In the movie, The Matrix, Neo is a hacker who is beginning to wake up to life’s dirtiest secret. His cohorts are convinced that he’s The One – the hero that will save humanity from the machines that harvest their energy. But Neo doesn’t believe he’s the One. First of all, he doesn’t think he’s all that special, and secondly, it’s a real hassle to be responsible for saving the world, isn’t it?
There is a critical scene in a kitchen, where Neo discovers his true identity as The One, and then denies it. Above the doorway of the Oracle’s kitchen hangs a plaque with these words: ‘Know Thyself’.
Guess what. You’re all The One. The world is waiting for you, relying on you, to find and perform your True Work. I’m not saying that what you’re doing isn’t it. I’m asking, are you sure, “balls to bone”, that it is?
How many of us know, deep down, that we are not doing the job we were made to do? That things are not “right as rain” in terms of our contribution, or lack thereof?
Why do we keep grinding away at the same, soul-killing drudgery; meaningless, senseless jobs with a company’s profit and survival as the only real mission statement, with our true purpose ever so elusive?
And how to overcome the fear and complacency that make transformation difficult?
How to Know Thyself, in a world where there’s barely time for a bio-break?
How to find the courage to be the person you were born to be, as difficult a path as it might be? For the more talented you are, and I see nothing but talent in this room, the more difficult and delicate the assignment.
Like Neo, many of us may be in denial. That’s alright. If you’re in denial, you can start at the very same place as those of us who really don’t know or aren’t sure what our ‘work’, with a Capital W, is.
The place to start is meditation.
Meditate daily, right after you wake up in the morning. Carve out the time like your life depends on it, because it does. Make it a routine. Discipline yourself to stop your thoughts and work the muscle of your attention. Own your attention. Take responsibility for it. Your attention is your most precious possession.
And do you even own it?
Does your moment-to-moment existence consist of constant demands on your attention, at work, home, in the car, on television?
Meditate to reclaim your attention. Meditate to get clarity on your life’s purpose and true work. It’s your birthright. Do it first thing in the morning, before interacting with the world, before finding out about the news, before being influenced by needs, wants, fears, of others. Before that whole load of daily concerns and dramas takes you away from yourself.
Why? This is the key: Meditation creates space in your mind: sacred space to be filled by your own intuition. We all inherently already know everything spiritually. Good teachers remind us of what we already know. If you want to understand the questions that evade your conscious mind, the intuition must be developed and given space to speak. Meditation strengthens the attention and give the intuition room to grow and take part in your decision-making processes. This is the key to finding your Real Work: the intuition must come out of hibernation. It must be engaged and developed, through meditation. Once you have made your intuition strong, you can have faith in that. No outer force or source can negate its truths. What a tool for figuring out and manifesting one’s true purpose!
Take this poem, from the great Sufi Master, Rumi, for inspiration:
The Real Work
There is one thing in this world that you must never forget to do. If you forget everything else and not this, there’s nothing to worry about; but if you remember everything else and forget this, then you will have done nothing in your life.
It’s as if a king has sent you to some country to do a task, and you perform a hundred other services, but not the one he sent you to do. So human beings come to this world to do particular work. That work is the purpose, and each is specific to the person. If you don’t do it, it’s as though a priceless Indian sword were used to slice rotten meat. It’s a golden bowl being used to cook turnips, when one filing from the bowl could buy a hundred suitable pots. It’s a knife of the finest tempering nailed into a wall to hang things on.
You say, “But look, I’m using the dagger. It’s not lying idle.” Do you hear how ludicrous that sounds? For a penny, an iron nail could be bought to serve the purpose… Give your life to the one who already owns your breath and your moments. If you don’t, you will be exactly like the man who takes a precious dagger and hammers it into his kitchen wall for a peg to hold his dipper gourd. You’ll be wasting valuable keenness and foolishly ignoring your dignity and your purpose.
Rumi is one of humanity’s greatest hearts and minds. He was a sufi mystic, who practiced a moving form of meditation.
In summary, to find you Life’s Work and Purpose, put your talents and individual gifts to their best and highest use. You can discern how through meditation.
I am a meditation teacher with a sangha, and I do Skype and videoconferenced weekly zen service with meditation (zazen). You can reach out to me if you’d like to learn from me. Or, find a teacher on your own, who can show you how to meditate, and discover you life’s Work, and much more.