"Before we awaken, our joy is to use the things of this earth; after the grace of awakening, our joy is to serve the things of this earth. With the growth of wisdom our life becomes more and more a creative act, an act of service. The beauty of such an understanding is that it excludes no one."
~ Jack Kornfield, "After the Ecstasy, the Laundry"
During one of our Q&A's after the last service, someone asked a great question: How do you find purpose in your life? He explained that he had achieved and accomplished many things in his life and now often found himself somewhat drifting about without the feeling of being connected to a purpose.
Consider this: In a simplistic sense, we tend to find fulfillment at a variety of different levels. At the first level, we find fulfillment in the senses; pleasure in things of the world, in stuff, in acquiring things and accumulating experiences. It's not my intention to belittle or minimize the pleasures of the senses--and the use of the term "first level" is somewhat arbitrary. However, the fulfilment found at this level tends to be transient and dependent on external conditions.
At deeper level, we begin to focus more on what is generally referred to as personal growth. That might look like many different things but the focus has shifted from seeking external pleasures to perceived inner growth, accomplishment, and transformation. While external conditions and recognition may also be involved, the fulfillment comes from the sense of personal change and growth.
We find an even deeper sense of fulfillment when our focus--our inward gaze--shifts from the self to others; toward being of service to others. Our joy arises out of contributing to the success and growth of others.
And then there is a level where we are simply here to be of devoted service to the Divine. God, Spirit, higher purpose. It doesn't really matter what word we use. There is a sense of a calling; a deeper meaning; a higher vision; a noble cause. It may look no different on the outside from the joy of serving others, but there is an inner distinction. There is less "me" involved and we are now in service to a higher vision. We are simply doing what we are here to do and we are ever available to serve those who are in need as they come across our path. Gandhi and mother Theresa where examples of people living at this level of fulfillment. Mother Theresa remarked, "I try to give to the poor people for love what the rich could get for money. No, I wouldn't touch a leper for a thousand pounds; yet I willingly cure him for the love of God." It reflects a subtle but rather significant level of growth.
What about intimate relationships? They likewise can be experienced at any of the above levels: from pure sexual delight as a physical experience to serving God through your role in relationship. Again in the words of Mother Theresa: "How do you know, love, and serve God? How do you prove that you love Him? In the family, the father proves his love by all that he does for his children, for his wife. We prove our love for Jesus by what we do, by who we are.”
An important point: there is no judgment here. Wherever you currently find your fulfillment and joy is perfect for where you are at. If your focus is on sampling the pleasures and delights of the world at this point on your journey, so be it. Do it with gusto and a full heart.
But when the day comes that it no longer fulfills… when it is no longer enough, consider that it may be time to move deeper.
Peace, Blessings, and Joy
So where are you at in the way you find life fulfilling, meaningful, and joyful? Is it time to go deeper? Consider what that might look like. If life has--in any way--seemed pointless or meaningless, then yes, the time is now.