Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Real Life Tao - The Search for Purpose

Seeking the purpose of one's being is something that has always plagued mankind. The sage avoids this difficulty by understanding that our life's purpose is whatever we choose it to be.
~ Today's Quote from The TaoWoods Center ~
At some point in every person's life, we ask, "Why am I here? What is the purpose of my life and life, in general?"

I believe that, more often than not, this question arises when things aren't going the way we expected or had planned. It's the kind of question that raises its ugly head after the breakup of a meaningful relationship, the sudden death of a loved one, being fired from a job, receiving bad marks in school, during a bout of loneliness/depression or for a myriad of other reasons. We lie awake in bed, staring at the ceiling. We find it very difficult to motivate ourselves to maintain our responsibilities or to engage in those types of activities that usually bring us great pleasure.

As the result of my physical infirmities and Asperger's tendencies, I will admit that this question has dogged me off and on for quite some time. Unlike many of you reading this right now, I lack many of the ready fall backs: 1) I'm disabled and I don't hold a job; 2) I'm neither a parent nor a grandparent; 3) I don't have a social circle (other than you folks); 4) I'm no longer involved in community groups and activities other than washing dishes once per month; and 5) I'm neither participating in school as a student or a teacher.

So, what in the hell is my reason for being?!?!?

Here's what I've come up with. First, my reason for being is the same as everybody else -- The purpose of my life is to be. Since I don't believe in the concept of reincarnation, this is my one shot at living a life as this thing I call my conscious self. Sometimes this life will be mundane. Sometimes it will be stimulating and sometimes it will be painful. But it's one life, nonetheless. And I should make the most of it in whatever way I choose.

My second reason for being is -- believe it or not -- this blog. My various infirmities have blessed me with a special gift: insight. Pain, both mental and physical, is a great teacher and I have learned much being it's unwilling student.

If a person is open, then the number one lesson that pain teaches is compassion. I'm certain my friend Gail (of the blog, Know Your "Its") will back me up on this 100%! This is not to say that every person who experiences pain learns this lesson well, but it's there for the taking.

Pain also teaches honesty. Most of us spend our lives trying to shape our public personas into forms that hide our personal blemishes. We want others to love us for who we are, but we carefully manipulate who we appear to be! Pain, however, has a way of cutting through all this hubris and bullshit. It wears no mask and shouts defiantly, "Here I am!"

Finally, armed with compassion and sometimes brutal honesty, I have one thing many of you simply don't have enough of -- time. I have the time to sit around to ponder life's great questions. Since I rarely having any place to be and I don't work, I have vastly more time than the average person to meditate, contemplate, read, philosophize and write.

So, that's what I've chosen do. I ponder the mysteries and share with you my reflections. I'm blessed by the fact that many of you respond and, in the interplay of our writings, we help each other and many more. Neither you nor I are sharing any absolute answers, but I hope we're sharing enough to spur others to examine their lives, ask the same questions and seek their own answers.

This post is part of a series. For an introduction, go here.


  1. I, too, have pondered my reasons for being here in this life. I've come to the heart-right concluysion that I am here to love, to laugh, and to learn as mcuh as possible. But most of all, I am here to LIVE.

  2. Hi Taoist,
    Yes, personal crisis can be a powerful impetus to awakening and insight. I applaud you for rising up to the human challenge as a response to your own obstacles. From the ancient yogic poit of view, that is our most sacred purpose, provided we have the courage to rise up to it - to awaken to our latent potential as enlightened beings, to lift our consciousness away from one that is steeped in egoic concerns, and toward one that reflects a selfless spirit. This truth is echoed in all the wisdom traditions, including, as you know, Taoism. And on the way there, in complete surrender to the impermanence of this material world, that which we called "the self" dies a little death each day. Is this not a series of reincarnations? But in the west, we tend not to see it because of our dualistic mind which sees death as a one-time deal.

  3. i'm here to make the lives of others interesting! :D is it working?

  4. Thanks for your heartfelt comments and yes, Iktomi, it's working!!


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