Our culture has confused people, and continues to do so, in this regard. For example, what young person does not grow up expecting that there is something special they are here to do and that their greatest life challenge, or test, is to figure out what that "something" is and pursue it? In most instances, this cultural conditioning only serves to set up the young person for what will likely be a life of confusion and disappointment.
It is this kind of erroneous conditioning that leads virtually everyone to spend an inordinate amount of time looking for the "right" job, or career, or calling. While most people will eventually choose a career that rewards them with some measure of satisfaction, the fact is, no one ever finds a job or a calling that meets their deepest longing for fulfillment, joy, and happiness.
Why? It is because your deepest desires for happiness could only ever be the consequence of something altogether different.
So, what is that "something that is altogether different?" What will reward me with the deepest satisfaction, happiness, fulfillment, and joy in life?
In the book, The Enoch Factor: The Sacred Art of Knowing God, I ask a question that both opens and closes the book. In that one question is the answer to this question regarding our deepest desires. "You were born to walk with God, so why would you walk alone?" In between this question are 250-plus pages of a cornucopia of sacred insights into the mysteries of life's purpose or meaning. Although I am a Christian by faith, I make no apology when I draw on the spiritual teachings from a variety of religious traditions, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and so forth. In all of these religions, you find the central, overriding truth that your primary purpose in life--that is, the real meaning of human existence--is to both know and to enjoy intimacy with the Creator, no matter how you may understand or conceptualize this Transcendence. As it was with Enoch, the mythic mystic out of Jewish folklore, "You are born to walk with God; so why would you walk alone?"
"All religions," said the Hindu yogi, Parmahansa Yogananda, "serve the purpose of reuniting the soul with God." Saint Augustine shared something of the same essential truth: "Our hearts are restless until they find rest in God." What most religious people forget, especially Christians in the western world, and what our culture does not know and so fails to teach, is that there could only ever be one real purpose to human existence--one real meaning for your presence on planet earth--and that is to "know thyself," as Socrates put it. When you know yourself, you've met your Source, which is why the Christian mystic Meister Eckhart said, "The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me."
How is this so? Since you were created in the imago dei, the image of God, you are part of God. That means, the Source out of which you emerge is the same Source to which you will return. What made Jesus, and other spiritual avatars like him so unusual--people like the Buddha, Muhammad, Enoch, Mary, the mother of Jesus, and so on, is not that they were more divine than anyone else but that they lived at a level of God-realization few people ever experience. And yet, all of these enlightened souls invite their followers to live as they lived. Why would they invite people live as they lived if it was not possible to do so? That's precisely the point. They would not have. However, because they lived so remarkably in touch with self and Source, so may we.
I grew up being taught by well-meaning, but misguided parents and other Christian people, that there was a "calling" I was to both discern and then pursue in life and, if I did, I would be rewarded with a happy, fulfilling life. In the end, however, that promise never materialized. What I now know is that there is no special vocation you're supposed to find and pursue, as in a career or calling; but, instead, your real vocation is simply, to know God. When you do, there is joy unspeakable and there is inexplicable satisfaction throughout life.
The philosopher Teilhard de Chardin once said that we are spiritual beings having a temporary human experience. If that is true, when you reconnect with your spiritual self (or, Source), you make the remarkable discovery that what you do professionally is secondary to who you are. Your real identity could never be what you do but only ever who you are. And, therein lies the difference. Whether you wash windows, drive a cab, work on a farmer, serve tables in a restaurant, or act as the President and CEO of a Fortune 500 company, in the final analysis, none of these professions are either all that important or significant. They're just roles we temporarily fill and are distinguished by their similar transitory nature. None of them, no what significance our culture may give to them, could ever reward you with what you either want or need in life, except in some relative, temporary sense.
So then, your real purpose is to walk with God. And, because this is so, then the second part of that question becomes all the more significant. Since our purpose is to walk with God, "Why would anyone walk alone?"
Well, the fact is, no one chooses to walk alone, yet most people do. They do precisely because they don't know how to walk with God. But, that'll have to be the subject of another blog.