Our modern political narrative originates from the socio-political imagination. The validity for this is to be found in ideology which is dependent upon the authority of our feelings. In other words, ideology is tied to sensationism in the belief that all our ideas are based, ultimately, on physical sensations. There is nothing philosophical or transcendent here. Ironically, the so-called 18th century age of reason was really the beginning of ideology which seems to have taken over modern culture.
Today, we are living in a kind of story book world which is what a narrative does. It is a recounting of various facts and events of history but connecting the facts and events in different ways. The narrative is right for us if it seems to feel right. But more importantly, everything is to be judged by our feelings. While more intelligent people may see the narrative as a distortion or even false, in the example of Hollywood movies about the old west, others trust the narrative because it feels right to believe the story, for example, that all black people are still oppressed by whites. Of course, the actual historical evidence paints a much different picture but it is never enough to overthrow the almost hypnotic power of ideology.
But what about the meaning of life as it pertains to Buddhism when it is examined through the lens of ideology?
The first order of business for a Buddhist ideology is to eliminate Buddhism’s religious message by ridding it of the tenets of rebirth and karma, finally ignoring nirvana, the chief goal of the Buddha’s discourses so that its basis is ideological, hopefully, to create a secular narrative. The people who do this call their new Buddhism “secular Buddhism.”
Yet, the Buddha’s enlightenment goes far beyond the world of the senses and even thinking. In light of this it is not secular but religious by realizing ultimate reality allowing us to see the world the way it really is. This has nothing to do with sensationism. The Buddha’s enlightenment is not limited by the human imagination or ideology. And the real meaning of life is to awaken from the dream of conditioned existence which confines us to the cycles of birth and death. But if we are left with an ideological Buddhism the meaning loses it salvific message to the eternal spirit which is hidden within us. It becomes run-of-the-mill as if to say that the existential condition of suffering is caused by self-centered craving! But craving, in itself, is not the problem in Buddhism. It is what we crave and desire this being the conditioned psychophysical organism otherwise known as the five skandhas.