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Meaning and Purpose in Life. -(and a collection of famous quotes)

December 3, 2011

In my early twenties, I had the blessing of being able to meet with and talk a little with a wonderful spiritual teacher who had spent some years in silent retreat and had experienced many profound things, at that stage in my life I was a little confused as to where I wanted to be going, what was my job?-(a word that means hatred) or more correctly, what my calling for life was.

I had never asked another for the answers to my questions before, I believed that to become self-reliant in answering my own questions would be beneficial for developing my own wisdom and intuition, whereas to rely on another agency might undermine it.

I asked her something very much like this: “Im a little confused about life in general, about what I should be doing with my life, I want to know, what is a worthwhile thing to be doing? what is a good thing to do in life?”

She looked at me and laughed; “I can’t tell you the answer to your question” she said “only you can answer that. But, what matters most is not what you do, but why and how you do it. Do what you do with and for love. It doesn’t matter if you go off and meditate in a cave, feed the starving, work for the environment, protect children, what matters is that you do it with and for love, and the important thing is that you begin, that you become a part of a process, a part of this flow of life, because from that place, it is much easier to recognise what it is you are to do.” She suggested I examine my gifts to discover what it was I could give, and said that she thought that it was a beautiful question.

As Rumi-(did I mention he was my favourite poet) wrote-

“These spiritual window-shoppers, who idly ask, ‘How much is that?’ Oh, I’m just looking. They handle a hundred items and put them down, shadows with no capital.
What is spent is love and two eyes wet with weeping.
But these walk into a shop, and their whole lives pass suddenly in that moment, in that shop.
Where did you go? ‘Nowhere’. What did you have to eat? ‘Nothing much’.
Even if you don’t know what you want,
buy something, to be part of the exchanging flow.
Start a huge, foolish project, like Noah.
It makes absolutely no difference
what people think of you.”

While not exactly a spiritual luminary,-(far from it) and having led a less than inspiring life, I have realised that there is a vast importance to be found in participating in the world, as a physical being. After all as Goethe wrote; “the darkest circles of hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”

I have at times in my life acted in harmony with this higher calling, during those times I was fulfilled, and full of energy and life, able to literally read many thousands of papers, talk to many thousands of people on behalf of causes I believed in, and speak my mind in public forums without the nervousness and anxiety I can experience when speaking for myself.

While this has not always been true, despite my obvious failings in my relationships and life the facts of our lives in the physical world as one planet have always been in my mind, how might I best fit in the world? While this has made my life unconventional, it has been a tremendous blessing for me as well, it has meant that at times I have thought of myself more in terms of how I might be useful to others, or to the world, and less in terms of how the world, or others, might be useful to me. In itself a potent spiritual practice that has brought me happiness and peace and non- judgementalism. As Albert Einstein said; “A person starts to live, when they can live outside themselves”

As a part of this process of conceptual meditation, or adjusting my values from egocentric to othercentric, I have in the past, often contemplated and discussed subjects that others have found “a bit depressing”, for example our various planetary crisis, fair enough my life is not for everyone, but ill defend my insensitivity by confessing my childlike enthusiasm, I don’t find this depressing, to me it is like the elephant in the room, the great unspoken backdrop to our humanity. Without acknowledging and coming to terms with the overwhelmingly huge suffering and evil that has been and is at work in the world, the billions that have been brutally murdered, the hundreds of thousands of acres of forest we see clear-felled every day, the ongoing  greatest mass extinction in earths history, and the two billion humans now living in slums and dying like flies. It is hard to see how any life or any spirituality can be really thought of as mature. We do not grow by avoiding the truth, but rather through facing it.

If we do not orient our life and our thinking in  terms of these things, how can we ever live a fulfilling life? How can you ever really summon the passion to value spirituality? To love with all  your heart, to think with all your mind, and to work with all your strength for what is right. Our global situation, and our history, are overwhelmingly huge things to come to terms with, to embrace, to accept and to feel. But in doing so, and with the remembrance that within each being there is the divine spark, the divine bliss and consciousness, within each being there is love, kindness and memory of a mother, and also that when we speak of the forests, we are talking about our mother, our body, that the oceans are our spirit, our blood, that the earth is our food, our home. And from this, looking this suffering, this horror, this unapologetic Satanism at work in the world, the response within us becomes not a hiding from, but a wider consciousness, a compassion and a purpose that can transcend the petty internal dialogue of the ego, and bring us into a meaningful and purposeful life where we do not shelter from our obligation to justice.

The simple truth is that just because we have been conditioned to believe in learned helplessness, through schooling and media, our conditioning does not make it so, we are not helpless.

The only problem with humanity is quite simply, that we do not have enough feelings about the things that matter, good people, are lukewarm and do not choose to act. We do not feel enough for the lives of our ancestors, or for our global family today, we do not feel enough for the genocides and ongoing environmental apocalypse, the economic slavery, the stupidity, the cruelty, the egoism, the separated little lives each absorbed in its own self-importance and little stories. We are lukewarm, interested only in our own mild pleasure, while mortality and spirituality calls us to more.

There is nothing my ego can ever generate, that can ever be as important to the function of my will as the suffering of billions, the incessant warfare of humanity and the mass extinction of life. This is a call to find the deepest peace within, to live the greatest love and to forget the self in the service of others, from this place we can walk for a hundred kilometers and not be effected, sleep on the bare ground and not feel it, read a thousand books and not learn enough, speak to a thousand people and not have spoken enough, plant a thousand gardens, and not have planted enough, feed a thousand homeless people, and not have fed enough and all without fanaticism, but with passion, intelligence and love.

We are all one, and to each of us our blessings and our curses, we must by the will of our mind, cause our blessings to direct the course of our lives, with gentleness and understanding, for all life is one. And our debt and our calling is enormous.

As Albert Einstein wrote in his Credo (1932);

“Our situation on this earth seems strange. Every one of us appears here, involuntarily and uninvited, for a short stay, without knowing the why and the wherefore.
In our daily lives we feel only that man is here for the sake of others, for those whom we love and for many other beings whose fate is connected with our own.
I am often troubled by the thought that my life is based to such a large extent on the work of my fellow human beings, and I am aware of my great indebtedness to them.”

The integrity, the honesty and the respect for all beings, for our family, our friends, for all life, that this demands, is immense.

And as the famous spiritual teacher and philosopher Jiddhi Krishnamutri said:

“If you are not at all concerned with the world but only with your personal salvation, following certain beliefs and superstitions, following gurus, then I am afraid it will be impossible for you and the speaker to communicate with each other. We are not concerned at all with private personal salvation but we are concerned, earnestly, seriously, with what the human mind has become, what humanity is facing. We are concerned at looking at this world and what a human being living in this world has to do, what is his role?”

If the heart is open, and there is compassion in the heart, then personal salvation becomes abhorrent in the face of suffering and injustice. Perhaps one answer to this question is to transform our own consciousness, but do we take that calling with the earnestness it deserves in the face of a crisis of this magnitude? And will this transformation result in us living a life that participates in the fate of those who most need us now? As Gandhi said; “Before you do anything, stop and recall the face of the poorest most helpless destitute person you have seen and ask yourself, “Is what I am about to do going to help him?”

Esoteric solutions will not provide food for the starving, protection for the forests, education for the violent, or support for the homeless we drive past on our way to the temple of our choice to pray for help.

In my experience it is honestly so much easier and fulfilling to live for compassion, each in our own way, in our prayers and lives, than it is to ignore it and harden our hearts. Not with arrogance, not with self-righteousness or surety, but with humility, gentleness, wisdom and faith, for as Feynman said;  “I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degree of certainty about different things, but I’m not absolutely sure of anything, and many things I don’t know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we’re here, and what the question might mean.  I might think about it a little bit, but if I can’t figure it out, then I go on to something else.” even when we can say something about something as big as the world, it’s normally true that many different apparently contradictory perspectives can be valid and useful at each relative level of our conceptual understanding, and all at the same time.

In the words of G.B. Shaw- “This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”

In each life, to live a life of purpose, and not of minor wishes, but to have a legitimate and useful purpose and dedicate yourself unreservedly to it, to have a purpose that is worthwhile and to live it, is one of the great secrets to feeling that your life is worth living. And of all purposes, one of the greatest is to serve children, for every being alive is just a baby-(a bundle of love and joy) that grew slightly older and started believing it was not.

What then has my purpose been? what is my vision for the world?

I envisage a world where institutions no longer take children away from their parents to give them to an institution that has been designed by a state that wishes to create more workers to service its vast infrastructure. I see a world within which children are conceived with love, not lust, and not pain, and raised by two partners.

I see a world, without the genital mutilation of children.

I see a world without rape, violence or drug abuse.

I see a world where mankind don’t poison mind and heart with media that transmit a meaningless world view that locks the thinking acting and relating of its audience into set patterns of behaviour and reaction. I see a world where children are not exposed to a hundred thousand simulated murders by the time they became adults. But instead something more akin to a hundred million physical hugs.

I see a world where the earth is not ripped up, where poisons are left in the ground and not created, because when they spread them away, there is no away. It is one tapestry of life, and it all ends up back in our bodies and in our children and it all has an effect.

I see a world where the billions of children born tomorrow have a hope and a future, not cities made of mud and violence and starvation.

I see a world, that is covered with old growth permaculture forest, maintained by humanity, local and integral to its harmony, with mango trees four stories high, and avocados the same size. and all sorts of wonderful things growing everywhere. I see a world where people have a diet of thousands of foods, rather than thirty, and where the food is alive when its eaten.

I see a world where the concrete and poisons and shells of radiation, the phones and computers, the boxes they drive to work in and live in, and sleep in and think in, and buy in and die in, are left behind and instead all the lights go out and the stars our cosmic home are visible as they once were.

I see a world where every child ever born is loved and feels safe to love in return.

I see a world where every child ever born hears the true stories of humanity, and has its gifts nurtured. Where joyousness of the soul, more than refinement of the intellect, become the aim of our society. Where love for one another, before competition and judgementalism, are the yardstick by which we measure happiness.

I see a world where children are introduced to the numinous, to the sacred places of the earth, to the behaviours of the animals and birds and fish, the deep places of the forests, and the hidden caves of the mountains. And I see a world where the theories of human nature we shared and nurtured were ones that exalted the human spirit, and not debased it.

Most of all, I see a world built on purpose. Where all humanity are touched by the power of their soul, and choose each second of each day to love as if they were going to die, and life as if they will never leave.



  1. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You obviously know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your site when you could be giving us something enlightening to read?

  2. Very nice and fabulous!’

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