Discussion Part 1: Who am I?

Questions:

  • Do you know who you are?
  • Why would knowing “who I am” be important to how we live our lives?

Consider this shoehorn.

Some of you may not know what a shoehorn is. It is simply a stick that helps you get your shoes on more smoothly. In some places, this is a household staple and many people appreciate having it very much. If you’ve ever had a little trouble getting that last bit of the heel of your shoe on just right, this is just the thing you need.

Now, if you didn’t know what it was, you might still find a use for it – a slide for your kids’ marbles or to clumsily swat hapless bugs or others but you might be annoyed at the way it is shaped and wish it was shaped more like a flyswatter so you could actually swat flies…

But one day, someone tells you, “That’s a shoehorn. It’s for when you’re wearing your shoes so your foot slips right in and doesn’t ruin the heel of the shoe.” And you might look at the shoehorn in wonder – now you know why it’s the length that it is, and it explains the reason for the way it curves inward. Now, the little thoughtful addition of a hook curved perfectly for a person to comfortably grasp the shoehorn as they slip on their shoes makes perfect sense. From then on, the shoehorn has a little place of honor next to wherever it is that you keep your shoes.

This is – yet another of many more to come – a silly little story to suggest the more serious idea that – if we know our purpose in life, we can meaningfully make the choices and take actions in a way that allow us to fulfill our fullest potential. We are no longer swatting flies with a shoehorn. We might even imagine that, after we knew the purpose of the shoehorn, the shoehorn itself is much happier now assisting people on get their shoes on because – it was made for that purpose.

It may be a curious metaphor to use but consider an often used but the little discussed phrase “I was born for this!” of “I was made to do this.” When is this phrase used? What do people mean when they say this?

Discussion Part 2: Life, Meaning and Purpose?

Questions:

  • Do you feel you know your life’s purpose?
  • What do you need to know to know your life’s purpose?
  • Do you live in a way that connects to your life’s purpose?
  • Would you live differently if you knew your life’s purpose?

So how does one determine one’s life’s purpose? We come back to the shoehorn story to say – that perhaps the best way to know our purpose, we need to know what we were made for. I.e., we need to know our Creator.

And in fact, in a not-so-secret secret, the spiritual traditions have long taught humanity through the ages of a global interconnectedness between all people, rooted in our common origins in a Divine Creator. Read the following quotes from below:

  • Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us? (Malachi 2:10)
  • O, mankind! We created you from a single pair of a male and female and made you into nations and tribes, that you might know each other. (Quran 49:13)
  • All the people of the whole world are equally brothers and sisters. There is no one who is an utter stranger. There is no one who has known the truth of this origin. It is the very cause of the regret of God. The souls of all people are equal, whether they live on the high mountains or at the bottoms of the valleys. (Ofudesaki 13:43-45) Tenrikyo
  • But a single man [Adam] was created for the sake of peace among mankind, that none should say to his fellow, “my father was greater than your father.” (Misnah, Sanhedrin 4.5) Judaism
  • I look upon all creature equally; none are less dear to me and none more dear. (Bhagavad Gita 9:29) Hinduism
  • Even science has begun to show this, calling the fact of a “Genetic Adam and Eve” and recording the birthplace of all humanity in Africa.

If we all share a common origin from one man and one woman – and we are one family it might make us then think – If we’re to live as One Family Under God, what should my family, as my personal template for other social relations, look like?

We ask these things not expecting people with perfect families to answer them perfectly and we don’t need to come from or have perfect families to work towards healthy, happy families. In fact, if we come from less happy homes we might know all the better the reasons we would want a healthy, happy family for ourselves.