Free Therapy #26: Our Purpose

“Reality changes because we change in our perceptions and experiences of it. To try and stop that flow is to deny our very life force, our humanity. It is to try to force limitless truth into a particular container of information and say that it is the whole of truth. This is manifestly a futile task whose only result is continual conflict between the various containers that men devise and between the containers and the limitless content beyond.”

David Spangler

A client who I deeply care for recently sent me an e-mail. I have known her at least 15 years. We have been through a lot together. She is about my age or a little younger and has struggled with severe depression, suicidal thoughts and urges, insomnia and anxiety most of her adult life.

I sat with her in a psychiatric hospital back in the days when Redding had one and I have always carried her in my heart. She is in there now. And she knows it. And I am in hers I suppose. I am there (here?) for her and in her own way, she is there (here) for me too.

She is a devoted wife and mother and friend. She gives her all to those around her and yet she has known a level of mental suffering I cannot begin to imagine. And she is deeply spiritual. Much more than most. Her connection with her God is deep and profound. She drips with spirit like honey from a spoon. When you look her in the eyes, you can see far away. The whole world is in there.

And for the last five years or so, she is doing much better. Her kids are grown and she finds deep meaning in her church, her friends and her family and prayer. It isn’t that she doesn’t still struggle. Her kids have issues and bring her their own flavor of unwanted pain. And yet her strength astounds me.

Since she has always lived a distance from my office, our communication is often by e-mail. She reaches out occasionally just to know I am still here and available to her. The last I heard from her, she asked what our purpose was in this world. This is what I wrote in a couple minutes, just typing the words that felt right:

“The purpose of life.  I think it might be to figure out what you most want and do that for others and never stop.  That might be one answer.  

“Another might be to seek and find that which is most beautiful in the world, in art, in music, in the heart of someone you love and cherish and just be in the moment as you dwell on how much you love that person, that art or that music.  

“The purpose of life might be to get out into nature and just be with it.  Get away from the mind.  And especially get away from judgments.  Sit back and notice how crazy with judgments our minds are.  Judge judge judge.  It is not helpful.  Behind those judgments we can find the real truth. Can we consider ourselves or others without any judgment? This is hard.  

“Our purpose.  Maybe to accept everything that arises as if we chose it.  To sit back and see how our filter is filtering the world and delivering a false product.  The problem isn’t us or the world.  It is the filter.  We are fine and God is here with us.  Sometimes we can get sideways.  Why is that?  I do not know.  But God’s love never stops.  It is always now and joy and bliss are always here.  There is something in us that resists or avoids this moment or our experience of this moment and finds it painful and we further resist or avoid and experience further pain.  

“The purpose of life might be to breathe and get into this present moment as if it is all that exists and just let our mind go as we focus on what is good and true and beautiful. Maybe that is the purpose.  But I could be wrong.”

I used the word “God” when I wrote to her because it fits with her conception but I often think “God” is too small a word to represent what our minds require. When I was about nineteen, I had the good fortune to spend some time with David Spangler and his father, Marshall Spangler. David was the author of Revelation, the Birth of a New Age and was also instrumental in transforming “the Findhorn Foundation in northern Scotland into a center of residential spiritual education,” according to his Wikipedia page. At the time David talked about “Limitless Love and Truth.”

One of my spiritual teachers at that time, Wali Ahmed Sababu, referred to “it” as “The All” or “The All Principle.” The founder and first Abbot of the Mount Shasta (Buddhist) Abbey, the now deceased Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett used the phrase “The Eternal.”

Sababu also called it our “Higher Self” but whatever the term, for me it means connecting with that which is common to all, our deepest, truest essence. It is the ultimate reality, the source of all that is, the father/mother of all things.

And our purpose might be to see “it” in ourselves and others, connect with it and simply allow it to shine.

But I could be wrong.

Doug Craig graduated from college in Ohio with a journalism degree and got married during the Carter administration. He graduated from graduate school with a doctorate in Psychology, got divorced, moved to Redding, re-married and started his private practice during the Reagan administration. He had his kids during the first Bush administration. Since then he has done nothing noteworthy besides write a little poetry, survive a motorcycle crash, buy and sell an electric car, raise his kids, manage to stay married and maintain his practice for almost 25 years. He believes in magic and is a Sacramento Kings fan.

Douglas Craig
Doug Craig graduated from college in Ohio with a journalism degree and got married during the Carter administration. He graduated from graduate school with a doctorate in Psychology, got divorced, moved to Redding, re-married and started his private practice during the Reagan administration. He had his kids during the first Bush administration. Since then he has done nothing noteworthy besides write a little poetry, survive a motorcycle crash, buy and sell an electric car, raise his kids, manage to stay married and maintain his practice for almost 30 years. He believes in magic and is a Dawes fan.
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2 Responses

  1. Doni Chamberlain Doni Chamberlain says:

    An insightful, lovely column, as always, Doug, especially important this time of year. Thank you!

  2. ajac37 ajac37 says:

    The essence of compassion lies in that final statement. Best we ALL keep this in mind!!

    I tend to view this mortal coil as a classroom ,. . . and no two persons have the same homework. And yes, sometimes I feel like I'm ready for recess . .. not for school to be out, mind you. just recess!!!

    Love your work Doug. You always incite me to reflect. thank you . . .