I lived with this question for years, but I didn’t know I was actually asking it. Later, in my studies of transformational tools and principles, I was told that “Something unique wants to express itself through you – something that only you can give birth to.” I thought this was, at best, a nice sentiment. It was very egalitarian as it left no one out, and it even made everyone special. But I had also heard the phrase often enough, expressed somewhat less loftily: You are special. There is no one like you. By the time I heard it again I was already seriously inured to it, and perhaps even a bit cynical. Of course we’re unique, but who isn’t? And that’s where, for me, the whole concept of personal uniqueness distilled itself down into not having any significant meaning.
So, for quite a while I succumbed to the enervating perception that uniqueness in and of itself is not unique, that it contributes nothing. Since we are all uniquely distinguished from each other, what’s the big deal? You’re tall; I’m short. You’re muscular; I lack definition. You have red hair; I have black hair. Your eyes are green, and mine are brown. You excel in tennis, but I can sing. You’re great at math and I write somewhat more clearly than you. What’s to get excited about? Now, if you’re handy, I’m feeling some excitement. But I digress.
At some point it occurred to me that I was focused in the wrong direction, or rather, on the wrong concept, and that I was being rather obstinately myopic about that concept. I decided to challenge my habitual perception of uniqueness as being no better than just another pretty face by advocating against my original stance that uniqueness is a boringly common attribute with no benefits. In a departure from my earlier pronounced state of jadedness, I asked: What exactly is it that is unique to each of us? In no time, a realization asserted itself with incontrovertible clarity: It is our inner uniqueness that identifies our soul’s longing and leads us to our soul’s purpose. The longings that are unique and specific to us show us what paths we should be taking, and who we can become. So what makes us unique? What makes us who are we?
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad IV. 4.5 tells us that it is our deep, driving desire.
You are what your deep, driving desire is.
As your desire is, so is your will.
As your will is, so is your deed.
As your deed is, so is your destiny.
This is the beginning of knowing your soul’s purpose: identifying your deeper truths via your deep desires, and opening to them. Therein lies our uniqueness, and our destiny. In our desires. In what we are passionate about. What comes of following our desires? Everything. When our actions are based in authentically following our very own unique deep desires, we will be naturally compelled to seek out those things that are appropriate for us. And there is an additional boon in that what is appropriate for us also nourishes us. Likewise, when we are are acting from our unique desires, we will attract what we need. But the best thing of all is – by following our soul’s longing, we will inevitably express our soul’s purpose, and become who we are meant to be.
For a session on finding your purpose, see Life Purpose
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