Thursday, July 15, 2010

Finding meaning

Seeing as this blog is all about finding my purpose, for this week’s posting I have decided to take stock of where I am in the process, 7 months into my “Grand Experiment”.

I know that I have spoken ad nauseum about dealing with ego issues in this blog. And yet I discover that, despite my best intentions, my quest to discover my true purpose has once again been motivated by… yes, you guessed it! EGO! The starting assumption for this blog was that there is some great and wonderful purpose for my life that I will find and, in so doing; uncover my “gift”, thereby making a huge and important impact on humankind. It’s actually ALL about ego! All about the need to be recognized as being special and different and therefore worthy of love. In retrospect, I’ve actually always been rather susceptible to such grandiose visions of my purpose – when I started studying science I had ideas of myself finding a cure for cancer or AIDS and thereby “making my mark” on the world. I smile indulgently at the naiveté of my 18-year old self, but actually I don’t really seem to have progressed very much from that position, have I?

I suppose we all want to feel that there is some meaning to our lives; some reason behind the toil and hardship, the boredom and sacrifice and, for some of us, this becomes some noble and lofty goal that could possibly raise our lives up from the mundane to some glorious, meaningful heights. Often this is merely a hedge against the deep, often unexamined, fear that perhaps this life is simply random; a meaningless struggle on an inexorable path from birth to the ultimate annihilation of Self. I choose to believe that there MUST be more to my existence than that, simply because it makes my life far more joyful if I hold this belief and because the alternative is simply too dreary and depressing to live with! But what if I’m simply deluding myself, I hear the pragmatists ask. Well, in that case, I suppose I’d rather be happy than right! But I have found some support in the literature for my need to find, or create, meaning in order to live a happy life.

I’ve recently read Viktor Frankl’s excellent book, “Man’s Search for Meaning: An Introduction to Logotherapy”, in which describes his experiences as a Jew in Nazi Germany’s death camps during the Second World War. These experiences led to his developing Logotherapy, which describes mans’ “will to meaning” (in comparison to Freud’s “will to pleasure” and Adler’s “will to power”). Frankl discovered that those prisoners who had a sense of purpose, those who could therefore find (or create) meaning in their suffering, had a FAR better chance of surviving the inhumane conditions than those who did not. It would seem that a sense of personal meaning and purpose is actually vital to the ongoing survival and well being of a human.

Perhaps it’s important to differentiate between “meaning” and “purpose”. For me, purpose is an endpoint, a goal to be achieved, whereas meaning is something personal that I derive on an ongoing basis from the day-to-day activities of my life. I suspect that one could find a lot of meaning in even trivial, minor activities and events if one had a sense of overall purpose and direction for one’s life. But what if, like me, you’re not sure about what your life’s purpose could, or should, be? How do you then find meaning in everyday life whilst discovering your purpose? Well, I have recently started to think that by deliberately choosing to create and express meaning in my daily life I could actually be directly led to my purpose. Let me explain:

I am starting to discover that I can choose to experience a great sense of meaning in doing really small and seemingly insignificant things. For example: I find the time I spend physically toiling and sweating over the removal of non-indigenous trees on our land to be deeply meaningful and fulfilling. I find meaning in baking homemade goods or in preparing a beautiful meal for my partner. I even find meaning in cleaning the house or brushing the dog or any number of other previously boring chores that I rushed through in order to get them done so that I could move onto other “more exciting” (read: more ego gratifying) activities.

What all these activities have in common is that they are actually tangible, active expressions of love. Love for Self, my partner, our dogs, the land, Life. As such, they are deeply meaningful and valuable, important things for me to be doing. Each small task or service that I do in love leads to a sense of my heart opening just a little bit more. I guess I’m finally starting to understand why I was told by my guide to “Ask how best might I serve Life in this moment”. Doing service definitely leads to an opening of the heart, which is, I believe, the portal through which we can (and will) access our unique spark of the Divine, our spirit. Such access to spirit will inexorably lead to a personal experience of divine union with God, which is surely a worthy purpose for any life. In addition, a direct experience of my own divine connection MUST lead me to an understanding of my unique gifts of love and service to the world and to humanity. Note, however, that it starts with the heart connection and NOT with the grandiose visions of ego gratification created by the intellect.

It’s all about intent, I believe. A person could do amazing and far-reaching works of philanthropy, which are recognized by people all over the world, but if the intent is the gratification of the ego, these works will never lead to a personal sense of true meaning and will not, I believe, be to the ultimate good of humankind. In contrast, I believe that the smallest (even invisible) act of loving service can make the biggest difference in changing for the better the reality we inhabit. I suspect the measures of spirituality are very different from those of this illusory world.

So, my current understanding of my purpose is as follows:

1. I am here to experience this unique reality in which I can choose to experience not-Self in order to discover my true Self, and thereby, experience divine union with God.
2. My purpose is then to express my true Self in loving service in order to co-create with others a New Earth while I am still incarnated in this reality. By joyfully and effortlessly expressing my true Self I will naturally give my greatest gift.

So, for now, I will continue to seek out, and gradually discard, all false concepts of Self and consciously strive toward an ever-clearer concept of true Self. Through meaningful service I will continue to open my heart, a little bit more every day. In daily meditation I will bring myself always to the portal of the heart where I will joyfully anticipate the moment of clarity, the moment of blissful knowing that I truly am one with ALL THAT IS. Perhaps if I listen very carefully I will hear that there is a knocking on the other side of the door to my heart…

"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me" (Revelations 3:20).

And so the journey continues…

Next: The Pendululm Swings

1 comment:

Ronel said...

Goddess of Words you are... Ego or not.... perhaps there is a little gift for you in realising that words dance for you, like Life for the Choreographer. And it may well hide in both your meaning and purpose.

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