‘Hell is other people’.
Over the weekend, I heard a 5 minute talk centered around the research on Santidev’s Bodhicharyavatara and the speaker got our attention by putting those words on the very first slide . We all have to deal with difficult people & always struggle to do so. Don’t we?
The researcher – Kranti Saran went on to tell us more about the ancient monk in question was once invited for a public talk by his peers at the university where he was learning with an underlying agenda of his public humiliation. When the D day arrived, he recited his teachings to an entranced audience , eventually rising into the clouds into nothingness . The book carried the wisdom to deal with life’s unfathomable challenges & to know more the speaker told us to read it!
Curious beyond compare , I approached him during lunch and while I still don’t know the magic trick to handle difficult people or what that monk spoke about , the 10 minute conversation with a complete stranger on karma , religion , spirituality inspired this post.
It’s so easy for us to seek answers in bullet points to everything at work and life . The shortcut to reaching to a conclusion , the path of least resistance , the alternative to self effort – its almost a natural human instinct and as far away from anything that religion or spirituality tells us to do.Karma , as we all know is the concept of making the effort with a complete disconnect from the result it leads to ( or for some , the idea that the results shall come to us when the time is right ). The relevance of self effort is an idea that every ancient scripture in Hinduism inherently underlines.
Now that’s a wise thought that only with someone with an infinite wisdom and knowledge of how the world works can truly fathom , relate to and apply. Exactly how the speaker spoke about Santideva’s book being a classic. Something that gets wiser with you and can be interpreted differently depending on one’s age or stage in life ( as a naïve student vs a seasoned person) .
Over food that went cold as we warmed up to the conversation, we concluded that just like reading through ‘10 morning rituals that billionaires follow to make their mornings productive’ won’t make us a billionaire or infact our mornings productive .
One can never really find the answers without going through a process of discovery – through effort & experience.
As soon as the importance of self-effort is internalized – every equation in our life changes. Especially the all important one that plagues so many of us – What’s our purpose?
I have for the longest of time, believed the purpose of our life is to create value and seek happiness. I’ve pursued this idea with a relentless passion experiencing contentment and disappointment in equal measure.
Emily Esfahani Smith in this TED talk compares passion, purpose and puts forth a better question – What gives our life meaning? As a positive psychology student and researcher, she finds the idea of ‘our life’s purpose is to find happiness’ flawed. She correctly points out how this search is making our generation anxious.
She addresses the idea of creating a life of meaning on basis of 4 pillars – seeking belonging ( by nurturing relationships based on love) , purpose as an idea of what you contribute as against what your idea of perfect life (job , relationship etc) would be , stepping beyond yourself – transcendence – something that lifts you up & lastly the storytelling we do about ourself.
In another interesting TED talk by Terri Trespeco, passion is called a feeling, not a plan. She rightly advises us to not get overwhelmed by the idea of finding a wow answer when someone asks – what is your passion and instead embrace whatever comes our way with zeal & open-mindedness . One may not be passionate about just one thing, we may just throw our self with passion into everything !
The idea that we are passionate then becomes a personality trait than a means to an identity which makes a lot of sense to someone like me. Being a passionate person I often ended up lost when anything I pursued never really led to my purpose.
It wasn’t a surprise when while some of the people who know me well , assumed that I wasn’t leaving my full-time job to pursue my passion for writing. I can understand why they are confused.
Thankfully, I am not.
As I shift the narrative of the three dimensions of my being towards creating meaning – community, purpose & storytelling would all be the tools in this process of self-discovery. Writing so far has helped me transcend or create communities and in a way has become a part of the story I tell about myself – but that’s not my purpose.
But as I put more effort than ever across these 4 pillars, passion will be the fuel towards creating a meaningful life. Writing like happiness would be incidental and I may never even find my purpose, but here’s my plan to enjoy the journey.
Just like this post that started off about difficult people is now closing with a vision board 2018 , we never know where life leads us – the important thing is to keep moving !
Are you looking for a purpose ? Do you agree with this theory ? Have you made a Vision Board ? Talk to me about any of that in the comments below . Follow my #ReinventIn2018 journey here.