Living a Life of Purpose

Psychotherapist and yoga teacher Stephen Cope’s new book The Great Work of Your Life challenges us to find our true purpose in life, which he believes all of us can achieve. Here, he gives a taste of the struggle and payoff that comes with seeking to find and cultivate our unique gift. Here is a question I’d like you to ponder: Do you have a clear sense of your purpose in life? Early yogis had a beautiful way of thinking about the importance of the gift. For these yogis, the whole world was seen as a vast net woven together in space and time — not unlike our notion of the quantum field. This was called Indra’s Net, and at the intersection of each warp strand and woof strand of this net is a jewel that represents an individual human soul. And it is that soul’s duty — sacred calling — to hold together its particular part of the web by being its own unique jewel-like self. In this way, the whole universe holds together as one great interlocking field, but only if each one of us plays our particular role, enacts our unique dharma. I like this image. It honors each individual soul’s idiosyncratic gift and relates it to the thriving of the whole. And it underscores an idea that is present in Jungian archetypal psychology — the idea that not only do we each have a gift but we each have a profound responsibility to that gift. Our task, says the great Jungian psychologist Carol Pearson, is to take ownership of our gift and to trust that its full manifestation is precisely what the world most needs from us. It turns out that for each of us, the gift is our own unique doorway into a connection with the whole. The full enactment of our jewel-like dharma truly connects us to the whole of Indra’s Net — to the hearts and minds of all beings, to the entire quantum field of mind and matter. Indeed, it turns out that we can only connect with the Universal through the Particular — we can only connect with the whole through the precise circumstances of our individual lives. More recent books: Deep Human Connection: Why We Need It More than Anything Else [2nd Edition] (2019)
Deep Human Connection: Why We Need It More than Anything Else [2nd Edition] (2019)
“Destined to be a classic. . . . . Cope makes us want to risk making real, intentional human connections-and makes us long to celebrate them, and to allow them to transform us into fully-conscious and fully-alive human beings.” – Geneen Roth, New York Times best-selling author of Women, Food and God and Lost and Found

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