Because of the coronavirus, our normally busy lives have come to a screeching halt. We can’t go to work or the gym, run our usual errands, fill up our time with things both consequential and not. In lockdown, we understand what’s important and what isn’t. Our commitments have shrunk to keeping ourselves and our families safe. All of it can obscure the most important obligation of all—the one we have not just to ourselves but to our own souls.
This newly quiet world also gives us the perfect opportunity to look within and re-evaluate our spiritual life. That obligation—to know ourselves and our life purpose—goes far beyond showing up for church, synagogue, or mosque once a week. It delves deeper than prayers and is more significant than sermons.
We Are Here for a Reason
We are, after all, here for a reason. Our souls did not decide to inhabit our bodies just for the heck of it. And by “here” I mean planet Earth, America, and the families we were born into. We have work to do on our life purpose throughout our lifetimes that has nothing to do with jobs, careers, salaries, and promotions—what we normally consider work.
I realize that not everyone reading this might believe that they have a soul—but that doesn’t mean you don’t have one. The soul exists outside of space and time and is a great gift. But it must learn things through you that occur within space and time. Think of your body as a rubber glove and your soul is the hand that reaches into physical reality to have experiences that support the soul’s life purpose.
Personal Life Purpose
We each have a personal life purpose that is bigger than any one thing, even a job, a calling, or a vocation. You may have felt a calling to become a doctor, an artist, a priest, or a lawyer, but that will not constitute your entire life. You may enjoy a family, a talent, a hobby, travel, or crafts and, while those are important to your overall life purpose, they are only part of it.
So, to help us understand what we need to do and how to sort through the competing demands on us, I’m going to talk about the Seven Components of Life Purpose. I have taken them from a book called, “Menus for Impulsive Living” written by Kurt Leland. Kurt, whom I have known for over 30 years, is a composer, lecturer, musician, poet, author, and channeler.
This book does not tell you what your life purpose is. No book can because every human being’s life purpose is different.
Let’s go over the Seven Components of Life Purpose one by one—along with how we can observe them given the current Covid-19 pandemic.
1. Service to the Body
This service comprises anything done to enhance the body’s ability to perform as a vehicle for the lessons of the soul. Many of us have heard that we should treat our body as a temple. That’s pretty good advice because the body is the vehicle through which the soul learns its lessons in physical reality.
The better shape your body is in, the easier it is to learn those lessons. Feeding it properly with nourishing food and exercising regularly are not just what the doctor ordered for your physical health, they are important to your soul as well. On the other side of the prescription, as we all know, are not overusing drugs, tobacco or alcohol, which diminish the body’s ability to function efficiently.
Our body is not just a temple of the divine spirit, it’s a tool. We need to keep our bodies in good operating condition, just as we would clean, oil, polish, or hone any tool on which we depend.
In the light of today’s pandemic, service to the body means staying in, practicing social distancing, eating well and getting whatever exercise you can.
2. Service to the Soul
Service to the soul refers to anything you do that furthers the lessons your soul must learn in physical reality. Usually, this involves confronting every situation life has to offer without resisting it. Think about that. To put it in Star Trek terminology, “Resistance is futile.” We will learn from life’s challenges one way or another. Whether we do it the hard way or the easy way is up to us.
These situations may be external, like interactions with others, work issues, and family problems. Or they can be internal, as with psychic experiences or dreams. Yes, dreams have meaning. They are not just random firings of neurons in your brain.
You can fulfill this aspect of your life purpose by reading how to handle situations that cause conflict, taking therapy sessions, or attending self-development seminars. I confess I am not big on these latter activities myself but I see where they can help some folks.
Abdicating life experiences can be a choice but, in the long run, it will not help your soul’s growth. Remember: If you try to avoid facing life, your soul learns nothing. The fastest way past psychic pain is through the middle.
Take this opportunity of reduced physical demands to look inward. Try mitigating the stress of being housebound by meditating or doing video yoga. Start a dream journal by writing down your dreams every morning.
3. Service to the Creator
This means anything you do to realize a creative project. Creating something helps make us aware of having been created ourselves to fulfill a special function within the universe. This step requires no bowing, kneeling, genuflecting, praying, prostrating, or confessing.
The traditional arts serve this purpose but you don’t have to write the Great American Novel or paint like Andrew Wyeth to be a creator. Craftsmanship counts, too, as does cooking, woodworking, throwing pots, knitting, dancing, composing music, or weaving baskets. Your creating can be large or small, durable or edible, funny or serious. Find a way to create that you enjoy and that speaks to you—then do it.
Trying and Sharing
Decreased demands on our time mean we have more time to try new things. Remember those art supplies you got for Christmas but never used? Take them out and try them out. Ditto the recipe you never tried because it took too long or the woodworking project you set aside ten years ago. Even assembling a jigsaw puzzle is a form of creativity.
An important component of this service is to share your creativity with others by showing the work to them, performing it for them, or feeding them. The size of the audience is immaterial. Sharing helps you to become fully aware of what you have learned about yourself as a human being through a creative act.
4. Service to the Personality
Here’s a big one. This means anything done to realize within oneself as much of the vast storehouse of human capability as possible. That sounds pretty daunting, doesn’t it? After all, human beings have an almost unlimited number of expressive characteristics available to us. Part of our life purpose is to realize as much of our humanity as possible in terms of range and depth of feeling. Developing your intellectual and psychic capacities are equally important.
The more feelings and capacities you explore and include in your life, the richer you will make your personality and the experience of daily living. Your social persona is another form of creativity and socializing lets you perform this creation. Allow yourself to be as expressive of who you really are as possible—as long as you are not doing it just to call attention to yourself. Your expression encourages other people to express themselves and thus enrich their lives.
We will all find this service tougher to experience given isolation and social distancing. Still, we have social media and technologies like Zoom to connect us. Try not to become numb to the situation and allow yourself to feel the emotional impact of those who are suffering from Covid-19.
5. Service to Family
Here we have anything done to help blood relatives or the spiritual family of one’s closest friends to fulfill their individual life purposes, as well as allowing them to aid themselves in the same way.
Some of us may find this service difficult because we have families who, to be kind, don’t encourage this kind of service. Others are alone, having outlived their family of origin. In that case, reach out and make your closest friends your spiritual family. Part of your life purpose is to help and guide them toward self-realization. Another part—equally important—is to allow them to guide and help you.
Not all families are biological. Yours may include neighbors, members of a congregation, longtime friends, co-workers, etc. Families come in all sizes and shapes. Ask yourself who is part of your real family.
Children Not Required
FYI—this service does not mean you must have children. But if you make that decision, your life purpose expands to care for them to the best of your ability. I have read a dismaying number of books lately—including the popular “Where the Crawdads Sing”—about adults who are unclear on the concept of parental responsibility. These books hold up a mirror that shows us what happens to children when the adults in their lives abandon this service.
Because of the pandemic, however, many adults have now recognized that keeping their families safe from Covid-19 is their highest goal and most important responsibility. For some, it has been a wake-up call.
6. Service to Humanity
The sixth service encompasses anything done to enhance the physical, emotional, intellectual, or spiritual well-being of mankind. In today’s political and medical environment, this may feel like a tall order indeed.
If you are fortunate, your job may be an expression of this service. Remember, you don’t have to touch the lives of everyone on the planet or even in the country to achieve service to humanity. It is enough to work in some way toward this service, emotional, even if that encompasses just a handful of people.
Your actions can start a series of ripples in which the people you helped become more likely to help others and those others reach out to another sector of humanity, and so on. Think of people who “pay it forward” in coffee shops or help out a mother who can’t afford all the groceries she needs.
In terms of the pandemic, our doctors, nurses, emergency workers, first responders and others who are fighting Covid-19 are performing an important service to humanity. So are the CEOs who have turned their companies from manufacturing consumer products to producing masks, ventilators and anti-bacterial soap. Don’t forget the janitors who spend nights cleaning public areas to prevent transmission at the risk of their own health.
Remember, a small accomplishment may over time touch the lives of a much larger portion of humankind.
7. Service to All Life
Here we have anything done to better the quality of life for other beings on the planet, whether animal or vegetable, flora or fauna. It encompasses work to improve the quality of life for earth’s myriad species, whether through direct interaction, in-depth study, support for organizations that benefit the ecology, endangered species, wilderness preservation, or environmental clean-up.
Again, you don’t have to go one-on-one with a Japanese whaling ship to accomplish this service. Some people are called on for such direct action while others simply support the work.
Right now it’s good to go outside and get some fresh air, as long as your not in a crowd walking on the same trail, climbing the same hill or watching the same birds. Do some gardening. Put out water for the bees and food for the birds. Go for a walk and pick up roadside trash while you’re at it or help to clean a beach (while maintaining a safe distance from others.)
Read a book like Susan Casey’s “Voices in the Ocean,” to raise your understanding of how we interact with marine mammals, or watch a documentary on habitat destruction.
A Marathon, Not a Sprint
Okay, that’s a lot to digest and you’re probably wondering how this helps when you already have a full plate of work, household chores, child rearing, and other duties. Don’t sweat it. Your lifetime is a marathon, not a sprint.
You also don’t have to leave your job and your family and go to a Tibetan monastery to find your life purpose and become who you truly are. That might actually mean abdicating the kind of life experiences you need to grow spiritually.
Your soul has your back. It will send you impulses and opportunities that are timed so you can realize yourself fully in all the ways required over a lifetime. The trick is to be open to these impulses and to act on them when they occur. The closer you come to discovering how best to fulfill your life purpose in each of these areas, the more life force will flow through you. This will make you feel enthusiastic, motivated, happy, healthy, satisfied, and youthful. What could be bad?