Study the questions Part 2
Many thanks to all of you who responded to my ‘Study the questions’ Daily Paradox. It was most heartening to get your ideas and views. They came for far and wide. As per Chatham House Rule, I won’t tell you who said what but I think I can identify the source by country. Before I do so let me say that many of the responses were about how you achieve life’s purpose rather than the purpose itself. I must be fair here. It is a perfectly legitimate purpose to say “To eat a bowl of rice with a teaspoon” if that really is the purpose. It is a different purpose from “To eat a bowl of rice”, of course.
So the interesting contribution from Hong Kong can be seen either as a purpose or as a method of achieving some other purpose. “To be helpful” appeals in several ways, especially in HK today. It is attributed to a children’s TV programme presenter and I am indebted both to him and to the DP reader who forwarded it to me. Her point that it is nicely simple is well taken. Thank you Hong Kong. Oh, how we wish more people were brought up with that purpose.
There were several contributions that can be summed up together as “To make a positive contribution to Humankind in ways that I have been endowed to do so and within the limits at my disposal be they intellectual, financial or time available.” A thoroughly worthy intention nobody could argue with. I have this as a life purpose, too, though I move it back a step and call it “To be fulfilled”. I think this is the second most motivating purpose of life.
From India, I got an excellent analysis of three facets of the purpose to life – known also as the three facets of Universal Consciousness:
1 Creativity: meaning discover and stimulate and grow a creative process within yourself to the point of excellence and beyond.
2 Compassion: through your action, raise the level of compassion in this world. Either directly or through others.
3 Consciousness: Raise your spiritual quotient by becoming a more conscious being. Lose the programming of childhood and early adulthood, and become a spiritual being that is on a lifelong discovery and preservation of our natural world, our body and especially our mind, and the connections we have with other members of the species.
Naturally these appeal to me with their demands for Imagination, Care and Awareness. They rate high in my list of essential qualities but they are method more than purpose, I think. Still, very relevant indeed.
From the UK I got a treatise on The Art of Character by David Corbett. It’s compelling line “Desire is the crucible that forges character because it intrinsically creates conflict” leads us to the question of how much control we have over our purpose and how much it is built into our genes, possibly cemented by our upbringing. I think this has more to do with achievement than purpose but it is surely a major consideration to be taken into account.
I have dwelt on the subject of purpose for a considerable time. You will probably know my story of The Tree on the other side of the Field. Apart from its enchanting narrative, I have always liked it for its clarity and simplicity. The process of getting there – by ploughing, in the story – is not confused by the objective to be reached. It leads inexorably to the conclusion that the purpose of life is “To be happy”. If, at first sight, it seems a somewhat selfish goal I recall that our survival system is basically selfish, too. That in no way inhibits acts of extreme unselfishness.
We had a good example of this with a client who loved making money but realised that it was a rather egocentric way to live once he had amassed enough to survive on. After completing our PASDAQ® he found his Tree. It came as a shock but also a delight to him. He would continue to make money – a lot of it – and give every dollar of it away. Why? Because it would make him happy.
And that is the conclusion I came to, too. Our purpose in life is to be happy. But we have to discover that we only achieve that by making other people happy first.
And thank you, kind respondents, for making me happy.
Bless you for that.