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Excerpted from It's a Meaningful Life by Bo Lozoff. Copyright © 2000 by Bo Lozoff. Excerpted by permission of Penguin Putnam, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"What 'particular task' have we come into the world to accomplish?"

Bo Lozoff, It's a Meaningful Life, Part 2

It is as if a king had 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. So man has come into the world for a particular task, and that is his purpose. If he doesnít perform it, he will have done nothing.

-Jaldl al-Din ar-Rumi (thirteenth-century mystical poet), Table Talk

What "particular task" have we come into the world to accomplish? Given the diversity of the world's philosophical and spiritual traditions, you might assume there would be many conflicting answers to this question, but actually that is not the case. The great traditions agree on the most fundamental ideas, such as are described in Hinduismís Sanatana Dhanna.

1. Something sacred, truly holy, and incomprehensible does exist.

2. This sacred reality can be touched directly by each of us, in our depths.

3. The quest to touch that reality is the primary purpose of life. If we do not touch the sacred, we will "have done nothing."

Yet many of us feel hard-pressed to attend to anything beyond Rumi's "hundred other tasks" which compete for our attention. Nearly every minute of our time may revolve around job and mortgage, bills and debts, personal ambitions and family problems, with an occasional expensive, exhausting vacation thrown in for diversion. And that's considered the good life. We have come to think that we have no alternatives. What used to be called the fast lane has taken over our whole highway, and many of us are whizzing right by the ageless spiritual truths and practices that could bring profound meaning and joy into our daily lives. The purpose of this book is to help revitalize and integrate those spiritual treasures into our daily lives.

If we search outside ourselves for the meaning of life, we tend never to find it. But if we center ourselves and look for meaning in life, it's, always waiting for us, right here in the present moment. And I donít mean self-indulgent contemporary notions of the present moment, like "If I had my life to live over, Iíd wear more purple" or "Life is uncertain, so eat dessert first." A deep spiritual life is not merely about "seizing the day" for self-centered gratification. Something more profound is available to us, a spiritual power and freedom that we can barely imagine from an egocentric perspective. We are much deeper than we usually let on.

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