Who am I? Why am I here? What do I want to learn in this lifetime? Some say that the first step before any true healing can occur involves answering honestly and deeply these questions about yourself.
Alejandro Jodorowsky – movie director, author, tarotist, and much more – numbers among the most creative and innovative individuals walking the planet these days. He is widely renowned in France, his adopted home, as well as in Chile (where he was born) and Mexico (where he lived for more than a decade). He has developed a type of ancestral work that he calls “metageneology” that, according to a French colleague, is used quite extensively in France. It brings in our connection to our family tree and ancestors as an important pathway to self-discovery and avenue for healing and positive transformation.
But in this article, I want to focus on a personal story he shares in his book about Metageneology. He tells about how at one point in his eventful life, he was threatened in Mexico as a result of a movie he was making and had to flee to the USA in the middle of the night with his family. He ended up in New York City with no money and no work. This caused him so much anxiety that every night he soaked at least 7 t-shirts. No prescription could stop these infernal night sweats.
One day someone told him about a Chinese sage named Cheng Man Ch’ing who was living in New York City and giving free consultations every week to the sick in Chinatown. Alejandro decided to go see if this man could cure him. He describes meeting “this beautiful elder” with such gentle energy as follows:
He stared into my eyes and asked this unexpected question: What is your goal in life? That bothered me and with a lack of respect I regretted immediately, I answered, “I came to you for a remedy against sweating, not for a philosophical conversation.”
Calmly he responded, “If you do not have a goal in life, I cannot cure you.”
This came as a shock to me, psychologically.
Alejandro goes on to describe several answers that passed through his mind, but all seemed unimportant and insignificant. He perceived how many of his goals were actually from his ancestral legacy, unfulfilled wishes and dreams of his parents and grandparents – poor Jewish immigrants from Russia. And how his own parent’s unhappiness instilled in him a fear of success.
And as he looks at Cheng Man Ch’ing, I realized that my purpose in life was not that of an isolated individual, but that of the entire human race: past, present and future. Timidly, I ventured to say, “I want to know and understand the whole universe; I want to live as long as the universe lives; I want to become the Consciousness of the universe in order to create.”
I thought the wise man would laugh at me, accuse me of delusions of grandeur, but it was the complete opposite. With a loving smile, he said, “You have a purpose in life, now I can cure you.”
Alejandro Jodorowsky’s story continues to intrigue me, especially as other recent reading on the topic of healing also discuss the criticality of knowing our life purpose in the healing process. I have asked myself the question Cheng Man Ch’ing posed with such acuity to Alejandro, and must confess that I am still groping for the true answer that resides beyond all the societal expectations and practical realities.
Is it to write? As much as I enjoy writing, if I couldn’t write I would still be me and find other ways to fulfill myself. Is it to love and be loved? Important, of course, but I somehow sense that there is something more to life, and to my life. Is it to transcend? To transcend what?
I have tried asking a few people this question, people close to me, people I love. None have been able to give a response yet. Maybe this should not be so surprising, since in our culture and lifestyle we are taught and trained in so many ways and about so many things – but understanding ourselves, at a spirit level, is not a high priority. In fact, it sometimes feels like society is set up to keep us from focusing on these “big questions” as we entertain ourselves with gadgets and busy ourselves with the mundane.
Maybe, just maybe, one of the reasons for so much mental illness and addiction these days it that a lot of us don’t have a clue why we are living our life or what our true purpose is.
Often, in the case of Alejandro Jodorowsky, we need a wise elder to help us discover the answer within ourselves. Most of us can’t access such profound knowledge on our own, without the help of sacred wisdom keepers or through some other sacred gateway to wider realms of realities. As for me, I continue to pose this question to myself. Even if I don’t yet know the answer, I find solace and perhaps even a bit of healing in the quest.
August article in the Monadnock Shopper