Wednesday, January 31, 2024
Looking at Life Purpose
Life must have a purpose, or, more specifically, an external as well as an internal purpose.
In life setting, a purpose is important, but not so important that it drives you crazy in pursuing it or giving it up altogether. As a matter of fact, there is an external purpose that only sets you a direction for the destination of your life. In that direction, there are many different signposts guiding you along the way. Arriving at one signpost simply means that you have accomplished one task; missing that signpost means that you are still on the right path but simply taking maybe a detour or just longer time because of misdirection or getting lost on the way.
Your internal purpose is more important: it has nothing to do with arriving at your destination, but to do with the quality of your consciousness—what you are doing along the way.
That Jesus said: “gain the world and lose your soul” probably said everything there is to say about the internal purpose of life for an individual.
External purpose can never give lasting fulfillment in life due to its transience and impermanence, but internal purpose, because of its unique quality of being in the present moment, may give us inner joy and a sense of fulfillment. That is how you should feel about your internal life purpose.
No matter what you do in your life, just do your very best and do it well, no matter how insignificant they may be.
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’” Martin Luther King Jr.
Always tell yourself to try doing everything as if God had called upon you at that particular moment to do it. Of course, admittedly, it is not always that easy, given that the mind may be troubled by the ego-self, by invasive and unwanted thoughts from the past or by projections of those thoughts into the future. But having the mindset with the right intention is already a first step or breakthrough for you.
Always understand that you have three options in whatever you have been called to do: do it; not to do it; and do it while enjoying the present moment of doing. So, just do what you have to do, whether you like it or not, just as Michelangelo painted—who, believing that his talent was in sculpture and not in painting, was at first unwilling to do the fresco, which turned out to be one of his greatest masterpieces.
The bottom line: Do what you may not like to do, and learn to like what you have to do.
Sometimes you may like to ask this question: “What about tomorrow?”
Well, you cannot speak for tomorrow. Tomorrow hasn’t come yet. After all, tomorrow is another day, just as Scarlet O’Hara said in Gone with the Wind.
Copyright© by Stephen Lau
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