What is the Purpose of Your Life?
Someone you love suddenly and unexpectedly dies, a relationship ends, or you realize on a deep level that nothing you have done in your life has produced any real contentment or any sense of lasting happiness. It is this fundamental disillusionment with life that evokes a natural question in your mind; what is the purpose of life? The moment this question arises in your consciousness it begins to ravage the shadows of your past and fills your ideas of the future with a sense of foreboding. Does anyone really know? What is life really all about anyway?!
Chances are if your life is copasetic and things seem to be comfortably rolling on the way life has been rolling on for you and your family for centuries, you simply won’t even begin to contemplate the meaning or purpose of your life—you will just keep rolling along until the inevitable moment of your physical death. Most people live in the comfortable illusion that they will have another day—when the harsh reality is no one knows what day will be their last day. If you are like most people on the planet, you are mostly unaware of the simple truth that your body was born to die, but who you really are is not your body.
It is widely known that the Buddha’s teaching began turning the great wheel of dharma centuries upon centuries ago, but in order for the Buddha’s dharma, right action, to begin turning in your own life, you must recognize, realize, and accept the first and fundamental noble truth of the Buddha; life is suffering. Suffering is not bad or good—it is simply the nature of life and the nature of ignorance. Your suffering and the heartbreak of disillusionment with your life as you perceive it to be is actually the great and ancient gateway to the perpetual happiness of nirvana—the eternal freedom of enlightenment—true redemption—eternal salvation. This might sound a bit strange to your mind, but your pain and suffering actually opens the ancient and hidden gateway to perpetual happiness.
The path of self-realization is actually quite simple—so simple it is easy to overlook. The focus tends to be on how you can make your life better or what you can do to fix or change your life or developing strategies for how can you get more of what the world values most—pleasure, power, money, love, and sex. But the movement of your mind to fix or change your life or get more of what the world values is the crux of the problem—in the end it does absolutely nothing to free you from endless cycles of suffering. Perhaps it is the very definition of insanity to think that fixing or changing your life, which by its very nature is always in a constant state of change, will somehow offer you lasting happiness. How could fixing anything that is constantly changing provide you with any form of lasting happiness or freedom?
Do you see the fallacy in this idea or can you recognize the natural movement of your mind to fix or change your life won’t actually solve anything? This single question is enough to give you pause, the great and sacred opportunity to stop following all of the pig trails your mind will lead you down in pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain and death. It is in your willingness to stop fixing, running, changing, and strategizing that offers you the sacred key that begins to unlock the great purpose of your life—ending lifetimes upon lifetimes of suffering. The teaching being offered to you here is actually much more direct and simple than the Buddha’s four noble truths; the great and ancient pillars of enlightenment. The direct discovery of your natural enlightenment actually lives in a single word; stop.
Stop and see what sees. This is the fundamental teaching of self-inquiry. It represents the immediate relief of life times of suffering—the direct discovery of your eternal nature—the purest most indescribable happiness. It is a shift in perception so immediate, so simple, you can easily miss the message being relayed here. It is common to think and feel you are your body—this is the nature of ego—but what if you are not your body, which, like everything in the world, is constantly changing? What if who you really are is the one and only constant in the world—the vast indescribable consciousness looking out of the lens of your eyes? What if the invisible presence within you that receives your five senses represents that ancient and sacred key that unlocks the mystery of your life?
This is not about your role, your money, your relationship, your career, your life, your family—none of these things have anything to do with self-realization or liberation. You can be locked up in prison and be totally happy and free or living in the lap of luxury and be trapped in the darkest prison—the hell realm of your own mind. You might find yourself wondering; if it is so simple then why aren’t more people enlightened, self-realized, or liberated? The reason is simply this; you don’t just believe what you think is true, you agree with yourself that whatever you think is true. The underlying agreement between your mind and this deep feeling of you, or the ‘me’ inside of you, is the fundamental nature of suffering. It is the agreement between your ego and mind that keeps you trapped in the great trance of the world—the slave world of the ego—the great illusion of samsara—the endless and ancient ocean of suffering.
The world, your parents, the culture in which you grew up, all served to reinforce this simple and deep feeling—the supreme illusion that you are your body and mind. You have been taught from the moment you were born to trust the feelings of your body and the limited perspective of your own mind over the more expanded perspective of your own heart. In fact, you might not even be aware that your heart is omniscience and your mind is limited, but it is the limited perspective of your own mind that leads to many different forms of suffering; mental, emotional, and physical, and ultimately leads to more and more suffering.
The way out of suffering is the quiet empty space of your heart. Diving into the depths of your heart is more than a meditation—the empty space of your heart is constant, alive, fresh, and always here. This vastness holds the great and sacred key of your natural enlightenment—eternal liberation. But so few dare to enter this ancient and holy temple of the heart, simply because it is not possible to take your deep sense and feeling of your precious specialness with you—the ego. The ego must die for you to be born again to eternal life. Yes—the ego must die for your natural happiness to reveal itself. Please take a moment to allow this great and ancient truth to sink deeply into your heart; the ego must die for you to truly live.
This revelation might be a shock to your mind, but if had just one taste of the happiness these immortal words point to, instead of continuing to protect your ego and mind, you would beg to have your ego destroyed. No words really exist to describe the sublime happiness and contentment of your true nature. The how of self-realization is simple, but the practice of self-realization is perhaps the greatest of all challenges. Nothing in the world supports the direct discovery of your natural happiness. The world is oriented toward money, sex, and power—the ancient currency of the world, which from a worldly perspective will always be valued over freedom, peace, and enlightenment.
In spiritual circles this harsh reality and even cruel nature of the world, often translates into the idea that money is bad and poverty is good. But the sacred key of self-realization lives beyond the paradoxical nature of life or primitive ideas of good and bad, money or poverty, happy or sad, or whatever mood you are experiencing, or whatever role you play in life. It is so much deeper than these surface level experiences. The truth of you is already liberated—already free of the karmic wheel of suffering. But it is a great fallacy of mind to think this absolute truth frees you from the karmic reality of your physical body—the ego and your genetic mind.
If what you really want is freedom from the karmic wheel all ideas of you must burn in the great and ancient fire of your own heart. It takes time, patience, perseverance, and the deepest resolve. It is not for the faint of heart or the weak minded—you must truly want to be fully liberated more than you want to live—your desire must be bone breaking strong in order to whether the emotional storm of awakening and the inevitable tricks and traps of your own ego and mind as well as the great illusion of the world.
The great paradox is you are already liberated, but you must work to liberate yourself from your ego. If you do not work at it—apply the simple practices of self-inquiry, meditation, and the mantra—it is totally unrealistic to think you are liberated. If you say ‘I am free’ or ‘I am liberated’ this is true in the absolute sense, but absolutely false in the relative sense. Even if you understand the truth of you is inherently liberated this does nothing to liberate you. The thought ‘I am free’ is actually no different than the thought ‘I am bound’ or ‘I am suffering,’ even if you have had an awakening, or glimpse, or a taste of your true nature, the idea that you are liberated after a moment of awakening is simply a bad case of enlightened ego—the deep delusion that this you as you think yourself to be is the freedom you seek. Thoughts of truth simply never free you from from the invisible bondage of your ego.
“Who am I?” Is the fundamental question of the ancient scripture of the Vedas and, as Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi suggested, the repeated use of this question annihilates the questioner (ego) and returns your mind to its source, which is a palpable presence of peace and joy within you that is simply impossible to fully describe in words. Your ego will never be enlightened! Your body will never be enlightened! This is the great trick of the egoic mind that has the power to hypnotize you into thinking you are liberated when in fact you are still bound to the great feeling and illusion of your ego. Simply put, awakening does not equate to liberation from the karmic wheel.
The way of freedom is your own direct experience. You will never find it in a book or wise sayings of various gurus or sages—no matter how evolved they may appear and no matter how deep their realization—the absolute truth is; no guru or sage can liberate you from your own ego. Only you can take the great leap of faith and dive head long into the cave of your heart—the great and eternal gateway of liberation. The only role of the outer teacher or guru is to point the way to the heart—the eternal presence of the satguru—the one and only guru. The practices bring you to the great precipice of the heart, but the satguru pulls you in until there is no you and no satguru—only the eternal presence known as the Self remains. Your heart is the realm of eternal salvation and the end of the karmic wheel of suffering.
Ultimately, the only advice worth listening to is to follow the deep feeling of ‘me’ inside of you to its source—who is this who you think you are? Once you discover the source of yourself, lose yourself so deeply in this vast indescribable space that you discover who you really are is happiness without measure. Be forewarned, this is not a recipe for instant enlightenment—for lasting happiness to fully take root in your consciousness it is essential to actually do the work of self-inquiry until there is no doer and no one to inquire. You must repeatedly and consistently purify your mind with the core practices of self-inquiry, meditation, and the mantra to make any significant progress.
Throw out any ideas you might have of attainment or any motivation for enlightenment, self-realization, or liberation. Motivation to attain something leads to a future goal as well as the objectification of liberation by your egoic mind. This postpones the direct discovery of what is always already here and now. To be perfectly clear, only when the deep feeling of ‘me’ inside of you is completely gone will you be unstuck from the great wheel of karma.
Wherever you are and whatever you are doing—find out who you really are deeper than name and form and you will discover directly the happiness you seek is the happiness you are—not as a concept, but as the direct and indescribable truth—happiness without end!
This direct discovery and deep realization is the fundamental purpose of your life.