This essay appeared in the book Healing Our Planet, Healing Ourselves: The Power of Change Within to Change the World, edited by(2005).
I would like to lead you further into this mystery today, the mystery of who you are, why you are here and where you are going—the mystery of purpose. Perhaps you have begun this mysterious journey and now we encounter each other in this place, this rendezvous point, a place where the road ends and the wilderness begins.
What I am about to say will lead you into uncharted territory. It may change your life. Ask yourself, “Am I ready to take this next step?”
I am going to speak to you in mystical terms now. Perhaps you know this language. It is the language of this uncharted territory. Here we leave the world of concepts and intellect and enter a world of deeper understanding and recognition. Prepare yourself then. Prepare your inner vision. Prepare your inner listening. Become still inside so that you and I can stay connected through this experience. This is how deeper communication occurs. This will enable me to show you a way.
The deeper inclinations that you have been feeling throughout your life are signs that something greater is stirring within you. You who are drawn to discover what these deeper inclinations really mean are the beginning of responding to the mystery of purpose. Purpose generates meaning, and meaning is what we search for in all things. Yet what is greater purpose and what steps can you take to find it?
Greater purpose is what you are looking for. It is within you. You have brought it with you into the world. It is like a secret cargo that you carry. It lives within your Self-Knowledge, the deeper Spiritual Mind that God has given you to guide and protect you in your journey in the world.
To discover and to contribute the gift that is yours to give, you must first respond to this knowledge within you and over time have this Knowledge become your foundation. Within your personal mind, the mind that judges, evaluates, compares, hopes and fears, you will not be able to figure this out. Your ideas and beliefs cannot account for it. It must come from deeper within you.
You are not of one mind about your reason for being here. You are in conflict concerning your identity, your direction and your purpose. This conflict permeates all levels of your conscious mind, but it does not affect your Self-Knowledge, the deeper mind within you.
Your Knowledge is beyond error. It is the God-seed within you. It is higher truth within you. This is something you can finally trust. With Knowledge as your foundation, your true power, abilities and direction will return to you. This is the great reunion. This is what the world is waiting for—your power and abilities dedicated to a greater purpose.
Knowledge reaches you in mysterious ways. It is like water seeping through the soil. It finds the path of least resistance. It reaches down to the roots and nourishes. It does not filter in a uniform manner. If your mind, like soil, has been loosened so that it is aerated and opened, then the truth, like water, may enter more easily and nourish you more immediately.
Intuition and insight are the outermost expressions of Knowledge, yet they are but the snowflakes before the storm. They are signs that something greater is coming and your must prepare. Heed these signs. Watch for them. Listen for them. Feel them. Follow them. Yet don’t make any conclusions yet. Just know that something is building. Knowledge is telling you that you must prepare to set out in a new direction. And only you will know what this may mean.
It is not enough for me to give a definition of higher purpose and to say your purpose is to forgive the world, or your purpose is to serve the world, or your purpose is to be one with God, or your purpose is to finally love yourself completely and to learn to love others. For your purpose contains all of these things. Yet it is really about something else.
The knowledge of your purpose is stored within your Self-Knowledge, like a treasure buried beneath the soil of your mind. You cannot find it on your own. You need great assistance. You cannot find it alone because in truth you are not alone. You are more than an individual. You are part of something greater.
However, if you are ambivalent concerning this discovery, then you will not seek for it in earnest. You will be in conflict —part of you wanting it, part of you not wanting it. At this moment, you may not be wholehearted regarding this because your mind and your life are full of your plans, goals and obligations. As a result, the discovery of your purpose takes time because it takes time to wholeheartedly desire it and to be free to find it.
Purpose is a discovery and a journey. It is born of disappointment with your life as it is, disillusionment with the world as it is—and a deep need to fulfill what you came here to do. To make this journey, however, you are going to have to give some things up. You need to lighten your load. To travel in the wilderness, you can’t take everything with you. You need only what is essential now. You will have to leave some good people behind. They cannot take this journey with you because in truth this is not their journey. They are going in a different direction.
Here you are going to have to choose what you are going to follow within yourself. You cannot have it all. This is the first gate. This is the great stopping place. This is where many people give up the journey. This is where many people walk out on themselves and their deeper inclinations. This is where people consign themselves to a life of compromise. This is where purpose dies and the needs of the world go unfulfilled.
The mystery of purpose calls to you from beyond this gate. Will you pass through this gate? If you do, then you have entered the realm where the activation of Knowledge can truly occur. Once you are in the clear, Knowledge begins to have a more direct influence upon your conscious mind. You begin to seek quiet and solitude instead of stimulation. You begin to see, feel and know things that would have escaped your attention before. You look for real honesty in your communication with others. You remember insights you had long ago which now have real relevance. You are finally becoming free to be yourself again.
This is a long journey and there are more gates to pass through, more stopping places. At each one, you will have to choose between your growing experience of Knowledge and where it’s taking you and those expectations, ideas and relationships that are holding you back.
As you pass through each gate, you relinquish more of your control to Knowledge and the mystery of purpose within you as your life is being reshaped. Here you are going from being a person who was primarily concerned with serving yourself and your ideas to becoming someone who has the power, capacity and grace to serve something far greater.
Greater relationships can come to you now as your life becomes unencumbered and begins to open up. These are not mere friends. They are individuals who hold the key to your destiny here, a destiny they share with you, and who are necessary participants in the realization of your greater purpose and contribution. These are relationships of destiny and you must prepare for them.
Over the years, people have often told me what they think their purpose is. “It is my purpose to be in this relationship for now.”; “It is my purpose to be living here.”; “It is my purpose to travel around the world.”; “It is my purpose to pursue this career.” Listen for these declarations in yourself and in others. They are almost always premature. These may only be incremental movements. You have a long way to go. Your thirst for Knowledge and truth must be greater than these self-validating, self-selected definitions. Live with the question of your purpose unanswered. In truth, you can’t define your purpose. It defines you in its own time and in its own way.
What I am speaking of is your calling in the world. This is when you reach the great breaking point where what you want, what you know and what the world requires of you finally converge. It is like an explosion. Energy long pent up is finally released. This is power, but it is power with a purpose. It is here to do something.
After this great breaking point, then you will begin to know specifically what you are to do in the world. You will know it. You will finally recognize it. And you will think, “I have always had this feeling. Why didn’t I know this sooner?” You did not know it sooner because you could not accept it. You could not act upon it. You could not give yourself to it wholeheartedly.
Those who have reached this point know that the truth about their purpose in life is more important than anything else—comfort, security, acknowledgment, love or money. They are becoming wholehearted in their desire for this calling and in their desire for Knowledge. This is a turning point. Now something important can really begin to happen.
Remember, Knowledge is your spiritual reality. It is bigger than this world. It accounts for far more than this one time and place. You cannot see the entire universe from where you are standing. Just like the fish in the sea cannot perceive the stars above or what is occurring in the landscapes beyond their realm, the world is like a sea and you are within it now. But Knowledge connects you with all of it.
You must satisfy and complete each step towards this great turning point. You cannot skip ahead, thinking that you know what you are doing. The truth is, most of the time you won’t know what you are doing. Other people will expect you to explain what is happening. But it is ineffable. If they are not on such a journey themselves, they will not understand. You are undergoing a great transition. In essence, you are shifting the center of authority within yourself.
Your purpose will not arise until you are truly ready for it and until the conditions are right. You are not in a position to assess your readiness. The Mystery will determine that. Your task now is to take the next step that is in front of you.
To be successful, you must take each step without idealism, without ambition, without presumptuous ideas about the way God is, the way God works in the world and the way life is. These ideas can lead you astray. They are only ideas based on expectations and hope.
You must learn what your true responsibilities are here. You cannot determine your destiny in this life because you do not know where you are going or where you have come from. That is the Mystery. Yet you must manage your internal and external affairs to a very large degree. In this you are empowered. You are like the captain of your ship. Your thoughts and feelings are your crew. The ship is your body. You are meant to be the captain of the ship, but you do not yet know what the ship carries deep within its hold or what its ultimate destination is. Assuming this leadership over your thinking and behavior is one of your primary steps. You must be able to responsibly focus your mind and energy at each step along the way in order to ultimately do something important in the world.
What is this spiritual purpose that is so mysterious? It is a great attraction within you. When you have reached the point of realizing that it may be more desirable than self-fulfillment and your former attempts at self-gratification, then it begins to assert an attraction. It always had this attraction, yet it was misconstrued as something else. Now you begin to realize that this sense of purpose you have had all your life, however denied or neglected, is something to seriously consider and to honor.
Look at your purpose in terms of stages. This is much better, for stages involve action and an understanding that things grow in stages. This approach also tends to separate the dreamers from the doers—those who merely wish to entertain themselves with high ideals from those who actually set out to live a life that they know is possible, but which they cannot yet define.
Everyone carries Knowledge. If it is reaching its activation point, you cannot stop it. It will assert increasing influence. It will lead you toward new experiences. It will reshape your point of view as you proceed along. It will speak of things that people around you will never consider or find interesting
As Knowledge becomes more potent within you and begins to emerge more powerfully, it begins to assert greater and greater power through you and within you. When this happens, you will see that you had been living according to ideas, but now there is something working within you. You may call it your Higher Self or God or something else, but this again is merely a classification process. In truth, it is beyond words. Your Higher Self is not a greater individual. It is part of a group. That is why it saves you from your isolation.
Deep within you, you now feel that you have found something. You have found yourself. You finally feel at home in the world. This feeling of “Home” is a very important experience. When you meet those individuals who are destined to be a part of your greater purpose, you will have this experience of “home.” Your relationship will not merely be about the sharing of ideas and interests. It will not be about the satisfaction of desires. It is far greater than this. You may say, “I feel at home with these people. I can’t explain it.”
What I am talking of here is satisfaction leading to greater satisfaction – wholeness leading to greater wholeness. To experience this, you will learn as you proceed that certain lines of thinking and certain activities strengthen your experience of Knowledge and others weaken it. This leads to ongoing choosing and development. This is what your daily life gives you.
Recall a time you absolutely knew something—something beyond your preferences and fears and your ideas in the moment. You just knew something. What a contrast this insight was to all of the thinking, all the worrying, all the anxiety, all the anticipation, all the excitement, all the questioning and all of the anger and frustration. Wait for these times of knowing. Recognize them. Call for them.
On your journey, you must also make important decisions. How can you know you are making the right decision? Decision-making can take a lot of energy. Deliberation and ambivalence take time. To conserve your energy and to stay on course, if you find that you must take a position, then take a position. Yet if you do not have to take a position, then wait until you know. The Mystery gives you both opportunities. Both are very important. One requires determined action. The other requires patience and restraint. These abilities must be cultivated. That is why you have decisions that you must make immediately and you have decisions that can wait. Can you make a decision and hold to it, regardless of what everyone else says? On the other hand, can you wait to make a decision until everything settles down within you so that you can see clearly? These are necessary skills.
You have to be a greater person than you are today to carry Knowledge and to live a greater purpose. That is why you must develop yourself as a person—your physical ability, your emotional stability, your mental framework, your activities, your discernment in the world, many things. The Mystery reclaims; it does not destroy. But it must set things in order, both within you and around you. If your life is constrained or compromised, you will not be able to proceed.
Knowledge is with you. It is a power. It is a force. It is a presence. It holds the mystery and meaning of your purpose. It is the most powerful force in the universe, yet it has the humility and the simplicity to open your heart and the hearts of others. Knowledge is pervasive. It is the mysterious force that moves everything towards the fulfillment of its purpose in life. Without fanfare, without great show, Knowledge affects everything, but in an unseen way.
You came into the world with the Knowledge of who you are, whom you must meet and what you must accomplish. It is time now to find this Knowledge and begin to live it. This is the mystery of your purpose, a mystery that you share with all others who are in the world with you at this critical time in history. Many more people now must respond to the mystery of their purpose. This is the great need of our world.
Before we leave this place on the edge of the wilderness, let us conclude our time together with a prayer and a blessing. Join me now in this prayer.
Let me, then, be the recipient of Knowledge. Let me, then, embody Knowledge. Let me, then, learn to be an expression of Knowledge. Let my mind be illuminated. Let my body be invigorated. Let my relationships be balanced and harmonized. And let the way open before me, for I am ready to begin.
And here is a blessing:
May the mystery of your purpose emerge within you. May you be blessed to receive it and have the strength to follow it, wherever it may take you. May the world call out of you the gift that you have been sent here to give. And may your life be an inspiration that leaves a legacy for others who follow.
Marshall Vian Summers is a dynamic teacher and inspired writer, providing a new awareness that humankind is not alone in the universe. He points to a deep understanding of humanity’s spiritual reality and about our destiny within the greater community of intelligent life in the universe. In 1975, Marshall ended his career as a special educator for the blind. He later began teaching the principles and practices of inner knowing, and he has written a trilogy of books on the subject. Marshall lives in seclusion with his wife in the Rocky Mountains.