For a few years, I’ve been searching for my life purpose. I thought I found it, but after a while, I figured that I was wrong. The meaning of my life is far more different than I thought it was. More beautiful, life-altering, and exciting than I ever thought it would be. And each one of us can experience it right now, well at least if you’ve read this story.
A Wandering Man in Search of Many Things
Raktan was a wandering man. He wandered through the world in search of many things. He searched for happiness, but never found it. He searched for enlightenment but never seemed to understand it. And now he was wandering around the world in search of meaning. In search of the meaning of his life.
On a mid-summer day, Raktan stood before a monastery in hopes of finding an answer to his question. What is the meaning of life? He knocked on the gate and one of the zen masters opened it. Raktan entered the monastery and sat with the zen master. They talked about his journeys, and all the adventures he had been on. The zen master listened carefully and asked Raktan what brought him to this monastery.
Raktan answered that he was on a new adventure, in search of the meaning of life. The Zen master smiled. “Have you found it yet?” He asked politely. “No” Raktan answered. “I hoped you could maybe help me find it,” Raktan asked. The Zen master looked at Raktan and nodded. “I can.” He answered you must travel the road that many take. The one that leads south. There you’ll meet a man, the man who knows the meaning of life.
Raktan asked the zen master if he had ever met the man. The Zen master answered that he had and that he too one day was in search of the meaning in his life. “Now how can I recognize this man?” Raktan asked. The zen master laughed. This man is a strange one. He is unbothered by the silly things in life, yet continues to play along like normal. You’ll find this man by looking for a man who moves the hearts of people with the slightest of effort.
The zen master was cryptic. Raktan still didn’t know who he was looking for. But the zen master asked Raktan to leave so that he could do his afternoon prayers. So Raktan left and traveled the road south.
Five People on the Road
Raktan met a great many people on the road. He met a monk who told him that the meaning of his life will show itself when he is completely free of thought. Raktan asked the monk what the meaning of life would be if he would never set himself free from thoughts, and the monk didn’t know an answer to this question. So he greeted Raktan and continued his journey.
Then he met a priest who told him that the meaning of life is to honor and praise God. But when Raktan asked him what the meaning of his life would be when he wasn’t honoring and praising God the priest didn’t have an answer and walked off.
A few days passed and Raktan met a magician who traveled the world to perform his tricks. But the magician didn’t know the meaning of life. He told him that the only meaning he could think of was to perform tricks. To work. That was the purpose of his life.
Finally, Raktan met a writer and a poet. Who together traveled the world to capture the beauty of life in words. They told Raktan that the meaning of life is to travel and explore the world. But Raktan had done so and never found meaning doing that.
Raktan was beaten. Tired. Exhausted off the heat. He sat down on the side of the road against a large tree overlooking the many strangers that passed. His new adventure seemed to be doomed. He hadn’t found the meaning of life or the man who could tell him what the meaning of life was.
He decided to quit his search and to go back home for a while. To see what he would do next. Raktan sat underneath the tree for hours. The night was falling as a young man accompanied by a large ox walks by. “Is everything alright? It’s almost nightfall, you shouldn’t be on this road all by yourself at night.” The man yelled at Raktan. Raktan waved him away, not wanting to talk to any stranger anymore.
The man tied his ox to a near tree and walked up to Raktan. “Are you lost, my friend?” The strange man asked. “I am, I have been searching for many things in my life, but never found any of them,” Raktan answered.
“What have you been looking for my kind sir?” The man asked. “It all started with my search for happiness, but I never found it. Then I searched for enlightenment but never found it. Now I am searching for the meaning of life but still haven’t found it. There’s supposed to be a man, a crazy man, who moves the hearts of people with the slightest of effort, that knows this meaning of life. I’ve been looking for him. But none of the men I spoke to seem to know the meaning of life.” Raktan said as he sank deeper into the tree.
The Man Who Knew the Meaning of Life
“Why must you know your meaning of life kind sir?” The man with the ox asked. “That will give my life direction, meaning, purpose. Something to pursue, and many people have told me that it will bring me happiness along the way. But then how do I find this meaning?” Raktan said.
“Do you know the man who moves the hearts of people, and knows the meaning of life?” Raktan asked the ordinary man. “I do, but you’ll never find him if you keep looking for him.” The man answered. “So how will I find him then? If I can’t go looking for him?” Raktan asked.
Searching only blinds those with thinking that they will one day find what it is they are looking for. Making them blind to the realization that what they are searching for is right in front of them.
“Searching only blinds those with thinking that they will one day find what it is they are looking for. Making them blind to the realization that what they are searching for is right in front of them.” The man said poetically. “I may be able to give my view on the meaning of life if you’d allow me?” The ordinary man asked politely.
“Yeah go on, there’s nothing to lose for me anymore.” Raktan answered. The ordinary man sat next to Raktan and began to explain.
“The meaning of life is to sit under a tree with a stranger and talk with them about the meaning of life.” The ordinary man said. Raktan looked at the man, confused about what he said. “Do you mean that you think the meaning of life is just this? That’s not it. That’s just two-man talking with each other. Nothing special about that it, right?” Raktan answered.
“Is it? Why does the meaning of life have to be special? Why can’t it be two-man talking to each other underneath a tree?” The ordinary man asked. Raktan thought for a moment. “Because all these people I met they talked about something that gave their existence meaning. They lit up. They smiled and were full of passion. I want to feel that as well.” Raktan said.
“And you can’t experience that with just sitting under a tree talking about the meaning of life?” The ordinary man asked. “Can you cut to it already? What’s the real meaning of life? I think you are mocking me.” Raktan said angrily.
“I am not. I would never. These are very serious questions you are asking yourself. But you see the meaning of life isn’t something special. It’s not found in work, in people, or in things. Yet at the same time it is found in everything, so also the work you do and the people you meet.” The ordinary man said. “Now what are you telling me? Please be a little bit clearer to me?” Raktan said.
“The meaning of life is to just live, my kind sir. Nothing to it. No special feelings, or extraordinary missions. No things you need to do, no things you need to go looking for. The meaning of life right now is to sit underneath a tree and talk about the meaning of life with a stranger. To move his heart with the slightest of effort.” At that moment Raktan looked at the ordinary man and realized that this was the man he was looking for. The man smiled at Raktan. “I think you’ve found what you were looking for didn’t you?” Raktan laughed and was soon joined by the ordinary man.
“You. You are the man who knows the meaning of life don’t you?” Raktan asked and smiled. “I am, but it’s nothing special to know this. We all know this. At least we can all know this. If we’d stop looking for it. The meaning of life is to just live. To each moment see the meaning in it. To experience the beauty of living. All this searching you have been doing my sir ends now. It has blinded you for the beauty, lessons, and joy of living. So stop looking for what you think you need to find, and start seeing everything that is. You can see meaning in the whims and everyday things of living.” The ordinary man said.
Raktan looked at the man. He was a simple man. Just living his life. Traveling the road, playing along with the game of life. He wasn’t concerned with any worldly possessions because he knew that there was no meaning in it. He just lived his life. It was this that held the meaning of life that Raktan had been looking for so desperately. That it wasn’t something to be found. Nothing extraordinary, or life-altering. It wasn’t something that Raktan could pursue, and that would bring a great change to the world.
The meaning of his life was just that. To live. Because today he lived. He’d better make the most of every moment he was given.