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Black Elk

What is my Life Purpose?

February 23rd, 2018

The other day, as I walked out on to the hills on a very crisp, clear day, I had the most beautiful sensation that an angel, an otherworldly being, was walking beside me, about twenty feet or so away. Perhaps this was my imagination, perhaps not – I really don’t know. But I decided to ask them a question: ‘What is the purpose of my life?’

If you want to know what the purpose of your life is, ask first why it should have just one purpose. Try it in the plural: What are its purposes? Your body will have its goals – to stay alive, to replicate its genes; your personality will have others, but you probably want to know about your Soul, which might have one central purpose in this lifetime, or perhaps several, or many that change as you evolve.

            The central purpose of your life might be to transform or transcend yourself, for another it may be to learn and explore and enjoy the experience of simply being. For another still it may be to bring through into this world a work of beauty; or an inspiration to others; one moment or many moments of love channeled towards one aim, one person or place. Your purpose may be to learn the meaning, the true meaning, of one ideal, one concept. Imagine how that would feel if you discovered that your purpose in life was to learn the true meaning and experience the true depth of say, the concept of constancy, or the concept of impermanence? Expansion, radiance, transmutation, liberation, surrender, intimacy, knowing, opening, the exploration of delicacy, the development of virtues, any or all of these dynamics could be working purposefully within your soul.

            Deep inside you know what your soul is seeking, even if you cannot yet articulate all of its purposes to your mind. To help you uncover more of them, try imagining you know what they are, and just write down what comes, and you may find that what you write is sufficient for you now, inspiring you and helping you in your quest for self-knowledge and greater understanding. But remember to leave room for the Mystery. Allow the possibility for some beautiful and as yet unknown purpose to be working through your life. Perhaps it is better if your conscious mind does not yet know it, perhaps your mind’s limitations should not be allowed to fetter or constrain your purpose, for is not our destiny best known only to the gods themselves?

9 Responses to “What is my Life Purpose?”

  1. Philip, that sounds like such a wonderful experience and conversation! It has reminded me of item #2 in the “Uses of Enchantment” appendix of The Book of English Magic (p. 519). I like that you’ve added an “s” onto life’s purpose, making it plural, and that you’ve allowed space for Mystery.

    One of my own purposes is to become resplendent (mid-15c., from Latin resplendentem (nominative resplendens) “brilliant, radiant,” present participle of resplendere “to glitter, shine,” from re-, intensive prefix, + splendere “to shine, be splendid”). I’m aiming for more shine on my brow. Whether or not that’s a sensible goal remains to be seen. One of the downsides is that it seems to invite a certain amount of darkness into my life, since ultimately the truest way of knowing how brightly we shine is to test that out in murky conditions. But I keep trying to shine anyhow. What it’s teaching me is to keep engaging with life with an open mind, with an upright spine, and with every scrap of poetic wisdom that I’ve so far been able to collect into my noggin.

    • What a superb goal Tracy – to be resplendent! I’ve added that to my list – just marvellous!

      • I have to give credit where credit is due. It is Taliesin who led me to the word “resplendent.” He applies that term to himself in a rhyme that appears near the end of the Cad Goddeu: “Eurem yn euryll / mi hud wyf berthyll”. Marged Haycock translates this as: “[Like] a magnificent jewel in a gold ornament / thus am I resplendent.” It is a rather wonderful idea, isn’t it? I’m glad you like it, too!

  2. This article is fantastic, Philip! Opening the question to “what are my life purposes” (plural) removes a lot of the inherent pressure in traditionally thinking that a person has only one purpose or goal in life. The idea of multiple life purposes is brilliant IMO as it significantly expands one’s opportunities for personal growth and breadth of life’s meanings. And hey (tongue-in-cheek), the more life purposes I have gives me a greater chance of achieving some versus an an all-or-nothing result!

    I’ve been reading Michael Meade’s book “Fate and Destiny: The Two Agreements of the Soul” in which he draws upon mythology from around the world and applies these teachings to modern times. Meade discusses how Fate (the external world in which a person is born into) and personal Genius (each person’s inherent talents/gifts) present opportunities and challenges for each person to live out their Destiny. He suggests Destiny is akin to a story that is seeded in each soul, our inner inclinations and genuine self. To understand one’s Destiny, one must go within and “know thyself” and live genuinely true to our soul, according to Meade.

    Whether or not we canfully understand or articulate our life’s purposes, Meade suggests that we each nurture and share our talents with the world, understand and be true to our own self, and be open to the fates which will inevitably bring possibilities and challenges to each unique life. By doing these things, we can help each soul achieve it’s purpose(s) in this lifetime.

    I love Philip’s suggestion to spend time writing down ideas to articulate purposes in life. Meade suggests we consider our talents, self knowledge, and how these can impact the world in which we’re born.

    • Thank you Brenda. Yes making it plural does seem to free something up! I must look at Meade’s work. Thank you for drawing attention to it!

  3. Thank you Philip, it really does take the pressure off to think there may be more than one purpose. I’ve been exploring the mindfulness approach recently, in terms of shredding our fears, self doubts, worries etc in order to allow my true self to emerge. I like the idea of losing stuff as a way to, not find myself as such, but allow who I am without this negative self chatter to emerge.

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