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Cooperation, Meaning and Mission

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What does it feel like to practice self-acceptance? This type of gentleness creates a whole new environment in which we can start to flourish. 

Not my will but Thine, O Lord, be done in me and through me. Let me ever be a channel of blessings, today, now, to those that I contact in every way. Let my going in, my coming out be in accord with that Thou would have me do, and as the call comes, “Here am I, send me, use me.” (262‑3)

This prayerful affirmation provides a perfect foundation for understanding Cayce’s approach to finding one’s personal mission. It addresses free will, the importance of making a contribution to the well-being of others, and the sense of a call to a higher purpose. Cayce offered these words as a focal point for meditation, linked to the first step in the A Search for God soul-growth sequence.

In a sense, this affirmation about cooperation is a distillation of this entire book and the systematic steps to discover your soul’s purpose. It invites you to understand the word cooperation in a distinctly spiritual way—something that hinges on right use of your free will. The affirmation invites you to consider how your own happiness and fulfillment are linked to the well-being of others. And the affirmation underscores how deep cooperation depends upon having an orientation of willingness in your life—willingness to respond to life as an interconnected whole with which you can cooperate. 

Cooperation means more, though, than just being open to connections to something bigger than yourself. It is also about cooperating with yourself, as strange as that may sound. Consider for a moment how we often don’t cooperate with ourselves. Most fundamentally, that noncooperative spirit is expressed as self-judgment and self-criticism. We are usually our own worst critic! And it’s quite revolutionary to turn this tendency around and practice profound self-acceptance. Ultimately this first step—the shift to self-cooperation and healthy self-love—makes it possible for us to go on a search for meaning and purpose.

What does it feel like to practice self-acceptance? That kind of internal cooperation might feel spacious. We give ourselves the gift of having room to breathe, so to speak. Most of the time, our self-judgment and voices of self-criticism crowd in on us, leaving us feeling trapped and disappointed in life. On the other hand, when we can love ourselves and give ourselves the benefit of the doubt, that gentleness creates a whole new environment in which we can start to flourish. Just being kind to ourselves, just having deep respect for ourselves—these expressions of self-cooperation really are step number one in trying to find the soul’s calling. Self-cooperation sets the stage for us to be able to address the deepest need of the soul: the need for meaning.


This is an excerpt from Discovering Your Soul’s Purpose by Mark Thurston, Ph.D., published by TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Random House.  Copyright 2017.


Mark Thurston, Ph.D. is an educator, psychologist, and author of more than a dozen books about personal spirituality, dream psychology, meditation, and mind-body well-being.  Among his publications are The Essential Edgar Cayce (2004) and Willing to Change: The Journey of Personal Transformation (2005). Mark worked for the Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.) and Atlantic University in Virginia Beach, Virginia, for 36 years.  In 2009 he moved into a new phase of his own soul’s purpose, becoming the Director of Educational Programs for George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being. In that capacity he focuses on teaching undergraduate and graduate courses about consciousness, mindfulness, and the science of well-being. Mark and his wife of many decades Mary Elizabeth Lynch are co-founders of the Personal Transformation and Courage Institute, a non-profit educational organization begun in 2000 which offers small-group learning intensives. Mark and Mary Elizabeth are parents to two adult children.


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