The Purpose of Following Your Heart’s Desires
I was thinking the other day about how many of us on the conscious path actually worry if it is selfish to pursue what we love and enjoy if we don’t think it has a specific purpose to achieve in the bigger picture of life. But it got me wondering, why is it that we only tend to see value in the struggle? It’s like we think that we are somehow cleansing ourselves of all the garbage we have accumulated, and punishing ourselves for all the inadequacies that exist in the world, even if those failings are of no fault of our own.
Then I watched a program about pandas on TV and it all became perfectly clear.
Animals have their unique purpose, even though many of them are mainly focused on self-preservation like eating, grooming, sleeping, and mating. Yet, while all that might seem self-serving and self-indulgent on the surface, by doing what they enjoy doing and need to do, by default, they are also contributing to the entire ecosystem in a very important way, even if it doesn’t always seem obvious to the naked eye.
For example, pandas spend about 16 hours a day eating bamboo. Why? Because their digestive systems can only digest a small amount of what they eat in order to provide them with the nutrients they need to survive, so they need to eat a lot in order for them to get enough. But why would they be made this way? What would be the purpose if it? Since everything in nature seems to serve a specific purpose, there must be reason for this too, right? So this panda spends the majority of its day eating, and then the rest of its time grooming, sleeping, and mating. Now, if we look at the surface of its purpose, it doesn’t seem like much. In fact, they seem a bit lazy and self-indulgent, right? But in the bigger picture, the panda’s very existence serves a very specific purpose within the entire ecosystem in which it lives.
Pandas play a crucial role in the bamboo forests by spreading seeds and helping the vegetation to grow. So by eating so much bamboo, they actually help to protect the very forests that a whole slew of other animals rely upon for their very survival as well, not to mention all the humans that rely on those resources too, like for food, fuel for cooking and heating, income, and medicine. Plus, natural forests separate carbon dioxide from the air, absorb rainwater in the soil, and facilitate the cycling of nutrients from plants to all the other animals that inhabit the forests.
So, as we can see, everything and everyone has a purpose that fits in with the entire ecosystem of life, even if that purpose is not always obvious, or if the actions appear completely hedonistic. Everything has a purpose in relation to everything else. So, the lesson we might glean from the panda is to not feel guilty for doing what we love, need, and enjoy because in doing what comes naturally to us and what is aligned with our heart’s desires (versus our ego's desires), we are simultaneously serving an important purpose in the bigger picture of life, even if it is not always obvious how.
So, if you dream about buying a beautiful home, yes, this is good for you. But think about all the other people who get to benefit as a result. The realtor who makes the commission and puts food on their table, the builder who makes money and can feed his/her family as well, and all the suppliers, contractors, and everyone involved in the ultimate creation and availability of that home for you to buy and enjoy. It is a domino effect.
So do not think that what your heart desires is not also serving a purpose outside of your personal enjoyment and benefit, because it is. It is not too self-indulgent to enjoy what you love and to follow your heart’s desires. In fact, it is necessary in order for the entire ecosystem to properly function. Your joy contributes to the joy of others in so many ways, whether directly or indirectly, obviously or not. So trust that what you authentically love and enjoy is not only good for you, but that it is also good for everyone that is directly or indirectly affected as well. Because the happier you feel, the more happiness you will have to share with the world, and the more everyone will ultimately benefit.