“You have the right to work, but not to its results. Do not be attached to the fruits of work, or to not working. Work with the spirit of detachment, being equal to success or failure. […]”
At some point during our lives, the question many of us are wrought with is about the purpose of life. From choosing a specialization at school to deciding our career path and many of the small moments in between when we want to follow our heart’s desire but our mind suggests otherwise. At the root of it is the always the same question: what do we want to do in life; what is our purpose in life?
Life has a way of getting in the way and distracting us before we’ve found an answer to that question. We have deadlines to meet, assignments to complete, bills to pay, and people to take care of. You get occupied until one day it crosses your mind again when you’re staring at the uselessness of the grant proposal you’re writing and wondering how much of the money from the grant is going to go into paying exorbitant salaries to incompetent consultants instead of actually helping out the distressed population it’s meant for. That’s not why you joined this organization, that’s not the impact you thought you’d make. Oh well, that’s how the world works, c’est la vie, you crumple that thought into a tiny ball and throw it into the farthest dustbin of your consciousness.
I had a moment of truth about this a few years ago when a friend very casually said “aren’t we all living our purpose?” It was a conversation on a completely different topic so I didn’t get a chance to ask for an explanation but those words stuck with me even though I hadn’t quite understood what she meant.
Now in the past few months since I have taken up yoga not just as a physical activity but also as a mental and spiritual journey I am beginning to understand so many things about life. The funny thing is that the cliched phrases like ‘take your awareness inwards’ or ‘just let your thoughts be’ are beginning to sound less cliched and more enlightening. Every time during my practice I get a different perspective on things. Every time I forget my purpose on the mat I start struggling in my asnas. Each time I have to check my intentions and remind myself of what brought me to the mat. These little things are so relevant in our daily lives when we forget the real purpose behind our work and get sidetracked by negative emotions and petty issues. Isn’t each and every activity of ours led by a purpose? Why do we clean our house or eat meals together? Surely, we don’t do it to get ahead in life. The more I witness the importance of mindfulness and working without attachment (of getting to the deepest level of the asna) in my yoga practice, the more kind I am to myself and can empathize with others in my daily life. It’s a long, hard journey to break away from old habits and ways of thinking. It’s very emotionally intense when you’re facing your own mistakes. It’s disturbing to realize how long you’ve been on the wrong side of things and how harshly you’ve judged yourself and others in your life due to insurmountable levels of expectations. Work because you’re capable of working, give because you’ve been given so much, and love because you have so much to offer. If we just focus on that we’ll start seeing our purpose.
My husband and I moved to a new country earlier this year. We were provided with relocation services and a person dedicated to help us with everything related to the move. This person was so incredibly dedicated to her work that our whole transition from one country to another was like a breeze. Every time I would meet her I would wonder why a smart woman like her wasting herself away at a job that was so demanding and tedious at best. And that too with so much enthusiasm. I haven’t figured out the reason for that yet but I like to think that whether she knew it or not, her purpose in life at that moment was to set up a nice comfortable life for a couple in distress.
I can think of so many incidents in life where so many of my actions, both good and bad, felt almost meaningless to me but had a huge impact on someone else’s life. So whether I know it or not, I am fulfilling my purpose in life. My only duty is to be conscious of my actions and be kind in my intentions. We usually have little idea about the consequences of out actions no matter how good our intentions are. But as long as we’re mindful, and keep ourselves focused on our work and not the results, we’ll be at peace.
“[…] Such evenness of mind is called yoga.”