« Self-Image | Main | Self-inquiry »

January 23, 2006

Exploring purpose

Number of participants: 18. Age range 8 � 74.

As usual, we started off with a few minutes of silence, which lead to a few quotes on silence:

Manju shared a quote that talks about �speaking only if it will improve upon silence�. I found many interesting articles later when I googled the phrase �improve upon silence�.

I quoted John O�Reilly, �Silence is the language God speaks and everything else is a bad translation.�

Prasad read a beautiful poem on silence from the book Circle of Love by Debashish Chatterjee.

�Silence is the language of the spiritual seeker�, said another person.

There were other interesting check-ins:

Srikanth quoted a bumper sticker that read, �You are who you think other people think you are.�

Seema who said, �Every day is the same. I should do something interesting so that I can share it here in this session!

Then innocently, one of the participants aged 12, slipped a question:

What could one do if there seems to be no purpose to life?

The simple yet deep question suddenly created a larger field of awareness among the participants. While we stayed with the question, Prasad decided to trust the wisdom of the person who raised the question to explore the answer. He asked the seeker to play a role reversal � Prasad would become the seeker and the seeker would become Prasad.

Being in a position to look at oneself clearly (due to the role reversal), the seeker was given a chance to answer his own question.

What should the seeker do? The new Prasad (the actual seeker) came up with a few suggestions:

- You need not get stuck with this question, you could move on.

- Instead of attempting to answer, you could wonder about the question and stay with it. Trying to answer creates stress, but wondering opens up exploration.

- You need to accept the situation fully to get out of it.

Other people shared the new Prasad role and suggested:

- Having no purpose of one�s own is a very powerful place to be. It is a place of total selflessness. From this space, one could fully focus on serving everyone else and rejoice in other�s happiness.

- May be purpose of life unfolds over a period of time and hence instead of saying, �I have no purpose now� one could say, �My purpose will emerge gradually�.

- Live like life is a gift and not a burden.

- Life is God�s gift to us, how we live it is our gift to God.

While exploring the answer for the seeker, we all recognized that we are seeking it for ourselves too.

When the seeker returned to his own role, Jay asked the seeker to describe the feeling of having no purpose � What are its shape, color and sound? If it were to give a message, what would it be?

The seeker then said that the feeling seems to have no particular shape. It changes shape � sometimes it is small and sometimes it is big. It is dark and empty. It seems to be telling something and is pulling him in one direction while he is refusing to listen to what it is trying to say and is moving in the opposite direction. He said that he is afraid of accepting the darkness, the emptiness which signifies a state of no purpose and hence no enthusiasm and joy.

Prasad (original) then ask him: If you were to be given a house to live, what would you prefer: A fully furnished house in which every single thing has been designed and installed or an empty house where you have the choice to design its interior?

The seeker answered that he would like an empty house.

The underlying message was clear: We do not consciously ask to be born; we are given the gift of life. It could be empty without purpose to begin with. While it lacks comfort, security, direction and meaning, it is this very emptiness that gives the choice (free will) for us to create whatever we want. We may have not been given a purpose as an individual but we are given a means (our own life, intellect, talents etc) to custom design and execute our own purpose. Or we could live our life like 'God�s will is my will, His purpose is my purpose'. Other ways of saying it is that one could live with service and contribution to others as the purpose of ones life.

We are given silence and are asked to improve upon it. Whether we make a bad translation of it or a great symphony is up to us.

Posted by Ragu at January 23, 2006 04:10 PM