There is a story I like about the controversial spiritual teacher George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff. He was sitting in his favourite Parisian Cafe when a rich English aristocrat approached him and offered him £1000 if he could show her the meaning of life.
He took up her challenge and invited a local prostitute to join his table. He offered her some of the cake he was eating and told her a fantastic story: he was in fact an alien and the cake she was eating had been transported to earth from his home planet. Upon asking her if she was enjoying his otherworldly delicacy, she replied that it was just an almond cake.
Gurdjieff suddenly turned to the aristocrat and announced “That is the meaning of life!” Feeling embarrassed and confused the Lady quickly left, but was rumoured to have returned later and paid Gurdjieff his prize money in full.
What was Gurdjieff pointing to with this stunt? Here is one way to approach it.We tend to believe that the world is given just as it is. That it's simply there regardless of what we think about it. For most of us the world is completely objective, existing by itself, whether we experience it or not.
It may come as a surprise then to realise that actually, there is no objective world which we all experience. There is only ever “our world” and that is entirely dependent upon how we view it, understand it and relate to it. We never experience the world as it actually is but rather as we are in each moment, and this always depends upon the lens of our own biological, cultural and personal conditioning.