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Each one of us has our own unique way of finding purpose in our lives. There’s no “one way” of finding it. If it were that easy, there wouldn’t be hundreds of books published on the subject or countless numbers of workshops. So what I offer here on my blog is just a suggestion, of course. It’s a compilation of different resources I’ve found that have helped me.

And like I said… because I know what it’s like to live a life disconnected from purpose, I have a huge passion for sharing what I’ve discovered.

I’ve mentioned Parker Palmer a few times now because his life’s work centers around teaching others how to live a purposeful, authentic life. So we’ll continue with some of what he’s shared.

In A Hidden Wholeness, he uses a Taoist tale written 2,500 years ago that offers up a beautiful example of how something is created in our lives. Be it a work of art, a new business… anything really. As Khing the master carver shows us, it all begins within.

Read through the story, see what it evokes in you, and let’s compare notes. :)

The Woodcarver

Khing, the master carver, made a bell stand
Of precious wood.  When it was finished,
All who saw it were astounded. They said it must be
The work of spirits.
The Prince of Lai said to the master carver
“What is your secret?”

Khing replied, “I am only a workman:
I have no secret.  There is only this:
When I began to think about the work you commanded
I guarded my spirit, did not expend it
on trifles, that were not to the point.
I fasted in order to set
My heart at rest.
After three days fasting,
I had forgotten praise or criticism.
After seven days
I had forgotten my body
With all its limbs.

By this time all thought of your Highness
And of the court had faded away.
All that might distract me from the work
Had vanished.
I was collected in the single thought
Of the bell-stand.

Then I went to the forest
To see the trees in their own natural state.
When the right tree appeared before my eyes,
The bell stand also appeared in it, clearly, beyond doubt.
All I had to do was to put forth my hand
And begin.

If I had not met this particular tree
There would have been
No bell stand at all.

What happened?
My own collected thoughts
Encountered the hidden potential in the wood:
From this live encounter came the work
Which you ascribe to the spirits.

Gosh… there is just so much there. Where to even being?! I feel like I could spend 3 blogs just diving into what he’s expressing through this story. Parker Palmer takes an entire chapter to discuss its meaning. But I think the main point here is: go within and you will find the answers. 

So if you’re confused about what you should be doing with your life, or perhaps you already know but are unsure as to what step to take next, just take a moment and ask yourself what it is you truly want. Then tune in, listen, and see what you find.

If we take the time to pause in our lives, free ourselves from distraction long enough to tap into our inner knowing, we’ll find we already have the answers. And just like the bell stand, the masterpiece of what we so deeply desire is already there. Waiting to be revealed.

So how about you? What struck you most after reading the story and how can you apply that message to your own life? Or does it apply at all? If you feel you’re living your purpose in life, how did you find it? What worked for you?

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