Life is multi-dimensional and multi-layered – even as you discover meaning in one aspect; you are entering new territory and forging new paths in another and so you’re still at the surface. Life’s journey continues along this spiral path polishing the soul with each round of the merry-go-round.
Ultimately, life’s meaning is what you choose to give it, wherever and whatever your background.
We begin life with a set of paradigms some inherited and implicit in our genes, others taught, learned, gathered, realised, unrealised, conscious and sub-conscious from our families, friends, neighbours, enemies and our environment. Our beliefs about ourselves, how we want to be, how we want our families and loved ones to see us, all play a role in how we develop and define the things we accept, reject, amend, adopt and choose.
We choose the things we believe we can never be as well as the things we don't want to be, even the things we sometimes succeed in avoiding or honestly accept as our own weaknesses. In this life we choose the things we want to uphold, our response to the roles we are called on to play and we choose which moulds to break. In our journey for the meaning of life – all of this will be challenged.
What meaning will you give your life as you meet these challenges?
What we ‘believe in’ about ourselves moulds are actions forming what we 'become' in doing/acting according to those beliefs. When all is challenged are we prepared to accept shedding the old skin so that the new skin can grow'? Or do we cling fearfully to the old and comfortable because we can’t yet see the nature of the new skin and want certainty first? Life is a process of continuous learning, intertwining of our conscious and sub-conscious as they teach and learn from each other.
Destiny too plays its role in our lives. Destiny is the combination of the fixed parameters that
affect our life, our sacred contract by our higher selves giving us purpose for existence in this realm and our choices in this life. Opportunity does not always knock with a clapper. Most of the time, it is subtle, hidden behind seemingly poor and almost worthless endeavour, nudging us to respond with our heart for no apparent reason. Our heartfelt response in those moments opens a crack in the wall. Each time we so respond with pure intention, the cracks get wider and eventually become portals of knowledge, learning and wisdom transforming the world, giving new meaning to our lives and those of others.
In the end our learning has to result in actions that benefit the world. The answer has a personal as well as a universal component to it and the light of knowledge must be shared with the world. We are taught to be modest and not seek glory or attention. To share the learning, one has to step forth. Wanting to stay obscure would be a waste of opportunity and learning so to keep the light under a bushel is not accepted by the universe. That is why many fail to reach the last step, their fear of success stops them from succeeding. The search for meaning is ultimately not about oneself. The process of becoming is not just about receiving but encompasses the process of giving with true intent and enabling others to grow from your learning.
Acting from pure intent can be in any form. From the simple smile to acts of kindness, empathy, generosity, time and friendship. How do you respond when faced with a request? Does one ache for the wounded or care for the defenceless animal? Does one try to put an end to cruelty? Does one try to educate, clothe or heal the disadvantaged? No one can solve all the world's problems – but do you reach out to change yourself one step at a time, one choice, one decision at a time – defining your path and helping another along the way? Donating funds generously to a cause is one type of response. But in seeking the meaning of life – connecting with the universal spirit in new ways is what is needed. Learning comes when the heart touches a heart – however simple or ordinary a creature others might consider that heart to be.
There are many people confined to living in restrictive conditions, unable to freely make their life choices, feeling trapped between a rock and a hard place. Their personal beliefs may be wide and they may be willing to shed the old programs in search for the truth, but their life circumstances may be such that the duties required of them by their dependents severely restrict their opportunity to change. Being stuck in such situations is extremely stressful requiring incredible patience and fortitude especially if they are living by some one else’s rules with no personal space in their external environment. The despair they must feel while they sacrifice their lives in the service of others would be immense. The universal spirit does not abandon people in such circumstances and does send them moments of kindness. The greater difficulty there is to recognise those moments, rise above one’s sense of despair and hopelessness to respond with courage.
The tests along the path often tear one’s soul between duty and loyalty to old paradigms on one hand and the search for the greater truth on the other. One has to have the courage to face the truth about what no longer works and leave it behind even though the shape of the new has not yet emerged. One has to be a pioneer in one’s own life by seeking out a new form rather than clinging to the familiar. Acknowledging what is not right and taking a step into the unknown is sometimes the most honest and best decision you can make for yourself.
The road is long and dark and those who have made it will tell you that for ages all they could do was take one step at a time. Being in the now and doing their their best at each moment even against the tide of loved ones trying all emotional tactics to hold you to the past.
Indra did not serve thirty-two years three times for no reason. One often finds people on the quest questioning the purpose of their journey, their very identity and the point to life. A very helpful verse through the dark night of the soul is in this anonymous quotation:
“Do not ask 'Who Am I?'
Long has this tormented thee,
Instead ask, 'What Can I Do?”
And do it like Hercules”
Find the goodness you can do and do it sincerely to the best of your abilities and there will be light at the end of the tunnel.
The meaning within and an inspiring story comes in the next and final part of this series of posts.
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