A Dialogue between Yu Du and Orlando Fernando

Yu and Orlando are the co-leaders of the Meaningfulness Movement. This dialogue was one of their many discussions that led to start of the movement.

The Essence

Orlando: Our search for meaning is not a luxury but a duty. For me, meaning is the substance of our joy and the expression of our power. We experience our humanity through meaning. We are the creator and inventor of our meaning; it’s a free choice, not an accident.

Yu: You are spot on about the essence of meaningfulness. We are the creator of our inner and outer worlds. Meaningfulness starts from the moment that we truly recognise the power within us and commit to take full responsibility for our life.

I’m struck by the fact that so many people are disengaged at work and feel unfulfilled in their lives. The crisis of meaning is spreading fast in our modern western society when we seem to have more freedom to define meanings than our ancestors. But why? I think one of the reasons is because we— as a society—have lost the ability to tap into the power of practical wisdom, which was one of the main functions of ancient philosophy.


O: Until the middle of the nineteenth century, philosophy was meant to help us. But then it deserted us. Philosophy no longer integrates knowledge and wisdom, and it’s become the servant of science and logic. Contemporary philosophers are busy writing articles aimed solely at academia. That exercise, however, lacks the power to offer any help toward the crisis.

Y: The failure of contemporary philosophy has prompted individuals to take more responsibilities for themselves: to think deeply and critically about their lives. We acquire wisdom through self-inquiry, through vigorous practice, through expansion of our awareness, through our intentions. That’s the ultimate source of meaningfulness. Earlier on we talked about the importance of recognition of our true power to create meanings. How do we start?

The first step: how not why

O: That depends on who we are and where we are at. One possibility is to find something that has meaning now, or that used to have meaning, and then ask the question of how it has or had meaning.

Not why, but how! Meaning is not a thing or object; it’s a process and a flow. The important thing is not to ask typical questions to “analyse” it, but to try to catch our mind in the process of creating. That’s the first step.

Y: The question of “how” is often overlooked. Some people assume that meaning is somehow hidden, and if we are lucky, it might show up and talk to us. However, if we look very carefully, and trace back to where the meaning was started, clearly it’s not from anywhere else: we are the creator of that meaning. So “how” is the first step to understand the way in which we make meaning, and to realise from our first-hand experience that we as individuals create meaning, no one else. With just this simple realisation, I believe we can create a big shift in many aspects of our lives.

O: Agree. I want to stress the point that meaning is a process. We need to “catch” the mind at the beginning of its creation, and be fully conscious of its dynamism and flow. Meaning is also about taking responsibility and learning how to do it better with greater sense of deliberation. It’s not just being mindful, much more than that.

Meaningfulness and Mindfulness

Y: Interesting that you mention about mindfulness! Mindfulness is about the expansion of our awareness. There is this misperception that “being aware” is enough. Well, I disagree. “Being aware” is just the starting point, and it doesn’t lead to change automatically; only when reflective awareness also takes place and we consciously make the choice to take action, then we see the real shift occurring. I think that’s the power of meaningfulness: it’s a complete process to truly express our creativity.

O: Yes! That’s a crucial point: meaningfulness is about creativity. It is not just observation, but also doing, changing, improving with enthusiasm and joy.


Y: By no means is this an easy process. It requires tremendous patience, enthusiasm and consistent practise. I remember we talked in length about developing practical tools to help people in this process. I know you have been working on creating a meditation practise lately.

O: Meditation has become such a buzzword; it’s everywhere, but lots of people only understand it on a superficial level. Meditation is a state of consciousness. There is no better or worse form of meditation. In fact, every moment of our existence is an opportunity to become aware of the fact that we are in a meditative state. The skill of meditation is to direct the power of the mind in a chosen direction, or an object, or a condition.

“Meaningfulness Meditation” is a guided meditation with seven steps. It is designed to help people to enter into a meditative state by concentrating on meaning through the process of thought construction. By tapping into the power of the mind while in a state of concentration, insights and wisdom emerge, and it’s a very empowering experience.

Yu Du and Orlando Fernando started the Meaningfulness Movement to create a community with a mission: to create and live meaningful lives. They plan to grow the community through discussions, workshops, events, retreats, tears, laughter, silence and much more.

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