It’s been several months since my last blog post. I wrote a version of the final chapter in January, but my heart wasn’t in it. I could tell when I finished that it wasn’t worth publishing. I wrote something because I felt pressured to finish this topic, even though my thoughts weren’t clearly organized. Today is different. I woke up this morning knowing what I want to say, so here goes.
I’d like to explain how being an acupuncturist fulfills my desire to place my spirituality at the center of my vocation. In order to get there, let’s start with a better description of my spirituality.
I made my declaration about work and spirituality back in 2011. Back then, my passion for meditation, contemplative subjects, philosophy and psychology had really taken off. I became particularly interested in the concept of personal transformation, the idea that psychological or spiritual experience can fundamentally change the character of an individual at the level of identity, thus redirecting the trajectory of a person’s life and all his or her beliefs and activities. I remain deeply interested in this topic today, but much of this material was very new and energizing at the time. I was hoping that, whatever line of work I went into, it would be necessary to continue my study of this material and possibly produce my own content.
I did not expect to be led to the field of acupuncture. Before beginning my acupuncture training, I thought I might go into counseling or psychotherapy as a way to remain involved in and facilitate personal transformation for others, but this wasn’t meant to be. I felt unmistakably directed or guided toward acupuncture. To me, acupuncture seemed to represent healing at the physical level, while I was more interested in healing at the level of identity or consciousness. I’ve reflected on this and come to appreciate the kind of transformation people go through in any form of healing. Also, I regularly check in and ask the universe if I’m in the right place, if this is where I’m supposed to be. I continue to get an unmistakable yes, that acupuncture is the best path for me to fulfill my highest good.
This is where a discussion of the evolution of my spirituality comes in. I’ve grown to appreciate existential thought recently. I think it does a great job of describing the human experience in some important ways that intersect with Taoist thought. In Taoism, humanity is seen as a bridge or conduit between heaven and earth. Humankind is of the earth in that we are all physical creatures within the animal kingdom. We are products of biology that are born, consume food to survive, and then return to the earth when we die. We belong to the world of heaven in that we are energetic beings with a limitless psychic life. With our imagination, we can move through time, visit the past and future, and mentally construct a host of alternate realities where we exist and behave in ways completely different from our physical experience. In this way, we are completely free, free to imagine any reality, and free to pursue the realization of a wide host of realities in the physical world.
Existentialism points to a tension between being physical, biological beings and being psychic beings with a rich inner life. From the perspective of the biological, our lives seem to have little meaning other than to promote the continuation of the species. In this, there’s nothing unique or special about any single individual, and your or my existence doesn’t seem to have any real cosmic significance. A life devoid of meaning, where humanity is subject to the whims of chance and suffering, is a frightening prospect. This is the deeply unsettling position of nihilism. Many books have been written about man’s psychological efforts to bury the prospect of nihilism deep in the unconscious, but we’re not going to spend time on this here.
Within each and every human being, without exception, there is a need for life to have meaning. Supporting this need is the universal human conviction that we each have something unique and special to contribute or bring into the world unlike anyone else.
Taoism refers to the expression of a person’s unique and special gift or talent as the fulfillment of destiny. However, it isn’t always obvious to anyone what their unique talent or gift is. In this way, destiny is not predetermined because there exists the hazard that a person’s unique talent or gift will not be discovered and expressed, and destiny will not be fulfilled.
I’m sure there are plenty of people who know what their unique talents or gifts are, and this can be a blessing. However, there are also many people who sense they have a unique talent or gift, but don’t know what it is. This can lead to a restless search for a mission or calling in life.
When I left Apple, I began searching for my calling. Thankfully, I quickly determined that I needed help finding it. I don’t mean I needed a coach or consultant to figure this out, though I know there are many who can help. Rather, I decided I needed help from the universe. This is where spirituality shows up for me. I’m a strong believer that the universe is here to help. People can get sensitive at this point in the conversation. There are different words you can use for a higher reality, whether it’s God, spirit, the Tao, higher consciousness, the universe, guides, angels, whatever. I said many prayers, meditated and asked for guidance, and I ended up being steered to where I am now.
The result of all this is I believe my vocation is more the expression of my spiritual striving than my spirituality being the central topic of my vocation. I put out to the universe that I wanted guidance to bring my unique gifts and talents into the world in a way that would enable me to fall in love with my vocation and do what I was put here to do, or, as the Taoists put it, fulfill my destiny. I’ve held faithfully that the universe would help me out, paid close attention to the signs, followed the guidance I received, and ended up here. I’m now in a position to fill an important role serving others in a career that is endlessly rewarding and stimulating. And I get to be my own boss and set my own agenda. I consider myself truly blessed.
The last thing I’ll say about all this is that I think my core spiritual beliefs and understanding of my path are not very scientific. For example, I don’t think you can prove that the universe responds to intention and entreaty the way I’ve described. You can’t setup a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to establish synchronicity and coincidence, or determine whether magical forces align to guide you toward your highest good. If you’re reading this and you’re skeptical, that’s fine. I actually believe the universe is constructed in a way that these kinds of realities are beyond scientific proof for very important reasons. We’re given choice and freedom to construct our own universe. If you want to believe that we’re all just matter arbitrarily constructed, and nothing has any higher meaning or purpose, you’re free to believe and explore that reality without compulsion to believe anything else. Likewise, if you choose to believe there are higher realities that watch over you and guide you to your highest good, you’re free to explore this as well and learn how this kind of life works.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it! If you read all three posts, I appreciate your time. Going forward, I plan to post at least monthly on topics related to meditation, mindfulness, reducing stress and improving sleep. Here’s to the successful expression of your own unique talents and gifts, and the joy and happiness this brings you!