What is the meaning of life? Why am I here?
We've all thought about this at one time or another, but when we couldn't come up with an answer right away, we stopped thinking about it and got busy doing something else. Sound familiar?
In general, the purpose of life here on Earth is to have experiences that we could not have anywhere else in all Creation. That's why this place was created – for Souls to have certain types of experiences. We wear physical bodies here because that is what allows us to live, move and have our being here. In general, we are learning how to give and receive love. It sounds simple, but it's not. Souls come here again and again, hundreds of times, each time learning just a bit more about love, each time having different experiences. Sometimes we choose a male body. Other times we choose a female body.
What kinds of experiences can we have here that we can't have anywhere else? For one, the experience of pain. Those who have near death experiences (NDE's) say that they didn't experience any pain during their time away from their severely injured bodies. Why is pain such a great experience? Well, I don't believe I have ever met a person who has experienced pain and not become much more compassionate toward others. Soul learns by experience, not by being told. Young people are advised to exercise more compassion for the sick and elderly, but it's generally not until they experience illness and pain for themselves that they can truly do this.
We also experience opposites here. The simplest atom in the physical world has a positive charge and a negative charge. That's why opposites (positive/negative, light/dark, good/evil) are possible here in the physical world. We learn about love from experiencing opposites such as hate or cruelty. We learn to appreciate good from having to deal with evil in life. We learn to value patience by experiencing the negative effects of impatience, and so on.
So you are here to have experiences. But what is your specific purpose for this lifetime? That's a question no guru will ever answer for you, because all wise men (and women) know that each of us has to discover it for himself. Part of everyone's purpose is the self-discovery of that purpose. Nobody else can do this for you.
So how do you discover your purpose for this lifetime?
When Erin Pavlina, an intuitive reader, gives psychic readings for people who want to know their life purpose, she finds that people generally fall into two categories: 1) people who come here to learn and grow, to become more conscious and understand more about life in general and 2) people who come here with a specific mission that will impact the planet or to make a specific change that will benefit humanity. She says that people in the first group can benefit the planet or humanity, too, but it's not their main purpose for being here, and that people in the second group will also have growth experiences and continue to learn about life as they go about their specific mission.
It's important not to confuse your purpose in life with your career path. The vast majority of us can serve our purpose in life no matter what career we choose. Those who come with a mission to make an impact are generally drawn to a particular career path or area of interest.
Steve Pavlina, Erin's husband, suggests that you keep on answering the question, "What's my true purpose in life?" Keep writing down answers that pop into your head. Steve says you may have to give 100 to 200 answers before you come to one that makes you cry, or at least, one that affects you deeply. Steve suggests that you keep on writing down answers even though you may be tempted to quit, thinking the exercise is futile. Eventually you will get to an answer that really grabs you.
"Discovering your purpose is the easy part," Steve says. "The hard part is keeping it with you on a daily basis and working on yourself to the point where you become that purpose."
I think Steve's wording is very insightful. We don't do a purpose or fulfill a purpose. We become our purpose.
Tina Su suggests asking yourself a set of 15 questions to discover your life purpose. The questions are designed to help you identify what makes you happy, what you're good at, your most cherished values, and your role models, among other things. There is a link on her page to a list of words that describe values, to help you identify yours.
Albert, a guest writer on UrbanMonk.Net, reminds us that the first thing that comes to mind is not usually our purpose, but someone else's. We get our ideas from our parents and other family members, the media, and society in general. He recounts a great story that illustrates this principle.
There was a big city businessman who once went on holiday to a faraway beach. One day he walked past a local fisherman who was lazing around, with his fishing rod in the water, enjoying the sun and a beer.
The city man’s mind went to work immediately. The fishing spot was a gold mine, and a serious fishing business would thrive in the area. “Why are you so stupid?” he asked the fisherman. “Get some boats, hire some extra hands, and in a few years you will turn your little shop into a million-dollar business!”
The local man asked him. “And what would you do once you have a million dollars?”
The city man stared back blankly. “Why, I would have so much free time I could sit around in the sun all day and drink beer!”The businessman thought that his purpose in life was to make a lot of money, but what for? All he really wanted to do was sit around and drink beer. The fisherman was already doing that. Who do you suppose had a better handle on what made him happy?
Albert suggests that a lot of people believe that there is something that stands in the way of fulfillment. They may believe that they will be independent once they have money, or that they will have more self-esteem if they can only find someone to love. He says that it's important to become independent first, then the money will flow. It's important to work on raising self-esteem first, or the right person will not be attracted to us. He calls things like "independence" and "self-esteem" internal goals. In the examples given, getting money or finding someone to love may seem like one's purpose, but the inner goal is the true purpose.
Albert also reminds us that our purpose in life can change as we go through life and change in consciousness. If your goal is to be the best parent you can be, what happens when your kids grow up and move out of the house? If your purpose is to be a great teacher, what about after you retire? The point to remember is that when you have fulfilled one goal, there will be others. The new goals may be related to the one(s) you had before, or they may be different.
Fred Burks suggests that our "core essence" becomes obscured over the years because we have been told we are not worthy, for example. Some young children are punished for being who they are: perhaps they question authority or they have such an inquisitive nature that they poke into areas that the adults deem off limits. Over the years, people stop showing their true selves in an attempt to please others, especially authority figures.
The folks at WantToKnow.info suggest that we do some "core belief work" to identify issues that we need to deal with. These may include fear of abandonment, inferiority complex, fear of rejection, fear of being found out as a fraud, or a feeling that you are better than others. Once these issues are cleared up, our life purpose should become a lot clearer.
One final idea: At an Eckankar seminar a few years ago, a member of the clergy from Mexico suggested that we think in terms of eternity. Meditate on this question: What is my purpose in eternity? How is my current lifetime preparing me to fulfill this purpose? :-)