Gratitude, purpose, and Wilson Pickett
Gratitude is connecting with the grace that flows through the fabric of existence. To allow ourselves to be open to all of life, is to connect with grace, and therefore experience gratitude. Ordinarily, when we consider gratitude, we are conditioned to think of things that bring us joy, pleasure, or satisfaction. However those "positive" aspects of life are maybe half of what life is actually like. So for us to only concentrate on one half of life, we are in essence, closing ourselves off from half of what it is like to exist. Are we really living if we only choose to embrace half of our life?
If, instead of rejecting what we fear or do not understand, we a remain curious and open we are able to pass beyond the false binary containers of pleasure and pain. When we allow ourselves to relax into life, as it unfolds amidst the broad and seemingly unknowable cosmic expanse, grace flows through us, and a deeper sense of gratitude arises within us. In this sense, we are not grateful "for" things as we want them to be, but we experience gratitude as an expression of reverence, humility, and surrender.
We make meaning, purpose, and categories to maintain the sense of who and what we think we are, but life is no more bound by our perceptions that it is by own thoughts. Life is an unfathomably brilliant expression of existence. As humans, in all our genius, we could not hope to design amino acids, carbohydrates, quarks, neutrinos, accretion disks, or galactic clusters. The cosmos is as intelligent and precise as it is chaotic and confusing. Our whole life unfolds in the context of forces we cannot see directly, or completely comprehend through our senses. In fact, the senses of our bodies are a product of the environment that we live within, and not determined by our intellect, beliefs, or concepts. We are not adequately endowed with the perspective to determine what is and is not part of our process as a living being. Life is happening through us, and our bodies and minds are seemingly along for the ride.
Modern culture has embedded an obsession with purpose, perhaps as a way to justify the idea that our utility determines our value, and this has crept into the way folks practice yoga and other spiritual traditions. When we doggedly pursue a sense of purpose, what are actually doing, knowingly or unknowingly, is attempting to create an identity for ourselves that has some apparent objective value; we can then leverage that identity for power (to make decisions, to gain authority, or to compete against others), in a world that seeks to discard us or deny our inherent value. The worldview that promotes the idea that life is not inherently valuable, that we must earn our place in existence, is so incredibly violent and demoralizing. I invite you to divest from frameworks that link your value to your productivity, and recognize how truly valuable your life is; you exist, and are contributing to something so infinitely vast and mysterious just by being here.
Here are some more thoughts on purpose - Your purpose it to be radiant.
Inspired by Wilson Pickett - Ninety-Nine And A Half (Won't Do)