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Purpose

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Excerpts about Purpose

Purpose, Motive and Meaning are Necessary for Human Beings

What is traditionally referred to as purposelessness and motivelessness, and sometimes as indifference, but more accurately understood as the transcendence of purpose and motive, is not something to try to emulate. One cannot say that there is no such thing as purpose and motivation, and that it is therefore fine to live a haphazard and meaningless life. That attitude would abrogate one's human nature, for as long as one still lives in the cognitive sphere one's life requires purpose and meaning. Purpose, motive, and meaning are necessary for human beings because they are emissaries of the timeless truth of nonconceptual Reality, before they are recognized for what they are. Only when we have integrated the nonconceptual can we say we do not need meaning, purpose, or motive. Otherwise, we will be stuck in the meaninglessness and purposelessness that are the opposite of meaning and purpose. Here there is no transcendence, only disconnection

The Purpose of the Superego is to Preserve the Ego's Point of View

Defending yourself is to defend against the superego, whether it is external or internal. The purpose of the superego is to preserve the ego’s point of view. The superego ultimately stops you from seeing reality. Defending yourself is one method you use to help you look at things objectively and without fear. When you start learning how to defend yourself against the superego you can’t help but think in terms of having a self to defend. Ultimately, what is actually defended is the openness, the understanding and the awareness. In time, we learn that understanding and awareness are the best defenses. When the awareness is complete, there is nothing to defend. Defending yourself is a kind of detour: you have to have a self before you can see you haven’t got a self. You have to have a self before you can let go of it. When you have a scattered self, it’s hard to let go of it. When you have a self that is depressed, scared, or fragmented in some way so that it can’t handle reality, you’re going to be very busy trying to protect it. You can’t possibly allow the openness which would mean a loss of boundaries; it would be too scary. When you learn to defend yourself against attacks, you become stronger and you can allow the openness. When you give or love selflessly, it means you are no longer bounded by a rigid point of view. It doesn’t mean you stop existing as a person. Instead, you exist as an openness to experience, rather than as boundaries constructed by your mind. This is a very radical perspective compared to the ego’s point of view.

There is a True Purpose

Now we understand more thoroughly why saying, as some traditions do, that the world is only an illusion that we must go beyond just doesn’t do it. If the world is only an illusion, why is it here? Is it some kind of cosmic joke? We come here, we suffer, we try to get out of here. Sounds like a silly arrangement. But this is apparently what many teach. I think they hold this view because they do not recognize completely that this world exists in a real way. They don’t have the perspective that there is a true purpose and a true reality to this world and to human life, that we're not here to discover that life is an illusion and get out of here.

We are here to live in a real world, in a real way.

We are Just Part of the Play that is Always Arising and Changing

Everyone says, “God knows.” But God doesn’t have a memory or make plans the way human beings do. God is spontaneous creativity. So there is no purpose, in a sense; reality’s intelligence arises and just manifests itself more and more and more, in a very experimental way. Take the arising of life on Earth: If you study evolution, you will see that it’s very experimental. One species arises here, doesn’t get very far—and before you know it, it’s gone. Another species seems to go much further. So it’s all an experiment—which one works better, which one develops more. The human race tends to believe that it’s not just an experiment; we think we’re the purpose of creation. We might kill ourselves and most other life on Earth because we take ourselves so seriously, believing this is true. But we are just part of the play that is always arising and changing. This concept of creation as playfulness manifests in the inquiry as a playful attitude, which brings the same quality into the unfoldment. This playfulness brings in joy and delight, curiosity and celebration. This is the way we participate in the divine joy. Of course, we can make up whatever purposes we like. That’s part of the playfulness: You make up a purpose for a year or two and believe that it’s the purpose of your life. Wonderful! Two years later, you change it to another one—why not? In fact, people do that all the time, don’t they? You don’t feel bad that for the first twenty-one years of your life, you had a purpose that you don’t have now. You don’t say, “I wasted my life.” No, you say, “Now I have another purpose.” Who knows what will happen next year? The absence of purpose here merely expresses the openness, the open-ended character of our inquiry. When we have a purpose, we subtly orient our inquiry in a certain way; our attention is then oriented and structured toward a certain outcome, according to that purpose. And then we might miss seeing what is going on. Our openness becomes limited by believing we have to adhere to our purpose. So absence of purpose is the essence of playfulness, and the lightness in our inquiry.

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