What's the purpose of life? Why am I here? What path should I be following? These are questions each one of us asks from time to time during our life, perhaps when we're feeling unhappy, disappointed, confused or angry, or when we're experiencing a sense of awe or wonder at life's mysteries, suddenly aware of how very tiny we are by comparison.
Countless writers, among them philosophers, scientists and religious scholars, have grappled with those questions, offering answers such as, We're here to serve God, or We're here to learn and grow spiritually, or We're here because of the forces of genetics and evolution, or We're here to realize our oneness with "god" through spiritual practices such as meditation, or We have no purpose other than that which we create to satisfy ourselves.
All of these beliefs contain an element of truth and play an important part in many people's lives, giving them answers they need. For others, however, they only serve to generate more questions. For those who want to explore more deeply, we have to go on a journey.
Let's begin with a seed. A seed has an innate knowledge of how to grow to become a blade of grass; that knowledge is programmed into it. Without the will to grow, however, even when immersed in water, the seed would remain a seed. Just like the seed, each one of us is born with the will to grow, to create. That will, or force, connects us spiritually to all forms of life on this planet.
We are connected with the blade of grass on the physical plane as well. We need a support system, including plants and animals, in order to thrive and reproduce. A blade of grass is a part of that support system and, together with the human body, is an integral part of this planet. This can be demonstrated by the fact that both consist of elements such as oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, and minerals such as calcium and magnesium, all found on earth.
All forms of life on earth are dependent upon the heat and light of the sun. Our body, consisting primarily of water (hydrogen and oxygen) is, like the ocean, influenced by the moon's gravitational pull, as are all plants and animals. On the spiritual level, all the minds and souls that make up the earth's psyche are influenced by the movement of the sun and of every planet in our solar system.
Each and every one of us, and every other living thing, produces energy, and the production and recycling of that energy is necessary for earth to remain alive. From the changing seasons, to the growth of plants that support animal life, to the creation of mind and the eventual growth of soul, earth is a living, breathing, energy-producing cell for the universe. The universe exists because of every living cell within it. If the universe were not constantly renewing itself, it would at some point stop existing, as it would have a lifespan, like earth. Each one of us, as energy producers, is a part of the living earth and therefore, of the universe.
The universe is not out there, apart from us; rather, we are a part of the universe. From the galaxies, stars, and planets like earth, to the humans and the smallest animals, all are an integral part of the universe. The universe exists because of every part, including each and every one of us.
Take a grain of sand. Regardless of its source, it is the reason why the beach exists, not the other way around. Each grain is therefore important, just as one leaf is important, one tree is important, one forest is important, and one human is important. If one were not important, then multiples of one would be unimportant. If all the forests are important, they are important only because of each individual tree. Similarly, as each and every thought, mind, and soul is important, each person is as important as all humanity and not more or less important than any other individual.
To understand our importance and our purpose, we have to consider the relationship of our individual psyche, which includes the soul and the mind, to the universal psyche, which includes all the souls within the universe. Just as each body is an integral part of earth, each mind is an integral part of the universe. Because of the soul, we have consciousness and, thereby, thought, and each thought causes a ripple effect that influences the whole, just like the ripples created by a stone thrown into the water.
Each soul is the sum total of all its previous incarnations and consists of numerous minds and millions of individual thoughts. Were it not for the soul's innate drive to grow, we would not have the opportunity for spiritual development. As a spirit with a body, each of us is on a journey that will take us beyond the physical part of life. We can accept that the purpose of physical life is its spiritual aspect and prepare ourselves for the non-physical period, or we can choose to live like a bear or a wolf and simply be. Unlike them, however, we humans have the capacity to understand our reason for being.
It is because of the soul that we have a drive to learn and grow. It is because of the soul that we pursue spiritual development. We carry within us, though unconsciously, the knowledge contained within that soul from all its previous incarnations and are drawn to experiences that will provide new knowledge for the soul's growth. Knowledge that the soul requires to grow won't be found within itself.
When we understand that the ultimate purpose of life is the evolution of the soul, we will realize that our immediate purpose is to ensure the survival of our species and of our physical support system, planet Earth.
Identity Life Cycle
The cycle begins when the soul obtains a baby and a spirit comes into being. As the baby grows into a child and then an adult, all the learning and experience he acquires will contribute to the growth and development of his mind. Death marks the end of the physical period of the identify life cycle. At this time, the spirit - the soul, the ego system and the mind - leaves the body. Following a period of transition, the spirit enters judgment, where the ego defence falls away and the spirit is given a karma based upon the kind of life he lived. While fulfilling his karma, the spirit's mind energies are gradually purified. As the soul and the mind's energies become indistinguishable, the spirit's sense of being a separate individual begins to disappear. By the end of the karma period, he will experience himself as an inseparable part of everything around him. The second judgment marks the end of the spirit's existence. At this time, the soul harvests those mind energies that it needs to grow, along with the pure ego that was shaped out of the soul's drive. Everything else is released into the universe. Although the spirit itself has ceased to exist, much of what the spirit became during its life is now a part of the new and larger soul. The soul is an accumulation of all its life cycles, and its drive changes accordingly. Each time it reincarnates, a new cycle is begun.
Universal Cycle of Soul Growth
In the same way that the universe has no beginning or end, the cycle of soul growth is everlasting. As the soul merges with universal energy, tiny sparks of it start a new cycle, beginning in simple life forms. In time, those sparks will evolve to become souls that will then give life to creatures capable of thought. Each creature into which the soul reincarnates, whether animal or human, is of equal importance; each contributes to the soul's growth.