Responsibilities – Self Direction
Last week we explored self-responsibility as the first aspect of the first of the 4Rs. This week we explore the second aspect for which we are all responsible; self-direction. The gift of life is the gift of time. We each have a period of time in which to create our life. No one knows exactly how long it will be but we do have a fundamental choice between having the time of our life i.e. making it a creative and playful experience, or we could, as so many of us seem to do, lose awareness of this unique opportunity, and allow someone or something else to shape our life for us. In that moment life ceases to be ‘I am willing to’ and becomes a ‘have to’.
Every day we receive a cheque for 86,400. Unfortunately it’s not Euros or Dollars or even Rupees! It’s seconds in a day. We each receive exactly the same amount. In the world we call ‘work’ we often equate money with time when we say ‘time is money’. And for the money that we earn we usually have clear goals that define where and when we will spend it e.g. the house, the car, the holiday etc. But do we have clear aims/goals that will define how we will ‘spend’ our time? It seems few of us have precise, written goals that will focus the time of our life. This is almost always due to the absence of two things; a clear sense of purpose and an accurate awareness of our core values. If we set goals in life that are not aligned to our sense of purpose or to what we deeply care about, we will not be motivated (moved) to sustain the focus of our time and energy towards the achievement of our aims/goals. When our aims/goals are not connected to our heart, where our deepest values are found, we will be easily distracted, frequently disheartened and eventually disillusioned about the value of a goal!
The most common sign of the absence of a clear sense of purpose and values is what can become an almost daily inner voice that whispers in our inner ear and says, “Why am I doing this, what am I doing here?” If you hear this voice it means there is what some have called a ‘hole in the soul’. It means you have not yet clarified why you are here and what you truly care about. And while we may hear this inner voice frequently we tend to suppress or ignore it. This is usually because we have been taught that our purpose in life is largely to be a survivor, which roughly translated means a successful producer for someone else, and a conspicuous consumer of someone else’s produce. And the values that we have assimilated tend to be ‘extrinsic’ e.g. career, family, leisure, finance, hobbies, possessions, wealth etc. It’s not that such a survivalist purpose and inherited values are wrong, just that they are not the deepest. They will eventually become one of the main reasons why the inner feeling of emptiness and a deep sense that there is something missing arises.
As a result of our learned or ‘default purpose’ and ‘conditioned values’ we tend to live outside of our self ‘spending our time’ seeking our happiness externally in our relationships, our achievements and odd moments of ‘relief’ (called holidays) from our frenetic ‘searching’ activities.
For some, a lifetime spent in this way seems and feels OK. .most of the time! Only occasionally are they momentarily distracted by the voice of “Why am I really here, what am I really here to do?” As time passes however, those voices can also grow a little louder and a new question is often born. “Is this all there is?” And for some there is a growing awareness that their purpose and values are not what they thought and definitely not what they were taught. But the reason is not obvious, until it becomes … obvious!
Watch someone who lives a purposeful and focussed life on a day-to-day basis. They are confident in their choices, assured in their attitude and certain about the direction of their future. You are watching someone who a) knows who they are b) knows where they are c) knows what their resources are (what they have within them). The basic reason we have such a tough time discerning a clear sense of purpose for our self, and the real reason we can be so unclear about or deepest values, is one and the same – we do not know who we are, where we are and what our inner resources are. To put it another way, we are not aware of our real identity, the context of our life and our true nature.
If you identify your self as a fireman then your purpose for a large part of your day/life will be putting out fires until you realise that is not a life purpose it’s just a job. If you identify your self as a businessperson your sense of purpose in life will arise around ‘doing business’ with others until you realise that it’s not a purpose, it’s just a role you play. If you identify your self as a scientist then you may come to see you life purpose in terms of ‘doing science’ until you realise it’s not a purpose, it might be a vocation, but it’s not a purpose. A job, role or vocation is neither an identity nor a purpose. It is a common mistake to confuse the three concepts. Hence the reason why there is often great initial enthusiasm for these ‘activities’ but it easily diminishes unless there is the realisation of one thing and action based on that one thing.
Take a moment to sit quietly and become aware of your self. Exclude all external stimuli as much as possible for just a moment. Ignore all internal chatter and any emotional waves that may pass through you, and just … notice. Just observe. Become aware. Self-aware. You will notice two things. One is your self, not as an object but as a being that exists. Simply existence. Pure awareness. Nothing more. Notice how every thing and every one in your life comes and goes. But you always remain. Notice how anything that you place after the words ‘I am’ like a dentist, or French, or cheeky, are not what you are. They may describe where you are or what you do but not ‘what’ you are. And you may also notice the primary and natural impulse of the being that you are, is to create a connection with others. It is to generate thoughts and actions with the purpose of connecting to others. This is of course the primary impulse of love. And so you may ‘notice’ that you exist to be, to be what you are, which is a source of love.
Eventually, if you practice such quiet reflective moments, you may notice your true identity is ‘being’, you are located in a context called ‘relationship’ and your greatest inner resource is also your deepest value, which is ‘love’. And all the rest is simply ‘dressing up’. As children one of the games many of us played was dressing up? It was fun because we knew that how we dressed was not really us! We were playing, acting, play-acting, totally free of all seriousness. We played, we dressed up, we connected and we played for no other reason than just play.
And so it is when we grow up. We dress our being, our self, with images, concepts and ideas like nationality, gender, profession, position, clan etc. But this time we believe it. We think we are the clothes we dress our self in. Hence the reason we take it all so seriously. And it’s that seriousness that drives our incessant activity to stay ‘dressed’ as we become ‘humans doing’. And that is what stops us from connecting with our authentic self as a ‘human being’. And the first purpose of any being can only ever be one thing and that is to be! Not to do, but to be. If we are in our true state of being, not ‘dressed’ by any false concept about who or what we are, then all action that flows from that will be shaped by the highest intention of our true nature which is love. And those actions will always create and sustain harmony within the context of our life, which is relationship.
This is why when we are being who we really are, our purpose as we spend the time of our life is not to ‘get’ something from the ‘context’ of our life (relationships) but to make a contribution to that context. And our greatest contribution is of our self.
And so, in summary, you have the time of your life to spend. Aims and goals help you to spend it wisely and harmoniously. But they will not be clear until you know your purpose (why are you here) and your values (what do you care about). And your purpose and values will not be clear until you realise you are a human being long before you are a human doing. And the purpose of being is ‘to be’, which is not doing nothing but creating the foundation for all action that you create to be based on what you are, which in essence, is love. So although you may create a sense of direction in the world ‘out there’, it is just a game in which you get the chance to be creative and play the game of ‘dressing up’ with others. And as you do, as you share your being, it matters little what ‘exactly’ you do in the world of action. What matters are the connections you create. And the ultimate paradox arises when you realise the more you contribute of your self as you make those connections the more fulfilled you feel. The more to empty your self the more you are filled full!
But hasn’t that always been loves way? Ever flowing and multidirectional!
Question: What is the difference between being and doing, what comes first and which is the most important … and why?
Reflection: There is no purpose to life other than being what I am
Action: Use this week to consciously connect to others completely free of wanting to get something but with the intention of making a contribution