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Discovering your life purpose – the reason you’re living the particular life you have – is likely the single most important understanding you can ever achieve for yourself.
The search for life purpose is as ancient as civilization itself. We all ask, “Why am I here on Earth?” “What is the purpose of my life?” “What am I here to learn?” These existential questions are universal. Esoteric practices like Numerology, Astrology, the Mayan Naguals, Tarot, among many others, have been developed to find answers for people, often in desperate situations, who know, deep down, that the experiences of their lives are not arbitrary, that there are reasons, if only they could understand them – then their lives would have meaning.
What Is a Life Purpose?
Your life purpose is your north star in the dark night as you navigate your canoe. It is the compass by which your soul directs your life journey. It is the key to realizing who you came here to be, and what you came here to accomplish. It cannot be changed. It is your soul essence. It belongs uniquely to you, from the time you came to this world, and some believe it is formed even before you were born, in the womb. It won’t tell you what job you need to pursue. It is the place you came from to do your job. Being conscious and internalizing your life purpose can give you permission and set you free to pursue your life with power, joy and freedom.
What Is a Life Lesson?
Achieving your life purpose is no easy task. You have to work for it, like running and jumping over obstacle courses on a life track. Life is sure to present you with all the obstacles that are possible. You will find the right people who will push your buttons. You will create enemies. You will encounter traumas, illness and other travesties — all to teach you your life lessons. If you avoid them, you won’t learn and will find yourself repeating those traumas again and again.
In a workshop I led on a cliff overlooking Israel’s Dead Sea, I asked the participants to choose 12 stones. I then asked them to lay the stones in a circle on a piece of paper and to put a candle in the circle’s center to symbolize their life purpose. Next, I asked them to pick up each stone and journey to a specific trauma, obstacle or negative event and write it down next to each stone. At the end of the exercise, I asked them to identify and consider the common thread that connects those 12 events to each other. When we finished, they buried the stones in the sand and said a release prayer. Afterwards, one participant followed me into the desert wanting to talk. He was so excited. “Now I know why I became impotent!” he exclaimed.
Knowing Your Life Purpose Can Set You Free
I know the power of life purpose, because accepting mine was a major event for me. Years ago I met Richard Unger and took part in one of his Hand Analysis trainings. Though I had been something of a skeptic, it opened my eyes to this ancient art form. Some years later, Richard developed what he called “Life Prints,” a system that uses the unique fingerprints on each of the ten fingers to decipher a person’s life purpose. He read mine and, indeed, it literally changed my life.
That reading gave me the permission I needed to become the person I am today. You see, as a young child I needed to tell stories and share ideas. I needed to express myself. But the woman on the Kibbutz in Israel who was my caretaker at the children’s house (we lived separately from our parents) did not have the patience to listen to everything I had to say.
“You talk nonstop,” she used to complain. One day, when she had had enough, she took me aside and said, “Itzhak, God gave each of us a limited number of words to use in our lives. When you use them all up, you will die.” I knew it was not true, but I took what she said to heart. In shamanic language, as I later came to understand, that was a curse. After that, I learned to control myself and to not waste my words. I lived in fear, and whenever I talked in front of groups my stomach churned, my heart palpitated and I used to pee in my pants. I came to convince myself that I had nothing worth saying in public, that what I thought wouldn’t matter to anyone.
In his reading, Richard told me that I was “a man with a message who needs a large stage” to express himself. To hear my life’s purpose with such clarity was a critical personal turning point for me, which literally set me free from all my self-imposed restrictions.
Richard also read my wife’s life purpose, and those of our three children. I believe that it made us more aware and conscious individuals, and hopefully better parents. Fast forward a few years, and Richard and I decided to teach a course together on life purpose, bringing together both of our disciplines: his Hand Analysis and my Shamanic Visioning, integrated into one workshop. We offered it in New York, San Francisco, Florence and Zurich. Each time we witnessed the real impact it made on people’s lives.
“A Woman of Power”
At a seminar I taught in Istanbul, a tall, impressive woman took part. She was in her mid-fifties, with white hair and a commanding, queen-like presence. It was hard not to see it. As the workshop progressed, she and the people she worked with discovered her life purpose: she was a woman of power. But she went out of her way to deny it. “Me?” she said incredulously. “I do whatever others tell me to do!”
The next day she came for a private session and I asked her about her denial. She claimed to be weak and not significant. But then, after a soul retrieval, she confided that her beloved mother had made her feel weak and insignificant all her life, through to the present day. That discovery was her life lesson.
Another woman, in a seminar I gave in Warsaw, was also surprised to learn that she had this same life purpose. As a result, she made a commitment to start “showing up,” to speak up to her husband, and to use her voice to experience her power.
Feeling satisfied with who you are and what you do can be extremely challenging, as this example from the case of an overachiever makes clear. This young man was an A+ student, but that was not enough. “I could have done better,” he said. Being president of the student body of a famous Ivy League college was not enough. To be chosen as one of the ten most brilliant young people of the year was not enough. Having a weekly column appear in many publications was not enough. Even starting a multi-million social organization was not enough. Learning to be satisfied with himself and his achievements is this man’s life work. Without this knowledge, he is doomed to experience himself as a consistent underachiever.
“I don’t like this life purpose!” the tall, young, beautiful woman in a Warsaw seminar declared angrily when it was suggested that her life purpose was to experience love.
“So then, what are you doing to experience love?” I asked.
“I do everything,” she said desperately. “I’m dating all the time, but apparently the wrong men. All my relationships are short, just a few months. In the end, it seems, they lose interest in me. Or I want out.”
“Are you willing to let them in, and show them who you truly are?”
“Oh, no! I can’t trust them. I want them to prove that I can trust them first. But if I detect even the smallest reason not to, I’ll call it off.”
Her life lesson? You can’t experience love with a closed heart. Unless she learns to be vulnerable, to open her heart and trust men, she will repeat the same pattern and will never allow herself to experience what she came here for.
“Land of Sins”
On one of my first trips to the Amazon with shaman Ipupiara and his wife, our group paid a visit to Bibi, a legendary Umbanda priestess, whose reputation had spread through the Rio Negro area and beyond. Our boat docked by her large, simple wooden house and temple, and as darkness set the old woman — who was then 85 — held a special ceremony for us that lasted late into the night.
Standing by her crowded and beautiful altar, wearing her ceremonial pink dress, she started shaking involuntarily and went into a deep trance. She puffed on a few cigarettes and started channeling one of her entities, the sailor. I kneeled before her and asked the entity a personal question. I was surprised when a man’s voice answered. Then, suddenly, the dialog stopped. The sailor announced that my soul had decided, on its own, to come back to this “Land of Sins,” and for a special purpose: to heal and help people, even though my soul had completed its mission and did not need to return again.
“Do you understand what he said?’ Ipupiara asked me.
“No,” I answered.
“By the Land of Sins, he meant this world, the Earth. And you are an avatar,” Ipupiara said. She looked straight at me as if I was the most ignorant person alive.
“What’s an avatar?” I asked in surprise.
As Ipupiara answered my question in a hushed voice, a deep sadness fell upon me, and I became incredibly emotional. An old memory, long buried, from between the ages of two and three years old, appeared in my mind. It was a recollection of knowing then that I do not belong here on this planet, and of asking myself, why am I alive? I did not want to be here. I knew I wanted to go home, to let go of my physical body. This existence was just too painful.
Accepting your life purpose — even if it strikes you at first as peculiar or uncomfortable — allows you to direct your life path with clarity and power. This knowledge helps you to recognize that every negative event you experience is actually a teaching that takes you a step closer toward achieving your ultimate goal. At the same time, decisions become easier, since you can reject decisions that don’t support your life purpose. At the same time, once you begin living from this perspective, you can accept that each of us are have our own, unique life purposes, which lead us to pursue our lives in our own, unique ways. We realize how important it is to give others the permission they need to fully experience their life lessons, and to support their pursuit of life purpose. That, indeed, is the truest expression of love.
Image by sunshinecity used courtesy of a Creative Commons license.