Still Searching for Your Spiritual/Life Purpose?

It happens all the time in Heaven,
And some day
It will begin to happen
Again on earth —

That men and women who are married,
And men and men who are

And women and women
Who give each other

Often will get down on their knees

And while so tenderly
Holding their lover’s hand,

With tears in their eyes,
Will sincerely speak, saying,

“My dear,
How can I be more loving to you;

How can I be more

~ Hafez (1325/1326–1389/1390)
Persian mystical, lyric poet,
in It Happens All the Time in Heaven

The devil must have labored long into the night to develop such a gem of misdirection as the thought that you must have a “spiritual” or “life” purpose, lest your life be meaningless.

Often I meet persons who needlessly aggravate themselves, because they haven’t discovered their spiritual purpose in life. Some search for purpose as a defense against existential uncertainty. Others search for spiritual purpose as if it might help them to escape their monotony or debts. Of course some search hoping to be of greater service.

Yet seemingly all fruitlessly search for purpose, as if it were to be “found” like an Easter egg. But if you think about it, what is it that you could find? Isn’t the purpose which you imagine is missing and findable only a thought? At one moment, it’s darkness. The next moment, it’s the illumination of a thought.

Moreover such “purpose” is not just any old common thought, like “Aha! I’m meant to be a chemist.” No, life or spiritual purpose often is anticipated as a high, wild, and sometimes grandiose adventure like solving the world’s hunger problem. After all, look at Mother Teresa.

So, in searching for spiritual purpose, are we not searching for a grand thought which when it occurs will give more meaning and more value to our lives (as if some other instance of the Now could be more meaningful and more valuable than the present moment!)?

I recall that the Zen patriarch, Dogen, noted, “If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where do you expect to find it?” Similarly, if you cannot find meaning and purpose in living in the unimaginable mystery of the present moment, where do you expect to find it. Looking elsewhere reflects only your misunderstanding that your Path is something other than your present moment.

Therefore I wonder whether instead of your being meant to be this or that, you might simply be meant to Be. Could there be purpose enough in simply meeting the necessity of the present moment? Could service be the spontaneous expression of Being (you) to the immediate need of the present moment?

At each moment, your “purpose” may vary, as Being spontaneously responds to the needs of the Now. One moment, you might be the hand that lifts a fallen bird back into its nest. Or you could be the finger that tenderly wipes a tear from a child’s cheek. You might be the eyes which silently hold all the blurted fears of a dying friend.

Maybe you could be the strength which fixes a stranded person’s flat tire. Or the friendliness that asks the cashier how her day is. Or the voice that orders a meal for a homeless person. Or the personal excellence which honors the significance of your daily labor. Or the wisdom that lays your weary body down for rest.

Meeting the needs of the present moment is a relentless act of love. Loving, after all, is what near-death experiencers again and again report they have learned is the purpose of their human lives. That’s grand enough. May it be so, Hafez!

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