Day 303: Learning About Purpose From Ants

In investigating the word purpose I have come to find some interesting things. What I have realized and seen when it comes to this word is that there is a dichotomy between the ACTUAL meaning of the word and how it has been defined in the system as is currently. Let us have a look at purpose in terms of how it is understood in the mainstream consciousness.

Purpose usually has a positive connotation in the world system. When someone say that they have found their life purpose, this is often associated with positive feelings such as fulfillment, feeling at home, secure, safe, having direction, and perspective. Hence many self-help gurus focus on the word purpose, and attempts to help people to find their purpose through establishing what makes them passionate, happy, positive and on fire. The meaning of purpose would here be, what makes you happy. However, this is a limited definition of purpose – because it confines us to only remain in areas of our life that we feel happy with, and it does not support us to expand beyond those confines. Further, this definition of purpose is rooted in self-interest – where purpose is something you find and establish for yourself to feel happy.

Another problem with looking at purpose as a way of reaching fulfillment, peace, security and completion, is that the word purpose, in its actual definition and REAL meaning, does not contain any of those positive experiences. If we look in the dictionary, purpose is simply defined as the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. Purpose according to the dictionary is thus a defined as a STARTING POINT – the WHY of an action – and not as something that in anyway marks a state of positivity, completion or sense of fulfillment. And I see that this is what creates a problem for many when it comes to finding and establishing a purpose for themselves, because they look for a feeling – and not for a reason – a WHY – that they can stand with and utilize as a support in directing themselves in this lifetime.

A cool example of living the word purpose in a way that is not subject to personal experiences, but that is more grounded, is that of ants. Because all ants are born with a certain design, they are either warriors, workers, nurses, or Queens. Then, according to their design, which also signifies their strengths and weaknesses, they will select a purpose for themselves. A worker, that has the skill of building the anthill, will select his WHY of being as building and repairing, not because he particularly feels that this is his passion, but because this is where he is of most use to the rest of the colony. Hence the ant will select his purpose on the basis of his inherent strengths and weaknesses, and also in consideration of what is best for all – if there is a position or function that must be filled in any part of the colony – the ant will stand that point as so far as it is aligned with his or hers primary design. In the ants world, the word purpose is thus connected to the well-being of the colony in its entirety – and it is not about the individual ant and his own preferences, desires, experiences, wants and needs.

We as humans could learn a great deal from ants. They are truly remarkable society builders and each function of the colony is cared for with tenacity and thoroughness. This is possible because ants define their place and purpose in consideration of the ant society as a whole – looking at their own individual design objectively and how their design can best benefit the rest of their fellow ant friends. Through looking at purpose this way, it also removes any experience of fear, anxiety and worry that the individual ant will not find and live the ‘right’ purpose, or that the ant will not achieve fulfillment, or a positive experience, as purpose is not about that, it is about the betterment of their worlds.

I see for myself that defining purpose to be a word that is grounded, having a practical definition, and also a meaning that entails looking at where I could place myself that would best for all, is a solution to end the otherwise oftentimes present experience of doubt, in terms of trying to figure out ‘where I should go’. With this definition, it is a matter of objectively establishing my strengths and weaknesses, looking at my world as to what position or function requires to be filled, and then walking into this position and standing point.

 

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