A question often comes up at Satsang. It goes like this:
I don’t feel like doing anything anymore. I can’t find any motivation. I’m just going through the motions of my work, but I don’t have any real motivation for it. How do I find purpose?
This question often arises after a genuine connection with your original nature, because the separate “me” then starts to gets a bit weak, and things like “personal willpower” or “motivation” gets watered down some. And the more openings you have… well, that ‘little me’ starts to get weaker and weaker, and finally it gets so weak, it just doesn’t have much power at all, and it doesn’t operate the same way.
And that’s about the time it starts to feel like purpose and motivation just can’t be found. And that is a strange kind of empty feeling. It’s not like the openings that might have felt like bells and whistles or some very deep silence and peace. Instead, it feels alarmingly empty, devoid of something.
And the good news is, it’s because the ‘little me’, with it’s constant striving for value and worth, just doesn’t run you anymore. Stillness and peace are more animating forces. How nice is that!
Now, I want to point out that you will always have purpose. You can never be without it. But you’re transforming the source that it originates from, and that takes time. It takes the amount of time that it takes to wind down your personal willpower once you start saturating in original nature, plus a little extra time for pure emptiness to really integrate, before the new source of motivation/purpose can sprout.
Time + Source = New Purpose!
Purpose from ‘separate me’ is very excited, stressed… and, just under the surface, full of lack and limitation ideas. And that is what drives the ‘little me’ forward: feeding on the lack stories for fuel and then speeding forward to prove them wrong.
For instance, perhaps you feel a drive to make the world a better place. Under the surface is usually a very strong idea that you are currently not good enough, not serving as you should, and that the world is a dire place in need of solution. Lack, lack, lack, lack! And that is just the rocket fuel to propel the little me into all kinds of ideas, stratagems, excited motivation full of PURPOSE!
Or the reverse: your separate me is feeding on these lack ideas and then spinning out in overwhelm and the purpose of your being is to castrate yourself for having no PURPOSE! (Or you just have a lot of motivation for that!)
Excited or defeated. That is the way most of us understand purpose.
But that old pain body’s story about “my value is my purpose and productivity is how I prove that I am not worthless” starts to collapse once the little “me” comes face to face with original nature—or we could say the real me makes the ‘little me’ fall away.
The ‘little me’ is usually replaced by a peaceful, easy spaciousness. And yet, this vast harmony starts to be very unnerving to that old efforting habit that was so used to trying to do something.
It’s especially unnerving when it feels so much like nothing is happening… well, except the laundry, dinner, work, commute, great satsang, etc. It takes a ton of courage to be at peace with that and not jump in to the “I must serve the world!” ideas of purpose.
And if you wait awhile, a small spark will start to grow again. Small, but noticeable in the vastness. That spark feels like a soft inspiration. Something that is captivating, but not driven. Something that feels fun to explore just for the exploring of it, not for the execution or the product of it. And it’s not ‘excited’ so much as ‘curious’. Which is to say, the inspiration is missing any idea that you will get something from it; missing the ideas rolling out all the way to the end product about how much that will change the world. Kinda like you felt when you were a kid and you just wanted to see if the Legos could be piled red to white to black. Just felt really tickled to explore it. And all the joy comes from the activity of it, not the end product.
That is new purpose. It’s more like a moment-to-moment creative exploration. It will seem kind of small for the most part. Sam Altman, the famous venture capitalist and mentor for some of the best and brightest startups globally, says that he can tell a good idea from how much of a bad idea or silly idea it sounds like. Those weird and silly sounding ideas can become some of the most well-articulated companies with the least amount of competition running against them, and have the greatest potential for future market value. Sam and I are looking at it from different value points, but we are seeing the same thing. Those movements that are coming from new purpose tend to be tremendously aligned and have a deep sustainable action to them and easily lift towards unlimited potential. Those movements coming from old purpose are built on lack and limitation and have very little to no potential to be sustainable or grow with the future market trends. And you can sense it from the pitch.
Old purpose: “Me” striving, reaching, or efforting to make connections. Bit of a forced agenda, but hoping it’s going to get “me” a reward of money, service and fulfillment and most of all personal value and power so this story of “how much I really suck” finally stops haunting me.
New purpose: Effortless connections rise up under our feet. Intelligence unfolds in mysterious ways. Fulfillment is felt in the activity or execution or real time. Action feels very harmonious. It’s effortless and fun.
In my private practice, I often consult with entrepreneurs, CEO’s, and venture capitalists. I love helping to find clear solutions when the boss or board of a company is at a loss as to how to move forward stuck against competing ideas, or a new startup is diluting its shares in a new funding round and the original investors are fighting it out. Or to help analyzing a startup’s pitch to spot missing essential components to win investors. When I put forward a solution from clarity, it’s usually an unanimous win for all at the table, because new purpose has this innate win/win inside it. Because something inspired by clarity is much more intelligent than something coming from dense ideas about limitation and a mental calculation about how to minimize that lack. Because inspiration without a big old story of what the “me” is going to get out of it is usually visibly sustainable and clear to actualize.
So, long story short, not feeling the motivating bug of purpose is a good thing!
And the solution is more time and more connection to clear, still source. Eventually, it will evolve towards something much more fun. But banging your head against all kinds of ideas about how you are going to “serve the world” is going to bite you in the ass, so let it go!
In the meantime come join us this summer and play with inspiration!