I once heard the Dali Lama speak and he was asked the question “What is the purpose of life?” A hush fell over the crowd. The Dali Lama was about to reveal the purpose of life. His response was succinct. “I don’t know. You’re here. Do something” Not what the audience expected. But that really does sum it up.
We all have gotten the idea that the purpose of live, or the meaning of life if you prefer, is something you discover or find. It exists out there as an objective fact somewhere and, if you find it, you will be fulfilling your mission in life and live happily ever after. But here is the kicker. The purpose of life is not found. Its created. You make it up. It is not givien. It is chosen. You decide what to do and that is it.
I know, not very exciting. We would all prefer that some super being out there give us a great purpose, a great mission, a destiny to find and fulfill. Like some Medieval knight or Joan of Arc. And that is our dilemma. When we discover that no one is going to give us purpose and we have to pick one ourselves it becomes a little more complicated.
In the absence of a purpose we end up with one by default. Someone else’s. To put it bluntly, we become a slave to someone else’s purpose if we don’t have one of our own. So choosing a purpose is critical to a meaningful existence. Its just that if you work on someone else’s you will be fulfillng theirs and not yours. They will have lots of meaning. You will have none.
So what do we do? Well… choose what your purpose is to be? “What, right now choose my life’s purpse? Are you kidding?”
I appreciate your concern. Its seems like a big deal to just choose a life’s purpose one morning. I mean the angels didn’t sing last night. No voices were heard (or channeled), no ghostly visitor appeared.
A life’s purpose can be a calling an artist, a doctor, a leader, a teacher. But it can also be an attitude. No matter what I do I am going to do it to my best, in good humor and with patience and persistence. The way life is approached can be a life’s purpose.
It can also be a mission that you have no dea to fulfill, like I am going to establish world peace or eliminate the suffering of all beings. I personally like the ones that you have no idea how to fulfill. They are usually closest to the heart.
A true life’s purpose comes directly from your own nature and reflects who you are. It is a reflection of that which is most importatnt to you. To You! Trying to force yourself into something that doesn’t fit, no matter how noble it may be, is only going to lead to misery and disillusioment.
To find one’s purpose you have to be able to answer the question “What is important to me?” and answer from your own heart and experience. If the answer comes from what you believe should be important to you it will be false. This is of course, where most of us get off the track. We substitute what we have been taught should mean something to us for what we actually feel. That is the most significant compromise of our integrity and if that has happened to you it needs to be corrected first. No discovery of your purpose can happen until it is.
If what you feel is right for you is labeled as selfish and you believe it, you will do whatever the authority that taught you that wants. You have compromised your own authority for another’s. The chain of suffering has begun.
Yeah I really do mean suffering. The worst thing a human being can suffer is being alienated from their innermost self, their heart’s deepest desire. It doesn’t matter what you have sacrificed it for, you have lost your soul. And contrary to popular belief your soul will not be given back to you. You must take it back yourself by reclaiming the lost territory, coming to know yourself and choosing that which is most aligned to the deepest you. Only then can you “discover” your life’s purpose.
And then you find out something really paradoxical. You didn’t choose a purpose after all. You did received it. But not from someone outside yourself. You discovered the purpose that was already there all along. For your life’s purpose, it turns out, is none other that your very own nature.