Study Guide

Ecclesiastes Life, Consciousness, and Existence

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Life, Consciousness, and Existence

We live inside mysteries, says Ecclesiastes. We can never know what's really going on—we're trapped into knowing that something greater than us exists, but we're powerless to know exactly what it is and means. We live in a world where things seem insubstantial and meaningless—like in Office Space. People can get so obsessed about silly things—like retrieving a lost stapler—that they might burn their entire office down. So, what's the point? It's all—everyone together now—vanity.

Or is it? Is there something beyond vanity? Or does knowing that it's all vanity help you live a life that's more than vanity? Eh? Or does Ecclesiastes just give you a bunch of unanswered questions to keep chewing on? Without knowing if there are specific answers or not? Er, kind of like these?

Questions About Life, Consciousness, and Existence

  1. When Ecclesiastes says that God put the "world" or "a sense of past and future" or "Eternity" in the hearts of human beings (depending on how you translate it), what do you think he means? Why would God try to confuse and baffle people for no particular reason?
  2. How limited is our knowledge of the world (Ecclesiastes thinks it's pretty limited)? Do you think we can get beyond our own limitations and learn more about what the world is really like?
  3. When Ecclesiastes is telling us to eat and drink "with a merry heart," does he want us to "seize the day"? Or does he want us to keep it more low-key than that?
  4. What does he mean when he says that it's better to see with your eyes than to wander around with your desires? How does desire "wander"?
  5. What's wrong with this and how does it cause us to suffer or be uncomfortable?

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