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The Unenviable Situation of the Purposeful Self

The purposeful self does everything for a reason. It can’t do anything without a reason – and yet beyond its ‘reasons’ there is nothing!




Beyond the reasons that this purposeful self has for doing whatever it is doing it has nothing. It will draw a blank if it tries to come up with something. It will be at a complete loss. Its pockets will be revealed as being quite empty…




The purposeful self has nothing in the bank. It might look pretty impressive with all of its systems, all of its structures and procedures, all of its goal-driven activity, but really it is acting out of a deficiency. Behind the purposeful self’s purposes and goals is a frightening blankness – behind all its activity is a state of complete spiritual impoverishment.




The one option open to us (when we are identified with the purposeful self) is to use our purposes, our plans, our goals as an opaque screen to hide behind. We whitewash everything with our non-stop purposefulness, with our relentless machine-like busy-ness. We build a wall with it – as in the Pink Floyd song – and we make very sure never to come out from behind it. We won’t come out and show ourselves for anything!




In the purposeful world everything is about goals, everything is about agendas. Everything is done for a reason and we have reasons behind our reasons to explain them to ourselves, to properly account for them, to prove to ourselves that we’re right to have them. It’s reasons behind reasons behind reasons all the way – there’s no chink in our armour.




Because there’s no ‘chink in our armour’ (because there’s a reason for everything we do, along with a reason for the reason, etc) there’s no way we can be challenged. We’ve got our alibi. We’ve got our documentation in order. But it is precisely because there is no chink on our armour, because there are no unaccountable gaps, that the whole system is bankrupt! We’ve been too thorough in our explanations of what we’re doing and why – we’ve explained ourselves right out of existence!




We’ve played it so damn safe that we’ve lost everything. We’ve been so extraordinarily cautious and pedantic that we’ve lost sight of what we’re being cautious and pedantic about! We’re too smart by half – we’ve outsmarted ourselves. We’ve cheated ourselves out of our birthright. We’re so smart that we’ve swindled ourselves out of reality itself, and we’ve ended up with something else instead. We’re left with logic. We’re left with the thinking mind and all its hollow productions.




The purposeful self has to work very hard to keep this situation firmly under wraps. It has to work extremely hard – putting in long hours – to make sure that its true situation remains hidden from itself, to make sure that it never cottons on to the fact that it has outsmarted itself, the fact that cheated itself and left itself penniless in a world where inexhaustible spiritual wealth is to be found overflowing in every little thing.




The purposeful self has to work very hard to make sure that the actual truth of the situation is always safely concealed. It has to work and work and work. It has to be forever doing overtime in order that it might continue to feel clever and cocksure, in order that it might not start to realize what sort of a fool it really is. The dawning of this particular truth has got to be prevented at all costs!




But no matter how hard the purposeful self works, it is always going to be in vain. It can work as hard as it likes – it’s still never going to get anywhere. This is the one thing we can be sure of in a universe where everything is uncertain! We can be sure that all the work done by the purposeful self will be in vain. We can be sure that whatever ‘progress’ we might seem to have made in the first act of the play will be undone (or revealed as nothing) in the second. The clock always gets set back to zero.




The purposeful self is a great lover of progress! Progress means that it is getting closer to its goals and that – by definition – has to be good! We can then all shout “Hooray!” and throw our hats in the air. We can pat ourselves on the backs and award ourselves medals. We can band together and march up and down the street singing triumphant songs. We can drink deep of the heady wine of success and give no thought to the king-sized hangover that awaits us the following morning…




The purposeful self’s only way of feeling good is by fooling itself and when this wears off we feel very bad indeed. There can be no situation less enviable than that of the purposeful self. It can’t be honest in anything, not ever. For it to be honest is for it to be confronted with the unpalatable fact of its own habitual self-deception. For it to be honest would be for it to see that the goals which it has been so busy glorifying are no more than cheap tricks. For us to be honest (when we are identified with the purposeful self) would be for us to see that we are not ever going to get anywhere and also that we are working as hard as we can to make sure that we never see that we are not ever going to get anywhere!




The purposeful self’s goals mean nothing – they are only a cover story. They are only there to cover up its impoverishment. When we are identified with the purposeful self then we’re all about the doing and the achieving. We’re all about ‘success’, in other words. But the only reason the purposeful self wants so badly to be successful is to cover up its inherent impoverishment. It’s all a distraction game. If we’re successful in this game then we will all look at the success and not the one who has achieved it…




Honest doing is done for no reason. It’s done with a twinkle in the eye! We do it because we’re doing it and that is good enough. We do it because we want to do it and what more reason do we need than this? We do it because there is someone there to do it, because there is genuine being behind the doing, whereas in the case of the purposeful self we do stuff in order to distract ourselves from seeing that actually there is no ‘being behind the doing’. Our doing serves the unacknowledged function of covering up this deficiency.




The general principle here is therefore –



Being reveals itself through creative / playful action, whereas non-being always conceals itself behind an impenetrable wall of serious, heavy-duty, heavy-duty purposeful doing!









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