My ‘ekigai’ – Why I Wake Up Every Morning!!

“To master a bit of more of myself every day, so I might give it to the service of humanity, as an instrument of peace to the glory of God“ – Mukom Akong

This was one of those things (revelations? realisations) I had in the early morning of 3rd January 2011 when I couldn’t sleep. I got there because I still am always asking myself that question “what specific thing did God create me to do on this earth?“ – an old question I have been asking for some time (still no crystal clear answers yet).

I first heard the word “ekigai” from TEDster Dan Buettner during his brilliant TED talk “How to Live to be 100+” in which he pointed out from research that one of the things common to people who live long is – “ a personal sense of purpose” and for a Japanese community he studied, their name for that personal sense of purpose is called “Ekigai “, which is an Okinawan word meaning “the reason I wake up every morning”. When I heard that, it resonated so deeply with me in the spirit of purpose not as some big grand goal or ideal in your head but one that is all pervasive and helps focus you day by day, moment by moment.

Just think of the following days in your life:

  • Your first day at school.
  • The starting day of a favourite project of yours.
  • Your wedding day (ok, not being married, I can’t relate anything original here, except what I have heard and observed)

Was that day boring? most probably not, and I will submit that the reason these days were fulfilling (not necessarily beds of roses) was that you woke up that day with a reason for waking up that day. Those days for me include days I am to start teaching a new class, the day I am to start learning a new skill. But there is something just plain magical about having that daily sense of purpose that makes you jump out of the bed, with praise in your heart, a dance in step, a twinkle in your eye and anticipation to DO something. And I am one of those who knows and believes in as much as we watch our thoughts carefully to lead better lives, better lives only actually materialise when we DO those beautiful things that we have conceived and those that are revealed to us in the spontaneity of a spiritual moment of enlightenment.

And so in the early hours of that morning, I stumbled on my ekigai

“To master a bit of more of myself every day, so I might give it to the service of humanity, as an instrument of peace to the glory of God“

As I reflect on why this ekigai resonated so deeply with my spirit, I realise that it is because it resonates with something else I have come to realise in my awareness practice – that you can’t give that which you don’t own or master. Our ego is always grabbing our resources – emotional, physical, spiritiual etc to feed itself, the only resources you can give to humanity (in terms of service, compassion, helping etc) are those that you have freed from the grasp of the ego’s needs. Why an instrument of peace? …because “instrument of peace” is a phrase from St Francis’ famous prayer that struck and continues to strike a deep cord in my spirit, (“lord make me an instrument of thy peace“) and as succeed at these acts of mastering a bit more of my self, my preferred form of service is to be an instrument of peace, wherever I find myself. And where I succeed in being an instrument of peace, I will give God the glory for I am always conscious of the fact that such success is it is not due solely to my capability alone (not even from self mastery) …but due to luck and God’s help, for I am sure there are others who will bring more human effort to it and still not succeed.

And you, what is your ekigai?

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