The Purpose of LIfe is to Live

“I hate myself at school,” said my 5 year old son as he crossed out the picture he was drawing of himself.

Jett meditate

How I make my son deal with problems at school.

Turns out some of his friends wouldn’t play with him during recess. My wife was concerned and wanted to talk about it early the next morning. I listened to her and reassured her that he would be ok. Then I quickly checked my email, so that I could sit in meditation for at least 30 minutes before the boys woke up.

My wife got upset that I was not paying attention to her and the issue with our son, but I needed to meditate.

Sitting in meditation, I realized that the reason it is called a meditation practice is because we are practicing mindfulness for “real life.” What use is practice if we don’t use the skills in the “real game”? By not being mindful while talking to my wife, I was throwing all the meditation practice I had done down the drain.

Meditation in and of itself can be seen as mental masturbation if we don’t put the skills into practice in the “real world.” Mindfully listening to my wife talk about a crisis our son was having should have trumped everything else in my life, but I was too concerned about making sure I sat for at least 30 minutes to keep my streak of daily meditation in tact.

From a different perspective, one could argue that life itself is a practice game. The real game has already been won. We are here to rehearse (re-hear, see, feel) the skills we already know like love, forgiveness, compassion, and empathy. In other words, we are here to practice living.

Thich Nhat Hanh in Vught, the Netherlands, 2006

Thich Nhat Hanh in Vught, the Netherlands, 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This reminds me of a story Thich Nhat Hanh tells about asking some children, “What is the purpose of eating breakfast?” The first kid answers, “To get energy for the day,” but another child says, “The purpose of eating breakfast is to eat breakfast.” If we extend the wisdom of this child out, we get “the purpose of life is to live.”

The purpose of my life is not to meditate or blog or even create; the purpose of my life is to live each moment mindfully to the best of my abilities as if it was the only thing that mattered. Of course, meditation can be a great practice on how to be mindful, but meditation practice should never replace real living, loving, and connecting with others.

Here is to living mindfully and listening to my wife and children. ๐Ÿ™‚

Thank you for reading, sharing, and/or smiling.

What is the purpose of your life? Please share.

p.s.

My son is doing fine. I read a quotation on tinybuddha.com that said, “I don’t have time to worry about who doesn’t like me. I’m too busy loving the people who love me.” I then explained to my son that whenever someone doesn’t want to play with you, there is someone who loves you who you are ignoring. I hope this will help him with his love life in the future.

p.p.s

On this Memorial Day weekend, I want to dedicate this post to my father, who is missing-in-action in Vietnam, and all others who have fought and died in battles throughout our history. May you be free from suffering. May you know peace and joy. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

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62 comments on “The Purpose of LIfe is to Live

  1. Great post, Kozo. My purpose in life is to be kind, I think. That’s sad about your dad. I guess you don’t know what happenedโ€”do you think there’s ever a way you could find out?

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Thanks for the kindness, Caron. My dad was a pilot. He had to crash land to avoid a head on with some helicopters due to a mix up in the control tower. He is technically missing in action, but all witnesses report that he died. Since he crashed in the Mekong River and they never recovered his body, he is listed as missing in action. I honor anyone who has put their ass on the line for our freedom and safety.
      {{{hugs]}} Kozo
      p.s.
      I love your purpose in life.

      • Thank you for telling your story. How courageous your dad was. {{{hugs}}} to you too.

      • I’m sorry about what happened to your father. You know I share this kind of loss with you. All things happen for a reason, though. I don’t believe in coincidence. I think it all makes sense in the end.

        I think my purpose in life is to be a mother and to teach through my writing. All of the tragic events in my life just point back to this. Like they were all tests or something; to ready me for the things that are happening now.
        I’m pretty sure this is the case with you too, in fact, I know it is. ๐Ÿ˜‰
        *hugs*

      • Kozo Hattori says:

        Your words mean so much to me, JW. I feel like the event in my life were more of a trial by fire. haha. But I do feel like the traumatic events in my life forced me to become who I am today. I’m really starting to like that person, so I guess it has all been worth it. {{Hugs}} to you, my dear friend. Love, Kozo

      • We’ve all become better people just from getting to know you, Kozo. So I guess you can say we’ve all grown together. You’ve helped us, and in return, we’ve showered you with love. ๐Ÿ˜€
        *Hugs* right back at you, BBF. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Alison says:

    What a great insight for you Kozo. Meditation is a wonderful tool, but it’s not life!
    There’s something else about when others exclude us – it’s taken me a lifetime to learn (and I still have to remind myself) – it’s that what others think of us is none of our business (Byron Katie), that what others think of us is saying something about them, not about us. Also that each of us can only be the way we are, and it’s impossible to be different. I’m not saying we don’t grow and change, just that we each do it in our own unique way (or not lol) and we can’t be different from the way we inherently are. Whenever someone is behaving in a way that I react to in a negative way, or that makes me contract, I remind myself of that – they are being perfectly themselves. I don’t know if either of these ideas could help a 5 yr old – not much experience there ๐Ÿ™‚
    I’m not sure any of us has a purpose. What if that were true eh? What if there’s no purpose to all of it, but that it all just *is*. This makes me chuckle.
    If I have a purpose it’s to become fully awake and ground that clear energy here in this “reality”.
    Smiles and hugs from me
    Alison
    xoxox

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      I love that advice, Alison. Yes, we are all “being perfectly” ourselves. I will try to teach my son this lesson in words he can understand.
      I like your point about the purposelessness of just being. I think your purpose to become fully awake coincides perfectly with this view of just being. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

  3. oliviaobryon says:

    I love this– and, it’s so true. I had been attempting to do yoga daily for the sake of daily yoga, but then I hit a wall this week. I had a wonderful discussion with one of my instructors and she suggested that maybe I need to listen to my body instead of trying to keep myself on such a goal oriented route. She reminded me that even meditation requires energy and that sometimes our bodies and minds need a break from the practice. So, last night, instead of doing yoga, I went to dinner with friends and went to sleep quite happy. I think we all get caught up in our have-to-do list when really sometimes we just need to stop and live. Thanks for reinforcing this for me today. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Yes, Olivia, you hit the nail right on the head. Sometimes we get caught up in the ego of having to keep a daily practice. Who is really counting? Why? It is our ego. We are counting the continuous days, so we can say, “I have been meditating everyday for x-amount of days.”
      Glad you were able to just “stop and live.” Have a wonderful weekend. {{{hugs]}} Kozo

  4. Blessings to your family and your Father, wherever he may be.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Thank you so much. Yes, I can feel my father’s love and blessings. I know he is somewhere peaceful watching over me. I will make him proud. {{{hugs]}} Kozo

  5. […] I’m grateful for the reminder that the purpose of life is to live, not to keep up with our arbitrary must-do lists. Everyday Gurus put the same idea nicely in his post today too. […]

  6. Yes, life is about living, and it takes practice, practice, practice! Blessing to you and your father! {{{hugs}}}

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Practice, practice, practice. The great thing, Julianne, is practice gives us freedom to make mistakes and learn. Thank you so much for the blessings. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

  7. Jueseppi B. says:

    Reblogged this on The ObamaCrat.Comโ„ข and commented:
    “On this Memorial Day weekend, I want to dedicate this post to my father, who is missing-in-action in Vietnam, and all others who have fought and died in battles throughout our history. May you be free from suffering. May you know peace and joy. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo”

    No more words are needed.

  8. utesmile says:

    You are a great dad and husband, when you seem to do something “wrong” you realize it and change and make it right. You are one wonderful family, Bless you all. Life is about living, love, understanding, compassion, kindness, helping each other. {{{hugs}}} Ute

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      I love your definition of life, Ute. We are all family, so we should all love, understand, and be kind to one another. Thank you for your kindness and understanding. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

  9. lauriesnotes says:

    I get frustrated with where I am going. I know it is about being present and holding space for healing. Great post. It is great we are teaching our kids what we have had to learn over many years. I try to remember when my daughter has trouble with something, that there are valuable lessons.
    Blessings-
    Laurie

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      I love the way you put that, Laurie, “holding space for healing.” Yes, we need to be open to let love and healing into our lives. It is such a blessing having kids, isn’t it? They teach us to remember our lessons and we teach them how to avoid our mistakes. {{{Hugs]}} Kozo

  10. theINFP says:

    It is only in the last two weeks that I have managed to meditate in silence, rather than powering away on the cross trainer. In my usual obsessive way I have had similar experiences with my partner needing to talk to me when I “need” to meditate. I read a post on a blog by a recovering drug addict, they said that they became addicted to meditating. This made me think that there will be other ways I can meditate. The following is from my journal: Today I practised meditation on the bus, train, walking. The journey home can be a stressful experience; battling to get on and off public transport, claiming a space in the rush. Today I felt calm and relaxed, the meditation was a success.

    It was amazing to find that this is possible, Robert ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Yes, Robert, every action can be a form of meditation. I like to do lovingkindness meditation while I’m out in public. Whenever someone cuts me off or is rude to me, I try to give them compassion. I think that this form of “meditation” is more powerful than just sitting. I do, however, find a lot of growth and peace in sitting everyday. {{{Hugs]}} Kozo

  11. I’m so sorry about your father Kozo xx
    I enjoyed your post and you always attract great comments as well. Alison is such a wise teacher; and Robert with his story about addiction to meditation. I used to go to a group that was that way for me – I was very attached to it and that’s not the point is it.
    Maybe don’t be attached to the actual 30 minutes. As Robert said about his commute home you can meditate anywhere for any length of time. I don’t sit for any specific length of time just as it takes me..
    Mindfulness in action ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Love that term, Annie, “Mindfulness in action.” Yes,if we can be mindful in action/daily life then everything becomes meditation. It is a constant practice. Just when I think I have “got it,” I catch my ego creeping back in again. It is wonderful coming here and hearing all the different perspectives. Thank you for being my “action meditation” partner down under. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

  12. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m sorry I have not much to add to this post, but all I can do is smile. It’s absolutely beautiful, as usual. My thoughts are with you & your family and wishing your father well ! HUGS!!

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      That means a lot to me, pwp. Memorial Day is a very special time for me, and to be able to share it with some of my friends and loved ones online makes it that much more special. Thank you for your thoughts and kindness. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

  13. diannegray says:

    What an amazing post, Kozo. I’m so glad your son is doing better now and I absolutely love the tinybudda quote! How beautiful ๐Ÿ˜€

    Have a wonderful long weekend and my thoughts are with you and your family (I’m so sorry about your father – bless you, my friend) {{{hugs}}}

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Like I said above, Dianne, it means a lot to me to share this day of remembrance with loved ones like you. In a way, I feel like I have come full circle. I was robbed of fatherly love when I was 3, but I have found so much love in the blogosphere 45 years later that I can actually feel his love again. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

  14. Jnana Hodson says:

    As I noted a few days ago (small world!), the root of the word practice means to do. Taken a step further, I suppose we could say it means to do well or do better, apart from any outward consequences. So we practice meditation or prayer or music or medicine, repeatedly, because it’s what we do with our lives. I appreciate your adding mindfulness to the equation.
    Paradoxically, rather than take you away from daily life, the practice of meditation can take you deeper into it. Or, as Quakers have long said, some of the best barns in New England were designed during (the silence of) Quaker Meeting. You, too, no doubt know that flash of intuition that can come in the depth of meditation.
    We also have a postcard I’ve found helpful: Notice. I am a Quaker. In case of emergency, please be quiet.
    I hope your son got a shower of wisdom and compassion and solid guidance once you were grounded.
    And remember, the root word for practice also feeds the word practical.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Just read your post, Jnana. I really like the exposition of practice, poetry, prayer, and work. I love that the root of practice is “to do.” It reminds me of a speech by Dr. Amit Goswami where he claims that the search for consciousness ambulates between “do, be, do, be, do, be.” Practice is the do, and consciousness is the “be.” I need to go back and research this speech.
      I love the saying, “In case of emergency, please be quiet.” Wouldn’t it be great if we had signs like this in our schools and institutions?
      {{{hugs}}} Kozo

  15. not to be critical i have a couple of thoughts. before going into forensics i specialized in children and families. please keep your advice to your son age appropriate. i am not sure at his age he is really able to appreciate the little buddha wisdom and your wife may need your re-assurance at the time and maybe you can be a little more flexible.

    i am sorry about your father. it touches my heart, i know of many who never returned, those classified missing in action are especially heart-breaking. not having that final closure can follow the living their whole life.

    wishing you peace of heart

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Great advice. sbc. Yes, I tried to keep my advice age appropriate. I just told him that whenever someone doesn’t want to play with him at recess, there is always someone who would love to play with him, but he was ignoring. I want him to have empathy for others who are less social or gifted.
      I also agree that I need to give my wife more re-assurance. It seems like a gender thing. Just today, we were walking into a store and my wife wanted me to hold my son’s hand. I’m so used to just letting them run around, but I saw that it was important to her, so I held his hand.
      Luckily, I’m pretty sure my father died in Vietnam. He is technically considered MIA since they never recovered his body–he was a pilot. Thank you so much for your kindness and compassion–I can’t think of a better wish than “peace of heart.” {{{hugs]}} Kozo

      • my suggestion is that your explanation was above his ability to process. at that age they are concrete thinkers so your wise words were probably not what he needed at the time. he was looking for empathy from you, and answers as to why he was not liked. kids always think it is their fault. empathy is something we learn from our environment. from our parents and even older siblings. don’t forget he is watching when your wife asks for time and you say you are too busy with meditation.

        i hate that so many have been classified mia, it strips those that love them of the grieving process. it is great that you have found that path on your adventure.

        peace of heart is something often over-looked. i continue to wish this for you:)

      • Kozo Hattori says:

        SBC,
        Thank you so much for your wisdom and guidance. Your statement that “empathy is something we learn from our environment. from our parents” hit home. I didn’t learn empathy from my step-father and mother. I think my mother wanted to toughen us up so we would not suffer the way she did when my father went MIA. My step-father did the best he could; unfortunately, he used a heavy hand of corporal punishment. I am realizing that I had empathy and compassion beat out of me as a child. My biggest concern is to nurture empathy and compassion in my sons. I don’t want them to go through the depths of despair I experienced due to a lack of empathy and compassion. I will remember that my sons are watching and try to display empathy at all times. Thank you for this lesson. You don’t know how much it means to me. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

      • i hope you share this with your son as he gets older. it will be a great lesson for him to know that the man who knows everything and is stronger than superman had to learn how to be the man he is.

        you have a long road but i see a man determined to make it an easier road for those he loves. as a result you will touch so many lives, more than you will ever know.

      • Kozo Hattori says:

        Thank you for touching my life. You have started a ripple that will effect all who I meet. The power of this energy can change the world.
        {{{grateful hugs}}} to you my friend. Love, Kozo

    • 1EarthUnited says:

      Sorry to hear about your dad, it’s good to find peace and closure. I’m sure he would be very proud knowing the man his son has become. Kozo, u’r such a great dad, keep being love & compassion. Your sons understand more than you think. โ˜ผPeace out 4 memorial dayโ˜ผ

  16. You and your Family are super inspiring to me. I added these words inside my positive Journal, “I donโ€™t have time to worry about who doesnโ€™t like me. Iโ€™m too busy loving the people who love me.โ€ If these words helped me, I know your son will be Just fine! (((Mega Hugs)))

  17. I love this post. I meditate every day and am an introvert so sometimes I just forget what it is like to be around people. I love the nudge not to think every thing has a point.

  18. Now i’m thinking to get myself a similar huge ball to sit on during meditation – must be really comfy! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Totally agree, Kozo. Life’s what living for. And the purpose of meditation is simply to tune out the inner dialogue and learn to be more present in a moment = enjoy the process of simply being and breathing.
    Peace to your deceased loved ones, Kozo, and may their memory live forever.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Yeah, Sofia. My son loves The Last Airbender, a television show where the main character meditates to gain powers. My son copies the show and tries to meditate in a variety of challenging positions. He only sits for 10 seconds, but hey, he’s only 5. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Thanks for the peace and love. For some reason, I’m feeling really close to my father on this Memorial Day. I think it has to do with all the love I”m receiving from my BBFs. {{{hugs]}} Kozo

  19. girlseule says:

    Lovely post thanks! I’m still figuring out my purpose! I saw someone commented that their purpose was to be kind, I like that idea.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Thanks for the comment, Evie. I just watched an interview with Quantum Physicist Amit Goswami. He believes that the purpose of the Universe is to strive towards higher values. I definitely think that kindness is a higher value, so great life purpose. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

  20. Jennifer Crow says:

    Very thought-provoking and a wake-up call to be more mindful. Thank you. My purpose in life is well thought out, thanks to my coach training. I believe I exist to weave meaning from chaos; a storyteller who brings light to life. It may be only my own life, but if it touches others, I’m happy.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      What a wonderful life’s purpose, Jennifer. Like the Dalai Lama said, “the planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of all kinds.” Sounds like you are a little of all these titles. Thanks for the comment. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

  21. BroadBlogs says:

    Good point: Meditation in and of itself can be seen as mental masturbation if we donโ€™t put the skills into practice in the โ€œreal world.โ€

    I’m glad your son is doing better. Your advice to your son reminds me of research that shows that black women have higher self-esteem than women of other ethnicities. This seems to be due in part to mothers who teach them to get their self-esteem from within instead of worrying about what others think of them โ€“ in a racist world.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Interesting research, Georgia. Imagine what the world would be like if everyone taught their children to get their self-esteem from within? I am trying to instill self-compassion in my sons. It is tough because I have to find it in myself before I can show them where it is in them.
      Thank you for all you do. {{{Hugs]}} Kozo

  22. Jas Baku says:

    Lovely post Kozo ๐Ÿ™‚ Totally agree that “Meditation in and of itself can be seen as mental masturbation” It’s like Buddhists who are so caught up in being ‘Buddhist’, they neglect to practice what Buddha taught. Good call my friend.
    * Prayers for your dad, wherever he is.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Thank you so much for the prayer, Jas. Yes, I think we need to just be rather than get caught up in being Buddhist or Christian or Atheist. {{{Hugs}}}} Kozo

  23. bloomlisa says:

    I will use that approach with my little girls, bless. Wonderful post!!

  24. Sunshine says:

    thank you, once again for another wisdom post by Kozo. finding our purpose in life for some comes easy and others takes many twists and turns throughout the journey before it hits you. i believe my life purpose is striving everyday to become a better person by making mindful intentions at the start of each day and end with reflections before i end the day. i think we are all work in progress up until our last breath.
    ~may your father rest in peace and blessings to you and your family.
    โ˜ผsunHUGS!

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Love that advice, Sunshine–” striving everyday to become a better person by making mindful intentions at the start of each day and end with reflections before i end the day.” I’m down with that program.
      Thank you so much for the peace and blessing for my father, Sunshine. Love, Kozo

  25. Dieu says:

    I really love what you told your son about how even if there is someone who doesn’t like you, there are people who love you who you are ignoring. What you said to him really resonates with me. It made me think how we often fail to appreciate what we already have.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      So true, Dieu. Telling my son and writing this on the blog is just my way of reminding myself of things I often forget. I am so grateful for your friendship. I just want you to know that I appreciate your presence. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

  26. Athena Brady says:

    Hi Kozo, I have been alittle off colur so just catching up with my missed posts. Thank you for sharing the story of your father with us. I am sure he is very proud of his son and watching over you and your family. I think my purpose is to share my writing and we all have a common purpose which is simply to love and be loved. A wonderful post b a very caring father, thank you.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      I completely agree, Athena. Our purpose is to love and be loved. The secret is that we have to love first. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope you are feeling better. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

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