Unfortunately the answer is mostly that I stopped be curious,
which I used to consider one of my greatest strengths. Lately I prefer to believe I know everything and have it all figured out (the know-it-all in me sometimes still believes this) than dive back into the uncertainty that is the nature of philosophical inquiry.
While it may be audacious for me to write a post insinuating that I know the purpose and meaning of life, somehow after four years studying philosophy (one in undergrad and three in graduate) of attempting to answer this very question, I feel more confident than ever in my conclusion as it is the same one I sensed as a little girl. I remember lying in bed asking myself over and over again why I was here and what I was doing…it had to be for something important I reasoned. Otherwise why would I exist, or anyone for that matter.
My official answer for why I’m here, which could change soon as this posts as that is the nature of philosophy, is simply my soul’s evolution. Our soul as a unique expression of a larger spirit arrived on this planet with a specific purpose for specific lessons. With that in mind, I believe in destiny and a world enveloped with meaning as a way of assisting us on this path…similar to Jeff from the movie “Jeff Who Lives at Home,” which if you haven’t seen you probably should. The film opens with the quote:
“Everyone and everything is interconnected in the universe. Stay pure of heart and you will see the signs. Follow the signs and you will find your destiny.”
It seems too simple that we came here to learn. Many of us want to have a grand life’s mission where we invent something new or win a Nobel Prize. I think for some souls this is how they evolve most and for others of us it may not be so grandiose. (I suspect mine mostly just has something to do with bridging the gap between business and spirituality or reminding people the importance of connection.) We aren’t all here to learn how to love unconditionally or become enlightened. Each of us has our own individual purpose while simultaneously participating in a larger one that naturally support one another.
It seems to me our “dream” jobs would be something that heals us on a soul level, something that shows us where we are wounded so we can assist others in doing the same. I think our careers and jobs contribute and support our life’s purpose and aren’t in and of themselves the whole picture.
Craving a soul’s evolution above all else also means I’m aware my best life partner isn’t necessarily someone whom I’m most similar to (please ignore preposition ending this sentence). My closest friends aren’t necessarily the people I agree with all the time but the ones who push me to think beyond my own story and psychological complexes. I believe in agreements made in former lives with others to help me see or master a specific things about myself I wouldn’t otherwise see. To notice all my relationships as assisting me in my life’s purpose infuses them with even more importance.
Aristotle believed in a universe infused with telos, in Greek meaning “purpose” or “goal.” For him there was a final cause for everything and that this essential nature of existence was found not in our beginning and instead in our ending. There are many mystical teachings and divination tools that we use to try to find our ultimate purposes. Maybe it is written in the stars, or the visions of a shaman, but I don’t think any of us can truly know until we have completed our soul cycle here on Earth. In essence, like many Eastern traditions discuss, we came here to forget so we could spend our life remembering.
One of my favorite myths comes from Judaism about the frenulum or philtrum (that cleft above our upper lip connecting to our nose for those of you not into useless information). It is said right before babies are born a guardian angel, Lailah, presses a finger to that area shushing us from telling the secrets of the world before worlds. I want to believe she also whispers our life’s purpose to us and our greatest lessons for this lifetime.
I recently read a really beautiful article online from Personality & Spirituality about soul evolution discussing the teachings of archangel Michael and the five types of souls. I think this diagram offers some insight into how we can identify some of our lessons. According to these teachings it takes 100 lifetimes or between 7000-8000 years to complete the whole soul cycle.
In Kabbalah this concept of personal telos is referred to as “tikkun,” similar to “karma” in Hinduism. I love to remind myself that everything that happens is “from the Light.” I don’t say God, as that word conjures up a Western, Christian version of divinity. Light feels more accessible and in the Kabbalah tradition we are all vessels for a larger receiving (Kabbalah means “to receive”) of love and light from an original source and here to learn our own ways of becoming more like the Light from where we came. (Wow, that is a run-on sentence I don’t even feel like fixing.)
Lately I’ve been taking an “inventory” of the areas in my life that I know upset me most. These triggers offer me an insight into my tikkun as they are where my soul craves growth. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I’ve realized this growth only becomes possible in relationship to others. Our soul evolution requires others to show us where we are reactive. We reach a limit of growth by ourselves. This means we will inevitably be hurt, angry, or sad and these emotions often reveal where our deepest being wants to evolve.
When we cut ourselves off from others or avoid certain people because they “trigger” us we can easily fall into a trap of stagnating our growth. (There are of course some people who don’t feed our souls and this is different.) I realize now how much I have often tried to avoid my soul’s evolution. I live alone as a way of not having to deal with many relational aspects that come up with roommates. I’ve enjoyed being single as a way of not having to deal with all the emotional issues that come up when I’m in a relationship. I begin to feel an emotion and instead of giving it space to teach me something I bury it away. I confess many times I have chosen being comfortable over change.
With my Saturn Return coming to an end soon, all the karmic lessons of Saturn I have often chosen to ignore have been revealing themselves more potently than ever. This is the first time I have developed friendships with such depth that arguments occur. In the past that meant for me that something was over. I see now that these friendships teach me more than I could possibly learn by myself.
I thought when I entered as a Master’s student in philosophy I would learn to answer the meaning of life as something complex. Several years later I have the same answer I started with (and of course more snobbiness as I “know” more now). My soul wants to evolve and that’s why I’m here…writing this blog, studying what I study, having the family I have, questioning what I’m told, and hopefully always wondering about my purpose as it participates with the whole of existence.
[Photo: Personality & Spirituality]