Inventing Purpose

The unhurried ambling. The contemplative discourses at the cafe. Plain old ruminations. Whilst these qualities positively mark out an yogic aspirant or a poet, they spell utter disaster when indulged in by professionals. And I see a lot of them everyday.

For the record I define a professional as one who is relied upon to do a certain job, and is possibly compensated for it.

I see this as a problem of knowing ones purpose. Without purpose one lives as an animal. Works for the food, clothing and shelter. Breeds some, accumulates some wealth, breeds a little more. And leaves the world just as it was before.

Why is it important to know our life’s calling? Well, for starters, it acts like a catalyst that amplifies everything we do. It is a goal towards which we surely move even with the tactical diversions we might take. It is the salt of existence, tying together the various skills we bring together in living our lives and raises us to a higher harmony.

Without purpose one can go through the motions of doing everything but never accomplish anything.

The designer does not choose to think about designing beautiful things after entering office, he mulls about it every waking moment. The painter sees in his mind’s eye a masterpiece in every common view of life. The poet casts his many heartaches into sonnets that outlast the ravages of time.

It could be argued that these examples are beyond the ken of normal humanity, that these are souls that are born into genius. But nothing could be further from the truth.

It is possible to exceed ones station though born with no distinguishing signs that light up the skies, possessing only average skill, buffeted by an average job and backed by an average mind. Life and circumstance don’t have to define our calling, we can choose our purpose. Imperfect it might be, but still better than leading the life of an animal.

We are not required to be the messiah who redeems humanity. A little of ourselves to perfect is enough. Not to be one who stands on the borders of heaven vowing not to go forward until every soul is rescued from mortality. To awaken ourselves and a single other soul to the beauty and compassion and perfection of life is enough.

Purpose can and must be invented if it is not granted unto us.

To build something that makes life a little better for people. To break through the status quo by unceasingly pushing ourselves. To provide hope to a handful of people around. To be the possibility that the less fortunate can look up to. To be one the haughty fear to confront. Anything at all but the mediocrity that is given by default.

Trick is to do all this with humility, while curbing wayward passions and managing the weaknesses of flesh. After all, if the Master does turn up at the end of our journeys, we don’t want to look silly.

My Greatest Engineering Challenge

Putting man on the moon, sending a probe to the remote edges of our solar system, instrumenting the planet, reversing global warming, finding a cure for cancer and AIDS and every other scientific endeavor that engages our collective attentions are worthy problems as candidates for the title of Greatest Engineering Challenge Ever.

But all these pale into insignificance before the one true problem, at least according to me. That is the problem of purpose, that has confounded, baffled and defeated all but a handful of us since the first animal pondered cause and effect.

Problem of purpose forks into the following trinity of questions – Who am I, what am I here for and what do I become. Questions that have been mistakenly considered as axioms and resisted honest investigation.

As someone attempting to comprehend and practice the methods prescribed by Buddha, I have come to realize this emphatically – Introspection is a path littered with inner conflict. The notions and ideas that make up the sense of self are all placed in doubt. Self-identity is no longer a given. In the place of a homogeneous entity there is a mass of influences and impulses. It is a time of great confusion.

Contrary to general perceptions this decomposition of the sense of self and the analysis of its constituent parts seems to share an intimate affinity with the scientific method that is characteristic of modern sciences. And the elegance of this endeavor lies in the fact that the experiment and the experimenter are one.

We work on our own selves and help re-make ourselves anew. The methods and techniques of our experiments have an exactitude that is more unforgiving than a programming language compiler that barks a warning at the least deviation from the required syntax.

Of all that life churns out in its fevered imaginations, and of all the trials and tribulations I have had the opportunity to confront, this is my greatest engineering challenge ever.

A Thought – On Life

Life is a framework of possibilities, with a bias towards making the impossible possible.

Life as instinct is unconcerned with/unaware of possibilities. It knows no doubt, no pause in the will to strike.

Like a little computer program to add 10 numbers, it does the addition flawlessly a million times over but cannot deviate from the aim to add 10 numbers. There is a mind for sure but it is an algorithm with a single purpose.

In man life as instinct morphs into life as mind. All the complexity, the variety, richness and ambiguity of mental man is only a glimpse into the mind of the Creator.

del.icio.us Tags: ,

Journey Back To The Home Within

Am sure you know the feeling.

To emerge from the hurricane of unfavorable winds and chance upon calmer times.

To view oneself anew, as if rude winds have ripped apart the scaffolding of ones character.

It is a disconcerting experience. To be confronted with the core of one’s self. What does one do with it? Use memory to re-build the traits? Let habit and instinct rule, as they usually do. What values should inform the new behavior the world draws out from you?

To begin anew upon a newly decimated being is the rare gift of a Grace that sees beyond the wincing of the time-born self. The irony of it, the Iron Hand of Mercy!

Amidst the contours of the self, all is known yet tinged with the trepidation of a first encounter.

All said, it is good to be back to the home within.

del.icio.us Tags: ,