For as long as human beings have existed on this planet, this question has been asked. Billions of lives, each asking this perennial question of themselves, and of God. Most people are looking for a practical answer that is rooted in some relative pursuit. But the real answer is a paradox because existence is not a logical and linear process.
There are many layers to our experience, and the concept of purpose plays differently in each. Most of us live in a very relativistic and materialistic world, so we look for a task-based purpose that we can infuse our lives with. Our orientation is to get utility from a pursuit, and our purpose is tied to an accomplishment. We define purpose by gauging our success in achieving a set of goals. Contrast that way of thinking to how a Zen master or yogi might live. For such a person, there is no purpose per se, there is simply spontaneous action illuminated by pure beingness.
Of course, both are appropriate based on where a person’s living experience is. So, in asking a question about one’s purpose should first recognize where we are standing in our awareness. The crux of it is how separate do we feel?
There are gradients of separation. At one end of the spectrum, there is just pure awareness of Oneness, and the question of purpose doesn’t even arise. Now imagine moving across the band of experience towards a sense of duality; there are many spiritual aspirants who do embody their individuality but at the same time, they see the world as part of themselves. The realization that what we do to others, we do to ourselves, has fully flowered. Here, the question of purpose is more an endeavor to manifest the divine in daily life. So, one might just be an expression of love, gratitude, humility, etc. It’s really less about purpose for its own sake, and more about purposeful living as a natural way of being. It’s less willful and more inherent. A divine heart elicits how we show up in every moment, and our actions are a reflection of that constant connection rather than from an intent.
As we move further towards an inherent sense of duality in how we experience our surroundings, and having a general feeling of separateness, then the natural way of showing up in the world gives way to needing a purpose. If you see the world as a reflection of yourself, it’s natural to exude wellbeing towards it, but if the world seems separate then it takes a more active impetus. That’s when we seek purpose and fulfillment, but of course this is how most people do experience their world; that’s our reality.
Now looking out from where we stand in our daily experience, we can reflect back at the question, what is my purpose? With a deeper understanding, we can see that it’s less about declaring a life goal and more about manifesting the unique expression of creation that we are. There are many clues to this expression, for example, natural talents, instinctual pursuits, and activities that bring bliss and joy. Consciousness is endlessly creative, and we come closest to our purpose when we get out of the way. It’s a little ironic that when we are looking for purpose, we think that it’s all about driving towards a set goal, but the truth is that it’s about taking ourselves out of the way. We become witness to life unbound, and questions like this just evaporate.
Here is a related article: https://celebrateyoga.org/why-am-i-here/
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