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.
Folks like RJ Balaji must help the youth focus on doing greater good that can change India forever.
This post is in continuation of my post of yesterday on Life having a Higher Purpose. I have been watching the Jallikattu protests in Tamil Nadu with curiosity. While the peaceful manner in which the protests have been held so far is commendable, I feel a great opportunity needs to be urgently leveraged. This opportunity is really about creating a mass, democratic movement that has the potential to change the socio-political landscape of not just Tamil Nadu, but of the entire country. But for this to happen, this youth movement must rise above temptations of petty, regional, jingoism and embrace a Higher Purpose.
So far the protests across Tamil Nadu are known to have a focus only on the Jallikattu issue. I feel this is a very myopic way to look at preserving Tamizh culture and to channelize youth energy. It is very disturbing when you consider that many – artists, intellectuals, commonfolk – really don’t appear to be seeing the bigger picture. I have a simple question: don’t #Manushanda and #Indianda come far ahead of the parochial #Tamizhanda war-cry? I don’t want to emphasize on the unconfirmed references to purported secessionist clarion calls by a section of the protestors who played up the Eelam card or held up pictures of the late LTTE commando Prabhakaran. I also don’t want to lament the behavior – again unconfirmed –of a section of the protestors who purportedly used abusive language in reference to PM Modi and CM O Paneerselvam. Such discordant notes are bound to be struck when so much energy comes rising up – without proper channelization, without a bonding glue, without a Higher Purpose. The only voice that made sense, though it may be accused of being unnecessarily rabid, was that of RJ Balaji. I totally agree with Balaji that the time has come for ordinary citizens to join the democratic process – first, by going beyond just voting in every election. He champions for us to stand up, even if it means protesting every single time an issue arises – and in India, there is an issue born or created almost all the time, 24×7 – and raise questions. And what better way to get started on this journey than by allowing ourselves to be led by the youth of our land? Yes, I have a fundamental disagreement with Jallikattu being a cause for an uprising. But somewhere, somehow, a beginning had to be made. It has so happened that Jallikattu has now united a diverse set of people to a cause. So far, the political class has been getting away with sacrilege and the murder of democracy because there was no movement that had managed to reach as far as this youth effort in Tamil Nadu has gotten. This is why this opportunity, of making #Jallikattu a lasting metaphor, must be seized, urgently, immediately.
This is where a huge responsibility vests with people like RJ Balaji. There have been youthful voices like his in the recent past in India – but, at least to my mind, they have been laced with secessionist and communal flavors. Balaji, and a majority of the youth in the Tamil Nadu movement, have been, commendably, apolitical and non-communal. So, if anybody must be supported, it must be them.
We must all encourage and invite them to embrace a Higher Purpose. That Higher Purpose must simply be to cleanse Indian society of its corrupt, insensitive, ineffective political system. Here corruption does not refer to money bribes and illegitimate material accumulations alone, it also includes a corrupt thought process. When anything is taken up with Higher Purpose – which by character, by its very nature, goes beyond money, name, fame and power – it always succeeds. This is the only reason the Civil Disobedience Movement that Gandhi led succeeded – it got us our freedom! So, per me, embracing the Higher Purpose of cleansing our society means to create a nationwide movement that must aim to get elected only educated, honest, skilled representatives to both Houses of Parliament and to every State Assembly. That’s ensuring the selection and election of a few thousand people – from among 1.25 billion Indians. Extremely doable! I believe this is really what our youth want and are capable of achieving. I only hope they can define and internalize this Higher Purpose for themselves – for all of them, for all of us – and build a national movement. Only this will ensure that their energy is not frittered away and they remain united in the face of any pressure that the political class is bound to mount.
Your Life’s Purpose is not to earn a living alone and to keep thinking you deserve more!
A FB post by a friend raises this very interesting, fundamental question: “Do uncertain times call for a certainty of Purpose?”
My answer: “Of course it does!”
Though we don’t normally see it, recognize it or realize it, all creation has a Purpose. If you look around you, every aspect of Nature serves a Purpose. The sun, the trees, the animals, the birds, the insects, the rivers, the oceans – each of these forms of creation is there with a reason. The human species too has been created with and for a reason. But somewhere along the way, we humans have forgotten a. that we have been created b. that the Purpose of our creation is not to merely earn a living or to plunder the planet and cannibalize other species that we co-habit this space with.
Let us first appreciate that the human form is a blessing we receive from creation. Think about it: we could have been created in any other form – why are we created human? Therefore, we must then understand that if we have been created human, there must a reason for it. And that reason cannot be to amass wealth, to stress over material accumulations and to suffer when our wants are unfulfilled. Very simply, the Purpose of being created human is to serve, and through serving other forms of creation, being happy. But what do we do instead? We are continuously seeking deservance, and when we don’t get what we want, we are ending up being unhappy! Isn’t this a complete waste of our being human?
Now, to go back to my friend’s FB post, we all know, without a doubt, that all Life is uncertain. And inscrutable. When you have clarity on why you are here, why you are going through this human experience, you can live Life better. It is when you are confused that you are confounded. That’s how you end up suffering. Let me explain. When you think of your Life’s Purpose as only making money or as being successful or famous, and when these things don’t happen or if they happen but also don’t stay with you permanently, then you are unhappy, then you suffer. But if you realize that, despite your having money or not, despite being successful or not, despite being famous or not, your Life’s Purpose is only to serve, only to make this world a better place, then you can only be happy. Simple.
So, clarity of Purpose is crucial to help us along the journey of Life. When there is an awareness of the why of your creation, when there is Purpose, your Life matters. And only the presence of what matters to you can make you happy!
It’s okay to be clueless about Life when every plan of yours is over-written by the Master Plan.
Earlier this week, someone asked me what do we do, on a daily basis, when we are “living through” a bankruptcy. He was keen to know how a typical day in our Life looked like. I liked the question. But I must confess I don’t have an answer that may necessarily appeal to everyone.
To be sure, we do have a plan. And we work to a plan. But a pattern that we see in our Life, over the past decade is that, every single time, our plans are over-written by Life’s Master Plan. So, our days are typically adventurous, where we start all over again with undiluted enthusiasm and curiosity – “Okay, let’s see what Life has in store for us today!”
On an operational level, we wake up every morning feeling very, very grateful for another day. We both thank Life for keeping us physically going – there aren’t any apparent manufacturing defects, yet, on that front!! And we get down to dealing with the day – there could be court appearances on some days, there can be legal reviews, there can be Talks that I deliver, there may be meetings with prospective clients, there are times when we are curating future editions of the public events we host that ‘Inspire Happiness’, there is my daily Blog I write, there are housekeeping chores to be done and errands to be run. We truly believe each day is a miracle. And Vaani and I face each day with enthusiasm. We don’t complain. We share our frustrations alright but once we get it out of our system, we keep moving on. Borrowing from the title of Mark Tully’s famous book, there are no full stops, really, in our Life, only commas!
The gentleman pressed on. “How does this help,” he asked?
I told him that by filling our days with a lot of meaningful action, in line with our Life’s Purpose of ‘Inspiring Happiness’, we ensure every moment is lived fully. We literally keep postponing worrying from moment to moment. We believe that only if you have an idle moment, when you are not immersed in the present, will you worry. So stay immersed in the now, be happy in the present, keep chipping away at whatever you have to do regardless of the outcomes, and through all of that, postpone worrying!
Our experiences have taught Vaani and me that when you don’t know what’s happening, or don’t know what to do, when you are clueless, you must just go with the flow. You must simply accept your experience as part of your learning curve. We often have had to deal with such situations – especially in the context of having to address claims from creditors wanting their money back. And each time, we have laid the cards on the table. Whether it is to my family, or to our various stakeholders who are connected with us personally or professionally or with our business. But sometimes people expect us to know all the answers. They demand that we come up with a solution. They push us to a corner and tell us that we have to find a way out. It can be very intimidating. It can be very draining. What do you do when everyone wants something that you don’t have – which is money? And what do you, when despite your best efforts, you don’t get what you badly want – work and money? You are then truly clueless. Each time, we have felt this way, we have let our awareness guide us. This has ensured that our spirit, our enthusiasm, is not crippled. We have learnt that to be clueless in a situation is to be human. Because sometimes, our problems are beyond the immediate realms of human imagination and resolution.
When you trust the process of Life and believe it will sort situations out for you, your problem may not vanish magically or be solved miraculously. But you will survive one day at a time, with all your needs being provided for by Life. Well, that’s a miracle by itself, isn’t it?
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