Updated: Dec 30, 2022
Even if you achieve your outer purpose, it will never satisfy you if you haven't found your inner purpose, which is awakening, being present, being in alignment with life.
You liked your job before, but it doesn't excite you anymore. You want to make a shift in your career, but aren't sure what you want to do. You feel stuck and feel that something is somehow missing from your life. The spark and the drive you had before are missing. You hear everyone saying, "finding your purpose will make you happy," and now you long to find your life purpose, but you don't know where to start.
You suddenly started questioning the more significant meaning and purpose in life. Questions like who I am, what I am here for, and what is my purpose suddenly hooks you up. You tried finding an answer, and you contemplate finding your purpose will give you the motivation in life. (You look for purposes through serving others, changing the world or altruism)
You are going through an authentic awakening process or trying to integrate the post-awakening phase in your life. You have a drastic loss of motivation (a very common symptom), and you begin to question what is the meaning of life itself and what is in store for you (sometimes how to even feed your family because you have no motivation to work) and from that angle, you seek the purpose of life (maybe you think being the spiritual teacher is your purpose or guiding others is the purpose)
This is probably the most frequent set of questions I get asked during my coaching sessions, and everyone is looking for a way to get to their purpose. You must talk to the right teacher based on where you are. If you are in the post-awakening phase and go to the law of attraction teacher, you won't be able to connect, and it may even be detrimental to your integration process. It is true other way too - someone who is looking for action in the outer world should not be given the teachings for post-awakening integration. Every tool, methodology, and teaching has its own place, and the right coach/guide will be able to meet you where you are in any given moment.
The situation of the people I work with belongs to one of the following three phases:
Personal Development Phase - Outer Purpose
People who feel stuck where they are currently in their work, relationship, impact and want to take a particular action. They want to find an answer, and they want to have their purpose figured out. They want to awaken in the personal development mode. Please see my blog on "What is Awakening" to understand personal awakening.
They are looking for a short-term fix to have their purpose figured out. They want to clear the belief systems that block them from reaching their goals. The methodologies I give them are mostly cognitive-based techniques to understand their belief system, clearing the beliefs that hold them back and replace them with other belief systems. The law of attraction and visualization methodologies are also used. The practical exercises are simple - to identify what they love doing, what values they connect with, what they are good at, what is the way to help the world, and what can they get paid for. These questions usually find the short-term answer, and they are satisfied until they are NOT.
Beginning Awakening Phase - Inner Purpose
These people intuit that there is something beyond the regular realm, and they are captivated by awakening teachings. They understand that anything they are doing in the outer world will not give them the fulfillment and well-being they are looking for. They begin to think that there is a deeper purpose for them (yes! True). Their soul yearns for a kind of connection that's missing. They might have had glimpses of experiences beyond their mind. They don't know their purpose, but they know anything that they "do" will not satisfy them. These are healthy and mature egos who have begun to have this intuition and transitioning to "being" from "doing". Please see my blog on being vs doing.
When these people come to me, I give them teaching on awakening. Meditation practices combined with contemplative inquiries will support them to rediscover themselves. Inner work (inner child and shadow work) followed by positive psychology will help them integrate into day-to-day life. They are on a path to finding the true authentic being they are. And this is and becomes the purpose for them. The number of people in this phase are increasing at an alarming rate.
Sometimes people in this situation can unknowingly go to the teachers coaching for personal development, and they can get sucked into clear old beliefs and replace with a new belief system "for achievements." If they get stuck here, transitioning back to awakening methodologies can take some time. Ego can hold on to quotes like "I can manifest anything I want, I am here to learn and grow so I can fulfill my desires, I am the unconditional love, " and such spiritual concepts without the experiential part of it. The ego starts to feel spiritually "special". The ego wants to do only things that gives it a spark, and all other actions seem irrelevant. So having the right teacher at this part of life is essential.
Through or Post-Awakening Phase - Purpose will find you
In this phase, the question often arises after they have connected to their true nature (even if they are glimpses). Every opening created by an awakening weakens the ego or the separate-self. Here the ego's motivation that was once driven by its willpower and achievement of goals is losing its hold. Eventually, it loses all the power.
My favorite teacher Adyashanti calls it the "limbo" state. This is not the state we will live forever, but we "have to" pass through this state. The purpose and motivation are nowhere to be found, and sometimes there is no motivation to even find a purpose, except for occasional lingering "purpose" thoughts. It feels empty, devoid of something, insanely void, and a kind of not-knowing; it is confusing.
At this stage, it is very important to examine yourself and observe that after awakening, the ego that was looking for value, impact, and worth is not running you anymore, but peace and stillness are the driving forces. You are in between this transition. What do you do? KEEP GOING, not anywhere, but be fully involved in what you do moment by moment. This is an important integration step, and by just paying attention to your relationships or work or whatever you do will help accelerate the integration process. This is extremely crucial at this step.
From a purpose standpoint, we always have a purpose. The mere existence of us is a purpose. Living life is our purpose. Many understand this at a cognitive level, but it is actually very important to feel it with your heart and body. I want you to ask this to yourself. If you are looking for purpose as one big thing, what happens to other things you do in your life moment by moment - like cooking for your family, interacting with kids, driving your kids to their classes, interacting with your co-workers, playing with your dog, enjoying the sip of coffee, taking an evening stroll, painting, singing, dancing - do these mean nothing to you? Our conditioning associates purpose to something that is hugely climactic - that gives us a lot of recognition, power, or money. Do catch this trap.
You are transforming the being or the stillness that you are to integrate into the human life before the new purpose/motivation flowers. It takes some time for the ego/separate-self willpower to be wiped clean. The new purpose you find will not be like the old way. In fact, it is apt to say that the new purpose will find you!
The ego's purpose sprouts from lack, and it desires to fulfill this lack, and it achieves and feels fulfilled until it finds another lack, and this goes in an endless cycle. For instance, you feel the drive to serve people and make the world a better place (this is a widespread purpose people are identifying with now). This is a wonderful purpose, only if it truly is for you, coming from your authentic self. But this can also stem from a place of lack, to make the ego feel good and better about itself by feeling that it is making a huge impact, to feel special, to get the recognition, fame, to prove that the ego is not worthless. Many people are being conditioned through several teachings that serving people is the only purpose. In reality purpose can be completely different.
But once you realize your true nature, all these conditioning and stories fall away. It is very important to get on with your day-to-day life and observe that you can actually operate without this drive of lack. I hope that just by telling you that this is a phase, and you "have" to go through this phase, it will help you accept this phase and not resist. Keep going with your life; it may feel that nothing is happening, it is boring, but trust that it will be transformed. How soon? Depending on how soon you can befriend this limbo state. When you have no issues with your limbo state and can still continue with your life without getting into the bandwagon of purpose, the transformation follows.
The transformation starts with mundane things, with a flash of inspiration. It just feels right to do an action without an inclination to get something from it. It feels more like curiosity and exploration. It just feels right, moment to moment only. The joy comes from the activity of doing, rather than from the result. It is experiencing a feeling, a pure action of expecting nothing in return, no goal orientation, but still doing. Imagine a child doing certain things just for the sake of doing, it feels something that way.
These actions seem very aligned with life and with what you need (not what you want). There is no need to manifest or use any law of attraction now, because, just by you being in the moment, and responding, actions that are aligned happen.
So if you are in the post awakening or awakening phase and feel no purpose or motivation, that's a good thing. Because this gives you the space to explore your true nature and go deep within that stillness. The stillness eventually dances (Eckhart Tolle puts it as "Stillness speaks" and Adyashanti calls it "Emptiness Dancing" or "Radiant Emptiness"). Please give the emptiness some acclimatization time.
What comes out of this may surprise you. At this phase, PURPOSE FINDS YOU. It may be a very simple action or you will change the world, you may continue your job or change career, you may start a hedge-fund company or get into non-profit organization and altruism, you may become a creative artist in the entertainment industry or a spiritual teacher, you may become the next big entrepreneur or find solace in gardening by being a stay at home mom or a dad, you may become the next biggest youtuber or find complete peace in teaching art work to kids - but it is in alignment. It is what your TRUE NATURE needs, to experience life. We won't know till it happens, and we don't need to know because whatever happens is in alignment with us and with life. But please be careful not bang your head on any other conditioned purpose, no matter how good others feel about it, else it might derail you, because you see, this is about you, not about other people's conditioned thoughts.
Purpose from ego/separate self - Striving, putting a lot of effort, trying to focus, not being adequate and enough, struggling, lot of decision making with the intention of getting the "small me" a recognition either through money, power or community. It wants to feel special by trying to remove the feeling of "I suck". It wants to prove its worth.
Purpose from true nature - Effortless, joyful, intelligence unfolds in a mysterious way, feels very aligned, not much of planning, extremely fulfilling in real-time and does not have to wait for the action to end, inspired by clarity, and most important it is moment by moment. This is good news because you reading this now is your purpose this moment, interacting with your kids, sipping your morning cup of coffee, playing with your dog, singing or dancing to music, interacting with your colleagues, running a business - everything is your purpose!
To summarize, if you are at a stage questioning your purpose, then awakening to your true nature is your purpose. Through and after awakening, your purpose becomes what is needed moment by moment, effortlessly aligning with life, because alignment is your purpose and the actions happen through this alignment with life.
Take a deep breath and enjoy this NOW moment, because that's where you will eventually be!