It is probable
that at some point in life nearly all human beings on earth
wonder why they were born. Is there a reason for us being here? Do we each
have something to do or to achieve? Young people tend to think of purpose in
terms of a job or career. Anyone of any age who is interested in spiritual
development tends to think in bigger terms, such as soul purpose. A few
fortunate individuals, either due to exceptional, inherent talents or an inner
knowingness, sense from an early age exactly what they are meant to do or be
in life. Some of us ultimately discover our mission either accidentally or through
carefully considered inner work. Many people just wonder if a purpose exists.
Today we find more and more interest in this subject of soul and spirit, as
reflected in the “Remembering Your Spirit” segment on the “Oprah” television
show. Also in a recent O-THE OPRAH MAGAZINE, I found the following
statement: “Feeling good about who you are and what you’re here on earth to
do--that is the real work of your life.” Lots of us might wonder if some process or
technique exists that we could use to help us discern our own reason for being.
The fact is that there are such techniques and we can learn to use them for
greater self understanding.
The Edgar Cayce readings are an especially helpful source to help us
discern our mission in life. Cayce, the amazing “sleeping prophet” gave over
1900 “life readings” between 1923 and 1944. In each one he discussed the
client’s purpose in life, the client’s important talents, strengths, and weaknesses,
the influence of past lifetimes, and suggestions for occupations that could be
Cayce expert, psychologist, and author, Mark Thurston, Ph.D., has
brought together in book form the Cayce information regarding one’s mission in
life, along with discussions of others who have dealt with this subject, and
techniques for readers to use to determine their own purpose. Thurston has
collected this information in two books. DISCOVERING YOUR SOUL’S
PURPOSE (A.R.E. Press, 1984) is the more technical of the two, delving into
more background and parallels between Cayce’s ideas and those of psychiatrist
Carl Jung and the philosopher, George I. Gurdjieff. Thurston also includes an
in-depth examination of the complexities of the power of free will. In
SOUL-PURPOSE: DISCOVERING AND FULFILLING YOUR DESTINY (St.
Martin’s Paperbacks, 1989), Thurston presents a self-study plan for readers to
use in order to explore their natural potentials and thereby discover their true
path in life. This second book closely parallels the content of workshops that
psychologist Thurston has presented in major cities in the United States,
Canada, and Europe.
There is much we can learn from these books and from working through
the suggested steps. Always the steps involve a growth in self-awareness and
understanding, especially in regard to one’s talents, abilities, and strengths. In
order to examine these abilities one needs to do some whole-life reflection or
informal autobiographical work. Thurston points out that this process parallels
one taught in noted career-counseling books: WHAT COLOR IS YOUR
PARACHUTE? by Richard Bolles (Ten Speed Press, updated yearly), and
WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE WITH MY LIFE? by John C. Crystal and
Richard N. Bolles (Ten Speed Press, 1974). I worked with the Bolles’ process
years ago in a university course on career counseling and I found it to be an
insightful technique for self-understanding.
The work to perceive one’s soul-purpose or mission in life involves far
more, however, than a search for the most promising career. In the Thurston
books we gain insights about how several great minds approached this issue.
Carl Jung, the founder of analytical psychology, a psychology of the human soul,
developed the idea of our connectedness (oneness) with a “collective
unconscious.” For Jung the purpose or meaning of life was to discover our
special potentials and gifts and fulfill these potentials of our being. Jung saw
this development largely as a two-part process. From birth to about age 40 each
individual adopts an orientation toward life, strengthening and sharpening
talents and skills, building a persona (the face we wear that adapts to the
demands of society). After age 40 we have the chance to develop a more
personal meaning to life. This requires that we become more aware of sides of
ourselves that have been ignored. This helps us achieve integration of all parts
of ourselves, and leads to the awakening of our true, distinctive personhood.
Jung commented on how Eastern philosophies encourage this work: “The
Oriental knows that redemption depends on the work he does on himself. The
Tao [the way] grows out of the individual” (Collected Works, 13:53).
Edgar Cayce’s readings provide a similar parallel. The persona we
develop, he calls “personality.” Our true self, he calls the “individual.” Our
personality is largely developed to suit society. We need to work to find our
individualities in order to live our specific mission, our purpose in life.
Mark Thurston also refers to famed psychiatrist and author, Viktor Frankl.
Frankl’s classic work, MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING (Beacon Press, 1963),
contains his account of his experiences in the Auschwitz and Dachau
concentration camps. During his imprisonment in these camps Dr. Frankl made
important discoveries about human nature and he explored the meaning of life.
Frankl came to believe that all human beings have an innate impulse to find
purpose in life. In later research Dr. Frankl concluded that “as much as 20
percent of illness in the modern world is directly attributable to the patient’s
failure to find meaning in life.” Frankl wrote: “One should not search for an
abstract meaning of life. Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in
life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment.
Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s
task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.”
The Cayce readings are unequivocal regarding the soul’s mission: “For
each soul enters with a mission. . . . We all have a mission to perform” (Reading
3003-1). Besides each individual’s unique life mission, all souls have the same
overall purpose, according to Cayce. Cayce claims the initial purpose was
“companionship.” We were created to be a step toward relationship,
connections, companionship, and love. Therefore, our purpose and fulfillment
are most likely to be found by making loving connection with living things around
us. “Let each individual know that it came into life with a purpose from God. . . .
you each have your part to do” (281-60). “First, the entering of every soul is that
it, the soul, may become more and more aware or conscious of the divine within,
that the soul-body. . . may be a fit companion for the glory of the Creative Forces
in its activity” (518-2).
Author Thurston states: “Everyone you know is gifted in a particular way.
Each individual has a Gift--a kind of sensitivity or talent. The very essence of a
soul’s mission is to discover that Gift and present it to the world.” The problem
for many people is, however, that they lack belief in themselves and in their own
unique “gift.” Sometimes those gifts are deeply buried, covered over by
socialization, training, demands from life, disappointments, and mistaken
choices. Society and school encourages conformity, fitting in with the family or
group. Overdependency on mechanical devices discourages application of the
human capacity to do and to create. The passiveness of television watching and
computer games diminishes the creative imagination. Extreme specialization in
most jobs and professions creates boring, often repetitive routines and tasks,
putting us in a rut. Constant busyness and too much to do creates strains and
the perception that we don’t have time for something serious like looking for the
meaning of our existence.
But the soul grows and develops as it discovers meaning, experiences
reasons, and sets goals for living. Spiritual understanding and development
involves finding our soul self, our individuality, and expressing this universal part
of ourselves within physical life. Just discovering our mission in life is only half
of the work; we must also live it in our daily life.
The Cayce program involves two steps: the inner discovery process of
finding your spiritual identity and soul’s mission, and the sharing of your gifts
and talents with others so that they too can fulfill their purpose. For Cayce, the
application of mission or purpose involves service to others. He constantly
reiterated this point in his “life readings”: “Be not only good but be good for
something,” (2868-2). Cayce said, “It is not the knowledge, then, but what one
does with one’s abilities, one’s opportunities in relationships to others, that
makes for the development or retardment of that individual” (1293-1).
Another fine source for exploring your mission in life is THE PURPOSE
OF YOUR LIFE by Carol Adrienne (William Morrow and Company, 1998).
Adrienne is also the co-author with James Redfield of the “Experiential Guides”
to Redfield’s books, THE CELESTINE PROPHECY and THE TENTH INSIGHT.
Adrienne, a psychologist and numerologist, has counseled many individuals and
classes on life purpose.
Her book is highly readable and filled with many interesting anecdotes
about friends and clients in their efforts to identify the purpose, or purposes, of
their lives. Adrienne’s focus tends to be on ways to develop one’s intuitive
forces and to recognize the significance of synchronicity in our lives. She also
emphasizes means to recognize and increase our creativity and to develop
innate talents and abilities. Insightful self-quizzes help readers identify personal
strengths and weaknesses. Carol Adrienne’s goal is the same as Mark
Thurston’s: to help readers become more self aware. Adrienne’s approach is
less academic than Thurston’s and perhaps more accessible to the average
reader. Serious students of the subject, however, would most likely enjoy
exploring both authors’ approaches.
Adrienne also includes a discussion of what she called “the void” or our
“dark side” or “shadow.” This is a subject that I have always found to be difficult
to understand, often discussed in esoteric books in the most obscure language
imaginable. Adrienne’s chapters, however, are the clearest, most
comprehensible, and most positive in approach that I have ever found. I would
recommend Carol Adrienne’s book just for those chapters. Nevertheless, the
whole book offers many insights and much enrichment to our efforts to identify
the purpose of our life on earth.
Clearly, human beings like to know the reasons for things. At some point
in life we require some purpose for our existence. Certain situations tend to
push us to seek the purpose of life: pain, especially within the soul,
dissatisfaction with the values of the world, disappointments and perceived
failures in relationships or career, or a restlessness with the familiar, the usual.
Do you remember that old song title, “Is That All There Is?” When we lack
meaning in our life, we start to ask questions.
To work toward finding purpose in life, one needs, at least tentatively, to
accept certain principles:
1. We each are a soul.
2. All of life is purposeful.
3. Our individual life is purposeful. Everyone is born with a specific
4. We can explore our purpose by using various steps and techniques.
5. We can discover our mission in life by examining our talents,
strengths, and abilities.
6. Each individual can make a difference in the world.
Books like Mark Thurston’s DISCOVERING YOUR SOUL’S PURPOSE
and SOUL-PURPOSE: DISCOVERING AND FULFILLING YOUR DESTINY, and
Carol Adrienne’s THE PURPOSE OF YOUR LIFE provide useful guidance so
that we can explore our inner selves and gain that greater self-awareness in
order to know that, indeed, we are each gifted with talents, abilities, and
strengths which enable us to live and fulfill our own special mission in life,
thereby contributing something unique and special to the world.
What could be more inspirational to living a useful, positive life than knowing
that we each have a gift to share with the world and all the talents we need in
order to fulfill that mission!
“Strengthen your faith in the truth that you are born with an inherent
purpose, and that purpose must
and will be revealed to you through
your own intention, intuition, synchronistic meetings, and the uncommon wisdom of your spiritual guidance.”
Gayl Woityra, a distance-education student at Atlantic University, is a retired high school English and Humanities teacher who resides in Arizona where
she continues to pursue her eclectic metaphysical studies in consciousness, the Ageless Wisdom, astrology, flower
essences, music, color, and alternative medicine. She regularly publishes her "Book Talk" essays in
PHENOMENEWS, a body-mind-spirit publication in Michigan.
To Learn More about Mark Thurston's Mission in Life Course