What are you looking for in Life?
I had this question come up from a student the other day.
My assumption is that there is something we are ‘searching’ for. At some point in our lives we all have been wondering, wandering, meandering, having tried (or being on) some spiritual, or philosophical, or religious paths etc. I’ll be blunt I am curious: what is everyone looking for? What is your quest?
I’m asking the question b/c I recently came to the conclusion that I don’t know any more what it is that I’m looking for…
So I will give you the answer now:
The answer is… “IS”.
Yep the word “IS” is where the quest hides! People focus on what comes after the “is” -> the destination, but the “is” itself represents the journey to the destination. So in this sense the answer really is “IS” Lets look at the word IS for a second for a clue on how we seek our quests:
Is = the third person singular present of be.
So definitions of “is” include:
1. To exist.
Yes for many people the quest of life is simply to be… to exist. For people like this, they are simply happy to be alive in the moment. These are people focused in the now.
2.to occur; take place.
And yes for many people the thing that drives them is to experience something that is to occur.. Which is why once they achieve something they then feel empty. In other words for people like this, the meaning of life really is the journey. These are the people focused towards the future.
3. having the state, quality, identity, nature, role, etc., specified.
“Amy was 91”
And also yes for many people the meaning of their life was a single event or something that happened to them. This references those people who live in the past.
SO the meaning of life simple…. IS.
It’s how you apply the IS that changes how you should look at the question. So you have to look at a person’s tense to help understand their quest in life.
So the answer while simple: simply is… We make how we hold it complicated by our stories.
The path to holding oneself often twists into confusing perceptions of destinations that shift into ever changing view points.
As I wrote earlier in the summer, the meaning of life evolves as you evolve. It isn’t a static concept. So you also have to factor in where you are in life and allow of for change over time. So a person in their twenties might be looking for a good job or partner while in the 70’s for many people it shifts into finding a legacy. When we are younger it is easier to go from tangible point to tangible point. As we get older the tangible points get fuzzier and fuzzier. At some point the concept of what quest is driving you can even become meaningless once you have assembled a wide enough view of life.
It’s still a worthy question for everyone to ponder, but just not too heavily.
A clue if you struggle for a personal answer:
(1) Untangle away the destinations of stories first: this is the becoming empty process Taoism teaches.
(2) Hold lightly your essence and rediscover grace in all the options
(3) Pick the option that opens the smile in a way you enjoy most.
Then Jump back into your quest.
The other interesting aspect: is of course it partially depends on your outlook in life. If you are a person who strives for enlightenment thru wholeness for example, then your meaning will similarly have wholeness be a major aspect to your quest. If you are more Buddhist and working towards release, then meaning will also include release within your quests of life.
Taoist’s are a bit open ended on this, generally speaking we tend to be more in the moment; to allow for many different quests and meanings to co-exist along side of each other as we explore life. To a Taoist, quests in life should be both fun and always a life opening experience. Never shy away from the random quests that come up to you and ask you to explore.