Getting to Purpose

Getting to Purpose

Over on Lori Ann Lothian’s blog Awakened Dreamer, she posted an article on Purpose, Discover the Thing You Were Born For in 5 Easy Steps. I enjoyed the article and ended up writing a long comment I decided to share here. I’ve added some links to articles I’ve written on the subject, with more at the bottom.

It is a fascinating explore… I’ve found that we are never not living to purpose. It’s actually not possible to be otherwise. It’s built in to our existence. However, if we’re not conscious of it, we can tend to resist and thrash and try to control making it all so much more difficult. Do we flow down the road of life, travel in the gravel on the shoulder or swerve in and out of the ditch?

A lot of it is about just paying attention. Not just what do I want but what is being supported here? The key is – purpose is not about me and what I like. It’s about the role you have in the whole, what you have to contribute. Living to that will inherently bring happiness. Trying to get what I want will bring fleeting satisfaction at best.

R. Buckminster Fuller observed that nature uses precession to get the desired effects. It’s not our actions themselves, it’s the right angled side effects that support the whole. The unintended consequences. He uses the example of a bee, seeking nectar and unintentionally pollinating plants.

I’ve also noted that life evolves and thus the form our purpose has can change. “Finding purpose” isn’t a one-shot thing but rather an ongoing process of tuning to what is unfolding. We all have gifts but they may or may not be called on at a given time. Depends on the needs of the time. While our being has a purpose, this is not defined by a job or role. That is simply the current expression of it. Monique MacDonald describes living life On Purpose instead.

Another useful point is that our gifts are often invisible to us. We’ve had them since birth and take them as obvious. The key is recognizing they’re there, making them conscious. As children, we tend to assume others are the same and thus ignore them. Or we may get negative feedback about being “different” and suppress our gifts. Writing was like that for me, so Not obvious. Looking back as adults, we can miss such things.

Finally, it was pointed out to me that our greatest pain often becomes our greatest driver. What we didn’t get we want to ensure others do. Our purpose becomes an I Am statement. Our driver an I Will statement. Together, they steer the gifts into expression.

You may also enjoy this talk – Life Purpose in 5 Minutes

Also, in India they speak of the 4 levels of dharma

Some caveats about a search for purpose as an escape from living

And a discussion of Co-creation and reasons we may not be experiencing what we want.

Last Updated on August 1, 2015 by

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  1. Hi Michael
    You also raised a good point and I’ve seen some of what you describe. The awake acting out unconsciously. However, I’ve also seen that, if the process is being supported, refinement will make this stuff more conscious over time. Thus, the ability to process it and resolve and integrate it can happen.

    It’s a useful point to recognize that while the shift itself takes only a moment, it can take some time to fully integrate it. Tolle famously spent 2 years on a park bench, though he had no context or support.

  2. Lori Ann Lothian

    I love Monique MacDonald’s work — she teaches about our Sacred Gifts with a questionnaire format. When I took that test two years ago or so, the results pointed to gifts like writing, teaching and cheerleading or coaching

    The thing is, the gifts are in service to purpose — rather than being purpose. I have a gift (and skill) as a writer. Writing is the gift. But my purpose (right now, because is some ways it changes) is to be a MESSENGER about reality.

    Thanks for sharing my post over here. Yes, your comment on my site was an article! LOL

  3. Hi Lori
    Right – I took her course 3 years ago myself. It was pretty interesting for me. For example, both my parents were teachers so I always assumed I would be too. But teaching was never supported and it turned out not to be one of the gifts. As regular readers of this blog know, I don’t tend to speak to students on their level.

    However, I have all 4 knowledge gifts. And writing. It clarified a signal I’d gotten before – the primary for me is messenger. But yes, the form that takes has varied widely over the years.

    It’s a fascinating discovery to unfold both what we have in our toolkit and how that’s called on to be used.

    Thanks for drawing out the points. 😉

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  5. Clarice

    Hi David,
    I’m interested to know what the four knowledge gifts that you were given late are ? What form did this knowledge come in ? Was it similar to a download ? I’m thinking this has nothing to do with book knowledge but I could be wrong. Thanks

    1. Hi Clarice
      That relates to the content of the Sacred Gifts course. They test for, among a number of things, 4 knowledge gifts. Each is a different style of knowing – one being getting downloads. More:
      It wasn’t that I was given them late it was that I was late to recognize them. Lots of karmic play meantime.
      The gifts vary in style. For example, they test if you are designed to challenge the status quo. Another is Hospitality. Another Administration. Remember these are gifts so people with them will have remarkable ability in that arena, if they’re open to it.
      I had learned through school that i couldn’t write well and yet I found myself writing. It was clarifying to see it as a gift but not a skill. (laughs) It also brought clarity to why teaching wasn’t the role even though knowledge was so prominent. And so on.
      Listing the 4 knowledge gifts wouldn’t be meaningful without a bunch of explanation but yes, not book knowledge.

  6. Such a wonderful post (and so glad to know you visit Lori’s blog – I love her grounded, embodied, heartful writing).

    My “job” as a clinical psychologist is, in a way, ultimately about inspiring people to shift toward (ongoing) finding of purpose, purposeful living, living on purpose. When “I” am attempting to help or guide them, it never works. When we dance together in a spontaneous co-discovery of meaning, then (all too rarely, but at times) it’s magic.

    heading toward my 70s, it is more amusing all the time how various apparently conflicting lines of intent have come together, at times in very challenging ways, at other times with stunning ease.

    In fact, I came across your site through your video with Andrew Hewson. Jan (my wife) and I have been students of Mother and Sri Aurobindo’s yoga for decades, and from time to time have studied with various living teachers – Llewellyn Vaughan Lee, Mortan Clausen, Roy Eugene Davis, among others.

    A new “non dual” fellow came to Asheville this year, Dan Kelso. We were initially very impressed but found his “pure awareness” approach rather limited. Several of his students started attending Andrew’s talks, and we were amazed at the similarity of many of his expressions and the writing of Sri Aurobindo. It seems like Andrew came along at exactly the “right time.”

    Perhaps the most stunning alignment came along as I was browsing through the newly printed “complete works of Ken Wilber” back on April 15, 2000. A “voice” said to me “It’s time to write the book.”

    I almost looked around to see who said that, it was so vivid. I also had not had any thought previously of writing a book. As the though percolated through awareness, I found myself frequently saying to Jan, “You know, I just wish some rich guy would give us some money so we can devote some extra time to the book.”

    Two weeks later I got an email from a wealthy individual from Princeton, New Jersey who had traveled to South India to find someone to write a book about Sri Aurobindo’s “integral psychology.” He met a friend who told him, “You should contact Don, he’s obsessed with this stuff.”

    We got enough money to take off work for a considerable amount of time!

    But the biggest mystery to me was the place of music in my life. I started playing keyboards when I was 4, and it always came easy to me; I started improvising and composing when I was 11, and not long afterwards I started having a sense of a profound connection with the French composers of the beginning of the 20th century, as if I had “been there” at that time. But in my late teens, during a sudden spontaneous awakening, I had a vision of myself continuing work I had done before integrating psychology and spirituality.

    6 years later, I was reading Sat Prem’s “Adventure of Consciousness” (a biography of Sri Aurobindo) and in the chapter on Consciousness, I realized not only was this the exact psychology I was looking for, I was intimately familiar with it.

    But what to do? This was 1976 and “psychology” meant linear, flatland cognitivism, mechanical behaviorism, or primitive Freudianism. So I kept doing music, with all kinds of opportunities to become a very successful musician that I kept turning down.

    Finally the way toward psychology became clear. Psych work also came very easily, but I never understand in terms of deeper purpose where music came in. I held on to all kinds of extremely complex intellectual ideas about challenging the whole physicalist structure of science, and then Jan and I started working on several websites that used music and animation to illustrate these ideas in a very simple, poetic context.

    At some point during this process I gave away over 1000 books (science, philosophy, contemplative spirituality East and West) and now my entire reading library is on my iPad – a dozen or so books. We intend to take up drawing so we can do our own more complex animations, and probably will continue with music, animation, sacred poetry, etc.

    Once in a great while I see the resume of someone who took one of the paths my ambition would have led me toward – either as an extremely successful movie composer or more recently, I saw an Emory University Ph.D who has been organizing compassion/mindfulness organizations around the world and even seems to have some glimpse of the states far beyond “mindfulness.” And every time Jan.says, “is that what you’re supposed to do?” And we laugh.

    What an unbelievably immeasurably inconceivably magical, mystical and eminently practical, simple, obvious world!

    1. Hi Don
      Welcome to the blog. Yes Lori and I are friends, although we’ve moved home in opposite directions now. 🙂
      Yes, some have a clear purpose and get right to it. Some people have several directions which are supported at different times. And some are late bloomers, coming to purpose after some karmic stuff.
      I had several rounds at working in film and TV and media production, then writing finally rose to the surface. Have you seen Gladwells article?
      I’ve had some clear signals like that. Grad school would be an example. It hadn’t even been on the radar but just showed up and everything fell into place in a couple of weeks, long past deadlines.
      Now there are amazing tools for animating on home computers. I’ve even seen a couple of features done this way, like Sita Sings the Blues.
      I have thousands of ebooks now, more than I can ever read…. I keep them for reference and quotes. Searchability makes that so much easier.
      But yes, the world is a magical place that is profoundly interconnected. If we can learn to step into the flow of that rather than fight it, it’s amazing what can unfold.

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