Morrie Schwartz, in ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ by Mitch Albom, stated, “So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.” Where and how does one find this purpose and meaning?
Last week we discussed that individuation is the process of becoming the unique person one is meant to be. One task of individuation is to serve what our deepest self asks us to be – often referred to as one’s vocation.
Jung defined vocation as “an irrational factor that destines a man to emancipate himself from the herd and from its well-worn paths.” He further explained that, “True personality is always a vocation … from which there is no escape.” Vocation must be obeyed “as if it were a daemon whispering to [you] of new and wonderful paths.” The whisper is your calling.
Author James Hollis asks, “Where is the unlived life which haunts, or summons, or intimates you?” We are all “called to spiritual greatness” – to be whom we truly are, regardless of the costs. We are all summoned to the challenge to live it.
Even for a fleeting moment, we deeply know that something else could better feed our soul. However, one generally does not serve this calling. Ego avoids, has little regard for and shuts down the inner calling, deadening our soul.
Rumi made the tragic analogy: “A king sent you to a country to carry out one special, specific task. You go to the country and you perform a hundred other tasks, but if you have not performed the task you were sent for, it is as if you have performed nothing at all.”
It may be difficult to recognize one’s calling as we may think a summons is coming from our true self when indeed it may be coming from our ego. How do you know the difference? The discernment will involve making a choice between how we have been living or believing and a new way. There will be personal conflict and the requirement of detachment from your normal way of being, resulting in some suffering and personal growth.
When we best serve our self we can best serve others and humanity. A calling feels, as Hollis suggested, as if “something is in fact choosing us.” The choice to accept and follow the vocation often requires one to leave a comfortable and familiar stance and move into the unknown, guided by a deeper force.
Vocation brings the purpose and meaning Schwartz referred to. When we follow our calling we feel an inner sense of rightness and well-being. We feel contentment, deep satisfaction and joy. We appear to be ‘on-the-right track’ and situations flow.
When we follow our vocation, we are fulfilling our highest duty – not a duty to family, society or to ego, but to our true self. What are you being called to serve?