Module 4 – Discerning Your Purpose


Please listen to the module introduction.

The pull to transcend your default purpose can become increasingly insistent and forceful. Rising from the depths of your innermost self, a persistent whisper intrudes on your comfortable life, goading you with such notions as…

    • The life I am living is not the life I was intended for.
    • There is a deeper story or myth which I sense has been guiding me all along.
    • This soul force or evolutionary impulse is calling me to step into a new life.

The same voice whispers to you as if from the outside, too, when you hear about people exceeding what they thought they were capable of accomplishing. A sense grows within you that a greater impact is possible and you wonder, “maybe that could be me?”. Despite the voices of resistance pulling at your ankles and telling you the chances of success appear slim, eventually the irresistible urge for transformation can no longer be denied. You experience an inexorable tug, pulling you from the familiar shelter of your former life, impelling you to walk the great road of adventure, to seek a new narrative and a grander vision. When that happens, you have several options: Refuse the Call, Soul Encounter, or Deductive Discovery.

Refuse the Call

One option is to refuse the call and continue to live from your Default Purpose, even though you don’t like it. Some people never become aware that living solely from their default purpose is actually optional. Other people experience fear at the very notion of co-creating their own destinies. Many of us try our best to accommodate ourselves to a life that is not fully our own. Symptoms of sticking with a default purpose, when we are actually ready to let it go, may include dullness, boredom, demotivation or despair. Home remedies for numbing the pain of living from an outgrown purpose include (and are not limited to) drugs, alcohol, shopping and TV. In 2015, Americans dedicated nearly 20% of their waking hours to watching television, far more than any other single activity except work, for an average of five hours a day. Add to that the average cell phone use of 1.5 hours a day, and the typical American gets 6.5 hours of screen time outside of work. Part of the impetus for going overboard on entertaining ourselves arises when we hear the call to a life of deeper purpose, yet refuse the summons when it arrives.

Soul Encounter

If you are lucky enough to be exposed to the wisdom that lies beyond the confines of the dominant culture, there is a possibility your ears will start to burn when you receive this good news: every person, regardless of race, gender, or religion, has a unique gift to bring to their people. Every person has a mythopoetic identity that, once discovered, can become their guiding north star to living a soul-infused life. Modules 5-12 are explicitly about discovering your soul’s purpose through soul-encounter: a moment of mystical communication from Soul. However, in this module, we are going to explore a different pathway to purpose called deductive discovery.

Deductive Discovery

What if you’ve outgrown the purpose you are currently living, but haven’t yet experienced the mysterious encounter with Soul…what are your options? Good news: you have the excellent fortune of being moments away from experiencing the deductive discovery process, which will enable you to search for clues from your present life and history, to deduce your greater life purpose. But first, a brief primer on deductive purpose discovery.

Four Keys of Purpose Discovery

1. You don’t choose your purpose, it chooses you.

Some things you choose through careful research, like computers or cell phone providers. Purpose discovery is not about lining up your three top choices for a life purpose (example: cellist, senator, doctor) and then choosing the “best” one. People who identify as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, etc, wouldn’t say they chose their sexual orientation, but rather discovered “what was so.” Likewise, you don’t choose your soul’s purpose, you discover it.

2. You don’t live in a meaningless universe, therefore you don’t have to create meaning.

To be human is to ponder the question, “What is the point of my existence?” Homo Sapiens are inexorably drawn to meaning, not as a response to an indifferent universe, but because the universe is made of meaning, which means you are made of meaning. Newton didn’t create gravity, he discovered it. Einstein didn’t create gravitational time dilation, he discovered it. You don’t create your purpose, rather you discover that you are a part of the universe called “me” and your job is to find the governing meaning of yourself. In science we divide meaning into dimensions such as biology, chemistry and physics. In purpose discovery we divide meaning into eight dimensions: Vision, Values, Powers, Essence, Unique Transformational Process (aka “Giveaway”), Mission, Message and Delivery Vehicle. Though we cannot prove meaning in the universe using hard science, it is instructive to note what the wise throughout the ages have discovered when they performed their own experiments in their inner laboratories.

Purpose is the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s needs. – Frederick Buechner

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for. – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Life without a purpose is a languid, drifting thing, so every day we ought to review our purpose. – Thomas Kempis

Stand for something or you’ll fall for anything. Today’s mighty oak is yesterday’s nut that held its ground. – Rosa Parks

It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?  – Henry David Thoreau

To forget one’s purpose is the commonest form of stupidity. – Friedrich Nietzsche

If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you. – Jesus of Nazareth (Gospel of Thomas)

3. Purpose is about your indiginosity. Discovery is about disclosure.

“Purpose” is not a thing. There is no “purpose” as such, meaning that purpose is inextricable to what you are. A shirt has existence in itself, it can be put on and taken off. Purpose is not something that exists outside of you that you can acquire, try on, or return. Discovering purpose isn’t discovering a thing. Discovering purpose is the deepening of an experience that already is (though may be mostly hidden.) Language is the challenge here. We say, “I discovered gold”, meaning there is a metal (gold) to be found in a context (Earth.) Language helps create a functional and beneficial duality where we can mine for gold instead of dirt. Functional duality loses much of its beneficial power when we approach the subject of purpose. We imagine that there is purpose inside of us, as if purpose could be held up as a distinct object apart from ourselves. But we are not hosts or carriers of a substance, no matter how ethereal, called “purpose.” Rather, we use the term purpose to draw attention to a dimension of being that refers to meaning that is a priori. We use the term discovery to denote the ‘awakening to the purpose and meaning of your life that is already there’. We use the term discovery in the way we say, “Crick and Watson discovered DNA.” Crick and Watson didn’t discover or create DNA, it was already there. It is more accurate to say, “Through years of dogged research the previously hidden secrets of DNA were revealed to Crick and Watson.” Likewise, you don’t create your purpose, it already is. You don’t discover purpose, it is already here. When you discover purpose, you open up to a dimension of you that is already, but heretofore you just haven’t noticed it was there all along. A human entering puberty doesn’t discover their sexuality, so much as awaken to an emergent dimension of self heretofore unnoticed. Neither sexuality nor purpose are things “inside” of yourself to be discovered, so much as indigenous dimensions of self that emerge or are disclosed into consciousness. You will be well served if you keep reminding yourself, “Purpose is not a thing, it is the indigenous and inextricable layer of meaning that is my very self.”

4. Purpose Discovery has two flavors: deductive and soul-encounter.

We’ve defined purpose as the experience of meaning at a soul level. We’ve defined discovery as the experience of the disclosure, revelation or awakening of purpose. But how? How does discovery happen? How is purpose disclosed to us? How is meaning revealed to us? There are two flavors or paths of purpose discovery: deductive discovery and soul-encounter. Deductive discovery (the subject of this module) involves reflecting deeply on the subject of you, specifically the times in your life when you felt most fully alive. Using the deductive process in this module you will be able, in the manner of an archeologist, to find clues or “inferences” about what your purpose looks like. You will use the bar of inner-aliveness as your instrument with which you will test, sift, and probe your history for hints and clues about your purpose. You can learn much from this deductive discovery method. It is a direct, logical, and reliable method to deduce a modest understanding of your purpose. Though not as experientially psychoactive a practice as soul-encounter, deductive purpose discovery is a good place to begin one’s journey to clarifying one’s purpose. Starting in Module 5, you will travel deeper into practices that are more experiential and mystical, called soul-encounter practices. Briefly, soul-encounter is a mystical, trans-rational experience of Soul through the present moment revelation of the symbols and images of your mythopoetic identity. Does that sound strange, exotic, confusing or unattainable? No worries, we’ll explore soul-encounter in subsequent modules. For now, I just want you to have a preliminary understanding of the two types of purpose discovery processes: deductive vs. soul-encounter. Take a few minutes and allow yourself to contemplate the graph below.

Deductive Discovery Soul-Encounter
Archeological Present Moment & Timeless
Rational Trans-rational
Indirect (via cognition) Direct (via Soul)
Cognitive Bypasses Cognition
Intimation Revelation
Deductive Inductive
Purpose hints Purpose epiphanies
Scientific/logic Mystical
Reasoning Imaginal
Cerebral Experiential
Inferred Self-Evident

Deductive Purpose

All soul-encounters are soul discoveries, but not all soul discoveries are soul-encounters. – Jonathan Gustin

If you search the web, you’ll find countless variants of the same exercise for creating your purpose. They all share the same foundation, in that they are deductive pathways for discovering a life of purpose. As already stated, deductive purpose discovery is a method to uncover your life purpose that doesn’t require a direct connection to your soul. Deductive discovery is akin to following the hoofprints of a horse. Soul-encounter is akin to seeing the horse in the flesh. (If we wanted to continue the analogy we’d say that the moment of Soul-initiation is akin to riding the horse and the moment of Soul-embodiment is akin to the moment when the horse and rider become one…but we’ll leave the last two steps for later modules.) For now, think of deductive discovery as following the scent of purpose. Deductive purpose discovery is the activity of reaching out with our minds to scan the terrain of our history, whereas soul-encounter is allowing Soul to reach out to us. Because the terrain of your history is covered with soul-print hints, the deductive discovery method guarantees that you’ll learn something about your purpose, whereas on any given day when you open yourself up to soul-encounter, there is no guarantee that you will have the mystical experience of Soul. So relax, have confidence that the way you have lived your life up to now contains scents, prints and perfumes of your life purpose.

Module 4 Practices

Practice 4:1 – The Deductive Purpose Process

Eight questions for discerning your purpose.

Set aside about 1.5 hours for this exercise. There are eight sections total, one for each dimension in the Purpose Octagon. Give approximately 10 minutes to each section. I suggest using a computer rather than writing long hand, as this will make editing much easier (and you will need to edit after 1.5 hours of writing!) It’s perfectly acceptable to write for an hour, then come back the next day and write for another hour, etc. While the following questions are simple and straightforward, you’ll feel pleasantly exhausted at the end, not just from the mental effort, but primarily from the sustained attention in observing yourself so minutely for such an extended period. It’s a delicious exhaustion that emerges when you exhaust what you know about your deepest self, and thus become ready to cross the threshold (in Modules 5-12) into what soul knows about your deepest purpose.

Part I – The Purpose Discovery Process

One question for each Facet of Purpose. Clarifying questions for each facet of purpose, to help reveal layers of meaning implicit in the questions in the left column.
1. Vision – Make a list of everything you wish for the human species.   What causes do you strongly believe in?  What issues do you strongly connect with?
2. Values – Make a list of your deepest values.  All of them. If you had the opportunity to share your ideals, principles with someone, what would you share?
3. Powers – Make a list of your strengths and talents.  All of them.  Put another way: what are you naturally good at? (Skills, abilities, talents, gifts etc.)  Ask your Soul Circle for their answers to this question.
4. Essence – Write down what you believe to be your ineffable essence.  Do your best. What is the core, fundamental, essential, pure radiance or irreducible quality of your soul?
5. Giveaway (aka Unique Transformational Process) –  Make a list of what you love doing to help others.  Everything. What do people typically ask for your help with?  What activities that benefit others make you lose track of time and/or make you feel great about yourself?
6. Mission – Make a list of all the essential missions, projects, goals or sacred tasks that you feel strongly about.  All of them. What service-oriented projects or missions would you regret not completing were your life cut short?
7. Message – Make a list of all the messages (aka, ‘inspired utterances’) you’d like to share with the world.  All of them. If you could get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be?  Who would the message be for?
8. Delivery System – Make a list of all the vocations that would allow your purpose to flourish.  All of them. What public functions or activities would allow you to express your full spectrum purpose as you currently know it?

Practice 4:2 – Vision – Deathbed Exercise

Let yourself imagine a life well lived, to the hilt, to the nth degree. You are 100 years old, dying, in your home, surrounded by loving friends and family. You feel fully ready to cross over. You feel warm, happy, content, ready to release your hold on life. But just before you do, you look back at your life, remembering the friends you have made and the life lessons learned. Above all, recall the projects, efforts and gifts you offered your people. Recall the difficulties you overcame to bring your gifts to the world. Now, write down everything you can recall from living a profoundly successful life, especially noting the success in serving your people. Let yourself write aspirationally. Remember, this is the best case scenario of your life that has you living at full strength.

Practice 4:3 – Soul Circle Assignment (Reflecting the Soul’s Powers)

Email your Soul Circle with this question, “What is your intuition or educated guess as to what my innate “soul-level” skills, abilities, talents, and gifts are?”

Practice 4:4 – Essence – Imaginal Essence

Imagine that you illuminate each room you walk into with your unique light, a radiance that is unique to you. Describe how that light, that illumination, affects the people it touches. How would you describe the essence that shines from you? Examples from history might be: Jesus’ essence was love, Buddha’s essence was wisdom, Martin Luther King’s essence was justice.

Practice 4:5 – Golden Shadow: Who inspires you most?

  1. Make a list of your heroes (they can be dead or alive, friends, or well-known leaders.)
  2. Make a list of the qualities that you most admire about your heroes.
  3. Next, find a word that undergirds these qualities.
  4. Finally, see that quality for what its is: a golden projection from your own soul onto other “like-minded” souls. Now own it for yourself…it was in you all along.

Practice 4:6 – Debrief of Soul Circle Meeting #1

Write about your experience of the first Soul Circle meeting on the subject, “How do I hold myself back?”

Module 4 Summary

Written Reflections

    • 4:1 – Deductive Purpose Process – Editing time! One at a time, read your answers from each of the eight questions and then boil down what you wrote for each section to no more than 1-3 sentences. You are complete when you have eight distilled statements for each facet of your Purpose Octagon.
    • 4:2 – Deathbed Exercise – Imagining a life well lived.
    • 4:3 – Soul Circle Assignment (Reflecting the Soul’s Powers) – Receiving written reflections from your Soul Circle
    • 4:4 – Imaginal Essence – What “light” shines through you.
    • 4:5 – Golden Shadow – What positive attribute of yours do you project onto your heros.
    • 4:6 – Debrief of Soul Circle Meeting #1

Managing your time:

    • 4:1 – 120 minutes (10 minutes each for each of the Octagon questions + 40 minutes for editing.)
    • 4:2 –   20 minutes (meditate for 5 minutes, then write like mad from the “place” of being 100.)
    • 4:3 –  20 minutes (5 min to email question, 10 for reading, 5 for writing your reflective paragraph.)
    • 4:4 –   20 minutes (meditate for 5 minutes, then ask, “What is my Essence”. Best done outside.
    • 4:5 –   20 minutes
    • 4:6 –   10 minutes

Total = 3.5 hours.

Write at least one paragraph about your experience engaging each of the practices above.  Email your writing to your Purpose Guide™ before your meeting for this Module.

Soul Circle

You can find all the needed information on the Soul Circle page. The Soul Circle meetings are very important. Make sure you schedule them within the suggested time frames.

You should have had Soul Circle Meeting 1 during Module 3. Soul Circle Meeting 2 is not until Module 6 (October 25 – November 7).


Soulcraft – Read:

    • Chapter 3 – Sinking Back Into The Source of Everything – The Call to Adventure