SK20 – It’s Not Your Purpose

SK20 – SEEN KAAF PODCAST – Does Everyone Need Meaning Or Religion?

I never really realized how devastating the loss of purpose in one’s life is until I had to deeply reflect on what I really wanted to leave behind with the work that I do. For me that type of reflection started like twelve years ago when I wanted to make sure that there was some meaning to pretty much everything that I did and more importantly, that there wasn’t a lack of meaning.

And I wonder if a spiritual life or embracing a religious theology is significant in developing our purpose. Does it help to have a certain type of a practice in that regard? Not necessarily. You have people who have great purposes and meaning in their life without any religion.

Ideology and purpose

Purpose with focus, what goes into your head
Purpose and focus, what goes into your head

Think about the communists, for example. So they have an ideology that is common to lot of trains of thoughts. When humans devise a purpose or a goal, it is bettering the humans themselves or the world. Meaning that we evolved out of something and we found the place we were evolving from to be lacking, to be imperfect, to be unfinished.

As a product of this imperfect world, we would be able to fix it. Right now the question is in a collective movement. So they need everyone to subscribe to their ideology? Yes, it’s making the new man. And usually in order to make the new man or humanity, they need to erase the old humanity.

This is where many problems arise; that if you don’t follow current ideology, then you are part of the past and you need to be canceled. It’s always the same question. In my observation, such ideology is dependent on humans, right?

So I suppose when I talk about a religious ideology, that makes me in my mind, dependent on God. So it’s other than humans. And I wonder if perhaps not embracing it, and this is just a hypotheses, would that be why many are depressed?

When purpose crosses the line

There’s increasing amounts of depression, troubled relationships, troubled marriages, many of which is resulting in addictions and just taking up harmful practices. So is the ability to resolve such problems beyond us? Hence the need to hold on to something bigger than us. Which, in my case and in my religiosity, is God.

Yes, it’s really the story of Abraham. It is told in the Quran that he was born amongst certain people. There were those who were worshipping idols and ascribing powers to idols. And he wanted to know the truth. And he had this idea that there was the possibility for only one God.

And so he said the sun is my God. But when he saw the sun set, he said my god cannot disappear. Right? So then he sees the moon and the moon disappeared too at the end of the night. It’s beautiful because in the Quran he says I don’t like what disappears.

So what you describe is this constant and we know people like this, they attach their heart and all their sincerity to a religion, to what they think is God, or what they were presented as God. And after a while, with all this sincerity, this devotion, they realized that it was a false God.

Purpose without false gods

When purpose crosses the line

And then they move to another thing and then to another thing, until that too doesn’t work because it’s all down here, it’s all through created things. It’s not through the Creator. Yes, isn’t it depressing?

Do goals work?

And you see this in secular thinking too. People admire the goals of communism, which is to better humans and to build an ideal society. Then they get a dose of reality that is not in their hands, it’s not working. It goes against something and you need to force it. You need to go into it more. And each time they are told it didn’t work because we didn’t go far enough.

So at that point they wake up and they say no. They then go into some other ideology, so on. And then again, this is really the intention and the quality of the heart and of the belief it has to be. Their devotion and sincerity.

But you also have to dedicate this devotion to something which is true and something outside of self and outside of anything that can be touched and felt. Because when you touch and feel things, you know it’s created, you know that it’s not divine. But you know, more than that, I think when you do embrace this higher value, this higher authority, when you embrace God, you know that the purpose that you find is more meaningful.

How to live your life without false purpose

You better understand where you’re going with that purpose because there are some faith based definitions of how one lives their life. And when you understand those faith based definitions, you understand better what your contribution to humanity could be or should be and how you want to develop that further through the course of your life.

So when a problem comes up for you, you likely are driven to eradicate it. You will know what to do, at least, or you won’t stop until it’s resolved. But without that purpose, you can’t really recognize what humanity’s challenges are necessarily in an enlightened way. And maybe that can also create a sense of apathy for one’s life situation.

So I’m not sure if that’s clear. What do you mean? So I wonder if sometimes we are misled by a false purpose and that leads us down some terrible path that can help us to be destructive to ourselves and to others without understanding and knowing. And I’m not saying that the magic formula is to embrace religion and then suddenly everything becomes clear and more meaningful. But I think what it does is it gives you the tools to help decipher what could be a more meaningful purpose in life.

Higher purpose

Always striving for higher purpose
Always striving for higher purpose

What could be a more meaningful way to live your life than trying to figure it out on your own. I think there is this saying when people talk about God that the higher purpose is to be successful. Successful, meaning not according to the criteria of success that we have today. You mean material? Material success.

That successful is to pass the test. Meaning to really pass the test, which is to end up in paradise. And you have levels in paradise. But material success can also be incorporated into that. It’s a very important part of the full picture of living. Well, it is part of it, but it is not the success. Look at the stories of the prophets themselves. They lived very difficult lives and usually in dire poverty. So I mean, there is this idea in Protestantism and in Judaism mostly today, that if your bank account is empty, you’re a loser and if God loves you, he will give you a lot of money. Okay?

This is a short sighted view. And this is not backed up by history of prophets in general. Being poor can be a test also for someone who is really good. And being rich can be a test also for someone who is not good. Because with the means comes more possibilities to do harm. And now you can be self destructive when you have too much as well. Yes, you’re just tested more, right.

This idea of being successful and the way to do it is to please God and to do what he wants you to do. And now that’s the question. How do you know that? Or how do you know what he wants you to do? In the Quran, we are explained this concept of being faithful and thankful.

Concept of being thankful

Being thankful is generally being poorly understood. It means that whatever the means we have in our hands and whatever our qualities or capabilities, we should bring them to the best possible outcome. And this is what exactly is to be thankful. So the idea here is not to ascribe to oneself the goals we have, the goal to make things the best possible they can be with the means that God gives us, right? But being conscious that we couldn’t do anything without the means that Allah gives us. So where is the challenge in this?

I’m just wondering, why wouldn’t everybody just give it a try? Is it because it requires certain type of focus and discipline? This is a hypothesis again, but is that where one would find it challenging to embrace an ideology that’s based on truth, based on scripture, based on God’s word, rather than based on something created?

Yeah, the one to whom God has not given light, has no light. So many times we are just blinded by our own ego, by the fact that we think that we do things, we achieve things, when in fact we are just the instruments of the will of God.

Used by God for good purpose

And when we are used for a good purpose and we achieve things, we are thankful just being an instrument of this good. But I wonder how much of this conditioning is brought upon from our younger age.

I for one, was never taught about purpose. I was never asked as a child about purpose. And had I had that opportunity, maybe I would have reflected more on who I am and what value I bring, and maybe more about the idea of God, what God wants from me, why was I created? All these are important questions. And I know we do go through it at some point in our life where we ask ourselves, why are we here? Why was I created?

But it helps us to think beyond just within the context of a job. When we’re younger, we’re asked, oh, what do you want to be when you grow up? And so we become doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, thinking that we are working towards our purpose.

But it’s almost like that’s misleading because that’s really not the full picture of our purpose. And so I wonder if that reflection is inherently important from a young age.

From homes life to the world

Home life to the world with purpose
Home life to the world with purpose

Yeah, I think education plays a large role, and home life, I mean, just your parents talking to you about these things is such an important part of putting it into context, in the importance of it all.

The goal being able to please and to do what God wants us to do. Meaning good and precise things, advance things. Not to be content with certain ways of the past, but always try to better things, et cetera.

But always ascribing this to Him and to His will. And we are presented probably secondary goals that are detached from the main goal, which is to ascribe ourselves into the harmony of the world, that is the divine will.

Because we are explained in the Quran that God has created this world not as a game, but according to the truth. This world is not the truth, but it is functioning for a higher purpose that is inscribed in the harmonious deployment of the truth.

Right. So we cannot think that this world is inherently evil. Even in Hinduism, for example, you think that this is samsara, this is just an illusion. So whatever happens, you know, it’s not really important.

What is really important is your place inside and your karma. Because you know your life depends on it, right? But the whole world is is an illusion.

We are told that this world is not an illusion. It has its purpose. It is not the goal. It is a means for an end. But it is very important in itself. By some ways what happens here is like a game or like we are like in a classroom to learn and to pass tests, et cetera.

But it is not the totally illusionary, evil place. We should inscribe our efforts. We have a responsibility towards this world and we are told that we will be judged according to the way we take care of things here.

Cookie cutter purpose

And I suppose if we don’t challenge ourselves to really realize that highest or higher purpose, then we’re stuck in a cookie cutter type of a life like any average person.

Then for example, everyone obviously thinks about career. You want to be a doctor, lawyer, teacher, baker and then of course comes marriage and kids and bigger house. So it’s all cookie cutter, it’s what’s on everybody’s mind.

But what is unique about you from a soul perspective? What were you brought here to do for humanity? And that could be within the context of you being that lawyer or doctor or teacher.

But then what it would do is it would catapult that career to something beyond yourself. So you would do something that would leave your legacy behind, that would leave your mark behind.

And not from an ego perspective, not because it’s you or your mark, but more from a perspective of how did we make this world a better place? So I think that uniqueness gets pointed out to you and really even begins to start impacting other people when you start looking at it from a higher perspective.

God’s perspective

And obviously when you look at it from a religious ideology, that’s the perspective of God. In Islam. We must understand what God wants from us. It’s a part of our religion.

We have to read the Quran from the perspective that we know it’s God’s words being told to us and through the Prophet. So we need to really embrace those words and personalize them to us so that we actually become proactive in our religion.

Yes. And this reminds me of one of the most frightening verses in the Quran. It’s the last verse of the second chapter of the Quran, where Allah says that God does not burden someone with more than he can bear.

Right. Which is really a wonderful thing to see, that God recognizes our individuality. Of course, we’re not racing with others, we’re just racing yes. With ourselves to God. Towards God.

The burden of purpose

Struggling for purpose
Struggling for purpose

Unfortunately, you many people have a way of understanding this sentence, you know, God does not burden someone with more than he can bear as an excuse not to do anything because you are facing a situation.

You are facing, I don’t know, let’s say, your village is very dirty and there’s a lot of toxic things in the streets. Let’s take a simple example. So it is your duty to clean up or to mobilize people and to do something about it.

But it’s difficult because people don’t listen. And then you take this verse and you say, okay, I don’t want to deal with this because God does not burden anyone with more than he can bear. And obviously this is too much. It’s too much for me.

But the traditional way of reading this verse, the real way, is to understand that if you see a situation, you see something that needs to be done, you see it, it’s God showing you that something needs to be done.

There is a lack there. And even if it’s beyond your means, even if it’s beyond your strength, why would you say, I don’t have the strengths or I don’t have the means? Because you have no strengths, you have no means. It’s never about you.

No, because it’s Allah who has the strengths and the means and will give it to you if it’s appropriate. Right. So it’s showing you a problem or something, and it would not show it to you if you were not able to deal with it.

It would not burden you with even the knowledge of the problem. But at that point, what’s the key? The key is to align with Allah. It’s to deserve the help. And that’s why we do our prayers, our five time prayers, and we read our scripture, our Quran, because we’re aligning with God’s will.

The power of infinite possibilities

Exactly. You are totally conscious that you have no power, power in yourself. Yeah. So you align with God’s power. Exactly. And that’s where you get infinite power.

You can yes, it’s according to His will, but people don’t realize that that’s the key. That’s the key formula. People I think somehow it goes amiss on them. Even with Muslims that are doing their prayers and their fasting and their pilgrimage and reading the Quran, they’re missing the idea that there is infinite possibilities that they’re tapping into.

Absolutely. There should not be any limitation and means, we should strive to what is good. This is exactly the purpose we should have. Right? You’re aligning with Allah’s will without putting self limitations and doing it for the sake of it and not for showing any inherent strength that we know we don’t have.

So for me, as a Muslim, the entire practice is about out nourishing the soul. And that’s just the beginning, because once you get there, then so much sprouts in your life, so much opens up. I’ve seen it, and it’s not just yours, but it’s other people’s lives that you can touch and enrich.

That thing that you do in a special way is God given. And to waste it would be a complete tragedy of a wasted journey in this life. So it’s very important to align with God, as we just said, and to tap into those powers that are specifically for you to be empowered to do what it is that you’re meant to do for humanity before you leave this journey called life.

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