The Buddhist scriptures say the birth of the child who would one day become Buddha is never a random occurrence. Without going into details, think about that for a moment. A guaranteed destiny.
The child, his name is Siddhartha Gautama, who would eventually become the Buddha, was born in a region, in today’s Nepal. Nepal is adjacent to the NE border of India. He was born to the leader of that region, to an aristocratic family. You may say that he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and therefore had no lack of comfort. The first 28 years of his life is spent splurging on luxuries fit for a king. So far there is no hint on become a Buddha. But in that year, during a stroll outside his palace he comes across certain events that make him realize the impermanence of life. This was his light bulb moment. This was the moment of reflection where destiny moves him on to the path that he should be on. Those events were powerful enough to fester deep in his heart. Those heartfelt emotions nullified the value he placed on his current lay life. The life of luxury. Determined to find a way to escape the impermanence of life, what we now call the Enlightenment, he leaves all his luxuries behind, including his family. Was it selfish? Yes. Was it an extreme case? Maybe. He then sets out on a 250-mile journey, from the high elevations in Nepal to the dense forests of neighboring India, barefoot, wearing raggedy clothes, homeless, he wonders for the next six years. The year is 533 BC.
Take a moment to ponder about the flip of lifestyle. He goes from riches to rags to find what he is looking for.
What pushed him, compelled him to go on this journey? The generic answer would be that this was his attempt to come up with a solution to a problem.
The real answer to what propelled him is that he found his Purpose. The events he witnessed and the anguish he felt in his heart initiated the Purpose that empowered him to take drastic action. The emotions bothered him enough that no luxury could distract him from his feelings. Those feelings of his purpose. His purpose empowered him to abandon his comfortable lifestyle behind.
That is the difference between dreaming to become who we are and having a true purpose. We all think and dream about things that we aspired to be. But only the true purpose will empower us to take actions.
The purpose is never discovered by logic. Never. The feelings of purpose ignite in your heart because of the stories you tell or the events you encounter. Those true feelings linger in you, for days, for months or even years. That flame never burns out. But you have to pay attention to it.
Here are a few things that I learned from the Buddha’s story.
There was a catalyst. He was living his ultra-luxurious life when he came across certain events that made him think. Those events were his catalyst to realizing his purpose. We all have those moments. Some of us will pay attention to them, and some of us will let ourselves be distracted by other things.
Abandoning things that are not related to your purpose. Many say he gave up everything to attain his objective. I don’t see it that way. He abandons all distractions that would have hindered him or held him back from achieving his purpose. Because, he couldn’t have found a solution by continuing to live a palace life. Is it an extreme case? Think about the common complaint, “I hate my job;” how miserable they are in their jobs. Yet they never leave those jobs or take action to find better opportunities. Nothing is wrong with these people. They just have not have found a purpose that will empower them.
His Tenacity. This man’s destiny was to be a Buddha, yet he still had to try harder, work harder, and be diligent for six long, arduous years. Many of us would have given up after trying several times. It would have been very easy to give up after one year or even two, right? Tenacity is what we have when we are purpose driven.
His process was trial and error. He kept learning. He kept practicing what he learned. He kept trying different things in different ways. One thing he didn’t do was repeat experiences! When he excelled at learning from other Ascetics, he moved on to the next experience. He could have easily settled down. But he didn’t. He moved on until he discovered the enlightenment and became Buddha.
There is so much we can accomplish when we know our purpose and we are empowered. This is the ultimate alternative to worrying about what we should be doing. When we find our purpose, we change the way how we approach all our stuff in our lives and that will help us to …get out of our own way.
So…How do you find our purpose? The good news is that we don’t have to stumble into situations (or events 😊) to find our purpose. In my blog introduction, I write, “I realize that we are a sum of all the stories we have told.” Many times, the purpose will emerge with telling your story; where have you been, where you are now, and where you want to go. What action did you take from the stories that you have told – this is a very important step. Because purpose will never pop up from being inactive, and being sedentary. The stronger the relationship between the stories you tell and the action you take, the clearer the purpose will become.
You may be thinking, what about all the aspirational quotes out there to galvanize us? Can they trigger our purpose? What about all the motivational speakers out there who cheer us on? Can they trigger our purpose? The good intention of the inspirational quotes and the motivational speakers is that both want us to be the best version of ourselves. We see them as beautiful, in the moment, but then we are moving on to do the regular things we do. We didn’t internalize them, we didn’t take any actions, and the spark within us never happened. Think about the vaccination. Instead of an injection, what if the nurse squirts the vaccination onto your face or arm… It won’t work. Here is another reality – Many of us dream high, but then do as little as possible! I’m sorry to use the language. If you are a chronic bullshitter with no intention of setting any goal, that’s who you will become. If you want to waste your time, that is your prerogative.
When you tell the right story, you begin accomplishing little things. Little things matter. Being on time, not getting distracted by emails, not answering the phone while having a conversation with someone, not constantly checking Twitter and Facebook… Checking other people’s status won’t change your status. Does your laundry pile up? All of the small actions we take on, condition us to take immediate actions and getting things done. Remember the importance of getting things done.
If you think the story of becoming a Buddha is an outlier, then you have not been paying attention to the Wright Brothers’ story, Chris Gardner’s story, and a million other rags to riches…or riches to rags…stories.
Winning will happen when you continue to tell your story and take action. With each accomplishment, you will confirm your purpose with empowerment. You will evolve in to the person you want to become.
I want to emphasize this again. The man whose destiny was to become Buddha still had to try harder and longer than anyone else on this planet.
This is what we do when we are purpose driven and empowered.