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Dawn over Mauna Kea

Purpose and Meaning

· · · Purpose · · ·
Many studies have found that people who feel a sense of purpose live longer and with more joy. It’s then asserted that we must each find our purpose in order to be happy in life. But…

❝ Why do you introduce purpose?
Purpose implies movement, change, a sense of imperfection. God does not aim at beauty — whatever he does is beautiful. Would you say that a flower is trying to be beautiful? It is beautiful by its very nature. Similarly God is perfection itself, not an effort at perfection.❞
~Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Is purpose what we have taken it to be?
I’ve struggled for years with the concept that finding or manufacturing one’s purpose is requisite. It seems a rather unnecessary complication of the mind serving only to cause separation from truth. The human mind has a propensity for running away with itself as it analyses data in its efforts to protect the system. That’s its job. I don’t begrudge the mind its appointment, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t look closer and ask, in the words of Byron Katie, “Is it true?” Are the mind’s conclusions valid? Maybe truth lies outside the mind’s ability of comprehension.

Rather than endeavouring to add to life, what if we truly embraced it ‘as it is’? What if we don’t have to find purpose or meaning but instead recognise that they already exist?

When I look at nature, I see nothing that is seeking purpose. Its ‘purpose’ is purely in being. It’s baked into the very fact that it exists. No part of nature worries about looking for and finding a purpose in order to be happy. Some people argue that the human brain, the human existence, is an exception to the plenitude of life, a deviation that enables, even requires, us to look for purpose. Yet, we are part of nature. Accordingly, our ‘being’ must also have inherent and already existing purpose.

In the YouTube video ‘Is Everything Made of Matter or Consciousness?’ there is a chapter entitled ‘The Peace That Passeth All Understandings’ in which some rather clear pointers are given. The mind is, of course, quick to quarrel because the suggestions aren’t quantifiable concepts to objectify. But, what these explanations advise is incredibly simple, resonant and restful.

❝ Purpose is not something that you can write down on a piece of paper. Purpose is a continuous unfolding.❞
~Bernardo Kastrup

❝ Purpose on the inside is to [realise that peace and happiness are the natural condition of our essential being]*. Our purpose on the outside is to express this understanding, to live this understanding, and communicate it, to demonstrate it, to share it, to celebrate it, in our activities and relationships.❞
~Rupert Spira

· · · Meaning · · ·
Many people feel the need for their life to have meaning. Philosophies and belief systems over the ages have attempted to provide answers to the question of the meaning of life. However, our inherent purpose is already pregnant with its own meaning.

❝ The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.❞
~Alan Watts

Viktor Frankl, Austrian neurologist and Holocaust survivor, echoes this purity when he says that all one must do is experience reality by interacting authentically with the environment and with others. He describes a ‘Super-meaning’; “an ultimate meaning that exceeds and surpasses the finite intellectual capacities of man.” It is at this point that the mind runs into a wall, a finite line beyond which it cannot cross. Frankl explains, “What is demanded of man is to bear his incapacity to grasp its unconditional meaningfulness in rational terms.” We have to leave the mind and just ‘be’ infinite, not buttress the abstract ideas of ourself with changing experiences.

❝ Reality is not an event, it cannot be experienced. It is not perceivable in the same way as an event is perceivable.❞
~Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Experiences and perceptions themselves are not wrong; they clearly exist. A sense of meaninglessness ensues because we desire some feelings and avoid others. It’s far more peaceful to return awareness to our inherent purpose. Basing a perception of happiness on the changing whims of mental juggling will always lead to temporary relief at best.

❝ People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonance within our innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.❞
~Joseph Campbell

Moving in tune with the cosmos, without adding to it, is to give birth to life’s meaning. Musicians need not add anything to their instrument, they need only adjust their strings to reveal the resonant tones and express the natural patterns.

Perhaps it’s that simple. We need not find our own purpose and apply some meaning to it or life. We need only stop veiling what already is.

❝ Living is life’s only purpose.
… Know your own true being.

…In the great mirror of consciousness images arise and disappear and only memory gives them continuity. And memory is material — destructible, perishable, transient. On such flimsy foundations we build a sense of personal existence — vague, intermittent, dreamlike. This vague persuasion: ‘I-am-so-and-so’ obscures the changeless state of pure awareness and makes us believe that we are born to suffer and to die.❞
~Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

✌️ ∙ 🌱 ∙ 🙏

This is my personal journey—a soulful sojourn in which I share musings arising in and from self-inquiry. I don’t always go into all the characterising details; To me, such minutiae carry more value when explored as pointers in investigation occurring in both silence and when teased out through vulnerable conversation. The purpose is to share some insights that may resonate for you in your own journey.

* Rupert Spira, ‘Being Myself’