Cultivating Your Life's Work

Cultivating Your Life's Work


Those of us who are alive at this time are here because every one of us is a potential hero with a unique power that will be needed to build peace and environmental sustainability in the decades to come.

Any capable person must look deeply into themselves and to ask themselves a simple question: Why am I here? What am I here to do? What is my Life's Work, and what do I want to leave behind when I'm no longer here?

I define "Life's Work" to mean the positive and unique legacy that any person can leave behind after they are gone. When we speak of famous artists, their Life's Work is easy to identify -- Shakespeare's plays, Mozart's concertos, Lennon's lyrics. But we can also speak of the Life's Work of people like Gandhi, Einstein, and King -- people whose moral compass and capacity to be true to themselves left the world a much better place, and who also provided an example for those who wanted to accomplish their own Life's Work.

A Life's Work consists of those things that a person wants to accomplish and leave behind, and to feel happy about having done, as they lay on their death-bed, contemplating their journey to the next undiscovered country.

Many religious traditions speak of a Life's Work, probably in a way that made sense to the religion's originating peoples. Hinduism speaks of one's dharma, or worldly duties and responsibilities that one is supposed to engage in as a result of one's caste. The dharma of someone in a ruling caste is to rule well. The dharma of a teacher is to teach good things. Similarly, Protestantism speaks of one's "calling," or purpose, that one is supposed to do in this lifetime, which will bring a person closer to God. 

I don't think it particularly matters what it is you call it, or what the religious basis for it is. For me, writing these words in an era of deep political, environmental, social and spiritual crises, I am more interested in describing a philosophy that is moored in a genuine sense of spiritualness and that is also relevant to the times.

The fact of the matter is that many of our cultural traditions (whether they are political, environmental, social or spiritual) are struggling to understand the problems of the day. How can they offer good solutions if they don't even understand the problems?

I believe it is possible to address the grave crises now facing human civilization. I believe it is possible for everyday people to respond to these crises in a way that is both meaningful and positive. And I think it is as simple as every person asking what it is they are really here to do at this time, and what it is they want to leave behind after they are gone -- to discover their Life's Work. And then, I think it is up to every person, having discovered what this is, to actually go forth and engage and create with their Life's Work.

When you are focused on a Life's Work, you are focused on your long term journey here on planet Earth. Every day becomes a small but critical and essential component of a larger, grander framework and project that will encompass an entire lifetime.

When you start to look at life in that way, day-to-day projects start to change and the important things take on greater urgency. You start to realize how much power you have to make meaningful changes to your life, to the lives of other people, and to the planet more generally. You start to realize how much of a difference you can make, and how empowered you are to help other people. It is possible to derive a lot of happiness in life simply by helping others.

In this way, the deepest crisis to ever confront the human species becomes the incubator for tremendous spiritual growth amongst humanity, and a potential crucible for the development of a human species that is far more enlightened and capable that any before in history.

It is only by being tested, that someone can discover their power. 

And it is only through confronting fear that a person can discover courage and strength.

It is only because of darkness that the light can discover how brightly it can shine.