Burning Man and the Meaning of Life (2013) - full transcript

A documentary that blends the unique backdrop of the Burning Man festival with the burning question - 'What is the meaning of life?'

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Every year, tens of thousands

of people come to the middle of

the desert to create a temporary

city of epic proportions.

They build magnificent

structures, art installations,

and vehicles that test the

boundaries of form and function.

And when the week is over, they

burn it all down...

and leave without a trace.

But why?

Why do humans do any of the

things we do?

We create lines, symbols,

city-states, relationships,


What is the meaning of life?

How do we come to exist?

And is there a reason?

This controversial event so

closely resembles the chaotic

yet poetic structure of life


What is the meaning of life?

What do you live for?


We came to get a partial answer

to that.

The burning man festival is

reborn anew each year.

It starts as an empty playa and

soon fills with life.

From, basically, it's just

plain nothing on the desert to

something what we're seeing now.

My first impression was that

somebody came out here, you

know, months and years ahead

just to be at this thing, man.

You know, they burned this down

last year.

As in life, the birthing

process is not always easy.

People wait in line for hours to

enter this new world.

Welcome home, everybody.

Some people are just so fried

from getting here, you kind of

have to be gentle with them.

This feels like home.

You can be yourself here.

You can be exactly who you are.

Everybody will love you anyway,

just like home.

[ Bell rings ]

I traveled nine hours a day

here, and I know I'm finally


Burning man is family.

Burning man is home.

Burning man's a way of life.

It's a lifestyle.

This is the playa.

This is our home.

Out there... that's the default


That's where you got to deal

with all the crap, you know?

90% of life is crap.

This is our little getaway.

It's kind of the thing you

look forward to all year.

People busy themselves

setting up camps, art

installations, their home for

the next week.

Participants make this temporary

community a true city indeed.

There's a hospital, post office,

police, department of public

works, public transportation, an

airport, a radio station, a

newspaper, a census, and plenty

of nightlife.

Honestly, it's just a huge

fucking party in the desert.

A lot of people get the

notion that it's just everybody

coming out here, getting

drunk and high.

My concept is you come out here

and you see all this different

art and everything else.

You see everybody's inner self

being displayed, and that's what

it is to me.

In the center of

black rock city stands the man.

The temple of transitions

completes the city.

It's the largest temporary

structure ever built in the


The temple of transition is

the complex of temples.

The one all the way to the left

is birth.

The next one is growth.

The one behind the central one

is union.

The one to the left of that is

decay, and the one all the way

to the right, up front, is

death, and the central tower is

for gratitude.

It symbolizes the

spirituality of the playa.

Many people come to

burning man in search of


It's the best place ever...

A place you can truly find


The collective conscious

capsule asks the questions so

many ask of themselves...

Who are you?

What is the meaning of life?

I don't think I have a

goddamn answer for that.

Once upon a time...

I was sent away to china, and I

trained in the shaolin


And I thought, "hey, what's the

meaning of life there?"

Not a single monk there could

answer me.

I came back to california.

Hung out with all the hippies I

could and did all the drugs I


Even those hippies and their

drugs can't tell me what it's


That's a funny thing.

Many people have more

questions than answers.

The human experience is the

question mark.

Can you design a computer

that will understand why it


If we knew the meaning of

life, this booth would not


We always act like we know

everything, but actually, we're

just poor little humans.

We actually don't know anything.

I'm just here to get more

answers to my questions, but I

know I'll leave with more

questions, which need more


I think asking questions is


I was asked yesterday who I


She said, "who are you?"

I could not answer that


This place, it really lets

you tap into a primal part of

yourself and take down some

walls, which... basically, it

takes down all the walls.

I'm no longer a virgin!

[ Bell rings ]

Ultimately speaking, I think

everyone is in search for their

own identity.

I'm gonna go out into that

playa, and I'm gonna find what I

need tonight.

Maybe people struggle with

why they are here because they

don't know how they came to be.

The playa existed before anyone

came to inhabit it.

How did all of this come to


That's a rather big question.

I find it hard to articulate

my thoughts.

All right, okay, how we got

here, I don't think anyone will

ever know.

I think it's a total mystery.

Let's talk about it in a

smaller sense.

How did we get out here on the


In a car.

I was pulled here because,

you know, this is something

that... that god wanted to show


Burning man, for me, is the

most spiritual thing.

Like you and me, the air, the

earth, the fire, the forests,

everything is god.

God is everything.

I'm ready now to open my

third eye.

You are god. I am god.

We are all god.

The universe is a fractal, and

we're all wandering through the

fractal, and we're kind of lost.

I would never want to define

myself by a "specific" religion

because that is just really...

It takes away from too many


It is not just hindu or

buddhist or christian.

We still connect with the

same cells of buddha and Jesus

and muhammad, you know.

The cells just keep reproducing.

We all have somewhat of that in

our souls.

Actually, around the time I

could think about what is god,

that's the same time I stopped

believing that there was a god.

I did a little bit of research,

and I found that other people

that didn't believe in god, and

those people were called


I'm an atheist by faith.

I have faith that there's no


And then I started to

question that, and I said,

"well, I don't know there's no


Both: Brad is the man behind

the curtain!

People at church are going

for the experience.

But Jesus kind of had it


I found that my connection to

divinity was through the


I believe in god, and I think

everyone's worshipping the same


Every one of us will look at

the original deity as a

different aspect, but he loves

us all equally.

Many people have studied


Many people have thought about


Learned religious figures

throughout history.

Wars have been fought over this.

So it's a very important issue.

The most... worst violence in

history has been over that


But then I stumbled across

another theory that we shouldn't

be looking at what may or may

not be.

We should be looking at what we

don't know and exploring the

possibilities of what... of what

we could know, so I became a


When I realized that god

really was a too abstract and

probably archaic notion that

science has helped us to rid

ourselves of.

A superstition.

Mm-hmm, a superstition.

I mean, science states that

we're all made of atoms.

Atoms are all made of three

subatomic particles.

Those subatomic particles are

made of even more particles.

But they've proven that those

particles are made of pure


That means each and every one of

us is a being of pure energy.

What if we here, today,

instead of asking, you know,

"what is a supreme being?" agree

to say, "being is supreme."

How did we come to exist?

Oh, well, monkeys.

[ laughing ] yeah, monkeys,

yeah, tadpoles.


And it started off tadpoles.

And then we evolved, and then

we evolved some more, and now we

have a large brain and small


People think we came from


I beg to differ.

I don't know.

Where do you think we came


I came from my mama's vagina.

Existence of it... it's like

a force that pushes all the time

to manifest itself in whatever

way it can, however it can burst

through into existence.

It seems to be this driving

force with no real design or

purpose other than just to


I think that creation is

evolution and vice versa.

I think that we're just not done

with creation necessarily.

And that's why we're evolving.

So I think that's what's been

happening since the beginning.

Somewhere along the path, it was

time for this experience.

I think we are as significant

as all other beings in the


I don't think there's some...

Humans, in my opinion, are not

the penultimate evolutionary


The skull has a limited capacity

for squeezing more stuff in

there, so, in that regard, we

may be one of the last, or

certainly one of the later,

evolutionary beings in terms of

the cerebral cortex, but I think

there's lots of evolution that

we don't understand.

We're significant to one

another, but in the universe,


We're like micro, micro, little

bits of dust.

It's all good... all, all,

all good.

It's all for us.

It's all... the whole universe

is for us... for me, for you,

for... for us.


I feel like the world...

Earth, the universe... it's like

our playground.

It's what god gave to us...

to do whatever we want with it,

you know?

The possibilities are truly


I mean, we're just very tiny

things in this universe.

Like, "tiny" doesn't even

describe it.

We're like a germ on a germ's

ass in this universe.

And I feel like the more people

realize how small they are, the

more they could really

experience their life and get

the most out of life.

The all, the infinite, the

source, god, whatever you want

to call it.

The source... it's to create

more of itself, or it's to try

out things.

It's to try out a festival of

art with 50,000 people.

It's to try out having sex with

a loved one.

It's to try out giving birth.

It's to try out being a child.

It's trying out everything and

create a better existence.

Each one of us is a little point

of little, tiny hair on the

wholeness that is source.

Whatever you believe in is


Listen to what your soul tells


I consider burning man to be

like boot camp for the soul.

Burning man is a place where

I sacrifice my body to give my

soul blessed.

This is a wonderful,

wonderful place.

Everybody is so unique but all

the same in relation to the


Everyone's just trying to get


Doing much better here than I

was last year.

It took me three and a half days

to get into it.

Once you get it, you get it.

We have one life to live...

Or so it seems.

And though we can't remember, we

live in our dreams.

We live in our minds... or so we


And yet our bodies are not our


Our bodies are a tool... a tool

that we use to see, to feel, to

preen, and to abuse.

The strength of our body comes

from our mind.

Mind over matter... the secret


The secret we know, yet have

unlearned, because of society

our heads have turned away from

that which is master of all...

The one and only, the human


Like, we really... yeah, we

have souls, for sure.

Our body's just a shell.

I believe that we are spirit

beings, that we are

consciousness in a vast form,

and that we take on this

particular kind of human form as

a way of learning very specific


The arc of the soul is a

long, long, long arc.

Sometimes we incarnate into

different spaces, places,

planets, different kinds of


There's definitely something

that is present throughout our

whole body, and I believe that's

our spirit.

I believe we have a soul.

Does it go on forever?

I don't know.

It could just like burn up in

the big central star out

somewhere in the universe.

We could dissipate and just, you

know, our vibration will be

picked up through... echo out

through the universe.

We are here to experience

that which our souls were

curious about.

We're on a bit of a mission

here on this beautiful earth.

You know, we're spirit.

You know, we're in these bodies,

having an experience, and it's

not all... it's not what it

appears to be.

I mean, there's so much more

going on that we... we don't let

ourselves see.

There's spirits everywhere.

There's life everywhere.

We're not alone.

We never were alone.

There's always the question

about whether or not we're the

only intelligent beings like

ourselves here.

That may not be true and

probably is not true because the

universe is so big, there's so

many possibilities, that there's

likely to be other

manifestations of consciousness

and intelligence and spirit like

we have, so we're certainly

significant in that we're the

well in our part of the


I'm... I am an alien in every

sense of the word and whatever

sense you think that is.

We are not alone in this


There is life on all different

kinds of levels all around us,

stuff that we can see and stuff

that we can't see.

There are multiple dimensions.

We live in one dimension.

Our senses can only experience

this much in this dimension.

So that's all we get to


Do you know how far that goes,

you know?

And you know, there's so many

overtones to this reality.

There's so many dimensions.

It's ridiculous.

Like, who knows how... like,

there's infinitesimal amount of


How could there not be?

Show me the smoking gun.

We're all aliens.

[ laughs ]

We're transplants.

We're fucking zombies just

running around trying to kill

each other in different ways and

put each other down, and it

shouldn't be like that.

Look at how people behave,

you know, to see what they

really, deeply believe.

We may never know how we came

to exist, but we can explore the

ways we choose to live our lives

and why.

Your perception and the way

that you deal with things that

make your reality.

Reality, I guess, would be an

agreed-upon perception by the


[ Indistinct chanting ]

Reality is the movie.

It's basically what is projected

on the marble.

That is your reality.

It can be altered.

It can be faked.

But I believe it's not fake.

It's not "the matrix."

It's not a fake thing.

Reality is about perception.

And every time you put yourself

out there and go through some

different barrier, you realize,

when you look back on where you

were, completely different


We have a lot more choice

than we give ourselves credit

for for what things will become.

That's where the meaning comes


Everything looks inevitable in

retrospect, and, like, it

must've been part of some divine

plan, but in the moment, there's

always a choice for things to go

one way or another way.

Burning man?

Burning man is to escape having

to figure out all these other

people's realities and just

try and create one unified

front of a reality and know that

everybody here, no matter who

they are, they support this

place and they care about you.

As in life, the inhabitants

of burning man create a

collective consciousness that

rules the land.

[ Indistinct chanting ]

The mission of the

burning man project is wrapped

around the 10 principles, and

just clarify intention.

And I think, sort of all of

these combined, we really do.

The culture is a pattern.

And it's a way of life, and...

so, in that, we've come a long


We were just a little group with

our own incipient ethos, and

we've just become increasingly

aware of who we are, and, as

we've done so, we've gained a

perspective on the greater


Anyone may be a part of this


They welcome and respect the


No prerequisites exist for

participation in the burning man


The principle of radical

inclusion certainly came out of

the experience of looking around

and realizing that we had

corporate leaders here, we had

café workers, we have truck

drivers, we have beekeepers.

People from all over the

world to experience burning man.

There are times I don't feel

I belong here.

The artistic creativity is

beyond my scope.

The intellectual creativity here

is beyond my scope.

I still feel involved.

I still feel part of the

community, and I'm thankful for


They're just such accepting


It's open-minded.

The message is creativity.

It pushes your boundaries,

and if you're working towards

something, you know, if you're a

shy person, it'll help you build

on that.

By the end of the week, you

might not be the most outgoing

person ever, but it definitely

will help you become more

comfortable being in front of a

crowd or talking to strangers or

doing whatever it is that you

really need to work on because

these people, they heal you.

The radical acceptance and

inclusion is amazing.

There's always that moment where

it clicks and you get it.

The burning man community

encourages the individual to

discover, exercise, and rely on

his or her inner resources.

This is survival camping, and

it's very cool.

People get depleted.

They get tired. They get hurt.

They... they just get beat down

in this environment.

I got the name "boy scout"

because I was prepared the first

year as a newbie.

I was prepared for anything.

And it turned out that I was

prepared for nothing at all.

[ Sighs ]

The meaning of life...

is to survive, isn't it?

What sucks about life is

being in a world where you feel

you need to be a certain way in

which to survive, and seeing so

many people not surviving hurts.

Burning man, for me, is about

the simplicity of the playa and

how there's very little here,

and you have to be reliant on

yourself... radical


Bring what you need.

If I were to sum it up, I

would use the term "survival" as

being the meaning of life, but

that's a pretty vague term.

I don't think that really

captures the essence.

Walking different paths, seeing

different possibilities, and

creating those possibilities

through our existence and our

walking of those paths.

We're biological organisms,

and we... our purpose is to

procreate and survive.

So we do whatever we can to


Life's very simple.

You eat, drink, sex.

Sex is a big part of the

meaning of life.

Well, it's one of those

things that makes life a little



It's how people mix together.


And become other people.


And then they mix together and

become other people and then

other people and then other


And then the ones that, like,

mix together the longest are the

ones that last.

The longest.

Reproduction... not just

human beings.

All life... all life is here on

this planet to reproduce, to

keep it going forward, to keep

life evolving and continuously

becoming whatever it is meant to


We are a cosmic accident most

likely, but we... the dinosaurs

were here, and they kept

reproducing until they got wiped


Is sex meaningful?

Fuck yeah!

[ laughs ]

Are you kidding me?

Sex is the reason why every

human being on this planet is


Our drive to populate has made

human beings the dominant

life-form on this planet, and

although... and as small as this

planet is, it's still... we're

still dominant.

Sometimes it's just sex.

Sometimes it's just athleticism.

Hmm, interesting.

A workout.

The meaning of life, when

you're a guy, is to be with as

many women as possible and not

let your current girlfriend find

out about it.

If she goes down on you.

[ laughter ]

If he goes down on you.

[ laughs ]

It's a physical way to

express love, and it's not

always about that.

I'm not saying you have to be in

love with somebody to have sex

with them, but I think that it's

really important.

I think that, because people are

so repressed, generally

speaking, it's important.

That's one of the coolest things

about burning man.

It's like one of those places

where it's just okay to do those


Temptation is everywhere.

Love... that's when it's...

That's where it at, man, right?

That's true for me, anyway.

I don't think random sex is


I think random sex is fun.

Meaningful sex is meaningful.

Sex is meaningful with the

right person, and it

particularly was this morning.

If sex wasn't meaningful,

they wouldn't have put such a

great desire and such pleasure

in it.

Sex is very meaningful.

It's at the point of release for

the individual as one of the few

times that your mind is actually


And I think that's one of the

things that drives people for

that pursuit of sex.

They may not realize that it's

that moment of having a cleared


You can be enlightened when

you orgasm.

I think one of the most

important aspects of

relationships is the sexual

chemistry that the partnership

has and the freedom to explore

within one another.

And trust.

And the trust.

Most of all through that.


The sacred connection that

you get.

It's a sacred... something


It's a sacred connection,


And it doesn't, you know,

obviously, in, you know, many

cases, there's no sacred

connection, but when it is

meaningful is when you're having


sacred space connection.

...with your partner that

you, you know, are sharing the

love and that feel with.

And it just...


Integrating their spirit and

their minds and their bodies and

their senses.

Senses represent the passions

that we have in our life and how

can we exult those feelings in

creative union with all that is,

and maybe finding that union

within a dance of lovemaking

that is life itself.

So you can always feel satisfied

with yourself, whether it's

orgasmic sensuality or whether

it's personal.

It is pleasure, but it's...

I think it necessitates a

discipline to be able to

distance oneself from just the

flashing lights and some tits

and ass and whatever, and be

able to focus on something

longer term.

The meaning of my life...

has changed dramatically since

last year.

Last year I was deeply in love

here with a man I cared for very


And I had another man waiting

for me at home.

It's a natural drug.

I mean, well, I mean, the

question is like...

using it to try to fill a void.

Some people do use it to try

to fill a void.

Yeah, which I've done that

for a while, no.

That fucked me up pretty good.

I don't have either of those

lovely men anymore in my life.

However, I do know that loving

both of them and loving everyone

around me...

is giving me what I need in my

life because, by giving my love,

I get it back 10 times.

To be honest, I live so I can

have a connection here to

someone else.

I am my own person.

But I have a deep feeling and

need to have someone close here.

I think the meaning of life

is having a soul mate.


Ah, mommy!

You live for love.

I live for love.

Yeah, that's true.

Like, that's what everybody

searches for.

And connection, you know what

I mean?

How does...

And experience and adventure.

I think we all really want

connection, and that's part of

the meaning of life, too,

whether it's to another person

or to, like, a universal spirit,

and truths we all know.

And I think that's what keeps me


It's just a feeling like I will

eventually connect to a

universal source and a hard

connection with other people.

What do you think is the

meaning of life?

'Cause I'm sure you have ideas.

I do, and it's part of why I

asked you to marry me tonight.

I got married last night, and

I met my wife here in 2009

during evolution, when we've

evolved, and now we've

surmounted a rite of passage.

We're unified.

I love you so much.

Burning man's changed my life.

It saved my life.

You saved my life.

Emily, I'm so glad you're my


I love you.

I used to live

excluslivey... exclusley...

Exclusively for my girlfriend.

But that ended a few months ago.

And right now I'm just seeking


Trying to find some meaning to

replace her.

What sucks about life is...

love that was destined to be

but is not fated to be.

Unrequited love... that's what

that means.

I just want to kind of vent,

I guess.

It is thursday, technically,

but... wednesday night, and I

don't know.

It's weird to feel lonely at

burning man.

I didn't actually think it could

happen or feel that way 'cause

you are so connected with so

many people.

But I'm feeling it.

I'm feeling the loneliness, and

it's kind of tripping me out.

And I've asked the universe,

like, is this good for me?

Do I need to feel this?

And I should not...

live totally for anyone else.

But, I mean, at burning man,

I find... I want to find


Like, I want to find people who

want to love as much as I do...

or someone to love as much as I

do, I guess.

I still got some part of me

that feels unfulfilled.

The meaning of life is to

find true happiness, and that is

also the most difficult thing

for us humans, somehow, to do

because we are a self-sabotaging

race, for some reason.

Why do I suffer


Why do I have to go through all

these things that I don't like?

The meaning of life is to

experience polarities, to

experience great joy and love

and its polarity, its being,

but only if you know pain do you

know love, and as cliché as that

sounds, it's all love.


the duality... the woman and the


the sun and the moon, the

faraway galaxies and our inner


Of course I've known a lot of

pain in my life.

But I've gained a lot of love.


the pain never leaves.


it has its place.

You know, I don't think that

it's an accident that there's so

much beauty in the world and

that there's so much chaos and

ugliness and destruction, too.

I believe in polarities and...

that, you know, to have light,

you need darkness.

To have darkness, you need


To have colors, you need both.

Everything about love makes

us bigger...

less fearful.

It allows us to be vulnerable.


and sometimes when we're scared,

we're not...

We're not able to give, um...

We're not able to give people

love when we're scared because

we don't want to be vulnerable.

So we protect ourselves.

We get smaller.

We get more narrow.

But when we stop being scared,

we can give more love.

That survival instinct does

tell us to do the house and do

the kids and protect that...

Protect that nest, and maybe

that's one of the things that's

changing with the evolution of

our consciousness is that, not

that we won't still have those

things but that maybe we'll

understand that those things are

achievable and now we can...

go on to something bigger?

Yeah, we can layer on more


We can care about our family,

but also care about our


This community values

creativity cooperation and


They strive to produce, promote,

and protect social networks,

public spaces, works of art, and

methods of communication that

enable such interaction.

Even if we're... right, some

people don't, but some people

have more food than they need.

Once people bust out and start

sharing, you know, like, "look",

"we all have it," then there's

plenty for everybody.

The reason why there's so

many humans on the earth is

because we've learned how to be

cooperative and how to... to

develop, I guess, a team


The tribalism and all of that

was very successful.

There are a few moments when

things weren't working

perfectly, but we all kind of

stuck together and made it


That's what community and life

is about.

The only reason that this

exists is because we are all

able to put our resources

together and do what we do best

and make it happen.

That's how it works.

Like, when you get a group of

people, and it's like, "oh, I'm"

a great builder, " or " I'm good

at "... I don't know... " cooking

food," and "I'm good at this,"

and like, you get them all in

one place.

It's tapping into everyone, what

they do best, because we're all

amazing and we're all awesome

and we all do great things, but

once you figure out what you do

really good and you make that...

You bring that to the plate, and

if we all do that and then we

all work together...

we've all learned a lot about

working with people and how to

integrate everybody's ideas and

everybody's creativity in a way

that is beneficial to the whole

as well as the individual, and

it's been rocky at times.

I'm not gonna lie.

But we all came together, and we

made this happen as a community.

The things that are most

meaningful in life are community

and finding the space within

yourself to be able to provide

and to rely on that community.

It takes a lot of people to

do a big project, so we had to

learn how do you make a


You know, how can you... we had

to keep asking people 'cause we

didn't know.

We'd never done it before.

So it ends up being a big


You're not a spectator.

This community is committed

to a radically participatory


[ Up-tempo music plays ]

They believe that transformative

change, whether in the

individual or in society, can

occur only through the medium of

deeply personal participation.

They achieve being through


Everyone is invited to work.

Everyone is invited to play.

We make the world real through

actions that open the heart.

We just pull all the people


You know, "hey, we've got a

crazy idea."

We can say, "well, what if we

did this?" and "can we do that?"

And then suddenly it's like,

"oh, this is gonna work," you


So, we build the infrastructure,

and there's core staff, paid

people, contractors, volunteers,

volunteers, volunteers,

volunteers who just work to set

the framework, and then everyone

else shows up, and they've been

working their butts off just as

hard as we have for whatever

their thing is.

So, you know, it's this

collective thing.

We all do it to each other

because, you know, because we

love it, but we all build

this city together.

Burning man has created this

community for me.

I get to be a doer and radically

participate, and I learn more

here in like two weeks running

a project than I do at my job in

the real world... "the real


They are the folks that build

the playa for us.

You know, they build our temple,

they build our man, they build

the fucking city for us.

The simple fact that this

species can talk has given us

the ability to say what we do or

don't like.

Radical self-expression

arises from the unique gifts of

the individual.

No one other than the individual

or a collaborating group can

determine its content.

It is offered as a gift to


I think what it means to a

lot of people is inclusion,

self-expression, and...

doing what you enjoy.

I think that should be probably

52 or 53 weeks a year.

[ laughs ]

Not just one week.

You know, the whole reason

any of us is even here is just

because of the... you know, the

joy of creation.

Some sort of consciousness and

potentiality could manifest, and

therefore has, and into this

abundant diversity of

everything, and then we, as

people and creatures, have then

created things on top of that

and on top of that and on top of

that, sheerly for the... you

know, just for the sheer joy of


It's like an excuse to expand

your horizons a bit.

This is the biggest

expression of freedom that I

think has ever existed on the

planet earth.

Occasionally you see where

god touches the ground and you

get beautiful art, and you could

see the hand of god in that


What amazes me most about

the imagination of people to

create such incredible art

projects... every year, things

that appear just totally blow my


We all dig each other's stuff

so much that you're really

introducing them to a little

glimmer of their own divinity,

not to be all hippie-hoo-hah

about it, but you know, to know

that you can do things in the

world... manifest, create the

universe around you, be with

other people in a way of your

choosing... I think that's one

of the most powerful things.

For art to be any good, it

has to confront the unknown.

When I make my art, it's a

very sacred thing for me, and

I feel more connected to the

divine at that moment than any

other moment.

The muses are a manifestation of

her... her... her being on this


So, to be in this and to see

this crazy energy that's here is

pretty luscious and lovely and


Lives become where we try out


You get to create things and,

you know, we write a book or we

create a piece of art or we have

a thought about something, and

that gets created in the


You can create and we create

and we create and create and

create, and there are no limits.

Truly there are no limits.

Why do we get create art?

I think that's just for

physical enjoyment.

We're attracted to lights and to

shiny things, pretty things.

Some people like ugly things.

When I come here, I don't

make any art at all.

I only drink from the well, and

I am grateful for this oasis.

Art is a business, right?

I mean, people pay money to go

to a museum where I work.

I get paid to work at a place

where people pay to go on their

day off... right.

So people come here... if you

come here to experience the art,

what do you get?

What do you get for your money?

The burning man community is

devoted to acts of giving.

The value of a gift is


Gifting does not contemplate a

return or an exchange for

something of equal value.

People are doing things that

don't make sense financially,

but they're investing in it, and

it's beautiful.

Doesn't matter how much money

you have.

The love and the sharing and

how people help each other and

how things are magical here.

The idea of burning man is to

bring an idea of no cash,

sharing, family, and gifting.

You start off in little centers

and you work out from there, and

people will come here and kind

of absorb what's going on here

and take a little piece of that

into their little corner of the


I don't think that we're

ready to step away from monetary


But being able to gift...

something, and it's not

necessarily an item.

It can be your time.

Your insights.

Gifting those things, I think,

helps bring people around to a

slightly... helps them shift

their perspective a little bit.

Unfortunately, now, we've

gone so far off the track

by modern culture and covering

the planet in concrete that

we've missed a very important

turning point.

This is an intersection.

Right now, I think, as a

species, we face probably the

biggest challenge that we're

ever gonna face... not whether

we're gonna survive or not, but

whether we're gonna actually


You want to work 9:00 to 5:00

and make money for a fucking

corporation that doesn't give a

fuck about you and slave away

and save away and become

society's little bitch and not

think for yourself, not have one

solid thought that actually

comes from you and live your

life being told how you're

supposed to be.

I kill myself with the way I

live... drinking, smoking.

You know?

But 51 weeks of the year, it's

so hard.

Is money meaningful?

It's meaningful if you need a


[ laughs ]

To eat and survive.

Yeah, if you need to survive

in the world, it's goddamn


If you're talking about whether

a dollar means anything,

probably not, but, you know,

society says it is, and we live

in society, so it does.

The hard, driven pursuit for

money, that becomes a problem.

Society generally ends up

being a tiered system, and I

don't think society should be a

tiered system.

I think everybody should have

equal opportunity.

The community out here has

really had an impression on me.

There's really a sense of

community, and the gifting

economy is really cool because I

think everyone here is just on

such a same page here at

burning man that you can think

something that you need, and it

will completely manifest itself

in your life.

Being part of this community

and help people out, and I do

stuff, of course, in return.

Then that's what you get.

You get whatever you want.

I mean, I think, honestly,

burning man is what you make of

it, honestly.

It's like what you really... as

meaningful as you want it to be,

that's how meaningful it'll

bring back to you.

One of the big meanings of

life is giving yourself to

others, and I think that's

something that burning man has

kind of made more apparent to

me just because we kind of know


You know that you feel good when

you're giving and you're sharing

and there's community, but it's

amazing how you realize how

connected everyone is, even

though you don't think that you


♪ It must be free

♪ it's a right

♪ the water, air, and land

♪ do you understand where we're

headed? ♪

People are willing to take

you in and feed you and party

with you, and that's a really

neat thing, and you don't always

find that in the default world.

It's a change how it is as

an adult, you know, up here, to

see those other ways of

gifting... all the, you know,

the gifting kind of philosophy.

It's amazing. It's so different.

In order to preserve the

spirit of gifting, this

community seeks to create social

environments that are unmediated

by commercial sponsorships,

transactions, or advertising.

They stand ready to protect our

culture from such exploitation.

They resist the substitution of

consumption for participatory


Works just because a bunch of

power-hungry, selfish

individuals who know nothing

about sharing in life with


21st century is gonna be

about resource wars.

There's infinite resources

for every person that's alive.

People like war.


Otherwise it wouldn't exist.

If everyone said, "no, I don't"

"want a war," how can it exist?

Somebody creates war because

they're enjoying the fuck out of


People are a bunch of


Sometimes, as a species, we

do things that are just

incredibly stupid.

If we're gonna moderate our

consumption, we have to find our

satisfactions apart from...

Apart from consumption.

It's just fear that the other

man has something that I want,

and the illusion that what I

want is actually something of


There's a belief in


There's avarice. There's greed.

But I think that war is

actually more exciting than




Dude, it's full of


And that can be a great feeling.

It's very self-righteous.

It's power... it's powerful

if you can shoot your opponent.

War, I think, starts with

defense and aggression, and

that, you know, goes back to

animal behavior, you know?

Territorial, um...

[ clears throat ]

...and protecting your own.

There's always gonna be darkness

in the world, I think.

War is part of that.

But we're diminishing it, I


It's getting better.

And I have faith that it will

continue to.

Life is too short to fight.

Life is definitely too short.

And we need to make this the

best experience ever and realize

that everything you learn here,

we need to take back to our

reality and make the world a

better place because, in

reality, it sucks.

People hate each other, and

there's too many wars.

What sucks about life is the

people that make it suck.

We have the capacity to make

things better for other people

and other creatures and other

things that exist here among


It's like learning how to

really appreciate the cake we're


Right now we're just snarfing

it, and we're complaining.

Fill your mind and not your


[ Crowd cheering ]

They value civil society.

Community members who organize

events should assume

responsibility for public

welfare and endeavor to

communicate civic

responsibilities to


They must assume responsibility

for conducting events in

accordance with local, state,

and federal laws.

"But if we truly combine the

divine with the mind, we still

find that this world, after all,

can be kind, even though we are

inclined to believe that

mankind, with design, to be

"confined to perpetual grind."

We need to get rid of major

corporations that are out there

to profit.

They're poisoning us through


They're ruining our dna.

[ Singing indistinctly ]

Our economy is so bad, and so

many people who used to have

jobs don't have jobs anymore.

It makes it a lot different when

you don't have money to buy all

the things that the corporations

are forcing down our throat.

There's changes afoot.

I think the default world's

gonna have to shift.

It's gonna shift.

Oh, shit!

The shift's gonna hit the


[ laughter ]

I really feel like right now

we are on top of some sort of

tsunami wave that we're just

kind of riding on, and we'll

see, you know, soon where it


And we're gonna co-create

where it lands.

We're definitely gonna

co-create it.

I mean, I think that that's

what's the most important thing

is that people are... the media

and corporations and society...

Like, that part of society...

Does such a good way of, like,

disattaching yourself from one

another because they know the

power of when we come together

and of when we're aligned with

each other, and so they do

everything in their power to

make us different from one


We are all interconnected, so

we all change what we all do, so

it's like we all... we are all

one in a sense, so we all affect


So, if we are not good to nature

and good to, like, life, and

good to one another and good to

the earth, like, we are

definitely not good to


[ Indistinct chanting ]

We've gotten so lazy that we

think the government should do

things for us.

It doesn't take a governing

body over all to say you're

doing wrong or you're doing


I think everyone knows when

they're fucking up.

When we wake up to the

realization that we're very

high spiritual beings, we have a

fragment of god within us,

we can do anything.

There's no limitations placed on

us except the ones we place on

ourselves, and that's what's so

important about this is that

we're showing the world that we

can come together as a big,

huge, gigantic group and

function in total harmony.

We love burning man because

it's a slice of how society

could be.

I don't know if it could last

more than two weeks in this

idyllic, wonderful playa.

But love your neighbor, be kind,

don't be a jerk.

Actually, I do know the

meaning of life.

Actually, you know the meaning

of life.

You don't have to look for it in

some guru or some yoga pose or

some chanting mantra and giving

thanks to the east and all that


That's all cool.

That's all fine and dandy.

But the universe doesn't think

about things.

The universe doesn't judge.

It doesn't have ceremony.

It just does. It is.

So, I mean, it's cliché, but you

are the change.

So just be silly.

[ Chuckles ]

And love each other, you know,

and fucking... I don't know.

Just go fly with the eagle.

Your meaning of life is what

you contribute to the universe.


It's "how can I better the


That's fantastic.

"How can I use the innate

gifts that were given to me"...

I totally agree.

..."to the fullest capacity?"

And I've actually had this

thought recently where people

are always so focused on, like,

their contribution having to be,

like, on such a big scale.


And I recently think, like,

you just have to pick one

thing... one thing you're good

at, and you don't even need to

realize how that's impacting.

You just need to do it, and if

everybody in the world just

sticks to that one thing and

everybody does that one thing

they're good at it, when you add

it all up, I mean, that's a

shitload of things.

[ laughs ]

Yeah, that's a shitload of

synergy right there, yeah.


Learn to love yourself

because you're good!

You're right!

You're a human being!

And you're here.

And you're here for a reason.

[ Inhales deeply ]

You're a human being, and you're

here for a reason.

You're here to do something.

Individuals have been known

to change society.


Usually at their own...

They probably have to die first.

We can make the world better.

People had better wise up and

start reversing the population

explosion, or mother earth is

gonna develop something that'll

wipe us all out before we wipe

ourselves out.

Here today and gone tomorrow.


Leave no trace behind.

This community respects the

environment and are committed to

leaving no physical trace of

their activities.

They clean up after themselves

and endeavor, whenever possible,

to leave such places in a better

state than they found them.

We're actually in, like,

national parklands right now,

so, you know, it's just "leave"

no trace " really means " leave no


It's the largest no-trace

event in the world.

Two weeks after we leave here,

the only thing left is a few

tire tracks.

They've even scraped the grounds

with electromagnetic...

I kind of feel like I'm

fortunate... I get to do about

four parts of burning man.

I get to go to a very early part

when I'm literally one of the

first 50 people, 30 people to

move out here, and now all of

you people are camping in my

yard... no.

And then there's another week

where we're doing a lot more

building, a lot more building,

and departments are starting to

show up, and then there's the

week of, and then there's the

week after, and I do admit on

like, monday, even sunday, when

people start to just pull up

their stakes and go away, I'm

kind of like, "darn!"

'Cause, you know, you never get

to do it all.

But I've gotten used to that

cycle, and that's natural, and

in a way, each of those four

sections has a lot to offer.

You're like "the

burning man."

They're all... "burn the man!"

And they're all going like this,

all these things, to get the man


The creator went into the man

tonight, and he was co-creating

all along.

He exploded in the heart and

went back to the source, his

beloved, passionate creator.

It's very primitive.

I think it's deep in a lot of

people's hearts and souls.

[ Fireworks exploding ]

As the festival inevitably

draws to an end, one is reminded

that an unescapable part of life

is death.

The man burns, and we

disappear without a trace.

But we were here.

But then ultimately, we are

all just dust.

What sucks about life... the


The ending.

Where they go when you die...

I don't know.

I think probably our energy

stays put.

Don't know if I believe in

reincarnation or just...

the fact that when you pass on,

your energy stays around and

becomes something else.

"Now that you are gone, you

"are everywhere" made me feel

good about the passing of my

parents and things like that.


but I sort of... when I go,

maybe I'd just like to be dumped

in the ocean and fed on by life

or something.

I mean, I want the worms to get


I actually don't believe

there's a heaven and hell.

I actually think when we go

underground, we just rot, you


You know, it's great to be

fucking alive, and, you know,

when that shit's wrecked, you

know, when it's snuffed out,

it snuffs out.

I definitely believe in


I definitely believe we have old

souls within us that we're

re-living different areas of

different lives.

There's a continuity to

being, without a doubt.

We have too much to learn in one


I mean, you know, there's too

much to figure out.

So it takes time to kind of

work out all the kinks.

At the end, we all figure it


And the whole point is to

perpetuate ourselves and to keep


And yet we're the only animal

that will [grunts] when we get


And I guess that's the next

stage of it.

And what this whole place means

to me is that even though we are

the only animal that will end

its own life, we are also, to my

estimation, the only creature on

this planet that will do all of

burning man just for the sake of


And it's that wide spectrum

between those two qualities that

humans... all humans... share is

somewhere in that gulf is maybe

the meaning.

To me, I feel like I'm at a

point where, like, I wake up in

the morning, and I'm just like,

"why don't I just go hop in

front of traffic?"

I look at life as a pathway to


I guess that's kind of


I don't know what the meaning of

life is.

I don't know exactly what to do.

The thought of suicide came

into my head, and I thought,


Why live?"

And then something told me to

verbalize that.

And so I turned to my friend

meredith, and I said, "why are"

we living?

Why continue on with life if I'm

so alone and things are so


"Why not end it?"

And she told me that the meaning

of life is to have relationships

with people and that even though

it's disappointing and even

though we hurt each other, that

the point of life is to

experience things from our own

perspective and with other

people and to share those

experiences and those

perspectives with one another

because that's how we learn.

And burning man fits in to that

very strongly, I think, because

we all come here, and people are

open to one another.

[ Sobbing ] sorry.

I just came from the temple.

I lost a dear one to me last


We shared a burning man

experience that was... it was


It was nothing like any other

year I've been here.

This is a beautiful place,

and I love everyone here.

And he went home, and he hung


I was very grateful this year

that there was a place like a

temple where I can go, that I

can leave him here, because this

is where he belongs.

I just came from the temple

and lost someone very special to

me this year, and it's...

Burning man has been to me a

spiritual-growth opportunity.

I had a moment with a couple

guys in the temple.

And a gentleman had a death in

the family.

His father died.

And I just sat there and

comforted him for a while, and

it really made me feel good that

I was able to give my heart out

and make somebody feel better

about themselves.

Mortality... you got to


You got to be careful.

You don't want to lose that


Life is beautiful.

Enjoy it.

Accept it.

That's what this is all about.

On saturday night, when the

man burns, it's a big party.

You'll find out on sunday night.

50,000 people... silence,


It's so beautiful.

If you would be so genuine as

to reach out to those around

you, to reach out to those next

to you, and we can all be

connected as the temple burns.

[ Fire crackling ]

It's all about the release.

You know, whether it's joyful,

whether it's sorrow... whatever

it is, it's all about the


And burning it is the way to

release it.

I think that's what we're all

here... we're trying to do


It's become... being like the

phoenix, really... transform

ourselves, evolve.

Let that old part of ourselves


Let go of things.

I wrote something inside of a

letter I put with my love's


He passed away about four years


I put some of his ashes into the

temple to be burned.

I cast my grief here, and

also my intentions for what I

want to do next.

It is like a rebirth.

I feel like that's what I'm here

to do.

I know I'll never be the same.

I think for me, it was a slow

burn inside.

It was as if all of the

energy of the spirits are

spiraling upward.

Changing the winds of the


Because of the way that we

take the city down and put it

back up again, we get to go

through a full birth-death cycle

every year here.

I think one of the meanings

has to do with cycles... cycles

of life.

As the temple and all of

the... you know, the man and all

of these very temporary,

beautiful things remind us, life

really is short, and there is no

second chance.

This really is it.

So live it to the fullest,

really, and love as much as


What happens at the end?

You die, and all of a sudden,

you realize that your whole life

has been wasted.

We all need to wake up to this.

Immediate experience is the

most important touchstone of

value within this culture.

No idea can substitute for this


Life is so short.


you should be passionate about

what you're doing, and, like,

you should be nice to people

and, yeah, like, do what you

need to do.

Life is shockingly short.

It's one reason I think I come

to burning man... 'cause life is

so tragically short.

And you can miss the whole


Life's for living.

Do it now.

And it's really short, so,

you know, might as well have


One thing I'm gonna tell you

is that now is all you have.

Appreciate the divinity of this


Now is all you have.

Time is a construct that we

apply to make sense of change,

but all change occurs in the


The past and the future are only

concepts that make sense of this


So enjoy, embrace.

Now is all you have.

Stop thinking about the

future and the past and stay in

the moment of now.

And then it's so much easier

'cause the human brain always

wants to go, "oh, man, look what

happened to me."

I think that if you spend all

of your time searching for the

meaning, then you kind of miss

the point.

If we're chasing something

that we think exists, but we're

not sure, we're not really


Only when we let go of these

possibilities and let go of the

future or desires, that's when

we start to live.

Enjoy absolutely every single

second to its fullest.


[ laughter ]

This moment now in singularly

time... it's such a wonderful,

wonderful thing that we all have

this moment to share.

"Tomorrow will be too late to

enjoy what you can today."

All you have to do is try and

help your neighbors,

and everybody work together.

To me, that's happiness.

It reconnects you to the


It makes the present meaningful.

And right now we're all living

in a world that is more

meaningful than anything any of

us ever experienced ever.

What is the meaning of life?

What is reality?

Can we answer a question with a


[ laughs ]

What is it worth to you?

What does it mean to you?

Find yourself, then you go

find meaning.

Meditate, prayer, take care

of yourself, take care of the

people around you.

We are here to create and

live and have lots of

experiences in life and share

and love and eat well and make

love and give love and share

love with everybody in the whole


"With this crazy life I live,

I truly live."

"I love myself right now totally

as I am."

Simply, the meaning of life

is love.

I think it's... life's about

getting out there and making a

difference in other people's


The meaning of life is to do

the right thing and to help


Life is about caring as much

as you possibly can for everyone

around you and feeling that

inner connection between

everything and then letting that

flow as much as you can.

I love everybody.

I love you.

I don't know who you are, but I

love you.

If everyone treated each

other like the hotel concierge,

the world would be such a great


There might be just a little too

much ego.

Well, maybe one day we'll cut

that out.

Just connect.

The meaning of life is to

connect with and enjoy the

people that we love and to learn

our soul's purpose for being

here and to be in service and to

grow, explore, and have fun.

To manifest yourself as the

most compassionate person you

could be, to stay present, to be

kind and generous, to love, to

dare to live your life, to go

out there and have some kids,

have a family, see things.

Spread the message.

Yeah, spread the message of


Of love.

Of love.

Of love.

I think the purpose of life

is trying to reach your full

spiritual self, to respect all

things... people, the earth, and

the animals, trying to reach

your highest level and be happy

with yourself and to learn to

love yourself.

I feel like, just, the

overall meaning of life is just

to live it.

Make it good.

Make it big.

Make it, you know, as good as

you can.

Step it up.

Reach into the imaginal...

Source something in the imaginal

realm, and then physically

manifest it in 3-d reality, and

then participate inside of our

own creations.

And that is the definition of a

creator... a being that can

create worlds that didn't exist

before... something from some

place of knowing that is unseen,

and that is what we call our


Burning man, for me, is a sea

of creative possibility... the

play of the imagination and,

at the end, the attempt to kind

of compensate for a lot of the

things that are limiting us in a

larger culture.

And then hopefully, we can take

these connections, this

inspiration, these experiences,

back into that world and, you

know, potentially reform it.

We should exalt creativity.

We should exalt community.

We should exalt a sense of,

like, being the best of who we

can be.

I think that people here really


They're friendly, they're

engaged with each other.

They feel alive.

So remember you're alive.

Remember life is short, and

don't waste your time doing

meaningless things.

And try and find something that

you love and people that you

love to do it with, and live as

actively and passionately as you

possibly can.

The meaning of life for me is


Life is about loving

yourself, loving other people,

loving the universe and the

world... the earth that we live


I think that the meaning of

life is love.

I love you.

While I know you're strong,

may your journey be long.

And now I wish you the best of