Finding Higher Purpose

bigstock Meditation With Rainbow 1463041 300x198 Finding Higher PurposeA Spiritual Experience That Changed My Relationship With Self and Others

Each of us comes into life with a purpose, a life purpose, a higher purpose. A part of each of us yearns to know and be aligned with our higher purpose. For many of us who have not yet discovered our purpose, life becomes a demonstration of what is most certainly not our life purpose. It is the feeling of being trapped in a life driven by obligation, habit, and the expectations of others. It may well feel like a life that is long on stress and short on meaning.

Knowing and living one’s life purpose creates meaning that transcends the humdrum of our normal wake-up, do-life, go-to-bed routine that constitutes the unexamined life. It appears that a deeper part of our humanity is awakening in many of us to ask, “What is my life purpose? What am I here to do?”

The answers to these profound questions are central to living a transformed life both at work and home—and to building great organizations. If you know your life purpose, universal creative energy conspires with you to bring your purpose to you. You become “attractive” to the circumstances in life that will allow you to live your life purpose.

An inner part of each of us knows our life purpose. I call this our Inner Wisdom. You might also call this all-knowing place inside each of us our Intuitive Knowing, Universal Knowing, Higher Self, or Spirit. Many human beings go through life with an inner longing for meaning and purpose, and yet are too distracted by the outside rat race to explore the inner world where their life purpose awaits. We may be assured that there are no human beings on this planet whose life purpose is to get rich, get a better job or get their kids into Harvard. Nor is it their life purpose to be poor, struggle to pay the rent, or escape from a bad relationship. All of these things exist “out there” and are only an illusion of meaning and purpose, no matter how “successful” or “unsuccessful” we become.

A Spiritual Awakening to Higher Purpose

I had the experience of living the American dream as the former owner of a successful business that brought a degree of wealth, prestige, and security to my family and me. I had all the stuff: the big house, an expensive sports car, real estate, money in the bank, and lots of friends who enjoyed the fact that I was probably overly generous and even foolish with my money. I had achieved everything I set out to do in the area of creating material wealth. Still, I felt empty and unfulfilled. I filled that emptiness with fast living and alcohol. Then in 1980, I had a powerful spiritual awakening that changed everything.

To fully understand my spiritual awakening, it’s important to know more about my life leading up to that point in time. I was born in 1945, a frank breech birth that nearly killed both my mother and me. Frank breech means butt first, which tends to give one a rather distorted first view of the world. I used this wrong-way entrance into life as an excuse to justify my many mistakes.

At age two, asthma came wheezing into my bedroom late one night and became an unwanted guest for the next fourteen years. Being small, scrawny, and young for my grade, I was not highly regarded by my peers in those early years. I generally had the distinction of being picked last or not at all for team games, which was probably appropriate, given my skill level.

My dad was a tuna fisherman. Even though he didn’t make much money and was gone a lot, I was proud of him. But it was my grand- father who became my guiding light. He didn’t seem to see my many flaws that were so obvious to the rest of the world. I had the distinct feeling that he really liked spending time with me. Gramps always wanted me to spend weekends with him when I could. I couldn’t wait for those special weekends.

Gramps was short, about five-feet-seven, even though he always claimed to be five-eight or five-nine. He was a wiry Scotsman and as strong as an ox. He feared no man. I heard stories about his prowess with a fist or an ax handle in the wild construction camps that he managed in his younger days. I heard the stories, but I never saw that side of my grandfather.

Sure, he was strong, yet what I most remember was that he encouraged me to do more than I thought I could do. He would say, “You can do it. Go ahead.” He was gentle, too. He could tell when I needed an arm over my shoulder, a kind word, a hearty laugh.

We made a secret health breakfast that he called musheshe and milkeke. Musheshe was a mixture of oats, eggs, and brewer’s yeast cooked in a special pan that had seen better days. We ate it right out of the pan, much to my grandmother’s chagrin. Milkeke was powdered whey, condensed milk, and hot water. We never told anyone what the secret recipes were because it had taken Gramps so long to perfect them.

Gramp’s dog Jeep (a nondescript mutt, except for a face that always seemed to be smiling) was in charge of licking the pan, which she did very well. Gramps didn’t believe in wasting anything and Jeep made sure the pan was spic-and-span. Then it was my job to wash up and put things in their proper place. Gramps always said, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” That way we would have what we needed for tomorrow.

Gramps taught me to use his tools and took me to work with him. He could build or fix anything. Sadly his mastery eluded me completely. Gramps didn’t seem too concerned with my smashed-thumb, bent-nail, stripped-nut approach to building and fixing—as long as I made sure to clean up and put the tools where they belonged.

Becoming A Little Man

Gramps died when I was twelve. Although he didn’t smoke or drink and was a health-nut long before it became trendy, he died a terrible death, losing a protracted battle with cirrhosis of the liver. That tough old Scotsman went from a solid 165 pounds to a withered, yellow 100 pounds. We kids were not allowed to visit him in his last few weeks of life.

The day that Gramps died, I was sitting in his favorite chair. It was strange that I could smell him. I pounded the overstuffed, threadbare arm and watched as the dust danced in a silvery cloud among the sheer morning rays. I began to cry.

My grandmother walked stiffly into the room and barked, “You stop that crying. Your grandfather would never want to see you acting like that.” I choked back the tears, wiped off my face, vowed not to cry again, and went for a walk on the beach with Jeep.

Jeep looked for my grandfather every day. She would wait on the front porch by the flowerpot (her usual lookout when my grandfather had to go somewhere without her), but Gramps never came home. Jeep would hear a sound and run to the door or into his room with deter- mined hope. She always returned a little heavier than when she left. I tried to cheer her up, play with her, take her on walks to the same places that we three amigos had always gone together, but it wasn’t the same. Without Gramps, nothing would ever be the same.

She never stopped looking, though Jeep must have known. She grew lethargic, suddenly old, and died a short time later. I really missed Jeep, too. But I didn’t cry. I never cried much after Gramps died. Instead I started doing other things.

Shortly after my grandfather’s death, I began to live life “on the edge.” I started drinking alcohol at age twelve, developing a little man’s complex, especially when I drank. I wanted to fight someone and some- times it didn’t matter if he was friend or foe. For a while, it was humorous watching the little man looking more like a pinball than a party-goer. Then I grew up and the fighting was no longer so comical. My friends stopped going to parties with me because I took the fun out of it for them. It seemed everywhere I went some sort of drama would break out.

Through college, marriage, family, and starting my own business, I continued to live my life on the edge. I drank too much, drove too fast, played too hard, stayed out too late, and punished myself in the name of living life to the fullest.

You Are Not Alone!

On a February morning in 1980, I found myself sitting alone on our family room couch, puzzling over the events of my life. That’s when it happened.

Without warning, my grandfather appeared to me, standing across the room in his old maroon sweater with the holes in it. I could see through him, yet his image was as clear and as detailed as any living human being I have ever known.

I stopped breathing for a moment as a wave of fear surged through my body. Was I going insane? I burst into tears, unable to control the crying—crying that had been locked away in a twelve-year-old boy twenty-two years earlier. It didn’t matter if I closed my eyes or buried my head in my hands, Gramps remained crystal-clear.

After a few minutes, without a hint of judgment, he asked me a simple question. “David, what are you doing?”

I began to explain what it had been like when he died, how angry and hurt I had been. I told him how much I had loved him, missed him and how I wished I could have expressed my love to him when he was alive. I told him how Jeep had looked for him constantly, but then she died, too. Gramps slowly dissolved into the ethers. Shortly thereafter, I was able to compose myself somewhat.

Just when I thought this crazy episode was over, he appeared again. The tears cascaded again, this time in deep gratitude for all that he had done for me and how he had been there for me and, most especially, for revealing himself to me in my time of need. Gramps, the angel in the maroon sweater with the holes in it, smiled broadly and delivered the message that changed my life forever.

Wordlessly he said, “David, you are not alone,” and then faded away, never to return.

In that instant, for possibly the first time in twenty-two years, I realized that I wasn’t alone. I realized that I had never been alone. I realized that it’s okay to cry—to feel and be fully human. I also somehow knew that I must seek to learn as much about myself as possible. Who am I? Why am I here? What is the meaning of life?

In a period of ten minutes I went from being one kind of person to being someone very different. I gave up the fast living that had become my life and began putting my now fraying marriage back together again. I vowed to be a better father.

Probably the most impacting shift was that I became a dedicated seeker on the spiritual path. Yes, I would fulfill my “normal” responsibilities as a good husband, father and provider to the family. Yes, I would be a good citizen in the human community. But the focus of my life, my purpose, would be to venture as far as possible on the spiritual path.

Along my now 30-year path, my life purpose has shifted and deepened. Always first, my primary purpose is to wake up to my true nature. I believe this is the basic life purpose of every human being. Secondly, I am a teacher or guide for others who also want to raise their consciousness.

Why Would You Do That? That’s so Hard!

Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, was my teacher for eight years. In 1997, after a powerful experience at the top of the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacán, Miguel “kicked me out.” He said it was my time to teach.

Later, Linda and I were having lunch with Miguel. He asked where I would teach. I shared with him that I felt I was meant to teach in the workplace. He said, “Why would you do that? That’s so hard! Why don’t you teach the people? Many will come.” I related that I felt teaching conscious leadership at work was my dharma or spiritual duty. It would be my contribution to self and others in this lifetime. All three of us had a good laugh when Miguel replied, “Okay. Go ahead. You can do it.”

For 20 years I have been teaching conscious leadership and systems thinking  in the workplace. Results produced and documented have, in most cases, been extraordinary. However, with the inevitable changes in leadership that come to all companies, the work, in most cases, plateaued or was simply undone. Although I do not normally take things personally, I sometimes found this undoing of the work disappointing. It’s really true in many low performing organizations–No good deed goes unpunished (smile).

The blessing in all this is that the time has come for me to go  back to my roots  and “teach the people.” This means taking CTypes and DreamWork into the world in a significant and meaningful way. Yes, if the right opportunity presents itself, we may still do some work with a Conscious Leader in the workplace. But the workplace has served its purpose in getting Linda and me to this next stage of our work–Our real work–Our work with you.

Thank you, thank you, thank you (David’s Relationship Mantra) for reading my words.

With admiration and respect,

David