Editor’s Note: Dr. Jean Houston is a scholar, philosopher, and one of the principal founders of the Human Potential Movement. She frequently teaches at the Chopra Center’s workshops and retreats, and this June she will join Deepak Chopra as a featured speaker at the Chopra Center’s signature meditation and yoga retreat, Seduction of Spirit, in Whistler, BC. The special theme of the event focuses on discovering your purpose and manifesting the life of your dreams. Jean is also a prolific writer and author of twenty-six books, including A Passion for the Possible and her newest book, The Wizard of Us.
As I travel around the globe speaking and training, I have consistently found that most people ask me the same question, “How do I discover my purpose in life?” In the past, who you became was determined by your family and circumstances. You didn’t have much choice. But now there is an open moment in history where you have the chance to tap into the soul of your purpose.
Millions of people right now are experiencing a yearning and desire to awaken to their unique gifts and offer them in service to the world – while living a life of joy and fulfillment. It’s a surging of the human spirit, a virtual global awakening, at a scale that no one has ever seen before. Simply put, people are longing to finally feel fully alive and to fulfill their unique purpose in life.
So then why is living a life of meaning and purpose so difficult? It is because our current social systems have not been set up to prepare us to live a life of true purpose. That’s because today’s culture exists not to nurture our highest aspirations, but to ensure our basic survival. Our educational system is designed to create good workers who will slot into jobs and careers later in life – not to empower fiery, creative people who are forging the path ahead together. Our social contracts exist to perpetuate the status quo – not to encourage our highest potentials to blossom. Is it any wonder why so many people’s best attempts to evolve themselves and our culture fall short of the goal? We simply haven’t been trained in how to bring the possible future into the present.
It’s not that they don’t have the talent or interest to live a purposeful, meaningful life. The issue is far simpler. People struggle to activate their "purpose code" because they haven’t woken up to – or are only partially awake to – our situation as a human race. Most people hold on to old, limiting beliefs of themselves and our human story. Overwhelmed by all the changes in the world around them, most people live their lives within a “small story” and therefore confine themselves to a “small self.” That’s why so many people feel that they don’t have a purpose, or that they aren’t able to actually live the life they were born to live.
An Extraordinary Time of Transformation
There is a saying that “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.” I believe that it is butterfly time. Just as the guidance cells in the mush that is the caterpillar in its cocoon suddenly begin to activate the transformation of mush into butterfly, so too this is the time when we realize that the guidance or imaginal cells of our bodies, our communities, and, yes, even of the cells of our planet are calling us to come together in all our parts to form something gorgeous, interdependent, living lightly on the earth, cross pollinating cultures, ideas, spiritual forms, glowing with the light that suffuses us, becoming transparent to transcendence. And to rise out of the mush we have been caught in these many hundreds of years and to take flight in the air of the new story which is emerging in our time.
For the fields we traverse, the many flowers of mind states and soul knowings we now enter are those that belong to the whole earth, to many cultures, to what I am calling “PanGaia.” And as the butterfly pollinates and cross pollinates from place to place, flower to flower, so do we also if we have the will and the willingness to discover our purpose and be part of this extraordinary moment in time.
Three Keys to Empowering New Beliefs
The first key to activating your life’s purpose is to hold new beliefs about yourself and about your role in the great story of where humanity is headed.
Living a great life requires that you understand the challenges and opportunities of our moment in history. To understand this for myself, I’ve gathered information from my work in more than a hundred countries and forty different cultures, and what I’ve discovered has served as a sure guide on my path. Specifically, I have found five great shifts in our understanding of the story of our time that are affecting everything we do today. I believe that awakening to the power of these shifts will help you cultivate your sense of compassion and of the infinite possibilities of this moment.
The Five Shifts:
This journey begins by letting go of old beliefs and patterns to make room for the new beliefs and capacities that will empower you to awaken to and live your higher purpose. The second key allows you to discover and realize the vast field of inner intelligences – using multiple means of knowing and being in order to gain insight into life at a level to which most people rarely have access. These skills are to be found on four levels of your human capacity: sensory-physical, psychological-emotional, mythic-symbolic, and unitive-spiritual. As you learn how to utilize the extraordinary capacities to be found at each of these levels, you literally move into new ways of being. For example, you will learn how to play with time in such a way as to take five minutes and experience it internally as hours – these are “hours” you can use to develop a skill or move a project forward.
You will learn to access “inner experts” – willing helpers or personas that will help you navigate the complexity of life with elegance and confidence.
The third key gives you the means to break free from unconscious, habitual ways of reacting to life that were born thousands of years ago, and embrace higher ways of being for a new era. You will discover ways to move through life with ebullience in your bones and an appetite for celebration – seeing everything as an expression of the creator. You will move through life, motivated not by guilt or obligation, but by gratitude and an abiding zest for doing the things that are called forth by living out of your higher purpose.
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