wise One.
“What is the meaning of life?” says the pilgrim.
The Wise One pauses, smiles slightly, and replies. “You have come far and seem to me worthy, so I shall give you what you seek—the truth. The answer is in your question and this journey is your life. Go back down the mountain. When you arrive, you will know how much time you have wasted, and you will have no more time left.
So, give me your watch.”
Why is life so mysterious, and why is its purpose so elusive to us? It may be that we have looked for the meaning of life in the wrong places as though in a nightmarish scavenger hunt arranged by the Prince of Darkness himself. From one moment to another, we thought it was money or power or fame or honor or comfort or some other pleasure of the flesh, only to see them, finally, as false clues leading to a mountain we shouldn’t have climbed.
This book records an inquiry that found the meaning of life by discovering the meaning of death. This is reflected in the words and behavior of those who decide to die: the suicides. These poor souls have much to teach us, for they have measured out for us the value of death, from which we can calculate the value of life.
So a study of suicide leads to the truth about life—yours and mine. This book guides you to that revelation. The surprise of the book is that you will discover that you knew it all along. The promise of the book is that you will know that you know.
The relationships that a person has with other people are the central core of that person’s existence. The people you meet, the members of your family, those whom you love, and even your sworn enemy are the motivating forces behind everything you do and the reason for your stay on this planet. In short, the meaning of life is relationship.
What if life were relationship, pure and simple, the end and the beginning? If life is relationship, it is not wealth or fame. It is not winning or acquiring or what you accomplish or where you live or how much education you have or the honors you have been given. It is not how law-abiding you are or how devout you are in your religious faith. Your “worth” is measured not by your bank account, the property in your name, or the trust you established for your child or children. Your worth is measured by the relationships you have formed in your lifetime and the care with which you have conducted them and the way that you treated those other persons.
This view of people as enmeshed in relationships with others living in, by, and for them rejects the Cult of Self and the selfishness nourishing that demon. Your life’s meaning is before your eyes each day. In every encounter that you have with another person, every word or glance or touch, life reaches out and embraces you and fulfills your purpose for being here.
About the Author
Dr. Everstine was educated at Kenyon College, the New School for Social Research, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of California, Berkeley. His doctorate is in psychology. He was a graduate student of Philosophy at Oxford University (Linacre College) and Cambridge University (Fitzwilliam College). He is the author of nine textbooks in psychology and wrote The Meaning of Life (2004) and Life Is Relationship (2007). He is a life member of the American Psychological Association, a Fellow of the Mental Research Institute, Palo Alto, and a member of the Oxford and Cambridge Club, London.