Although I am no mechanic, I love watching machines work. The meshing of cogs, one influencing the other, with a power and synchronicity which shaped our modernity is mesmerizing. It also demonstrates the nature by which we humans (and other social creatures) operate. The bottom line is that all progress stems from cooperation, the movement and meshing of one cog with another to create a beautiful reality, much like the individual pieces that operate a pocket watch.

But what happens when your cog doesn’t mesh with the machine? What happens when your will resists the design? And how do we discern the origin of our drive?

Where Purpose Comes From:

This step is crucial. First we must recognize that there are many ways to discover one’s path. Many faith traditions and philosophies offer various theories regarding fate, destiny, purpose, and design. Generally speaking, in Islam, the universe is a meticulous construct by which every action and contingency–including our fates–is accounted for and directed by Allah. In Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism)–depending on the tradition–the Gods or Goddesses may influence the fate of a devotee or simply wish for their liberation. Within the Zarathushti tradition, humanity is more of a partner with Ahura Mazda in restoring the world to peace and glory.

So given these ideals on purpose and will, how do we discover our path in life?

Deciding On A Path:

This might sound strange coming from a guy who just briefly lived out 12 faith systems, however I believe that the only way one will uncover their path in life is to choose a discipline and stick with its methodology. That isn’t to say that we cannot borrow from other disciplines where appropriate. For example, I know of some folks who claim that Buddhist practices actually made them better Christians. The point is to have a foundation and building from there.

The Path of the Unaffiliated:

This is my path and, frankly speaking, one of the most difficult. I am not an atheist or a theist. I am as the Hindu rishis say, “neti, neti.” Not this, not that. Of course, they were referring to Brahman, the ultimate reality some might call God. That doesn’t mean I’m comparing or equating myself with God, however I–like a growing number of others–share that amorphous nature.

So how does the unaffiliated divine their paths in life?

A few months ago, a family friend asked my family to be part of something, something extraordinary, and we were shocked and undecided for a long time. Frankly, I thought they were nuts just for asking, but then I meditated on the calling I uncovered in January of 2012. I was to exist as nothing so that I could become anything–even what this man had asked me to become. He claimed he’d heard from God and that my family and I were part of this calling, but how did that fit with me?

While my wife prayed to her Christian God, I contemplated and meditated on the issue. I told my wife (Heather) that “Either they were nuts for asking, or we would be nuts for saying no.

Discerning the Path:

It all came down to this question: Who’s or what will were we actually following? Although this man claimed he’d heard from God, how could we be sure it wasn’t really something in his head? History is replete with people claiming to have heard from on high, ranging from serial killers, to religious founders, and everyday folks like you and me.

But that doesn’t mean they’re correct.

Because my path was in meshing with others in order to assist them, I was decidedly locked out of the loop. My only choice was contemplation and helping Heather with her prayer discernment. From her account, although it caused her a great deal of torment, she assented to the calling.

We said yes.

Buyer’s Remorse:

Sometimes the friction of our choices manifests immediately. Other times, it occurs slowly. Your individual cog gradually erodes as it turns against its design. Pieces snap and the local network of gears shudder beneath the unnatural and unintended tension.

A few months into our decision, our cogs began to weaken and crack. After further prayer on Heather’s path and deeper contemplation on mine, we rescinded our decision.

And it may have cost a friendship.

Were Heather and I wrong for saying yes in the first place? Was our friend mistaken about our involvement in his calling? Were we wrong to reverse our decision? Two close friends recently told me that the calling of one person isn’t the calling of another. Sometimes we are discouraged or upset when the cogs of another do not directly mesh with our own. Our pride–especially if we are convinced we’ve heard from God–may slip and create an “us and them” projection against the world.

God spoke to me, therefore if you’re not on board, you must be ignoring God.

This is a real possibility.

Live Your Own Destiny:

Today I want to challenge you to discover your own cog in the great network of our human and sentient family. This does not have to include a religious belief; everyone is uniquely suited to greatly impact the world. Each cog, though it may only supply a modest turn, helps our world thrive.

It won’t be easy.

In discovering your place in this glorious network of being, you will slip and fail. You may lose friends and family. You may even lose faith, or it may cost your life.

But imagine a life without having properly turned, even if for only a moment.

If you take nothing else from this post today, know this: Doing the right thing–discovering your true form and self–will often inflict casualties in many forms. Facing this reality is the hallmark of courage and the fire by which legends are born.

What steps are you taking to discover your destiny or calling? What are you willing to pay to reach your purest self?

Jai vita!

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