Are you eager to find meaningful work?
Do you want to do something big and significant that makes a difference in the world?
Are you looking for your true life purpose?
In his article, A Dialogue on Inner Purpose. Eckhart Tolle, modern-day spiritual teacher and author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, The Power of Now, presents his answer to these questions.
‘Being’ is Better than ‘Doing’
When someone asked him how she could find her life purpose, he replied, “Your purpose is to sit here and talk to me, because that’s where you are and that’s what you’re doing.”
She protested saying that she wanted to know her life purpose, not just her aim at the moment. He replied saying,” So long as you are unaware of Being, you will seek meaning only within the dimension of doing and of future, that is to say the dimension of time.”
He explained that seeking purpose from outer goals is “always relative, unstable and impermanent.” We have to depend on many variables—people, things, circumstances, and time—to align with our goals. Even if everything is perfect and we achieve what we set out to do, the results are temporary.
Aims and actions are not important. What is key is “the consciousness out of which they come.” he said.
In other words, “being” is more important than “doing”.
But it’s hard to just BE!
Tolle points out that we have a tendency to seek “…the fullness of life in the future where it cannot be found and ignoring the only point of access to it: the present moment.”
He’s right— but it’s hard to focus on the present moment and just “be”!
Our minds are excitable, anxious and difficult to control. We are either regurgitating the past, or racing into the future, planning what to do and how to do it.
Asking the mind to simply stop doing and just “be” is like asking a playful child to sit down and meditate when all he understands or cares about, is going out to play.
Vedanta, the spiritual science of life tells us that before we can be ready to live life with full awareness of being the awareness, we have to prepare our minds.
“Doing” with the Right Attitude Prepares the Mind for “Being”
The way to prepare the mind for effortless “being” is to begin by doing. Since our minds are very active, it’s a good idea to channel that energy toward a meaningful goal.
We need to have a selfless ideal or higher cause that we love and are ready to work for.
Equally important is knowing how to perform our actions toward that ideal. Otherwise, we will only reinforce the ego, which thrives on doing, and gaining fulfillment through specific results.
Beware of the Ego
For instance, when you say, “I want to make my life meaningful by doing something great for others,” you seek your life’s fulfillment in doing something for others. The others are secondary. Your primary goal is to seek your fulfillment.
All the while the ego tricks you into thinking you are being selfless.
So long as the ego asserts itself, it will remain focused on “doing”. It’s vital to learn how to gradually break down the ego while doing our actions.
Making the Ego, “Go”
Here’s how to make the ego, “go”:
- Find a selfless ideal that inspires you.
- When you start working toward it, be in the present moment and fully conscious of what you are doing.
- Find your joy in doing the action itself. This way, you won’t have to wait for the results to come so you can be happy.
- Don’t insist on any particular outcome or selfish rewards.
(Remember, rewards are not only tangible—like money, favors or gifts. There are also intangible rewards such as receiving appreciation and recognition from others.)
- Dedicate your actions to your ideal, cause, God or any form of the Divine that you like.
- Whatever the results, favorable or not, accept them cheerfully with an even mind.
For more on the art of action and how to break down the ego, you can read: The Formula for Worldly and Spiritual Success. & How to use your work to grow spiritually.
“Being” a Spiritual Being
Teachers like Eckhart Tolle encourage us to be mindful and strive to be fully aware of “being”. After all, we are spiritual “beings”.
The masters of Vedanta agree, and teach us how to cultivate this ability through our actions. If the right actions are performed with the right attitude, they dilute the ego. Over time, the mind quiets down and matures.
Then, “being” will come naturally and we will fulfill our true life purpose of living as divine spiritual beings.
 “A Dialogue on Inner Purpose” in Divine Life Purpose, Eckhart Tolle et al (Piercy, CA: Chinmaya Mission West, 2010).
Like this post? Sign up for the free fortnightly Spiritual Solutions Newsletter and receive the latest articles, news and updates in your email inbox!