“Who am I?” “Why am I here?’ “What is the purpose of my life?” Throughout the history of the world, questions such as these have driven every generation in search of meaning. Many have discovered partial answers in religion. Some have encountered personal revelation in philosophy. There are those who have even found clarification of their life’s purpose in psychology. All too many, however, have spent a lifetime in search of answers that they didn’t entirely know how to ask, causing some to seek meaning through all manner of escape, acquisition, addiction, and confusion.

What if the purpose of life was not simply to be born into a family, go to school, get a job, acquire material goods, create a family of one’s own, grow older, and then eventually die, leaving one’s family members and descendants to repeat the very same cycle? What if one’s life experiences were not simply random chance; instead, what if some kind of divine purposefulness stood behind the possibilities of every single day for every single individual? What if we suddenly discovered we were somehow actively involved in co-creating the substance of our lives? What if we came to realize that, for the most part, our perception of ourselves has been extremely limited? What if the answer to the question “Who am I?” was much more than we had ever even dared to imagine?

Perhaps more than anything else, humanity is in need of an entire worldview shift – a change in our collective perception that will enable all individuals to look at themselves and one another in a completely new light. This change in perception needs to amount to nothing less than a quantum leap in our understanding of what life is all about, for humanity’s previous worldview has been sorely inadequate. Life is not about acquisition. It is not about appeasing one’s desires and needs. It is not about lobbying to get one’s way. It is not about being victimized or bullying another. It is not about being afraid or causing fear. It is not about seeking pleasure or inflicting pain. It is not about taking control of another or being controlled oneself. It is not about proselytizing personal beliefs. It is not about problems with race or sex or war or governments or culture or territorial borders. Ultimately, it is not even about religion. Simply stated, life is a process of coming to know ourselves, our connection to one another, searching for a higher meaning and purpose, and ultimately coming to a personal understanding of our relationship to the divine so that we can bring spirit into the earth.

This change in our collective worldview is not only necessary it is also inevitable. The truth about who we are can no longer be contained within the confines of what we once thought about ourselves. With greater and greater frequency, this single fact has repeatedly led individuals from countless backgrounds, cultures, and faiths to sense and to predict “the end of the world.” Although it is true that the world as we know it is coming to a close, it is not that the world is literally ending; rather, it is that our perception of the world and ourselves is in the throes of a complete and radical transformation. When this shift has arrived, we will no longer think ourselves to be what we never really were.

As it is now, our limited worldview suggests one of two fundamental possibilities about the nature of humankind for much of the world. The first is that life is accidental and random, implying that there is no God and that we are nothing more than physical bodies. The second is that there is an all-loving God but for reasons we may not understand, He is conditional in that love. He is also all-forgiving but only within a certain period of time. Nor does He play favorites, unless one refuses to do things His way. Even now, certain logical assumptions suggest that neither of these two possibilities is accurate.

The structure and harmony of the universe, the cyclic nature of all of life and the universal laws we can perceive in action tend to indicate that the cosmos follows design more so than accident. In our own lives, the fact that we possess the capacity to dream, the ability to hope, and the capability of inspiring others to go beyond their perceived limitations suggests that there is much more to us than a physical body.

In terms of the conflicting nature of God, does it not seem problematic that, if the purpose of life is simply to receive the same eternal reward or punishment, for some unknown reason the Creator has visited upon us very different tests? For some, that test may be like an easy math problem that requires only the ability to add and subtract but for others that test is like a complex algebraic equation that only the most gifted in mathematical theory and computation could even begin to decipher. One person’s life may be filled with minor struggles and pain, while another’s seems fraught with tragedy, misfortune, and unspeakable horror. This limiting worldview would have us believe that a Creator who designed the intricacies of the galaxies could send a child to a Mahatma Gandhi or a Reverend Billy Graham and hope for the same level of success as a child He sent to a Joseph Stalin or a Saddam Hussein. Does this really seem godlike to anyone?

What if the apparent randomness of life isn’t random at all but instead a purposeful unfolding of experiences, thoughts, desires, and personal lessons? What if we discovered that we were active participants in the creation of every element of our lives rather than simply the recipient of them? What if the Creator was at least as equitable and fair as a loving parent who didn’t play favorites with her or his children? What if God was truly all-loving, ever-merciful, and eternally supportive, providing a firm foundation for each of His children to live and grow and become all that they were meant to be?

Perhaps the fundamental problem in our present collective worldview is that we rarely approach our lives from the proper perspective. Because of the challenges of life, all-too-often we find ourselves so overwhelmed by our day-to-day activities that we no longer have the energy or the time to even ponder a higher purpose. Many of us face relationship problems, financial difficulties, job insecurities, family tragedies, and all manner of physical, mental, and spiritual suffering. It is not that these things are new to the human condition; instead, it appears as though the birthing pains of a new worldview are causing countless people to undergo a variety of challenges, oftentimes due to change, at this moment in our collective history.

Because of these personal challenges, many individuals have begun to feel helpless and even victimized in terms of having any ability to mold or change the substance of their lives. Our victimization has led many of us to blame our parents, our upbringing, our neighbors, even our society and our government for our present situation. The tragic irony of this is that it is only by exercising our abilities of freedom of choice, personal change and “co-creation” will we ever be able us to transform ourselves and, in turn, the world. Most often, we have failed to understand the far-reaching capacity we possess to shape, mold, create and transform our present experience.

In truth, we are always co-creating the substance or our lives and we are always positively contributing to or negatively detracting from the world around us. If this is true, if we are always in the process of co-creation, what are we creating by our fascination with war, with our hatred of other countries and cultures, with our desire to “get even,” or with our anticipation of disaster or even an Armageddon? Are our thoughts creating miracles for the future, or are we contributing to the problem? Do we get angry about various hatreds, animosities and the lack of peace in the world without seeing the need to reconcile, reach out, or to make peace in our own lives? Regardless of our present circumstance, regardless of current world events, regardless of how overwhelmed we may feel right now, there is always something we can do about it.

Today, we are facing one of the greatest challenges in history, and ultimately that challenge isn’t really about terrorism, or war, or financial instability, or dealing with personal problems. Our greatest challenge right now is whether or not we can collectively become conscious of the impact we have upon our present experience. What kind of a world are we building? What are we creating by our thoughts, our deeds, and our interactions with those around us, as well as upon the other side of the world?

As co-creators in the here and now we need to become aware of our role in creation. Even the heavens wait with expectancy for us to bring these things into manifestation. Ultimately, only one thing stands between each individual and a personal awakening: the human will. As long as we are alive, we have the possibility to effect lasting, positive change. What do we want the world of tomorrow to look like? What are we co-creating for our future? Where do we want to go? Ultimately, our purpose individually and collectively is to make the world a better place because we have lived in it. The future of our lives and the world around us is our hands. What are we doing about it?

This article has been adapted from the book, Edgar Cayce on Mastering Your Spiritual Growth.