I just attended a night-long conversation with Salim Ismail, the former VP of Yahoo! and currently Global Ambassador for Singularity University. Salim is a brilliant strategist and entrepreneur, author of Exponential Organizations, with a background in theoretical physics. The conversation was different than anyone would expect in the heart of Silicon Valley. The topic was the meaning of life.
Salim uses a very simple hand-drawn model to explain the human condition. In your heart of hearts, at the very core of your being, you are a soul glowing with the energy of life. When a baby comes into the world, only the soul shines through. We then grow the other layers as well - the subconscious and the conscious mind. They can be our greatest blessings or the most terrible prisons for us.
Your mission in life is to live (and act) from the center of your heart or the energy of your soul. You build up mental barriers when you are young and then work to dissolve them. If the truth of your soul is blocked by subconscious or conscious forces, these barriers will destroy you. Disease, addictions, anger, etc. are ways to cope with trapped energy in these layers. All the techniques available (neurolinguistic programming, therapies, meditation, etc) are to help you navigate through the layers of the mind and empower you to live from the center of your heart.
One idea intrigued me the most. I asked Salim how this model applies to life and death. His answer was fascinating and (to my surprise) it made sense. Every night when you go to sleep, your consciousness dies and your soul and your subconscious mind carries on. When you wake up, your soul and you subconscious embrace a new conscious mind. When you die, you leave your conscious and your subconscious minds and only the soul carries on. If you come back to the physical form, you take on a new subconscious and conscious mind.
Nobody really knows the answer to the question "what is the meaning of life," but this is what some Silicon Valley entrepreneurs do at night. Looking for purpose. Looking for meaning. Looking for truth. Just like all of us.