What is your purpose for being here, on this planet, at this time in our collective history? And why does your purpose matter?
The Oxford English Dictionary defines purpose as “The reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.”
Purpose, in this sense, is a pathway built into our DNA, one that is both revealed and traversed through our everyday choices and actions. It’s the pattern that our souls hold for the perfect unfolding of each of our lives.
Or, to reach for a different metaphor, purpose is the fulcrum to which we apply the lever of our genius, willingness and power to create the shapes of our lives, the shape of our world.
While it’s useful to understand your purpose for being here, the search for purpose can be a red herring or a stumbling block, when it pre-empts action.
Our soul’s purposes are profoundly simple: To experience, embody and express the qualities of soul in our everyday lives. To serve and bless ourselves and our world. To grow into our humanity, and our capacity to act as agents of the Sacred.
The soul has no interest in hierarchies. Volume, to the soul, is not an indicator of success. You fulfill your soul’s purposes by creating with joy, by serving with love and grace, no matter whether your creation serves a single child, a community, or the whole world.
The purposes of your incarnation, on the other hand, are far more specific. They emerge from the entirety of your personhood: Your gifts and talents, your likes and dislikes, your desires and passion – everything that makes you uniquely yourself.
Your incarnational purposes, then, will likely include specific kinds of service. To move and inspire through your art. To create and serve nourishing food, beautifully prepared and presented. To champion the disenfranchised. To build or tear down, to stand for justice, to be the voice of mercy. To teach children or discover new solar systems.
Again, hierarchies are irrelevant to your incarnational purposes. It isn’t better or morally superior to be a Nobel Prize-winning physicist or to discover the cure for cancer than it is to care for your aging mother or your newborn grandchild. The quality of your presence, the purity of your intention, and the alignment between your actions and your incarnational purposes, are what matter here.
My first conscious recognition that I was an incarnate soul, and that everything and everyone around me was made of soul stuff, took place when I was five years old. At the time, I didn’t have the language to articulate it, but I knew this truth unequivocally, powerfully. That experience has shaped my life and my work for more than 60 years.
I was born and raised in Bombay, India. Even back then, in the 1950s, Bombay was a big, busy, noisy city. Every weekend, and at the start of all our school holidays, my family took the train up to a tiny mountain village named Khandala, a couple of hours southeast of Bombay, where my aunt was principal of a boarding school.
It was a wild, lush, incredibly beautiful place. My aunt’s school was built on a mountaintop, surrounded by looming, cloud-wreathed peaks, deep, lush valleys, and cobalt blue skies. The nearest village, consisting of a few huts with no electricity or running water, was several miles away. The only way to get anywhere was to walk, climb, or hike. The only traffic consisted of the heavy-duty trucks that occasionally wheezed up the highway on their way from the city on the coast to the towns further inland, leaving lingering traces of diesel fumes and the fading din of their overworked engines in the mountain air.
Khandala was my magic place, where I knew myself at home in the world; where I felt embraced and welcomed by the landscape itself: by the mountains, trees, birds, wildlife, the velvet night sky dense with stars. It was the place where I first knew myself as the beloved of the earth, where I developed relationships with the Devas of the natural world that would shape the trajectory of my life and work, and where I first understood the many shades and gradations of my soul.
I loved that landscape with my whole being; it was my first and truest love. Even today, sixty-some years later, I can close my eyes and smell the air, as cool, clear and sparkling as the waterfalls that cascaded down those mountains; the green, cool scent of forest and mist; the spicy fragrance of mountain wildflowers, snowdrops, lantana, milkweed, wild orchids.
A few weeks before my birthday, I woke up very early one morning. The rest of my family was still asleep. Tiptoeing from my bedroom through the hallway, I opened the front door of my aunt’s bungalow, and stepped into the inside of a cloud. White, swirling, damp, cool, the air, soft as a kiss on my face, raised goosebumps on my bare arms and legs. I couldn’t see my feet, or my aunt’s rose garden. Just a deliciously shifting landscape of drifting cloud wrapping me and our mountaintop in a gauzy embrace.
Standing in the swirl of white and grey, the pattern of my life emerged clearly before me, etched in cloud, a vision as real and tangible as my hands and feet. Spread out in front of me was a landscape watered by many rivers, joined together at their confluences and through interconnected tributaries, gleaming silver through the slip-sliding clouds.
Some of the rivers were swift, powerful, narrow streams plunging down steep mountainsides, carving gorges and trailing waterfalls in their wake. Others were broad and meandering, their tributaries undulating through fertile deltas, widening into estuaries that flowed into gleaming seas.
And I felt, in the whole of my being, this profoundly joyous inner knowing: Each river and tributary was a possible direction my life could take, an unfolding, potential future. I could choose to step into any one and its current would carry me a long way on my incarnational journey.
Whichever river I chose to step into, its flow would shape me. The river, and the journey I travelled with it, would grow my strength, skill and capacity to express my soul’s gifts, to navigate this incarnation with grace, and to unfurl the pattern that my soul held for my life.
There was no way I could make a mistake, or choose the wrong river to step into, the wrong path to follow. Each river was a path my soul had laid out as a possibility for me. Each choice would take me in a purposeful direction.
Each choice would water and nourish the world. Each river would lead to a shining sea or fill a lake that would provide home and belonging for fish, birds and other wildlife, or create a delta of earth so fertile it would feed all who chose to plough, plant and grow food there. Each choice would shape a life filled with beauty, provision, generosity, service, abundance, relationship, and creative delight.
I felt such a sense of freedom, then, such a recognition of the absolute sacredness of my being. Knowing, in that moment, that whatever I chose to create, whatever path I chose to follow, no matter how slow and meandering or swift and direct, my life would be a blessing, a radiant revelation of my soul’s essence.
I stepped over the riverbank and into the river nearest my feet, and felt myself become part of its flow, part of its current. Its knowing became my knowing, its world and everything contained within it became my world. I felt its soul — different from my own, and yet as familiar as my own heartbeat. It embraced me, welcomed me, invited me into its life as friend, as beloved.
My body became the body of the river, and I travelled along its length for what seemed like years, though in clock time it was no more than a few seconds.
Eventually, the main stem of the river branched off into several tributaries, and I had to choose which one I would enter next, which current would be mine to traverse.
There was no right or wrong choice to be made — each choice would bring different aspects of my soul into incarnation. Each choice would shape my life and shape the world around me. All I had to do was trust my soul and follow my intuition.
And, I hesitated, reluctant to leave the comfort of the river that had been my home and beloved companion. I hesitated, as I’ve hesitated many times since, at the brink of change.
Even as I wavered, I felt my soul’s unwavering faith in me. I felt its unconditional love, trust and patient, willing guidance. You can rest here for as long as you wish, I heard my soul say. This river has come to the end of its course; it can’t take you any further. Take your time. When you’re ready, choose a direction — any direction. It will be the right one for you. Nothing that belongs with you is ever lost. Everything you love is part of you, and you of it. Love is never lost. You are never lost.
I stood in the swirling cloud, a sleepy little girl near the beginning of my life, and said Yes to my soul, yes to the unfolding pattern of my life, without really knowing what I was saying Yes to. All I knew is that this was love. I was safe with my soul.
I slipped out of “my” river and slid into another, turning to meet its current.
It took me years to understand what I knew wordlessly and all at once, that summer’s morning. Ever since then, I’ve been saying Yes. Yes, to the moment, whatever it brings, however inadequate I feel to meet its call. Yes, to my desires, my intuitions, my hesitations.
Yes, to the times when I cling to the safety of a familiar river that’s run its course, and yes to the adventure, to the invitation of the next river, the beckoning horizon. Yes, to all of it, because it’s all purposeful, all part of this human journey of soul incarnation.
This, to me, is soul in action — both the revelation that was offered to me that morning, and my wavering response to it.
Soul is both divine and human; divinely human. It has its being in the vastness of all-that-is, and in the blood-filled chambers of our infinitely vulnerable, beating hearts.
I don’t attempt to define soul so much as describe it. And I offer you this story to share a glimpse of how it has functioned to fulfill its purposes at a pivotal moment in my own life.
Everything in my life has flowed from this early, seminal experience. Every choice I’ve made, everything I’ve learned, understood, experienced, desired, sought out, lived, taught, spoken and written about, has emerged from the gift my soul gave me that morning, when I was not quite five years old and standing inside a cloud on a mountaintop that felt like home.
My understanding of the ecology of soul has grown in depth and nuance, as I’ve entered more deeply into incarnation, as I’ve encountered and embraced the vulnerability, courage, beauty, joy and sorrow of living a profoundly human life in this time of chaotic change and upheaval.
Through my own longing and struggle — to be whole in a world that fosters fragmentation, to live a soul-infused life in a society that’s geared to the pace of technology and in thrall to the gods of consumerism — and in response to the desires and needs of thousands of my students and clients, I’ve developed a body of work to support the free and creative expression of soul in the world.
The methodologies I’ve crafted over the past forty years include daily practices of soul alignment, patterning and energy renewal, subtle energy alchemy and activism, and co-creative partnership with Devas of the natural world, as well as planetary and multidimensional beings.
They also include practices for working with Devas that are closely allied to humans and human activity, like Devas of commerce, money, cities, technologies, and businesses.
Together we create, right here on earth, a haven of love, wholeness, belonging, peace and prosperity for all beings. Because — above all — soul is practical. It works to make life better for everyone.
Soul, to me is an ecology, a function, a relational field, and an activity. Soul is what soul does. This is your soul’s purpose, and mine, and ours.
You don’t have to know much more than that, in order to act from your soul-self to shape your life and the life of your world in accordance with your soul’s purposes, your incarnational purposes, and in harmony with the Devas of the Earth, Cosmos, and Humanity.
Your purpose is a path you make by walking.