Others may be unwilling to see or understand why your Purpose is important to you.
“AVIS, what do you believe is your Life’s Purpose? How did you find it? And how did you know that it is your Purpose,” asked a reader, after reading my blogpost of yesterday.
I believe that my Life’s Purpose is “Inspiring Happiness”. Which really means to invite people to pause, reflect and awaken them to the right way of thinking and living – which is, to encourage people to live non-worrying, non-frustrated and non-suffering.
I didn’t find my Life’s Purpose. It found me. And I awakened to it.
It is common knowledge now that, in end-2007/early-2008, the bankruptcy happened in our Life. Then my Book Fall Like A Rose Petal happened in August 2014. And after that pretty much my Life has been in the public domain – living with contentment despite still being materially challenged, mired deep in debt repayable to 179 creditors (who I call angels in my Book) and sharing Life lessons through this Blog, my Podcast, my Vlogs, my Talks and through the non-commercial public events that Vaani and I curate in Chennai. Our Firm A V Initiatives is also focused on inspiring “Workplace Happiness”. I know that “Inspiring Happiness” is my Life’s Purpose because I am happiest when I am sharing my learnings from Life with people. However debilitating the circumstances have been, I find sharing daily an immersive experience. Besides, in an apparently worthless material state that Vaani and I find ourselves in, we feel it is enriching to be useful to people around us. That is, to whoever cares to pause and reflect on Life, on what matters most and why, along with us.
I have discovered that awakening to your Life’s Purpose is a deeply personal experience. It is what makes you come alive. Yet, others looking at you, observing you, may not necessarily be turned on by your sense of Purpose; besides, they may be unwilling to understand or see why it is important to you. For instance, many have told Vaani and me that we are stupid living our Life purposefully. They have cautioned that we may end up dying paupers, with our debt un-repaid. These people feel that this world does not need purposeful living; it needs, they say, more wealth to be created and saved for posterity. From where they see it, they may have a sound reasoning. But from where we see it, we cannot be living our Life any other way. So, Purpose cannot be justified. It cannot be explained. It can only be lived per what one’s own inner voice is saying.
And when you live a Life of Purpose, you will find inner peace, equanimity, in you. No matter how hard the going is, you will want to plough on. It won’t matter to you as to who is watching you, who is applauding you, who is remunerating you, who is rewarding you. What will matter is that you are happy doing what you are doing because you lose yourself while doing it, it gives you an opportunity to be useful, it is way for you to serve selflessly and it is creating value in another’s Life.
What you seek will seek you.
“I often vex over trying to understand what is the Purpose of my Life,” said a young man who I met recently. He wanted to know if it was a “good thing” or a “bad thing” vexing over trying to understand your Life’s Purpose.
I smiled. The very fact that a young man, in his 20s, is thinking of Life’s Purpose, I feel, is commendable. I started wondering if my Life has a Purpose at all only when I was in my mid-thirties. And this is what I have learnt from my quest for, and discovery of, my Life’s Purpose.
We must first remember that all forms of creation have a Purpose. Particularly, the human form. To be created a human being, with no significant ‘manufacturing defects’, is a not just a miracle, it is a blessing. If you have been created human, surely, there must be a reason behind it; a Purpose. Else, possibly, you may been created in some other inanimate or non-human form. Think about it. Why are you created human? And the answer really is simple. You are human so that you can experience happiness, so that you can serve other forms of creation using your intellect and your compassion, and so that you live a full, complete Life. But what do we human beings do – we are conditioned by our upbringing and social expectations, so we are stuck with earning-a-living instead of living, we are forever saying we deserve more, instead of serving and because our wants outnumber our needs, we are perpetually unhappy. So, in essence, we are, as a race, a majority of us, missing the whole Purpose behind our creation.
Every human creation has an individual Purpose too. Just as Gandhi’s had, Mother Teresa’s had, Kailash Sathyarthi’s has and Malala Yusafzai’s has. It is a fallacy to imagine that only ‘great’ people’s lives have a Purpose. The truth is that they are regarded as great only because they lived a Life of Purpose. Now, you cannot find your Life’s Purpose by vexing over it. Agonizing over something will only cause suffering. So, just relax. The very fact that you know that your Life has a Purpose and you are seeking it is a blessing – there are so many, many, many millions out there who are merely ‘earning-a-living’ and are imagining that they have been created to slave, earn, save, suffer and procreate. So, you are in a more evolved state than many out there. Celebrate yourself, than agonizing, therefore.
What’s beautiful about Life is that your Life’s Purpose will find you. What you seek will seek you. There’s no way you can explain this. It happens to each one in their own way – over time. Sometimes a cathartic turn of events may awaken you. Sometimes, a flash of an idea may inspire you. Or you may just be in a place by sheer happenstance when you feel a river moving inside you telling you, ‘come, flow with me!’ Purpose is magical. It transforms your Life instantaneously. It makes you want to wake up each morning and go live each day fully, happily, energetically, no matter how debilitating the circumstances are.
There’s a simple way to stay tuned in the direction of your Life’s Purpose though. Make a list of all the activities you are passionate about. Then decide which one or ones are you capable of being world-class, excellent, at. Then focus only on doing those couple of things that you are passionate about and have the potential to be best at in the world. Soon you will come to that one activity where you lose yourself. Which is, when you immerse yourself in it, you lose track of time, sleep and even of your own identity. Ask yourself how can this one activity not just benefit you alone but how can you serve people around you? The answer to this question may well direct you to your Life’s Purpose. Getting to this stage of understanding, evolution and clarity, takes time. So, trust the process of Life and be patient.
And, of course, Purpose and money are unconnected, unrelated. Though living a Life of Purpose may surely lead you to earn money, making money cannot be your Life’s Purpose. Because money is a human invention, a social necessity. Your Life’s Purpose is the reason for your creation, it is why you are, well, human in the first place. It is the reason for your living, for your being. It is Life’s longing for you – to make your lifetime meaningful, to make it count. So, you don’t have to get vexed trying to find it. Just stay tuned to the big question – ‘what is the Purpose of my Life?’ – without agonizing over it, and your Purpose will, over time, find you.
In the midst of a ‘pre-programmed’ Life, there’s always an opportunity to create value!
Yesterday, while talking to some managers from a publishing company, I invited them to consider leading a more purposeful Life. One of them asked me if Life really has a Purpose. He said, “It seems so meaningless. If you come with nothing and go with nothing, why do you need to be doing anything at all, achieving anything at all, accumulating anything at all, in this lifetime? I see procreation of the human reason as the only reason for being.”
The young man’s point of view is very interesting. From Ramana to Osho to Campbell, several people have addressed this question. What I told the manager, comes from my awareness and understanding of Life.
From a strictly biological and scientific point of view, it appears, that all Life exists to simply transfer information (genes) to the next generation. So, rationally speaking, the true Purpose of Life must be to perpetuate itself. As humans, we__you, me__are just a living organism that has a little more awareness than other living organisms. This is where, in my opinion, spirituality meets science.
I choose my words carefully: spirituality, and not religion, meets science.
Now, if humans are endowed with a little more awareness, why is that so? Of what use can that awareness be? Truly, the awareness is visible, is evident, in the way the human brain develops and works, and has been evolving through the ages. But the truth also is that apart from transferring this evolutionary genetic code to the next generation, each human does not take away anything while leaving this planet. But delve deeper. Obviously creation has a design, a profound thought, which is why the human race is endowed with a greater awareness than all other Life on the planet. This awareness, when it awakens the human, and flowers within, is called spirituality. It is all about Self-Realization. When you realize your Self, you discover these simple truths: 1.Biologically, we will all grow older and eventually perish__albeit per different expiration dates! 2. Life’s repetitive cycles is just about transferring genes to each successive generation. 3. In the midst of such a pre-programmed Life, there’s still the possibility to individually make a difference and create value. When you know how you can make that difference, you will have found your Life’s Purpose, your ikigai, your reason for being. When you are doing anything purposeful, you will encounter joy, you will ‘feel’ the power of this ‘extra’, ‘higher’ awareness that we as humans possess.
Across the human race, just being kind, loving, compassionate and caring, serving, can, and always, delivers this joy. So, to serve can be, and is, a common Purpose to all of us humans. But each of us also derives joy, feels blissful, doing some things more than others. When we know what it is, which is when we lose ourselves in what we are doing, we would have found the Purpose of our creation. This Purpose is beyond wants and desires, beyond wealth and assets, it is about serving, it is about giving up yourself, your profit and prestige, during this lifetime, to meet a higher end that delivers value to the following generations much after you are gone, that makes this world a better place to live in. To Gandhi it was equality and ahimsa, to Mother Teresa it was caring for the uncared, to Kailash Satyarthi, it is to eradicate all exploitation of children, to me and Vaani, it is to Inspire Happiness among all those who care to pause and reflect!
Each human being that gets beyond the insecurities and fears of everyday living, in fact anyone who takes a break from earning a living and even momentarily steps out of the rat race, will find Purpose in their Life. She or he will find that there is an opportunity to create unique value in this ‘readymade’ lifetime of ours. That’s when we will all know that we are not human beings going through temporary, feel good, spiritual experiences, but we really are spiritual beings going through temporary human experiences. And so, we will realize that before this human experience ends, we must have touched a soul, provoked thought, inspired action, wiped a tear, loved, led, cared and created value.