The Soul’s Purpose
Many people yearn to know their soul’s purpose. What is life? What gives it meaning? How can I make a difference? What will bring me fulfillment? These are all questions that deserve answers. Living a purposeful existence gives us peace, security, contentment, joy, and understanding.
Some years ago a friend sent me a greeting card with a cartoon-style picture on the front. A frazzled-looking man is searching through a room. Tables are turned upside-down, vases and other objects are scattered on the floor. In the next frame, the man triumphantly pulls a strange-looking purple object out from under a couch cushion. It is spherical with weird appendages sticking out in all directions. The caption under the cartoon says, “Edgar finds his purpose.”
I laughed out loud when I saw the cartoon, because it reminded me of the way people often think and talk about purpose -- as if purpose is a thing you have lost that you can somehow find somewhere if you just look long and hard enough. This is how I approached my life when I was a college student -- thinking that my ultimate expression, my life’s purpose, was a piece of a puzzle that I could find somewhere by taking the right college course. I thought that it would be revealed to me in a flash of inspiration.
I have learned since then that purpose is the personal benefit you derive from accomplishing your ideals and goals. If you view life in terms of physical survival, your purpose might be a physical reason for doing something. When people seek fulfillment, they often think in terms of what they want to get out of life. They want to get happiness, to get physical things, to get the right mate or the right job. This getting is temporary and unsatisfying because everything in the physical world is in a continual state of change. The elation of one moment can flip to depression. Extreme excitement can be followed by the blues. The new dress gets worn out and the Cadillac deteriorates. The right mate may die before we do. The job can be eliminated when the company downsizes. If these conditions or things or people are the source of our satisfaction, they are also the source of our discontent when they change.
What does brings fulfillment? What kind of purpose is lasting? When you view yourself as a spiritual being, your purpose is soul growth and spiritual development. Fulfillment comes from becoming a better person.
The Golden Rule tells us “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In practical terms, this means that if you want kindness in your life, you must be more kind. If you want understanding, then you become more understanding. If you want to “get” love, then become more loving. Trying to “get something out of life” doesn’t give it meaning. Giving of yourself makes life meaningful. Being yourself is the greatest gift you can offer. You live a purposeful life by becoming more attuned to your Real Self. You develop yourself.
Children have a natural connection with this need for Self development. They are curious, they want to learn, they reach for being. They try out new things, whether pulling themselves up on a chair to stand, seeing how far they can throw, or being entertaining or helpful or inventive. As we become more socialized, we learn to think in terms of what we want to do. Many of us are taught to imagine, or learn through imitation, that our destiny is a job or career or physical accomplishment. Kids’ books (written by adults) promote these ideas: Tommy is going to be a fireman, Susie is going to be a teacher, Lisa will be a doctor when she grows up. This can be confusing. Are we here to do some important work in the world? Or are we here to be ourselves?
The answer is both! You came into this life with a mission. Discovering who you are and giving yourself to the world is your destiny. Some people feel this sense if destiny as a kind of inner call which becomes a compass for their life. They may use meditation or prayer or quiet times to hear what their inner voice is prompting them to do. Others learn to turn their attention outward, doing what is popular or what will please other people. They try to do what they think they are supposed to do. They look for meaning in the physical environment, relationships and work that make life comfortable. They may become deaf to who they really are, not even knowing their own thoughts because they give so much attention to what other people think.
Even though the conscious mind can forget, the soul remembers. We have an ever-present inner urge to become, to give, to cause our understandings to come into full bloom through our life’s activity. Throughout history, remarkable people who have gotten in touch with this calling have made a difference in the world.
Albert Schweitzer is one such example. Known as a doctor and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Schweitzer was a concert organist, minister, philosopher and teacher until the age of thirty, when he kept a promise he made to himself to give up music, preaching and teaching in order to spend the rest of his life in a different kind of service to others. He returned to school to study medicine, became a doctor and devoted his life to healing. During the last fifty-two years of his life, he fed, housed and treated an average of 1000 natives a day in Africa. Schweitzer died at the age of ninety. His rich life is an example of one who knows his purpose and fulfills it. As he said, “Everyone must work to live, but the purpose of life is to serve and to show compassion and the will to help others. Only then have we ourselves become true human beings.”
Knowing that you are fulfilling your life purpose brings you peace. This is why some people experience dramatic transformation after having a near death experience. They see their entire life flash before their eyes. They become aware of what they have given, how they have loved, and what good they have done. This life review gives them a perspective of what they have yet to fulfill. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (author of the book On Death and Dying) did extensive research with dying patients and learned there are universal questions people ask when they evaluate their life:
“Did I give and receive love?”
“Did I become all I can be?
“Did I leave the planet a little better?”
Everyone wants to realize that they have made a difference. When you know your dharma you can accomplish these desires every day of your life. You don’t have to wait for your deathbed to look back. A Dharma Portrait tells you what your dharma is, how you can bring it forth, and what keeps you from being in contact with it. Most people feel relieved or comforted when they hear this, as if their soul is whispering to them, “Yes, this is you!”
Ever since I was a child, I felt compelled to do something important with my life.
I believed that there was some destiny I was supposed to fulfill. I didn’t know what it was, nor how to find it. I just knew somehow that I would be happy if I was expressing my true self.
I was taught by my parents that I could do anything I wanted, and could become anything I wanted. They believed in me. They encouraged me to explore my potential and to develop skills in any arena of life I chose. The problem was that I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I wanted to be able to receive some kind of direction from my inner self and wasn’t sure how to go about it.
Years of school, including four years of college, did not reveal my life’s mission. I waited to feel an inner call and it did not seem to be forthcoming. Then, an acquaintance told me about the School of Metaphysics. I received a Past Life Profile which opened my mind to a realm of experience previously unknown to me -- the world of soul growth and spiritual awareness. I felt the truth in this Past Life Profile resonate deep within me. It was the first step in a journey of self discovery that continues to this day.
The Past Life Profile revealed what I needed to learn so that I could progress in my soul evolution. I still wanted to know what I should do with my life to be fulfilled and to make a difference in the world. Like me, hundreds of thousands of people have received Past Life Profiles from the School of Metaphysics over the past thirty-five years. Many people who request these Past Life Profiles ask the same question I was asking, “What is my purpose in life?”
In response to this universal yearning, Drs. Daniel and Barbara Condron developed a particular intuitive report designed specifically to answer that question. This is called a Dharma Portrait. It identifies a cluster of understandings you have built throughout your existence as a soul. Dharma is a Sanskrit word which means “Duty.” Dharma is your spiritual duty, commonly known as your soul’s purpose. It is the gift you have to give to the world.
When I received a Dharma Portrait it was very centering. I knew that I was on the right path. I have drawn upon the knowledge to become a better teacher, counselor, minister, and friend. I have seen many other people breathe a sigh of relief when they find out what their dharma is, because it helps them to make sense of experiences they have had their entire life. It gives them what they need to be a force for good in the universe. When you are doing your dharma you are living the life you were meant to live, being who you were born to be.
We have developed a Spiritual Focus Weekend at the College of Metaphysics called “Your Soul’s Purpose.” Each participant receives a Dharma Portrait and learns how to live in harmony with it. One person who came to the weekend was so thrilled to learn about her dharma she said, “I think that every soul should have one of these reports when they are born so that they don’t have to waste any time. They can get on with their life the way it is supposed to be from the beginning!”
When a person discovers his or her dharma, it is life-changing. You can read stories of people who have been transformed with this intuitive knowledge in the book Dharma: Finding Your Soul’s Purpose. My hope is that their experiences will inspire you to discover your own dharma. I envision a world in which everyone knows their dharma so that we can each play the instrument that is uniquely ours in the orchestra of creation. What a beautiful symphony that will be!
Knowing Your Dharma Changes Your Life
Dharma is not something vague or elusive, but a specific quality such as joy, devotion, compassion, strength, usefulness, magnaminity, discernment, support, comfort, persistence, generosity, patience, or obedience. Your dharma is with you as you enter this life, and that is why you can feel its presence when your conscious mind is still and receptive.
I received my Dharma Portrait two months after my husband died. I was experiencing a void, and a need to direct my energies. I had loved my husband deeply. We had an intimate friendship and companionship and I helped him and supported him through a prolonged illness. The absence of his physical presence left me feeling lonely. Much of my energy had been intertwined with his and much of my giving had been focused on him. I had grown in my understanding of love through my relationship with John, and I had developed a closer relationship with God as we prayed together each day. Since John’s death, I had been praying daily to discover what God wanted me to do now with my life. I asked God to direct me in new purposes. I wanted to know my dharma to gain greater awareness of my Self and my destiny.
My Dharma Portrait helped me to identify what was missing in my awareness. It suggested “the cultivation of knowing the self as being.” I recognized that in many ways I had identified myself through my relationships, through giving and interacting with other people. The knowledge helped me to see the importance of developing a greater relationship with my whole Self so that I could release my attachment to a particular person and physical experience. The idea of knowing my self as being gave me a new point of focus to direct my mind.
When I learned what my dharma is, I understood more clearly why my college education was so stimulating and why interfaith ministry is so fulfilling to me. My Dharma Portrait said,
“This [dharma] would be described as discernment. We see there is a strong proclivity for the capacity to hold within the thinking many different trains of thought simultaneously. As this is an urge and is responded to, there is the capacity for this one to reveal a kind of illumination of connected energies amongst seemingly variant thoughts or substances.” (11-4-00-BGC-1)
I was reminded when I heard this of an experience I had in college. One semester I was taking several classes in different disciplines: one course in Jungian Psychology, an English class in Fantasy Literature, a philosophy course called the Religious Experience. In the psychology course I learned about Jung’s theory of archetypes, universal symbols that exist within everyone’s psyche (mind) which appear in dreams and visions. These symbols showed up in the literature I was reading in the English course: fairy tales, ghost stories, and myths. In the philosophy course we read accounts of spiritual mystics throughout the ages. These archetypes were revealed in their mystical visions.
As I was reading one of these accounts, there was a flash of illumination in my mind. The archetypes, the fantasy stories, and the religious visions were all connected. They were all related, like facets of one crystal. Even though the college curriculum had separated these courses into separate disciplines, the connecting link was that all three classes described inner experience. Literature concerned the imagination, Jungian psychology the soul, and Religion the spirit. In all of these realms the same symbols appeared again and again.
In my illumined vision, I became aware that there was a universal consciousness, there were universal symbols, and that all of us were related. Even though physically, outwardly, we look different and might have different conscious thoughts, inwardly, on a soul level, we are all related and there are universal truths that connect us. This revelation sowed a seed of desire within me to know these universal symbols, a desire that eventually led to my study of the Universal Language of Mind through the School of Metaphysics.
As I write this, I am struck by the beauty of Universal Law. I wanted my college education to reveal to me my life’s purpose. It did not do that directly, as I had hoped, but did so indirectly. At the time I didn’t realize how profound this experience was, but it did lead me toward finding my calling. The desire-seed to understand universal symbols was planted in my consciousness and grew as I studied and practiced dream interpretation. I learned to apply this knowledge to interpreting Holy Scriptures. The same symbols show up in all the scriptures from the so-called different religions. When interpreted in the Universal Language of Mind, all Holy Scriptures reveal an essential unity. I have a great passion for understanding this unity, which is clearly described in my dharma report as “the capacity for this one to reveal a kind of illumination of connected energies amongst seemingly variant thoughts or substances.”
I have responded to this by becoming a teacher of metaphysics and interfaith minister. These avenues of expression are fulfilling and resonate with my dharma. As my intuitive report revealed, my dharma is best fulfilled by “uniting the self in this one’s caring.” I have found that understanding Universal Truth and aiding others to do so is a wonderful way to care for people’s hearts and minds.
When you are fulfilling your dharma, you illuminate others just by being who you are. Think about your place of work. Is there someone whose presence you miss when they are not there? Perhaps you are not aware of the difference you make, but oftentimes you can tell the influence of another person. You can become mindful of your own light. When you give of yourself, even in seemingly small ways, you become aware of your own radiance.
Where do you find this destiny? How do you access it? That is the great adventure of our life experiences! Learning to listen to the inner self, striving to be the best we know how to be, reaching out to serve the needs of others, we can discover our purpose.
I believe that most people long for a life that has meaning and purpose. Everyone wants to know that they have made a difference. They want to know that their life has been worthwhile.
How do we determine what road to take when facing choices in life? Is it a matter of free will or some destiny greater than ourselves? The answer is both! A destination is a goal. When people want to find their destiny, they are looking for a direction in life. When our physical goals benefit other people, when our individual life enhances the collective destiny of humanity, we live a meaningful life.
Whether you look at life from a scientific or spiritual point of view, it appears that there is order in creation. There are physical laws and metaphysical or universal laws. These describe how creation is structured. The great scientist and thinker Albert Einstein said that he studied the laws of the universe so that he could understand the mind of God.
Each one of us has an individual plan, a seed idea of who we are. As we develop awareness of who we are, our life has meaning and purpose. Every time we create, learn, grow, and express ourselves in a genuine manner, we manifest our own seed idea. We grow up and mature to fulfill our potential. Just as an acorn holds the plan for a fully developed oak tree, we hold within ourselves a plan for our development as spiritual beings. We are each unique, and we are all part of a whole. When we are being who we are, when we are causing our seed idea to grow and flourish, all of Creation grows and flourishes.
Our Duty to God is to be ourselves and to give who we are to the world. This is dharma. Your dharma is your essential nature. It is your Spiritual Duty. It is based on understandings you have built that have become a permanent part of your being. Dharma is a vibratory pattern, a frequency that is part of the greater vibratory pattern of all Creation. “It is the essence of spirit flowing through this one and manifesting throughout all of the existence within the self.” (9-8-2001-BGC-5)
You are born with your dharma; yet, it is also something that changes and transforms. You fine tune it over lifetimes. It is much like a voice in a choir, or an instrument in an orchestra. The vibration is necessary for the choir to be whole. The instrument blends with the entire orchestra to bring music into being. Instruments can be tuned to harmonize with one another. Voices can be developed to resonate with greater clarity. We are like instruments in God’s orchestra, blending with one another in a symphony of Creation.
There is an infinite design that is above and beyond our individual self. Each one of us serves an important part in this whole. We need to expand our consciousness to realize how significant we all are to each other. Fulfilling our dharma is more than experiencing personal satisfaction. It is being who God intended us to be, serving a higher purpose. When we align with our dharma, we resonate with universal harmony and the universe becomes more harmonious.
As we add light to the whole of creation we are fulfilled because we are being who we are. A Hasidic tale tells of a teacher named Zusya. One day his disciples asked him, “Why do you teach this way when Moses taught another way?” The teacher answered, “When it is my time to pass into the next world, they will not ask me, ‘Why were you not more like Moses?’ They will want to know, ‘Why were you not more like Zusya?’”
This story illustrates the importance of thinking for yourself and being yourself. We were made as individuals, not clones! Sometimes people do not know how to be themselves. Some people have learned to fashion themselves after what they think they should be, or what they think other people want them to be. Self knowledge begins with knowing your thoughts and desires. It is cultivated by practicing a still mind, so that you can receive insight from your inner self. This helps you to know the difference between what is coming from your soul, your real calling, and what is coming from learned patterns or brain ideas of what you “should” think or do.
Consider how each thought and action makes a difference. Become aware of how you have touched other people’s lives. It moves you to consider and imagine what difference you can still make.
When you know your dharma, you can be centered in the knowledge of what you have to give to the world. You will know your mission. You will become aligned with a higher purpose for your life. You will be secure in doing what promotes the highest good for all. You will be better able to determine the best place for you in any group or organization, and in so doing cause the whole group to better to fulfill its mission.
I hope that everyone on the planet discovers their dharma so that we can all live together in a harmonious whole. Let your light shine brightly and may you fulfill your soul’s purpose. •