Life Without Purpose

Perhaps the most difficult thing for most of us to understand is the simple, and if you examine it directly, most obvious fact that there is no such thing as a solid, separate, stable entity that I can call “myself”. Nouns (labels like writer, teacher, doctor, lawyer, man, woman, human being, body and so on), proper nouns (my name, your name), personal pronouns (I, me, mine, myself, etc.), often coupled with mental images of your face or your body at various ages, morphed together with various role models’ faces or bodies, and anchored by muscular contractions and other physical-emotional sensations work collectively to create a fictitious mental version of “me” and “my life”. It may be convincing on the surface, and there may be the security and comfort of habitual perception, but if you investigate carefully and directly, you will find nothing but insubstantial memory and fantasy edited by motive and attitude. Nowhere in any of that is there a real, verifiable “you” or “me”. Before agreeing or disagreeing, before proceeding any further, take a few moments to check this out for yourself in earnest. Otherwise, the process of truth, the discovery of what is real, is trivialized and reduced to true believerism, or worse, a subtle contempt prior to investigation. If you assume, “I already know about that,” no honest investigation or discovery can take place.

(Pause.)

So if you have the boldness, the courage and integrity to check it out for yourself, you discover that everything you think about yourself (as well as other people, the world, life, and the universe) is neither accurate nor reliable. It is only the play of fragmented memory, and as such, it is amazingly limited. It is shockingly dishonest and appallingly narrow, shaped by what we like and dislike, what we want and don’t want. It is hard to escape the rather obvious conclusion that all of the self images and concepts we so take for granted have no reality to them at all.

So, now what? If there is no separate you, and no separate me, then what is left?

Everything is left. Look around: in the absence of mental and emotional editing, there is nothing but awareness and everything that arises in it. Everything that you can see and hear and smell and taste and feel and think and otherwise experience. There is nothing but this, this whole, infinite, everything. So what is your purpose in all of this? What is life for?

That, clearly, is up to you. For most, it is a life of habitual self deception, gossip, pettiness, cruelty, self-centeredness and self loathing, fear, worry, stress, anger, sorrow, and loneliness, sometimes whitewashed with ideological optimism, or further darkened with ego defense mechanisms of cynicism and tragic story lines that merely perpetuate, complicate, and deepen the torment.

For you, and I, and anyone who has the willingness to truly explore, however, any number of other possibilities exist, this very moment. What if none of it ultimately makes any difference whatsoever? What if there were no inherent purpose to life? What if it were entirely up to you? A game (basketball, tennis, soccer, football, golf, any other game) or a dance performance (ballet, modern, African Jazz, Brazilian, creative movement, or any other dance) or a theatrical presentation ultimately doesn’t make any difference. Yet think of the players or musicians or dancers or performers who have moved you and inspired you in the deepest, most beautiful and subtle ways: It didn’t really make any difference, yet they gave themselves, without reservation, to the game or the dance or the performance.

What if you were to let your life be a work of art and creativity, an expression of beauty, passion, tenderness and wonder, an unconditional flow of affection and compassion and kindness, a sharing of joy, happiness, and peace, a perfect reflection of understanding and wisdom? Isn’t that what you love about your physical, artistic, and spiritual heroes and heroines? What if it were entirely up to you, this very instant? Suddenly, it makes all the difference in the world.

-Your own Self-
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