What is The Purpose of Purpose?
What is The Purpose Of Purpose?
1. the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.
2. an intended or desired result; end; aim; goal.
During the 1970’s as an ordained monk, I truly felt like I had achieved an understanding of the purpose of being.
When I was asked ‘what is the purpose of living?’, I would respond with a sentiment, something religious, like ‘the purpose of life is to glorify and love The Lord.’ This response was, needless to say, an uneasy and insecure feeling for me because my faith and understanding was still in the developmental and gestation condition.
I was still in question as to the real existence of a ‘glorious and loving Lord’. With my own bouts of undeniable suffering, both physical and emotional, and the apparent anguish, misfortune and misery of many around me, like others perhaps, I would have had to confess that I only partially endorsed the ‘glorious and loving Lord’ purpose.
Yet nonetheless it was a better response than ‘I don’t know what the purpose of Being is’.
Later, I fortunately came across, what i remember as, a refreshing ‘Eastern’ Blessing. It was a Buddhist exercise for experiencing, at least possibly, what the purpose of existence would be.
First of all, the experience required that I feel the essential meaning of the word ‘purpose’. The exercise included that I spend some time internally articulating and resonating the sound of the word ‘purpose’.
Many times, I carefully articulated and resonated the sound of the word ‘purpose’ until i ‘heard’ and felt the word internally. Even to extent of e l o n g a t i n g and echo-ing the respective, resonant sounds of each individual letter as a syllable in the word P U R P O S E , I was eventually able to access the purest ‘oneness’ with the meaning of purpose.
Freedom and Some Fun
Amazingly and refreshingly, the Buddhist exercise progressed further.
One day I was asked ‘well…what is the purpose of loving and glorifying The Lord?’
Hmmm how interesting!
Previously I felt somewhat confirmed and established in my purpose. Yet the question of what is the purpose of that purpose somehow persisted to loosened me delightfully with its sense of openness, continuation and progress.
I felt curious, interested and intrigued. And thus began more deeply the immersion into the energizing and invigorating depths of the exercise entitled:
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF PURPOSE?
My life’s destiny or dharma, so to speak, has found me frequently presenting, seated in front of a variety of students of healing. From professional healers to folk enthusiasts of yoga, massage and beyond, over the past thirty years, I introduce demonstrations and philosophies to many groups of eager, wide eyed aspirants anxiously anticipating the next evolutionary realization or ah-hah bop, pop, bang and whack lightening bolt moment of fresh realization and stimulating personal transformation.
So….I occasionally introduce this Buddhist exercise…
What is the Purpose of Purpose?
Not to be at all confrontational or contentious but rather to submit the question with the spirit of play or sport or the innocence of a child.
It goes like this:
Request someone to answer the question…What is the Purpose of life or Being? And of course so many wonderful responses are retuned. Yet, for every response to the question ‘what is the purpose of life’, simply and consistently respond with the question ‘well…what is the purpose of that?’
Responses such as… the purpose of life is to be happy. The purpose of living is to gain knowledge. The purpose of life is to love. The purpose of life is to share your soul. The purpose of life is to raise healthy and prosperous families. The purpose of life is to be free.
Yes!…and as the Buddhist exercise suggests, again without disturbing the applecart, simply respond with the same question to each of the individual answers.
Well…what is the purpose of happiness? What is the purpose of freedom? What is the purpose of prosperity? What is the purpose of healthy families? And with gentleness and encouragement continue responding to each answer until a sort of exhaustion happens.
The definition of a Koan
a nonsensical or paradoxical question to a student for which an answer is demanded, the stress of meditation on the question often being illuminating.
What I noticed when a student responded with an answer to the question ‘what is the purpose of life’, the student’s demeanor oftentimes reflected a fervent and a zealous, even immovable, commitment to the answer as if the response was a final conclusion. There is no need for any further discussion, I have arrived at what the purpose of life is. End of conversation.
Yet when the student hears the continuation of the conversation, for example, well…what is the purpose of happiness, what is the purpose of health, what is the purpose of serving, there is a surprised, even delighted, look on the face.
Option...Living in the question, Leaving it Open
Oh, that’s a rose or what is a rose?
Oh, that’s a spinal column or what is a spinal column?
Oh, that’s God or what is God?
Oh, that’s life or what is Life?
Living life in the question and thus having life be an open experience instead of a confined and limited experience, made even more difficult by the haphazard and whimsical use of words, is perhaps one of the goals of this pleasant exercise?
And…now…go on… and say it…well…What is the purpose of that?