Thursday, June 27, 2013

Being As Purpose

In the formal Mission Statement of St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, CO, it says, “The monk’s life is based more on how he lives than on what he does, and how he works more than what that work is” (italics added).

We all wear many hats and hold many labels simultaneously during the course of our lives.  We rush about everyday trying to find the necessary time to fulfill each of these multiple roles.  We struggle to determine the proper manner in which we will realize these roles.  We often work to find worthwhile meaning in these roles as regards our well-being and self-satisfaction.  And when we fail to find sufficient self-satisfaction, we typically simply take on even more roles – often without discarding any old ones.

Underneath all of this frenzy is a continual search for Purpose in our life.  We sense the nagging feeling of Why Am I Here in this life?  What am I supposed to be doing with it?  What is my Purpose and Calling for my time on this earth?

In our search for answers, we usually focus on What we do, trying to find that “one, specific, overriding thing” outside of us that we should be “doing.”  Most of the time, it is an elusive search.  Elusive because the answer to our Purpose is not in the “out there doing.”  It is to be found in the “within of being.”

“Being” is about how we live, how we think, how we act towards others and to all of creation around us.  Being is how we feel, and how open we are to experiencing those feelings.  Being is having a connection with all that which surrounds our life, regardless of its seeming pleasure or discomfort in the moment, and having a full participation and engagement with it.

When we have quiet clarity inside of us about our Being, then the specifics of what we select to do in the outside world is less important.  How busy we are is less important.  How “successful” we are by traditional external measurements is less important.  Rather, success is realized by how grounded we are in our true self.

Our purpose in Life is simply to Live This Life.  To experience it however it comes to us.  To learn and to grow by life’s teachings.  And then to use that learning to give back to Life.  God does not generally care what we do for our “job” or “career” as long as we are learning and growing well by our experience.  No job is too mundane or beneath us if we do it properly.  No role within society is more exalted than another.  All work is both our teacher and our gift to others.

Instead of agonizing over trying to find our Purpose and Calling, we should instead look to live in simple openness and responsiveness to the calls that come to us.  To seek out many doors, knock on them, and pass through the ones that open to us.  Our life is a trial and error existence, a constant experiment, always fluidly in motion down a curved path not a straight one.  So we choose to move through Life as it comes, as God sends it to us.  It is in that movement itself that we find both God and our True Purpose.

©2013 Randy Bell

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Dark And The Light

Dark.  The word itself often triggers a sense of apprehension, of dread.  It suggests the things that go bump in the night, the scary creatures hiding under our bed.  It is a covering blackness that hides the potential danger and evil that threaten our well-being.  It calls up the shroud of the grim reaper, the time when the evil-doers work their destructive havoc.  It represents the dark corners of our mind, the black holes that live in our hearts.  Yet in the dark we also obtain some relief from the never-ending demands of our working hours.  It is in the dark where we find our rest.  The rest necessary to sustain our bodies and calm our minds.  The fuel to recharge our creativity.

Light.  The brightness in our life.  The force that dispels the totality of darkness that would otherwise envelop our life.  The light awakens our mind so that it can fulfill its creative purpose.  The light gives warmth to the body as well as comfort to the soul.  We arise with the morning rising of the light, and then rest with its evening setting.  Yet with too much light we can suffer sunburn – or worse, skin cancer – so even the positive energy generated by the light still needs limiting.

The dark and the light need each other to mutually define themselves and give purpose to each other.  In the dark, we know our world by touch, smell and hearing, envisioned by the imagination of the mind.  In the light, we know our world by sight, envisioned then by the rational thought of the mind; touch, smell, and hearing diminish as tools for our “knowing.”  In the dark, we create.  In the light, we try to understand.

In a battle for supremacy, the light usually wins.  The dark requires the totality of its being to accomplish “darkness.”  But light dispels that darkness by the mere flicker of a small candle.  A sliver of moon in the sky.  The flame of a single lit match.  Though surrounded by darkness, that candle, moon or match flame will break through the dark, expose our surroundings, and show us all of the directions that are available to us.  Where we may have been hesitant to move in the total darkness, a simple burst from a small light allows us to move on to the next place in our journey, without fear.  We see where we need to go.

It is perhaps thusly that “the light” plays such a prevalent role in the ritual of our spiritual traditions.  Spirituality has a great affinity for the stillness of the dark, because in the dark there is calm, there is rest.  And it is in the calmed and rested mind and spirit that one can best hear God and connect to God’s Universe.  But it is in the light that we can then see best our direction out of the blindness of our dark.  We need not the full light of day for the rational logical mind to guide us.  We need merely the small light of the candle to allow the trusting, intuitive mind to move forward appropriately in quiet humility and confidence.

In the dark we are enveloped by the incomprehensibly vast existence of the Universe.  In the small candlelight that penetrates that dark, a spiritual path is illuminated very narrowly.  And we see our narrow individual path that we follow to God.

©2013 Randy Bell