My dear friends...
Often I am asked, "What is the secret of a joyful, fulfilling life?" I have looked at that question for many years, and I have come to the conclusion that one of the secrets, at least, if not the only one, is Purpose. It is difficult for me to conceive of a satisfying life that is without purpose. And the grander the purpose the better.
Having said it, it is astonishing to me that so few people actually have established a purpose for their lives. Most people that I observe live life day-to-day, handling the incoming events as a stream of data over which they assume they have little or no control, and reacting to it as best they can. Their "purpose," if they can be said to have one, is survival. Or, perhaps, happiness. Yet what makes a person happy? I mean, lastingly happy, not momentarily happy...
I believe it is purpose. A reason for living. A "mission," if you please, a glorious assignment, given to the self by the self.
In short, something to do . And a reason for doing it.
Are we here to simply grow up, be schooled, find employment, acquire a spouse, have kids, earn a living, pay the bills, buy a house, raise the children, retire, get sick, and check out? Is that it? As Peggy Lee said in her extraordinary song of 30+ years ago, "Is that all there is?" Because if that's all there is, "send in the clowns."
But surely there's more to it than that .
Please, tell me there's more to it than that...and that we are not just in some sort of Celestial Circus.
There is. I believe there is.
Life is a journey. It is a remarkable journey from birth to death. And the fuel that drives the engine of our experience is purpose. Without that fuel we will not go very far. We will be doing things, we will be doing stuff, but it will be getting us nowhere. We will be flailing our arms, but we will be treading water. We will take our journey, but it will be a journey to nowhere. And we will wonder at the end of our lives, "What was the point of all that?"
Yet if we have a Life Purpose, our journey will take us to extraordinary places and experiences. And our life, however short or long, will have meant something.
I invite every person I come in contact with to look deeply at their life's purpose. What is their raison d'être ? What are they "up to" here on the earth? Just trying to get by, just trying to make life work? I always say, "Are you just trying to make life work, or are you trying to make life better? And for whom would you seek to make it better? For yourself, or for another? Or, perhaps, for all others? Can you imagine such a thing?"
My own life purpose is simple, It can be stated in seven words. My purpose is to change the world's mind about God.
That's it. Plain and simple. I just want to change the world's mind about God.
Why? Because I know that if the world changed its mind about God, the world itself would change, over night. And in ways that could bring about peace on earth, goodwill to humans everywhere, at last.
Yes, I believe this can happen. I believe this can occur. I believe human beings are capable of creating such a life, of creating such a society. But first we must change our minds about Who is In Charge, and What He Wants, and Why He Wants It, and How the Whole Thing Works.
We must decide again about Life, what it is and how it functions and the reason and purpose behind it all. We must create a new Cultural Story about all of this, out of which will emerge a New Idea About Ourselves and a new thought about ourselves in relationship to each other.
We must alter our perspective, seeing things from a new place and therefore in a new way. Perspective creates perception, perception creates belief, belief creates behavior, behavior creates experience, and experience creates reality. If we want to change our reality, we need to change our perspective. We need to see things in a New Way.
This New Way is what I call the New Spirituality. It is a way of honoring our natural impulse toward the Divine without making others wrong for the way in which they are doing it. It is a way of holding the experience and the reality of God without fearing God.
The day that we stop fearing God will be the day that we stop fearing each other. The day that we understand our true relationship with God will be the day that we understand our true relationship with each other. Then we will treat each other as God treats us -- with compassion, with understanding, with forgiveness, with a love that is unconditional -- rather than treating each other as we imagine that God treats us: with judgment, anger, condemnation, and violence upon our person if we do not do as God Wants.
We treat each other this way with impunity, for we are using an angry, violent, and vindictive God as our moral authority compass and our moral authority. Yet if God is not angry, violent, and vindictive, where, then, do we find our justification for acting as we do?
Our entire legal system is based upon our ideas of "right" and "wrong," and that, in turn, is based upon our Cultural Story of a God, a Divine Being, a Deity, a Creator, who has His ideas of Right and Wrong, and punishes us for ignoring them. Our concept of "justice" is foundationed in our understanding of Retribution as a function of God. Yet what if God seeks no retribution for anything at all? Then what of our system of justice? And what of our very way of life?
Everything, of course, would change. For the better. That is why I want to change the world's mind about God. For I have this question: For God's sake, can we stop the killing in God's name?
Read this week's Letter to Neale here
Read a message from one of the prisoners impacted by our Prison Outreach HERE
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