I was lecturing recently at the Canberra Yoga Conference and one of the concepts I explored was the goal of life. Not the meaning of life, but the actual goal of life. I examined the goal of life, in the first instance, on a personal level. I think it is critical to look at any concept in its most basic and generic form and then expand and personalise our perspective once the basics are understood. (The fact that humanity has managed to overcomplicate almost everything is something that I will cover in a future blog – for now, let’s stick to the goal of life.)
I believe the goal of life to be inextricably linked to spirituality.
In our Yoga practice we aim to liberate ourselves from our attachment to worldly things and, by doing this, bring ourselves closer to union with our higher self or the divine creator. The goal of Mussar, an ancient Jewish approach to living, purports that our goal in life is to become holy or whole. In Christianity our job is to honour God, which is to honour our creation or to reveal fully who we are. Hindus speak of dharma, which is to fulfil one’s destiny or purpose (NOTE: not potential). To a Muslim it is to worship Allah with surrender and obedience, so success can be achieved in this life and the next.
Is there a little too much spiritual chit-chat in there for you? Thought so! Well this goal of life is not just for the spiritual.
Let’s break it down, shall we? Basically, each of the spiritual pursuits mentioned above maintain that the goal of life (well, this one anyway) is to become the best possible version of yourself. Now that doesn’t sound like something just for the spiritually inclined to me. Being the best version of yourself is pretty much something I think anyone and everyone would love to achieve – whether they are publicly prepared to admit this or not.
So, when people tell you to ‘just be yourself’, you should listen because if you do and act on it with courage and persistence, you will have achieved the ultimate success. You will be you! And in the best possible way! Sounds really simple doesn’t it?
Problem today, of course, is we are told by anyone and everyone to be ‘ourselves’ but then judged on what this looks like. If we all truly believed it was okay for each of us to be ourselves, then we wouldn’t criticise or judge each other at all, let alone as harshly and as ferociously as we often see in modern times.
Here we see that gap I wrote about in my last post, ‘A tale of two…’, here I refer to the gap between what we know intellectually and what we feel in our heart and soul, or rather, the distance between what we believe and the way we act.
Now that we have worked out the goal of life, we can start to work out how to achieve it. How do we go about succeeding at the most important goal we will ever be set – the goal of being ourselves?
Keep an eye out for my next post where all (or at least something) will be revealed.
Stay tuned! And until then – be yourself! And let everyone else do the same!