Are you living your purpose?

I used to long to find my purpose in life.

I imagined it as a place I was meant to be, a career I was meant to follow, an ideal or a teaching or talent that would bring me fulfilment in life if I just poured my whole self into it.

I thought I had found it in being a “problem-solver” of the intellectual kind. But however great it seemed at first, thinking for a living eventually grew old.

I wasn’t fulfilled by mastering complex ethical problems, and as my job in ethics came to an end I began to feel increasingly devoid of purpose and even prospects.

My grand spiritual quest was in stasis, my PhD ran into a brick wall, and the books I wrote didn’t provide the sense of purpose, direction, or income I’d hoped for.

The four temperaments taught me that ideals and meaning and therefore purpose in life were fundamental to my sense of self and my worldview. Yet thanks to my deeply pessimistic and world-weary outlook, I regarded these things as unreal.

Getting into positive thinking via the Abraham Hicks material has helped me enormously. But it only just occurred to me that I’ve still been looking at the world through the filter of my past disenchantment and despair of any real meaning or purpose.

What is purpose?

The real reason we want purpose is because we think it will feel good when we have it.

Try to analyse purpose and it loses its mystery.

Purpose is, after all, just an intention or a goal. It’s what you pro-pose or put forth.

But melancholics won’t be content with an arbitrary goal or a self-generated intention.

By our very temperament, we desire something greater and more powerful than ourselves, and that means something inherently mysterious.

That’s why all my attempted goals and paths lost their appeal as soon as I considered trying to make some kind of career out of them: what I sought was, by definition, to reduce them to predictable, repeatable and therefore non-mysterious processes or outcomes.

Mysterious power

And yet there was something I had encountered however briefly in my years of searching. I came upon it while trying to emulate the “acting without acting” of the Daoist canon. I think I hit upon it by accident and succeeded because there were no instructions, no real method, just a description and a feeling.

What I had was best described as a “mysterious power”, a product of faith, feeling, and intuition that I allowed intermittently to flow.

I found it again last night, trying to put my baby daughter to sleep.

I remembered the sense of ease, the feeling of alignment, the certainty (faith) that it would work because (mystery) I was aligning myself with this great power that creates, guides, and nourishes all things.

The feeling is most like those dreams where you discover you can fly just by focusing in a particular way with a kind of expectation and gentle certainty that allows you to find invisible footholds in the air, or simply levitate as easily as drawing in a deep breath.

It’s the feeling you get when you change ever so slightly the angle or focus with which you regard a familiar scene like your own living room. Everything changes and you suddenly appreciate it in a whole new light with a feeling of clarity and buoyancy like a gust of wind has filled the room and stirred everything in it.

Or like a lens suddenly coming into focus, and everything is sharp and crisp and you feel your control over that act of focusing, while everything else is securely in the flow of that mysterious power.

I never knew what to call it, and I tended to lose it in the past as soon as I ran into cold hard thoughts about “reality”.

But last night I allowed it to come to the fore, and with it came a shift in perspective. I wasn’t exhaustedly trying to get my daughter to sleep so my wife and I could relax, instead I was lovingly helping her to sleep so she could rest and refresh and grow.

With this mysterious power guiding me, buoying me and uplifting me I felt not only that I had the energy and the patience I needed, but also the sensitivity and the guidance to find the easiest and best path forward.

Better yet, that by staying in this feeling of power I was already on the right path, and everything else was coming together to make it work out perfectly.

Is purpose right for melancholics?

Whatever this thing is that I find fulfilling, it doesn’t match the idea of purpose. It’s much more like a way of being than an external goal – yet it is satisfying in the way that I always imagined an explicit purpose or direction would be.

It suits the melancholic longing for authenticity, meaning and the ideal.

So maybe that’s the purpose of life for a melancholic: to find authenticity, meaning, and the ideal; not for the sake of accomplishing other tasks, but as the goal in and of itself.

I’ve said before that being a melancholic is a bit like living in a fog. You can hear everything going on around you, but you can’t really see where you are going. This can lead to worry and anxiety, but it is also what makes us desire the ideal – because the ideal is always right no matter what is going on around you.

And when you know how to act, how to be, then you can at last be authentically yourself.

16 thoughts on “Are you living your purpose?

  1. I believe the general purpose of human life is expansion—in ways we may never comprehend, or the enigmatic, the mysterious, as you mentioned. So we are never really content with just one purpose or one vision or one cause. We cannot be defined by or just live by our one purpose, as they often tell us, because our purpose changes as we grow, explore, and discover more about ourselves and life and the world. It is just a light to allow us to find our way to a higher sense of self-awareness and meaning and our relation to everything about the world.

    People who seek are people who expand, so I think what happened in your case was just normal and natural for someone who seeks something higher than what he is conscious of at the moment. Your authentic self keeps unfolding as you keep expanding. ♥

    But, it’s a very beautiful thing—your experience of your authentic self, despite the worry, the anxiety, and the melancholy. 😊

    • That’s a great way of looking at it. We take for granted that people expand their worldly goals, like climbing the career ladder or building their wealth, but I’d never thought of my search as a similar expansion!
      One thing I’m coming to grips with from the Abraham Hicks material is to view this expansion in a positive light (always expanding) rather than my past negative view (never enough, never the “right” answer!).

  2. the purpose of the humans soul…according to an edgar Cayce reading..

    is to know itself as an eternal individual soul..
    capable of being attuned..at one with the whole..
    yet not the whole but a vital essential part of the whole..

    NOW WHAT DOES THAT REQUIRE..
    using true discernment where one properly considers the needs of others before ones own…

    the proper way of expanding by way of proper self denial
    not of the false matyr complex where ego hides in the form of self sacrifice but not the true form…

    not that the attempt at sacrificing for others that is in part mired in a false matyr complex is always without some good accomplished nevertheless

    ONE OF THE FLAWS IN SOME UNDERSTANDINGS OF THE DAO DE CHING
    is a mistranslation of the dao de ching ..the path doesn’t have a name…
    rathen than it cannot be given a name ..BECAUSE IT ALWAYS HAD AN ETERNAL UNCHANING NAME THAT ALL MUST NAME TO BECOME REALIZED PROPERLY BY PROPER ACTIONS..NOT BASED IN THE EGO FALSELY CONNECTED WITH THE TRUE SELF BUT WHERE THE EGO PROPERLY CONNCECTS WITH THE TRUE SELF..

    in terms of the four tempersments ..also flawed ..the better understading is of 5 temperaments

    from Wikipedia

    A new temperament was created as a neutral, balanced temperament. However, the new temperament’s lack of expression and personality was similar to the Phlegmatic, so the traits the Phlegmatic and the fifth temperament shared were removed from the Phlegmatic, and the remaining traits were renamed to Supine while the fifth temperament became known as the Phlegmatic.

      • In daoism there are 5 elements not 4
        Which suggests to me..5 temperaments

        Again on the dao having a name
        But can’t be given one coz it always has had a name
        As what the test allows
        But few ACCEPT
        But such integrates it with the bible perfectly

        • No thing has its name coz that which made it
          (That which brings all things into being)
          The creator father creates by way of it’s begotten sons of god..the elhohim
          Who all one thru yhwh
          I shall prove to be what I shall prove to be
          Because of internal consistency
          Manifested as holy spirit

        • There are lots of systems for classifying personality. But the “fifth temperament” creators use the traditional Greek terminology from the four temperaments theory.
          I haven’t studied any Chinese system in depth. There is a Korean one from the 19th Century I think, which roughly corresponds to the traditional Greek four.

            • Comparison of fifth temperament to the phlegmatic
              Edit
              The Phlegmatic also is peaceful at heart, and is one reason the Phlegmatic had held the place in the older four temperament model the Supine holds in the five temperament model. The difference is that the Supine is more “needy” for acceptance (or control) from people, yet less able to initiate and express this need to them than the Phlegmatic. Supines are often frustrated because they expect people to know they want interaction, while the Phlegmatic expresses a moderate need, and wants only the same moderate amount in return.

              Four temperament theories such as LaHaye’s often depict the Phlegmatic as being very fearful (according to LaHaye, “he is a worrier by nature”, which is what “keeps him from venturing out on his own to make full use of his potential)

        • Related probably to the 5 temperament concept..consider THE BIG FIVE FACTORS…which probably has more research and followers…also the Chinese system of seasons have five seasons

      • Not sure but I think the Chinese element METAL for Autumn might be the supine temperament
        The Large Intestine Meridian is known as the
        “Drainer of the Dregs”.

        It is about our ability to let go of what is not needed from our body, mind, spirit and emotions.

        Thus helping us to stay clean and not cloggeged up with what no longer serves us.The Five Elements in NatureAutumn is the energy of Metal, the time when nature rids itself of what is not needed, when nature sheds its leaves and lets go of the rubbish it no longer needs. With those leaves it produces its own compost, enriching the soil, ensuring the next cycle has the nutrients it needs to grow

  3. about the name of the dao
    cannot being given a name because it has always had one..
    ..
    the same as in the bible yhwh
    and one that an individual to be realized must name..
    yhwh … being consisitent as the creator always is
    I SHALL PROVE TO BE WHAT I SHALL PROVE TO BE
    BECAUSE MY DESIRES THOUGHT AND ACTION ARE BASED
    IN THE CRATOR’S WILL
    THE CONSIDERATION OF THE NEEDS OF OTHERS BEFORE ONES OWN
    WITH JESUS BEING THE PERFECT EXAMPLE OF THIS FOR ALL OF HUMANITY

    • So as most Christians don’t get how the shed blood of Jesus will redeem all eventually with reincarnation
      Most daoists doing get how the dao can’t be given a name because it has ALWAYS had a name and. A name that must be named by an individual to become enlightened…YHWH

  4. Bertocci is well known for his view that the essence of person is time. He is best known in the field of philosophy of religion for his wider teleological argument that provided increased evidence for God’s existence.

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