This is the second post in a series. Reviewing the key takeaways from Part One:
Our culture touts goals as an important path to success.
Goals are inherently time bound, they have a deadline.
Achievement of a goal detached from Purpose is the source of much dissatisfaction in modern societies.
Once a goal is achieved a new goal must be sought.
A Purpose connects us to a cause greater than ourselves.
Purpose is large enough to break the bonds of time.
Purpose relates to the highest and best use of our talents and abilities in the service of others.
Purpose is an expression of Dharma, the eternal and immutable laws that sustain Creation and allow for the advancement of Consciousness.
By way of example, the desire to become a neurosurgeon in order to make a lot of money is a goal. But for a talented and ambitious individual, pursuing such a career for the lifestyle alone, without some higher purpose, ultimately can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion, professional burnout, and at some point an existential questioning of whether the grueling years of study, internship, and practice, the toll on family life, the competition for prestige and promotion,etc. are really giving satisfaction and fulfillment. Country club memberships, travel, fancy cars, lavish homes, and other trappings of “success” come to feel empty for a variety of reasons. “Is this all there is?” becomes the plea of a spirit drained of life.
Contrast this with a young person who witnesses the suffering of a near and dear one due to traumatic brain injury and resolves to find a way to help others suffering through similar experiences. This is the beginning of a purpose, and goals related to it soon emerge as a series of steps that develop skills to bring that drive to fruition. Knowing that traumatic brain injury will likely always be part of society means endless opportunities to pursue the purpose.
This person rolls out of bed propelled by a desire to serve others and every successful step along the way represents an accomplishment, a goal, that immediately reveals the next step. Get an undergraduate degree, be accepted into a medical school, post-grad work in the specialty of neurosurgery, internship, a position at a hospital, serving patients, training younger doctors, perhaps developing new and better procedures, all arise naturally from the purpose of easing the suffering of others.
The same could be said for the child of a broken home who goes into family law to help future generations of children and their parents through the pain and drama of divorce. Or the auto mechanic who had an opportunity at a young age to learn the satisfaction of having a mechanically sound vehicle and all the freedom it could afford it’s owner. Or the student interested in history who during a college year overseas sees the suffering of people in autocratically ruled nations and enters the political arena afterwards to preserve and expand freedom in their homeland.
The only rules for finding your Purpose are that it makes use of your greatest talents and abilities, it is something that fills you with passion and enthusiasm because it involves activities you love participating in, and it serves some need greater than your own. So, how do you find it, assuming you don’t know what it is?
First, make a list, preferably on index cards or separate pages of a small notebook, of your talents, abilities, skills, and capabilities. No need for modesty here. No one but you will see this list so really brag on yourself. Try to get 50-100 items. If you have trouble thinking of that many ask a trusted friend or other acquaintance to help you without telling them why. Say you’re working on saving the world by bettering yourself and want to list what you have to bring to the table.
Next, make a similar list of activities you enjoy. Think about the kind of things you would cause you to gladly get up early, stay up late, and keep doing nearly all the time if you had the means. Again, try to list 50-100 of these.
Once your lists are complete spend time with them everyday really thinking about them. Your goal is to imagine each item on the first list as a permanent part of your life connected in some manner to the things on the second list in order to find 3-5 items on each list that you can embrace for as long as you live. This will take some time and effort, perhaps three to six weeks of daily work with ongoing adjustments for several months.
When you get the lists pared down, think about how doing what you are best at in conjunction with what you most love could serve some higher cause.
Maybe you are excellent at understanding new technology, sketching designs of futuristic inventions, and building Lego models – the more complex the better. Perhaps you love playing video games, cosplay, and creating YouTube videos. What sort of Purpose might emerge from these combinations? Architect, teacher, inventor, documentary filmmaker, futurist are all possible sources of purpose from this list.
Try this one: You are excellent at expressing your emotions and feeling those of others, you have the patience to sit with a distressed friend for hours, you have a way with domestic animals. Your favorite activities include socializing with and meeting new people, outdoor hiking and cycling, and singing karaoke on the weekends. What might be a higher calling that incorporates these items. Service animal trainer or provider is one possibility.
If you found it difficult to craft a purpose from the above lists don’t be surprised or disappointed. The lists aren’t your own. Only by doing your work, finding your talents, and expressing your favorite activities will you stoke the fire of your own ambition. But once you do, and your Purpose is revealed by it, you’re on your way to a life of fulfillment and the creation of a legacy of achievement that will endure long after your body passes from this world.
In the next installment, I’ll show you how Vedic Astrology can reveal Dharma and Purpose for a person, organization, and nation. Until then, have fun working on your lists and finding your pathway to self-fulfilling consciousness growth.