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Life Task

BY SHEPHERD HOODWIN  

You are here on the physical dimension of earth at this time because you chose to be. It is not haphazard or by chance. If you chose to come, you must have had a reason. The reason was probably not that you had nothing better to do! If that had been the case, you probably would have stayed where you were. The astral plane is less challenging, in certain respects anyway; it does not require you to deal with the severe limitations that are currently present on the physical plane, although some less experienced souls are uncomfortable with the fluidity of the astral plane and tend to incarnate as soon as possible after death.

In any case, you had your own reason or reasons for coming. Do not assume that yours are the same as others'. You might wonder why someone else is not interested in psychological or spiritual teachings, for example. It is possible that these teachings are not directly relevant to his reasons for coming.

The physical plane is like a university at which the students are on independent study programs; they write their own curricula. They also grade themselves. There are resources they may take advantage of: teachers, libraries, laboratories, playing fields, auditoriums, infirmaries, and so on. Some go through the program at an accelerated speed; others are perennial students, as they say, who look as if they will never graduate. Some are learning a great deal; others are going to parties every night. In a regular university, there tends to be criticism of those who take longer to graduate or those who prefer partying to studying. But the university of the physical plane is itself neutral on the subject. It is just there, and people can use it in whatever ways they wish. Why should anyone assume that the choices he makes about how he uses these resources are better than someone else's? If someone wishes to party and to spend his entire time there drunk or stoned, that is his right. While you might say that is not productive, which is true, it should not be assumed it is "better" to be productive than to be unproductive. You may wish to associate with productive people. That is your choice. But if people wish to be unproductive, or anything else for that matter, that is their prerogative, unless they interfere with your right to choose.

Birds of a feather flock together. The party people tend to find one another, the studious ones tend to find one another, and so forth. You can find others at the university who want to have the same kinds of experiences you do. You are not really responsible for anyone other than yourself. You might say, "Oh, but my friend here is going to fail if he doesn't study." You forget that the program is self-graded. He may not consider it a failure. Even if he does, it will no doubt add to his education just as surely as an "A+" would.

You are here for your own purposes. What are those purposes? How can you find out? You are usually most interested in those things that further your purposes, at least if you are reasonably in touch with your own desires, which many people are not. Perhaps you have always wanted to help others, but you do not even articulate that thought to yourself because you take it so much for granted. You assume that everyone else feels the same way if he is decent: "Of course, who would not want to devote his life to helping others?" Then, when you see someone who appears to be quite selfish, you shake your finger at him. If helping others is your passion, that is probably an indication that your life's work is connected with service, one way or another. Anyone who is doing his life work will, in effect, be serving others, because he will be increasing the influence of universal love, at least indirectly. But some people focus more on aiding others directly and some on aiding themselves. Those in the latter group may also be helping others and those in the former may also be helping themselves. But the predominant thrust may be one or the other.

Those who have always felt a great urge to create something of beauty through the arts probably have that as part of their reason for coming. Likewise with those with an insatiable desire to learn. Learning may be through what you might call on-the-job training, as well as through books. Perhaps they felt frustrated after a number of lifetimes in which there were not many opportunities to learn, and wanted to make up for lost time.

What if there is not any particular thrust at all, in terms of service, creativity, or study? Those are, after all, pretty highbrow. Many people are not attracted to them. There are many, especially those with less experience on the physical plane, who are eager for any type of experience. They throw themselves into the drama of life and see what happens. Others wish to pay back karmas; this may be a lifelong preoccupation. They may find themselves in one crisis after another. Apparently, their lives are a mess. There are certainly ways that the negative impacts of karma can be softened through increased awareness, but karmic repayment may be their life purpose. Others may come with many agreements for example, to bear children and that is the main focus of their lives. For others, the point of their lives may be to explore in depth a basic physical plane relationship, such as that of husband and wife.

It may seem as if their worlds are pretty small, and perhaps they are, compared with yours. But they may not like your world, or it may simply hold no interest. Let's say that you are in fifth grade and you are already reading adult books you are precocious and you have a sister in second grade. Would you tell your sister that she should be reading what you are reading? She probably could not even read books at the fifth grade level. The point of this analogy is to gain acceptance for other people's paths. If you are a fifth grader who is reading War and Peace, you are not "better" than a second grader who is reading Fun With Dick and Jane. The second grader may actually be growing more by mastering that simple book than you are by reading War and Peace.

Here we are using an analogy where one path is apparently more advanced than the other. People also judge others whose paths are just different. For example, scientists often think that their path is superior to that of religionists, that only cold, hard facts are going to solve problems and help humanity. On the other hand, religionists sometimes think that the scientists are deluded, that only the study of religion will solve anything. Both paths have potential validity and can contribute to the progress and well being of the whole.

Artists sometimes feel superior to others, and those who pursue modest occupations sometimes feel that their lives are less significant than those of people who make famous pieces of art. A famous piece of art is not the same, of course, as a significant piece of art, and there are many kinds of significance. In any case, who can say for certain that one life contributes more than another? Every life is significant.

All such comparisons are meaningless. It is not useful to compare where you are on your path to where someone else is on his. The only comparison here that is useful is between where you are and where you wish to be, not to berate yourself, but to clarify your path.

In making such a comparison, beware of unrealistic goals and perfectionism. Remember that your purpose in coming is usually not defined by some material achievement, such as making a million dollars by the time you are forty, or becoming famous or successful in some way that is externally measured. You usually come seeking particular qualities of experience. To find them, you start from A and move toward B, but you do not really care that much about B, per se. There is a saying that it does not matter whether you win or lose, but how you play the game. Your life here is a game, and there is a goal, but the goal is there to facilitate the process of the game. It is to help you expand. It may not be intrinsically significant. Whether or not you become rich, famous, or "successful," if you grow in love and understanding, your life is significant.

For example, if you write beautiful poems, but cannot get your work published, are you a failure? Through writing them, you may have developed greater compassion, insight, or resolution, as well as craftsmanship, artistic sensibility, or appreciation for the poetry of others.

There are those who do have as a life purpose achieving material success or fame, again not for its own sake, but for the lessons it brings. Those who achieve them can tell you that they are not the answer to all of life's problems. On the contrary, they tend to create a great deal of stress, which may be the point of achieving them: to have the opportunity to deal with those particular challenges. In any case, whatever the goal is, it is really just a way to define the process.

Before each lifetime, your essence, or soul, usually makes a detailed life plan, which includes a statement of your task and how you intend to achieve it. Ample guidance is available to assist you in setting things up in a way that is likely to work. You can access the records of your plan intuitively or through a channel or psychic. However, they are not in English or in any human language. You do not generally operate in human language on the astral plane; you communicate telepathically at a level of thought beyond human language. Therefore, everything accessed must be translated. As with literature, two translations of your life task may look different but add up to roughly the same thing. Also, if your life task has many parts or if you have more than one life task, it may not be possible to do more than give you a few pertinent highlights.

You probably really know what you came to do, at least to some degree and on some level. You may think that you do not, because you are not able to find a career that feels like your life task. However, many people do not do their life tasks in their places of employment. Often life tasks do not require it, or even permit it. If your task is primarily centered on relationships, for example, you will be in relationships wherever you are, so you may not require a specific career to complete your task. Work as a marriage counselor, for instance, might fit with your task, and it might not.

Few people achieve everything they set out to do in a lifetime. That is not bad, just as it is not bad if you do not get everything done on a particular day that you intended to. You do the best you can, and put off some things until another day.

Most people can work on an aspect of their life task in some way each day, at least for a short time. If you are spending all your time just trying to survive, and that is not your life task, you will feel frustrated.

Is life task the same as life work, life purpose, and life plan?

These terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but we could differentiate between them. The life plan is the collection of all that the essence wants to achieve in the lifetime. It includes life tasks, as well as agreements, karmic repayments, and so on, and the arrangements it has made to carry them out. Life task is the spiritual accomplishment that the essence seeks, its overall reason for coming. There might be several life tasks or several aspects of a life task, but usually one is primary. Life work is a little more narrow than life task; it is the part of the primary life task that is focused on a specific endeavor. Everyone has a life task, but not everyone needs a specific project through which to do it. Life purpose is the motivation to do the life task.

An example of a life task is fostering among others an awareness of the importance of world peace. That particular task might impel a project such as writing a book or making a movie that inspires others to value world peace more highly. You could call that project the life work, the way the life task is achieved; it is a part of that life task. There can be more than one life work. The life purpose, or motivation for the life task, might simply be to help bring world peace. A person with that task might also have others, such as releasing a tendency toward playing the role of victim, but not necessarily through his life work. He may achieve them through his life's general circumstances or through specific projects other than his primary life work. He may also have as part of his life plan the intention to pay back a karmic debt to his mother, which is not a life task. It might relate to the life task and will certainly provide valuable lessons. However, it is more a "necessary evil" or an item on his "to do" list.

Suppose that your life task is about building bridges between people of different backgrounds. One possible life work to achieve it would be to establish an organization that would help people in your multi-ethnic neighborhood get along better. If at one point you had the opportunity to do this but passed it up, for whatever reason, another feasible way to achieve your task may arise. Often there are many possibilities. If you follow any path you find fulfilling and are true to yourself, you are likely to end up achieving important parts of your life task. On the other hand, if you are full of sensings that you should do certain things, yet make choices that negate those sensings, you will probably not do your life task. For example, someone who longs to become a dancer but forces himself to become a doctor because his parents want him to has a sense of loss. Perhaps learning to be true to himself is actually his primary life task. In any case, if you clarify and follow your longings the best you can, you are likely to move in the direction of your life tasks. Generally, your essence does a pretty good job of getting you at least in the vicinity of accomplishing them anyway, unless you resist a lot. But you are more effective when you consciously cooperate with the process.

Let's say that you have had several lives dealing with the issues of conflict resolution and war, from many different standpoints. In this life, you want to integrate and apply what you learned from having been a soldier, a civilian victim, a political leader, and so forth. If you are not conscious that this is your primary life task, you might simply experience a vague inner longing pushing you in that general direction. You might know that you feel strongly that there are better ways to resolve conflicts than what most people use, but it may not go beyond that. If you are conscious of your task, you are more likely to choose one or more ways of responding to your inner impulse. They might include becoming a negotiator or mediator, running for political office, working for the UN, writing a book, or volunteering for an organization that promotes citizen diplomacy. You might choose a lower profile, dedicating yourself to demonstrating appropriate conflict resolution in all your interactions with others. Whatever you decide, when you hit on a workable way to carry out your life task, your essence immediately sends energy through it, and it feels right. You become excited about it. You start having more energy with which to live your life, because you now have a lens that focuses your inner impulses in a specific direction. It is not that it is the only possible way you could achieve your life task, but it works.

If you choose a direction that is not in alignment with your life task but not too far off either, your essence exerts a magnetic pull, so to speak, drawing you into greater alignment with your task to help you get on course. Being in movement near your task is the key. In fact, any movement is preferable to none at all where the life task is concerned. We often urge people who are stuck to choose anything. There is much power in making a decision. Someone moving in the wrong direction, in the sense of doing something that goes against the grain, is more likely to turn around and move in a more satisfying direction than someone who is stuck he has momentum. Fundamentally, all he needs to do is start listening to himself and adjust the "steering wheel" accordingly.

How can we tell if we're going in the wrong direction?

Sometimes you have a head-on collision that clearly lets you know that you are going the wrong way down a one-way street, so to speak. This should not discourage you from movement. It should only encourage you to turn around. After a while, your discernment grows. The direction that is the most harmonious with your life task usually feels the best. If it does not feel comfortable, you might still have a sense that you are accomplishing something you need to do, such as completing a painful relationship. Sometimes you do not validate the rightness of such a direction until later. However, if it is painful and not yielding a sense of accomplishment, it is probably not your direction.

We suggest that you ask yourself often, "How does this feel to me?" If you are feeling happy in what you are doing, you are probably completing at least part of your life task. However, being honest with yourself is essential. There is no greater detriment to happiness than telling yourself you are content with things as they are when you are not. How do you really feel? You may not get the true answer when you first ask yourself, and may have to keep asking.

As long as you feel that energy is moving well in your life, that you are taking steps that strengthen you and others, keep going in that direction. After a while, you simply choose a direction, know that it is right, and move with assurance toward its conclusion; then you pick another. It becomes as natural to you as breathing. Being a creative person, you choose something to create. You draw necessary tools toward you without too much trouble, find ways around obstacles, and every day move closer to completing it. Your focus is not on the completion per se, but on the joy of creating.

Some people have rigid ideas about their life work. If they cannot do a particular thing, they become frustrated and think that they cannot do their life work. We suggest that you be flexible and do what is available for you to do.

Why can't you just learn everything on the astral plane?

There are many experiences that are not available on the astral plane, but are available on the physical plane. For one thing, the physical plane is an especially good place to learn about choices, precisely because there is so much limitation. If you take a child to a large toy store, and he can have any toy he wants, he may not be able to make up his mind; there is too much choice. But if there is a limitation if you say, "Would you prefer this one or that one?" it is easier to learn about making choices. He has only two possibilities to weigh. When you become adept at choosing between two things, you can move on to choosing among three. With practice, you can see the relative benefits and disadvantages of ten, and then many more. By the time you are done, you can pick from infinity the most appropriate choice.

Also, there are many lessons related to the physical body's survival and death. This teaches much about life and agape. Acceptance of others is easier on the astral plane. The astral plane offers so much individual freedom, relatively speaking, that no one can really get in your way unless you allow him to. But if you are in a situation in which it is difficult to love because your own fears are provoked, and you learn to love anyway, you have learned that lesson well.

We do not wish to imply that the physical plane or any other plane exists merely for the education it promotes. It does do that, and that is a significant factor. The main purpose of the seven planes of existence, however, is to expand the Tao. It is like becoming an artist. In the earlier stages, you create less and study more. As you move along, you create more and study less because you now have skills. Another analogy is learning piano: if you cannot play scales, you are not going to be able to play a Beethoven sonata. If you are still learning how to survive on the planet, you are not going to have much energy left for having an expansive, creative experience. Therefore, it is important that you learn how to survive, and the other basic lessons you are here to learn.

That is why we speak so much about lessons. It is not that lessons are important for themselves; it is that they help you move on to greater creativity. Even if you are at the level of playing scales, you can be creative and expansive in your scale playing, but there is much potential beyond that.

There are educational opportunities on the physical plane that are not available on other planes. There are relationships that are not available elsewhere. On other planes, for example, you do not have mothers and fathers; you do not require them. By being born, you are utterly dependent on these figures. You learn surrender and yieldedness, and how trust can be abused, which makes you more aware of how to provide nurturing. You also have the opportunity to be mother and father, which impresses upon you issues of responsibility. While there are no such things as mothers, fathers, and infants on the astral plane, issues of responsibility, caring,, and so on are always relevant, although they may manifest in different ways.

In an absolute sense, you are responsible for only yourself, except in the case of a child or another who is literally dependent upon you for survival. However, your actions do affect everything else, even on the astral and higher planes, and learning to have the most beneficial impact possible is an important step toward agape. We could not do what we are doing on the causal plane if we had not had the experiences of the physical plane to prepare us. Being parent and child, for instance, taught us skills and insights we use in our interactions with you now.

How can we find out aspects of our life task pertinent to upcoming months? I have many choices in front of me right now, some of which seem to be better for me at the moment but in certain ways less interesting.

There are many resources available. Through meditation, you can more easily access your guides and essence, and can engage in dialogue with them about the various choices. The key is to first come up with intelligent questions. You can also, as mentioned, work with a psychic or channel.

There are many situations in which there is more than one good choice, and it is simply a matter of deciding. Sometimes you are not ready to make that choice, because all the factors are not clear. You have to work with the decision making process until it feels complete. Usually at that point you know what the best choice is for you. While you need to make your own choices, speaking with anyone who is detached about your choices, such as a good counselor, therapist, or friend, can be useful; your essence, spirit guides, and teachers are not the only ones with worthwhile input. Seek input wherever it is available. However, if you are interested specifically in choices that will complement if not outright carry out your life task, it is useful to clarify your life task first.

If you make certain choices between lifetimes, do you ever change your mind once you get here?

Yes, but usually your life plan is not so specific as to be limiting. Let's say that your primary life task is to learn how to work with your hands and be of service to others through them. Being a television repairman might be the life work you choose to carry out your task, but there are many other means you could use. You usually set up your life to give you the opportunity to carry out your task in a variety of ways. Perhaps you choose a parent who is gifted with his hands and who teaches you many skills, giving you several options. If one does not work, then you try another. Maybe you do not pass the exam for television repair school, so you do something else that accomplishes the same thing. You do not generally predetermine on the astral plane the specific physical tasks to which you will devote your life, such as becoming a television repairman. You usually have some ideas in mind, and may favor one more than others, but life is unpredictable and flexibility is necessary. For this reason, if you have a specific life work, you probably settled on it during this lifetime.

Let's say that at age eighteen you become fascinated with philosophy and decide to get a doctorate in it. You teach it for the rest of your life, which facilitates your secondary life tasks quite well, but not your primary one. If you do not get around to doing too much with your hands in that life, you may put it off to another life. However, that is likely to leave you feeling somewhat unfulfilled. Alternatively, you may find that you love whittling or making ceramics and do it as a hobby. You might give away your creations to people who are poor, in a nursing home, or whatever, as a form of service to others.

There are sometimes good reasons for changing your life plan. Let's say that you were too ambitious when you were making it and set it up to pay back several major karmas. During your life, you found that you were not as strong as you had thought. Therefore, you might have made a decision to put some of the karmas off until another lifetime.

Refusing to repay karmic debts out of false personality in other words, out of avoidance and fear rather than a valid recognition that you took on too much is a different matter. That is likely to leave you feeling frustrated and unbalanced. Often karma is so compelling that you complete it despite your resistance.

If you made these choices before a lifetime and you aren't consciously aware that you made them, how are you consciously aware that you change your mind?

You are not necessarily consciously aware that you have changed your mind, but your life may change course. You might find your interests in life becoming different from what they were earlier, or you might find yourself pulled to live in a different location, or some such thing.

When you are doing what you set out to do, your life is much more pleasing. This is partly because all the other people who have agreed to help you in your specific plan are then called into play. There begins to be greater synchronicity and depth to your life.

A MEDITATION

Listen to the silence. Pull down from the shelf a book called Life Tasks. Open it and find that it opens to a page that is particularly meaningful for you right now. Read it.


 
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Shepherd is a professional Michael channel and author of The Journey of Your Soul--A Channel Explores Channeling and the Michael Teachings and Loving from Your Soul--Creating Powerful Relationships. He does channeling sessions and intuitive readings via telephone, mail, and e-mail. Audio cassettes are available from his site. Visit his website at  Summerjoy Press

 



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