Finding your life’s purpose
by Gerrit Gielen
What is our life’s purpose? It is a question many people ask. If we approach it from a biological point of view the answer is simple: to stay alive and reproduce. So it is all about survival of the species, or even more materialistically: survival of your genes. You are your body, and your body is just a vehicle making sure you genes reproduce themselves. Religion of course teaches us something completely different. God created us, and we are here to serve God.
Both views have in common that it is something outside of us which defines our purpose. We basically have nothing to say in the matter. Until very recently the same was the case in everyday life. People generally had little say in their own lives. Girls were supposed to help their mothers, they were not encouraged to learn anything, instead to marry, to stay at home and to raise plenty of children. Boys were supposed to take part in hard physical labour or to become soldiers. They were expected to obey orders and not to think for themselves; in the past leaders expected total obedience.
However all these things are not what I mean by “Finding your life’s purpose.” By this I mean a purpose that is meaningful for myself – not for someone or something else.
This naturally begs the question: suppose that my life is meaningful for me, what does this tell me about myself? What kind of being would I need be in order that that my life can have meaning for myself?
Now, when I create or build something – let us say a chair for example – I am the one who defines the purpose of the chair. In this case, I want to sit on it. Hence it could be said that when I have a creator, I do not have a purpose of my own. My life can only have a purpose for myself when I am my own creator, when I create my own life.
This means that a part of me must exist outside of space-time. If my origin lies only within space-time I cannot be my own creator. In which case we would have to conclude that there was something older than me that created me. Thus, if the question “What is my life’s purpose?” is to have any meaning, there have be two parts to me: the creator part, which exists outside of space-time, and my earthly personality, which exists within space-time. Both are me: the great me and the small me. The small me does not only live on earth, he also lives within the great me and all his experiences are a part of the great me.
My life’s purpose is known by the great me: it is this part that created me, and what I am doing here is meaningful for him. So if I – the small me – wants to know my life’s purpose the very first step is to become aware of the great me.
Without acknowledging the great me, the question is not meaningful. I would even affirm that without the great me we could not even raise the question, we would simply obey external laws. We would be beings without an inside world, without a psyche, somewhat like computers.
The fact that we are able to ask this very question is a sign that we are to a certain degree in contact we the great me – our more traditionally speaking: our soul.
Becoming aware of the great me
Where should we look to find the great me? Of course not in the outside world but somewhere inside. Here lie three important obstacles. The first is that we are not used to turning our attention inward for answers. In fact we are not used to looking towards the inside at all, usually we only maintain this attention for a few seconds then we start to think about something outside us; often one of the many problems we experience in everyday life.
The second is a psychological obstacle: we believe that we are small, that we have little or no importance. We cannot conceive that there is something great within us, something eternal.
The third obstacle is also a psychological one: we believe that we are bad or unworthy. Of course we manage to hide this from the outside world, but if there is something like a great me inside me, he (I write he, but of course it is also a she) must be aware of this, and therefore angry: I am a failure. So it is better not to get in contact with the great me, since it will make us feel even worse about ourselves.
How do we overcome these obstacles?
The first step is to go inside, to focus on your inner world. When people do this they often try not to think, this is however very difficult to maintain for more then a few seconds. So people start to think about their problems. The solution to this problem is quite obvious. There are always things in your inner world that are calling your attention, usually feelings such as anger or sadness, or perhaps tension somewhere inside your body, or even pain. The main reason people find it so hard to meditate is that they think they must keep their mind away from things that are drawing their attention. However we can only find inner peace when, instead of considering these things as unwanted or negative, we value them. They are important because they are a part of you, they contain important messages for you. They are calling your attention for a reason.
If, for instance, you sense anger somewhere inside you, image in that same place an angry child. Simply use your imagination. Imagination is a powerful tool which allows us to contact our own inner world. People often dismiss the imagination as something which is not real and with no real value. But consider this or a moment: all great works of art, all human literature, all these things sprung forth from the human imagination. Your imagination is always very personal, it is unique, and it always tells you something about yourself.
So use your imagination, to get in contact with this child. Listen to this child, be open and loving to it. This child is a part of you, perhaps a part of you that you have neglected for a long time, and perhaps a part of you which carries an important message.
If we allow ourselves to do this, if we see all those parts of ourselves without any judgement, if we accept and even perhaps love all those parts of ourselves, then we become the observers of our small selves: our personalities. And this is when something beautiful can happen: by becoming the observer, we also come in contact with the great selves: our souls.
Becoming aware of the things that are blocking the energy of your soul
Our small selves are filled with ideas, thoughts and feelings which arise in reaction to the outside world. Since most ideas in the outside world are based on fear, these ideas block the energy of our soul, which is an energy base on love. Some of these ideas seem so self evident that we can hardly imagine they could be wrong.
What are these ideas?
First of all there is our primary reaction to the fear-based energies of society. We sense that we don’t fit in, that we are different. And we conclude that there is something wrong with us. That we need to change, or to grow up. As a result we live in a state of permanent self-judgement.
By constantly condemning and suppressing ourself we push away the energy of our soul. The consequence of this is that we experience the feeling of a lack of love. We begin to think that we are not loved. And so begins the big quest for love. We believe that the world at large is indifferent to us and that we have to work very hard in order to earn a little bit of love from someone else.
Along with this ideas comes the feeling of powerlessness. We learn to believe that we do not have control over our own live. Other people are in power, not us. We learn that everything is separated. We are separated from other people by walls, or borders. We are separated from the stars and other planets by an immense space.
So there are basically four immense fears which we internalize.
– The fear of lack in general, and love in particular.
– The fear of powerlessness.
– The fear of separation.
– The fear of being bad, or worthless.
In order to overcome these illusions we must first become aware of them. We can do this by embracing one by one the following opposing ideas:
– I am a source of love and abundance.
– I am a powerful creator.
– I am one with the universe.
– I am good.
When you embrace one of these thoughts, for instance “I am a source of love.” it is likely that you immediately feel resistance. Most likely a thought appears which rejects the idea directly, without question. Now use your imagination. Imagine somewhere inside you there is a person who is verbalising out this dismissive thought, saying for example that the idea that you are source of love is ridiculous.
Take the time to study this person. Where does he or she come from. It is very probable that it is a voice from your past; perhaps one of your parents. But as you start to think about it you will realise that it is an outside voice. The voice does not come from within, it does not really belong to you. However, the things this sceptical voice is telling you may be true, or they may be false. There is perhaps doubt within you. Be rational about this doubt : since it is there, then it makes sense to give the positive possibility a chance.
So embrace the thought “I am a source of love.” Repeat it several times a day. After all, you have repeated negative thoughts so many times throughout your life. Why not give positive thoughts a little chance? How does this feel?
And each time you repeat one of these positive thoughts, pay attention to the negative reaction inside you. Study it using your imagination. Probably you will slowly come to the conclusion that all these negative thoughts have there roots in society-based fears around you, which you have integrated as your own. The more your become aware of this, the more you will be able to let go of all your thoughts and ideas based on these fears, and the more space you will create for the great me. Creating space means no longer holding back the great me, which allows the energy of your soul start flowing in. Getting in contact with this energy is a fundamental step in finding you life’s purpose.
Your life’s purpose: expressing yourself
What is your life’s purpose?
It is of course is different for each one of us. Nevertheless, it can be said that when the energy of your soul is flowing freely in to the world, when your are expressing your most authentic, true self in the world, you have found your life’s purpose. For people who are doing this already the question has simply disappeared; they feel it, they know it. They are a little like happy children playing in the sun, enjoying life, living in the moment. The big questions do not matter so much to them, since big question are often a sign of unhappiness. Someone who is genuinely happy does not usually ask: “Why am I here? What is my purpose?” Being happy is in fact an answer to these questions.
Yet many people are unhappy, and are asking these question. Why? The answer is simple: we are not welcome in this world. The fear-based energies of our societies are such that they suppress the energy of the great me. The world wants us to be small, wants us to conform and obey. It wants only the small me, not the great me. And during our childhood we internalize these ideas of the world, and in doing so we also reject the great me. As a result we do not really feel happy and we start to ask the big questions.
Usually when we ask the question “what is my life’s purpose?”, we ask it from a particular viewpoint: the very fact that we are asking the question means that we do not know the answer. We believe that the answer lies outside me. Where? My soul has it; hence my soul is something outside me, floating somewhere high above me. So how do we come into contact with it? The key is self acceptance. The more we accept ourselves the less we judge ourselves, and the more we begin to feel appreciation and love for ourselves, the more we enter into contact with our souls.
The first step is to go inward and to accept the idea that whatever we find there is important, however apparently negative it may seem to us at first. By accepting everything inside us with love and consideration, we become aware of this loving observer , observing the small me. It is the great me: it is our soul.
We do not find the great me by looking for it, but by embracing its ideas and perceiving the way the great me considers us: in total acceptance, with unconditional love. We can never find our soul because our soul is not something outside of us. But we can become one with our soul – with ourselves – by ceasing to identify with ideas that do not belong to the realm of the soul, such as our old fear based ideas, and by embracing those that do belong to the soul: which are unequivocally ideas based on love.
What then is our life’s purpose? Firstly, to become aware of the great me. But that is not all. The small me is also pivotal. If you do wish to find your life’s purpose, do not dismiss your ego – at least not completely. As we become aware of the great me, we become aware of an almost infinite potential.
We can compare the small me to a piece of coloured glass that only allows certain rays of sunlight to pass through. The sun is the great me, the piece of coloured glass the small me. Within this comparison, any shadows or stains on the glass are our fears, and our fear-based ideas. In the same way the small me filters the energy of the soul, allowing only certain aspects of the soul’s energy to flow into this world.
In order to allow this filter to work properly three steps are required. First of all we must clean the filter, which is done by becoming aware of out old fears. This is the equivalent of cleaning the glass. Secondly, we must become aware of and acknowledge the existence of the great me. When the glass is no longer stained, the sunlight can stream through. And finally it is necessary to the understand the filter. What colour is the glass? What part of the soul’s energy of the soul does it want to allow to shine out into society?
As you consider this analogy, you may notice that when we ask the question: “What is my life’s purpose?”, there are two mistakes we can make. In the first case the glass is stained, which prevents it allowing light to flow through properly. The shadows or stains represent our thoughts and actions which are based on fear. Imagine for instance a person who has a fear of lack. He or she may have thoughts such as; “I want to be a millionaire and become famous and be loved by everybody.”
The second trap or mistake is when the glass is not aware of its own colour, and it wants to let all of the sunlight through. This however impossible. In this case the person is not sufficiently aware of their own ego and personality: they strive to save and to change the whole world, they want to give their love to everybody. The result is inevitably disappointment or even traumatic experiences.
For a moment, forget about saving the world, forget your soul, brush aside your fears, and let go of what society wants you to do. Feel your ego, yes, feel your ego. Allow it just to be. You ego knows what your personality really wants, it understand the colour of the filter that you are. Once you understand this you will know the purpose of your life. When this becomes clear, you can begin to express the energy of you soul according your own colour, according you own personality; and you need your ego to be able to do this. It is your ego that allows you not to go along with outside energies that want or attempt to use or dominate you. You need your ego in order to contain the energy of you soul, and this is what allows your earthly personality to be fulfilled.
Edited by Kathleen Bentley
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