Have you ever been so fully engaged in a mission that your body, heart, and mind felt like they were all perfectly aligned? Have you ever found yourself in a state of flow and synchronicity where it almost felt that the whole universe was conspiring to support you? Have you ever experienced a moment, or week, or year when your life just seemed to make sense — when your gifts, the world’s needs, and the support to connect the two seamlessly interwove together? The more you align with your own unique personal purpose, the more these instances will become less a spontaneous occurrence and more a simple way of being.
At the Global Purpose Movement we are convinced that purpose can serve as a unifying force for humanity.
Because purpose can be understood in so many different ways, like a diamond with many facets, we’ve outlined a broad summary of some of the most common ways that “purpose” can be understood:
- Absolute purpose: The spiritual drive to “wake up” is an impulse to realize the oneness or nonduality of existence; we call this absolute purpose to contrast it with all the following relative types of purpose that arise within duality.
- Cosmic purpose: At the largest scale there is a telos (directionality) to evolution. We can study the patterns of evolution and align ourselves in such a way that we are in harmony with the process of evolution itself.
- Personal purpose: Each of us has a unique set of life experiences. When these experiences are aligned with our personal gifts we find a purposeful vocation that contributes to society.
- Soul purpose: In the depths of our self there is a reservoir of both pain and passion. This reservoir is home to both our darkest shadow and our brightest light. As we dive into these aspects of self, understand them, and then begin to intentionally dance with them in our lives, we discover our soul’s purpose. For some people, the pain and passion of soul purpose may be understood in a trans-incarnational way.
- Organizational Purpose: An organization, business, or social enterprise’s unique gift/contribution to the larger society.
- Developmental Purpose: Purpose varies according to the broad stages of psychological development. Traditional purpose, modern purpose, postmodern purpose, and integral purpose all have their own distinct characteristics and flavors.
- Embodied Purpose: As purpose comes online in each individual’s life, a person may find dramatic shifts in the way he or she relates to physical health and well-being.
- Relational Purpose: Two or more people (whether romantic or platonic) can learn to define their relationships in the context of a higher shared purpose.
- Purpose of Eros: Often relating to the impulse toward directionality, higher levels of complexity, and emergence.
- Purpose of Agape: Often relating to the impulse toward inclusion, care, universal love, and healing.
I’ll leave us with an offering from one of my dearest friends and mentors, Ken Wilber. In one of our recent dialogues, he wrote this about purpose:
“The tricky part about purpose is keeping both the ultimate and the relative in mind. In the ultimate domain, there is no actual purpose in any real sense — everything, exactly as it is right now, is utterly and radically perfect — the Great Perfection. ‘Purpose’ means that you want to get from now, which is lacking something, to a future which has found that missing something—but the ultimate, the absolute, has nothing lacking, nothing missing (if it were lacking anything, it wouldn’t be infinite Perfection).
But then in the manifest, relative realm, everything is lacking something, and purpose is the way that those missing holes are filled — which also gives a relative meaning to the relative self (which definitely has a relative reality!). So it is in relative reality where we get to the AQAL Framework. AQAL outlines the sum total of possibilities that purpose can address. Thus, with reference to levels, each person’s primary purpose will be largely governed by the major level of development their center of gravity is located—and you can use virtually any line (or lines) at that level to outline this purpose (e.g., Maslow’s, Graves’s, Kohlberg’s, etc.). But also important are states (e.g., “which state do I want to aim for?”, and this is an area that is rarely, if ever, used for recognizing one’s purpose—and this is really sad).
Even if a person is highly developed, and their state-development pushes into non-dual awareness (e.g., turiyatita), and they recognize the Great Perfection as their own ever-present nature and reality — and thus their relative purpose winds down for themselves—they can (and should) look around the world and decide (from an integral perspective), what aspects of that world need the most attention, and thus, even though resting in the ultimate Perfection of their own true state, purpose those areas for their own actions, a bodhisattvic-type drive (motivated or “purposed” not by their lack but by their own superabundant overflowing). From their own self-realized Great Perfection, they address the world’s as-yet-unrealized Great Perfection as a source of purposeful, liberating action. So purpose is great, because it’s a fine-tuned barometer of one’s own realization as well as the areas of the world that need the most attention — so it is always hooking together ultimate and relative reality in one’s every action and motivation.”
As each individual more fully aligns with his or her own unique destiny, a deeper synergy will arise across diverse swaths of humanity. Whether we use the simple absolute and relative distinctions outlined by Ken, or we use a taxonomy of purpose described above, one thing is certain: Purpose has a central role to play in humanity’s future.
To this end, it is time for us to explore purpose together. This November, my colleagues and I at the Global Purpose Movement are organizing a two day Purpose Summit in San Francisco. The Summit will feature keynote speakers, panel discussions, workshops, and embodiment practice seminars focused on awakening humanity’s fullest expressions of personal and collective purpose. The intention of the Purpose Summit is to explore the theme of purpose in the current planetary process, inspire individuals to connect to their essential nature and express their unique gifts more fully, and unite all attendees in meditative practice to consciously evolve and embody our collective purpose during our time together. The role of purpose in diverse fields will be explored, including wellness, individual transformation, social action, business, education, science, government, and technology.
Join us! I’ll be there. Ken will join via Skype. And we’ll join in dialogue with 35 other leading thinkers and a massive audience of purpose driven pioneers just like you!
The Purpose Summit is on 11.11.17-11.12.17 at Dogpatch Studios in San Francisco.
We are offering an exclusive discount for the IONS community until 11pm PST on September 1st, 2017: Enter the discount code IONS2017 to receive $50 off the full weekend pass. Plus, register now to be among the first 100 people to receive a copy of Purpose Rising: A Global Movement of Transformation and Meaning, our upcoming book anthology featuring chapters from top transformational leaders, upon arrival to the event!
Dustin DiPerna is founder of Bright Alliance and Co-Founder of Synergy Forum. He is an author, group facilitator, and meditation instructor. He studies Integral Theory and practices in the spiritual lineages of Mahamudra and Dzogchen. Dustin remains committed to the development of integrally informed spiritual paths that make spiritual awakening accessible to all.