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3 steps to your true purpose

It’s natural, as we age, to wonder at times if our life has had meaning. I had a touching letter from an older reader the other day in which she says, “I don’t seek honor or praise, but just that I left the world a tiny bit better than had I not existed. I don't want to just fill up space and put in my time. Of course, this runs smack into something I have considered before, ‘What is my purpose here?’”

I know this person, and I know she has indeed made a difference because of what she has offered over the years. How do I know? Well, for one thing, she has made a difference in my life through her interesting and thoughtful comments to my blog, that have brought encouragement to me and, I’m sure, other people too.

This question, "What is our true purpose here?" has obviously vexed our race for a long, long time. And so far anyway I see little evidence that our cogitations on this matter have helped make the world a better place.

It seems to me it may be helpful to narrow this issue down a bit so that it becomes more specific. For example, I might ask myself, ‘What is my purpose in life right now in this moment?” Or, “What is the right course of action for me in this particular situation?”

Mind you, I’m sure there is an over-arching purpose to our life that is true, and could perhaps be summed up in a few words. “I’m here to face fear and realize the truth of my own Eternal Nature,” for example, I might say. But even if such words are true, how do I make that truth become real in my own experience?

The only way to do this, I have found -- and continue to find -- is to do my very best to be true to the truth of my Eternal Nature in the little moments of everyday life. It takes humility and courage to do this -- to hear the impulse of Truth that flows fresh and spontaneous in our hearts in each moment from its source in the Eternal, and let that impulse find expression in our lives.

Here’s a simple 3-step approach that I believe can help any of us discover and fulfill our true purpose. It goes like this:

1. Be still

2. Ask for guidance, or be open to guidance

3. Listen.

This simple formula has helped me many times in my own life. Faced with the strange, wild urge to move to Canada as a young man, for example, an urge that in so many ways made not a lick of purpose, I felt an instinctive urge to go to a beautiful place by the sea where I could be alone with Nature. With the sea stretching in grandeur around me, and English skylarks ascending into the Heavens with their sweet song, I was still, I asked for help, and I listened.

Immediately, the answer came. I knew in the very core of my Being that it was the right thing for me to go to Canada. Making the determination to act on that impulse that emerged so effortlessly and seamlessly in my experience that long ago day opened the door to a new life. It was a critical piece of my own journey into greater freedom and happiness.

I do hope these musings may be a help. The issue that my Internet friend raises is a huge issue. But, perhaps it’s not as difficult or complicated as we think?

What does the Bible say? “Before they call, I will answer.” As far as our past is concerned, we will never really know what impact we may or may not have had upon our world. But there is something that we can do right now, in this moment and the next, to allow the truth of our Eternal Spirit to find greater expression through us.

I send blessings and love, and would love to share any thoughts you may have on the above.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Rodney August 27, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Great post!
Rodney recently posted..5 Amazing Qualities of a Good Mentor

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Christopher Foster August 28, 2014 at 1:06 pm

Thank you Rodney. Good to hear from you. All the very best.

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DiscoveredJoys August 27, 2014 at 3:43 pm

I find the concept of purpose particularly tricky since I am philosophically a naturalist and do not have reason to believe in the supernatural.

I’ve come around to the view that we mislead ourselves in Western thought by seeking absolutes and in particular an absolute Truth (and by extension an absolute Purpose or and absolute Meaning). Absolutes can only be true or false, black or white, and so identifying the One Truth/Purpose/Meaning is fraught with difficulties.

As a consequence I now look for the worth of an idea rather than its truth or falsity. This method has its benefits – you can identify worthy aspects of any political, philosophical or religious worldview without being obliged to accept aspects which perturb you. You don’t have to fall out with people who insist that their own different purpose is the one True Purpose.

So yes, I agree that you can ask yourself at any time what your purpose should be, but listen for the *worthy* purpose. If your ‘worthy’ purpose changes you are moving from one worthy state to another. If your ‘true’ purpose changes that implies that the earlier purpose was incorrect or incomplete. Of course you have to surrender the certainty of faith and this will not be acceptable to some.

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Christopher Foster August 28, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Hello A.C. Thank you so much for your very thoughtful and interesting comment. Your approach sounds right on to me. If we focus, as you say, on the worth of an idea rather than on something we may think is wrong or incomplete, then we not only encourage another’s contribution but perhaps a way will open for a larger shared understanding to emerge. My love to you and it’s good to share the journey with you.

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Norma Macmaster August 27, 2014 at 4:17 pm

I have very much enjoyed reading your gentle blog and for the invitation to think! I too am an oldie but a few years behind you so am grateful for the lantern ahead of me, thank you for carrying it,
best wishes,
Norma

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Christopher Foster August 28, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Good to hear from you Norma. I appreciate your kind words. You remind me of a reference somewhere in scripture that “the good wine comes at the end of the feast.” I don’t know the exact quotation. But I like the idea that the latter years of our life can in many ways be the “best” years, the “crowning” years. This is certainly my experience thus far. I’m quite open to change my mind as a rule, but in this regard, I don’t think there will be any need to change my mind at all. My love to you. Stay well.

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Evan Griffith August 27, 2014 at 9:09 pm

Dear dear Chris —

Your purpose is clear to me — you are here to tease out the very best in us. Of course, this is how I see your purpose in relation to me. I am sure for others your purpose may be different . . . but at the core of our perceptions is this, you emanate good will and spiritual wisdom to all. I thank you for that —

Evan
Evan Griffith recently posted..My polyglot spiritual roots

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Christopher Foster August 28, 2014 at 1:24 pm

What a wonderful friend you are Evan. I don’t think it’s by chance that we have found each other in this wild, chaotic, wonderful world. Thank you for your comment and God bless.

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John August 27, 2014 at 11:57 pm

I like your stuff. I like the way you write. I think we live best in the moment. Thanks

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Christopher Foster August 28, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Thank you John. Your comment means a lot to me. It surely is true. It’s in the moment that we have the opportunity to experience wonder and happiness, nowhere else. Best wishes.

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Marisa August 28, 2014 at 9:42 am

Dear friend,
As I sit here, with the rubble and destruction from the earthquake surrounding me, your blog touches home. I am totally exhausted, yet revived, as I look at the chaos and damage all around me. I thought about the work I do, the lives that touch mine, as I do theirs, and find exhaustion is a small price to pay.

The physical destruction of much of my work is surrounded by the memories of the time spent doing the work, the children I work with, and then the reality of purpose is evident. We are all here, together, through all circumstances, to hold each other up, lend support through all times, and through this our purpose becomes evident. Unity, understanding, acceptance, growth, laughter, tears,….there is no end to the purpose of each one of us, together as one. As there is no end to our learning, loving , and sharing every aspect of humanity and nature.

Thank you, again, for sparking the candle of light to our thoughts.
Marisa

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Christopher Foster August 28, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Your comment is beyond touching Marisa. Your words and the spirit you carry reminds me of a long-ago time in England when German bombs were falling on London. I was just a child at the time. But I can remember well the scenes of devastation round about, and the brave attitudes and laughs of people who were simply not going to let life get them down. They put the kettle on, made a cup of tea, and though their homes were destroyed, their spirit remained intact. Hitler failed rather miserably in his grand scheme to undermine a nation’s morale.

It’s something to think about isn’t it in these difficult times. We can never lose our true self. We can never lose the truth of who we are. My love to you Marisa. God bless.

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Fathiah August 28, 2014 at 9:58 pm

I am interested in flow…living a serendipitous life and relate this to positive psychology.

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Christopher Foster August 29, 2014 at 2:58 pm

Thank you for sharing Fathiah. Best wishes for a truly happy and, as you say, serendipitous life.

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Daryl August 29, 2014 at 12:41 am

I came across your blog as I am trying to get ideas on setting up my own blog. I love your wisdom and purity in your writing. I have come to a point in my life where I am pursuing real meaning and purpose. Not really knowing what to do. I decided to start a blog. To me starting is the hardest part. I am having difficulty just writing the About page. Just like you, I love wisdom and cherish it. I haven’t launched my website yet, but I am calling it Spoons of Wisdom. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

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Christopher Foster August 29, 2014 at 3:00 pm

It’s a joy to hear from you Daryl. I applaud your desire to find true meaning and purpose in your life and wish you a whole lot of success with your life and your blog. Listen to that voice of inner wisdom in you and you will make out very well.

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Morrisa Lai August 29, 2014 at 4:12 am

I have read this article carefully for many times because it has answered some of my doubts right at this moment when I need it. Thank you for writing and sharing it.
Morrisa Lai recently posted..發現我紓壓的方式全都是健康&藝術創造賞析的……

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Christopher Foster August 29, 2014 at 3:01 pm

Thank you so much for sharing Morrisa. I wish you well. God bless.

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Faith August 29, 2014 at 7:17 am

Like Darly, I am interested in starting a blog to share my experience about one’s search for meaning and purpose of life. For many years, I have lived my life serendipitously. My doctorate was on choices and serendipity. I grew up grounded on a belief that the course of my life was predetermined – even in the decisions that we made.

Looking back, I joined the dots as did Steve Jobs and understand how I have arrived at this point. Today my interest is in the pursuit of a healthy and happy life through mental and physical activities. I am interested to facilitate seminars/(and conduct research) that explore and practice the concepts of positive psychology in relationships and life as well as the impact of physical activities such as dance, strength and balance activities, in the development of a healthy psyche.

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Patti August 31, 2014 at 2:38 pm

Dear Christopher,

Your Three Step Approach to Life’s Meaning has been valuable to me.
You’ve inspired me to rekindle my meditation practice.

Thank you so much for your blogs.

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Christopher Foster September 2, 2014 at 9:34 am

Patti, what a pleasure to hear from you. Thank you for your kind words and good luck with your meditation.

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Lynne September 1, 2014 at 6:19 pm

This is a timely and valuable post; thanks for this one and the many others from your fount of experience!

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Christopher Foster September 2, 2014 at 9:35 am

Thank you and bless you, Lynne. Have a wonderful day.

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Carina Spring March 22, 2015 at 9:29 pm

Beautiful words written from the heart. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and strong spirit with us.

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Christopher Foster March 27, 2015 at 11:03 am

Thank you Carina. Love and blessings to you.

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Hamib May 5, 2015 at 1:35 am

Very interesting tips. I learned a lot from this article. I’ll try to use them.
Very nice article. And this site is cool.

Thank you for this blog.
Hamib recently posted..Нужно ли высшее образование?

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Christopher Foster May 6, 2015 at 9:45 am

Thanks Hamib. It’s a pleasure to hear from you. Good luck.

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