Recently, I spoke at Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit, where 3000 people who yearn to make the world a better place gather to inspire one another and compare notes. My talk was, in part, about sacred activism, how we can find and fulfill our spiritual mission and allow our gifts and talents to be used in service to our life purpose. As part of my call to spiritual action to those in the WDS community, I shared something I wrote about in my upcoming book The Anatomy of a Calling.
The “Karass” and the “Granfalloon”
In Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut writes about how God organizes the world into units which he calls a “karass.” A karass is a unit of incarnated beings whose job it is to bring into being one of God’s holy ideas. Members of a karass all further the collective purpose seamlessly, though many never even know they are part of this karass. Even if they never meet, they work together in harmony, in impeccable service to God’s holy idea. Everything about their lives furthers the purpose perfectly, even though they may be furthering the purpose unconsciously. When you meet someone who is a member of your karass, even though it may make no sense to you on a human level, you will recognize them as a family member instantly. Your souls will resonate, even if you appear to have nothing in common on the human level. This is how the Divine gets important things done in the world. Your karass is like a peaceful army that activates to bring light into the world.
Vonnegut compares the karass to its polar opposite, which he calls “The Granfalloon.” The Granfalloon is a group of people who think they are connected to each other in some way, but they have no spiritual connection whatsoever. For example, the Harvard class of 1986—or the Republican party—or Mets fans. They are completely unrelated to each other when it comes to their soul purpose. They may think they belong to the same tribe, but the bond is shallow, whereas the bond between members of a karass runs deep and pure. Members of the same karass are held to their purpose like electrons around a nucleus. Some live very close to the purpose. Some are further out. But all are held to the purpose by a spiritual magnetism. They may have never met each other, or they may be married to each other. They may work in the same field or they may have very different careers. But their lives fit together in service to this shared spiritual purpose.
We are all here for an unknown purpose. Serving this purpose makes us feel fulfilled and enriched. But if we get seduced off purpose—by ambition, fame, money, or the ego’s grasping at comfort—our vitality gets stolen from us. When we commit to this purpose we’re here to serve, when we give ourselves to serving it with great impeccability, everything begins to fall into place.
Finding & Fulfilling Your Calling
We all have the opportunity to find our karass and fulfill our calling. When we do, we are filled with a deep sense of fulfillment that nourishes us at the soul level, that sense of knowing that you have been an instrument of Divine work in the world. This kind of fulfillment is much more deeply enriching than making lots of money, writing a book that hits the New York Times bestseller’s list, becoming a household name, or even reaching lots of people with charitable works. Finding and fulfilling your calling requires courage, because it often means following your heart and trusting your intuition, even when it guides you away from what our culture most values—security, comfort, reason, safety, and practicality.
What if you’re loaded with courage but you still haven’t found your calling?
This creates a deep pain for those who long to contribute their gifts. I felt this pain palpably at World Domination Summit. Like so many inspirational conferences, the shadow side of gathering people together to inspire and motivate them is that many people wind up feeling not good enough.
My calling isn’t helping as many people as his calling.
I’m not doing enough to find and fulfill my calling.
I haven’t met enough people in my karass.
My influence isn’t big enough/important enough/valuable enough/world-changing enough.
Can’t you hear the quiet despair underlying these “not enough” feelings? Do YOU ever feel this way? If I could go back to World Domination Summit and get on stage in front of those 3000 people, I would add one important statement that I failed to mention.
Every revolutionary act of love, even the smallest, most private action, raises the vibration of the planet and changes the world.
It need not be any “bigger” than that.
Become a Beacon of Love
Your courage to do your own inner work, to end the cycle of judgment and blame, to take personal responsibility for what you wish was different in your life and in the world—that is an act of love and healing, and it feeds your calling. Every loving action that stems from that healed place could affect history in ways you don’t even realize. The unconditional love you bask upon your children could raise the next Gandhi or Mother Teresa or Martin Luther King, Jr. The forgiveness you offer that person who violated you could lead to that person’s enlightenment, and he or she could change the world because of your forgiveness. Every time you forgive the unforgivable, every time you give a voice to the voiceless, every time you open your heart when it’s tempted to close, every time you find compassion in your heart when you’re inclined to judge—you raise the vibration of the planet. Every time you let love lead, you are smack dab in the center of your purpose. It can be that simple.
The Saint Disguised as a Janitor
When I was a resident at Northwestern, Oscar was a janitor who seemed to have made it his mission to be a beacon of love, affection, humor, and support for every exhausted, humiliated, trodden-down medical student and resident in the hospital. Every day when Oscar saw me racing around, he made me stop (he called me “Speedy Gonzalez”) and he hugged me. I could feel my whole body relax into his big, warm bear hugs. Sometimes that was the only moment I felt loved and safe all day long. I wasn’t the only one. This undercover saint in janitor clothes practiced revolutionary acts of love all day long while cleaning blood off floors and wiping urine off potty seats. I sure hope this guy never entertained thoughts like “I’m not doing enough” or “I must find my calling some day.” The Divine used him every day to touch and comfort hearts, and those medical students and residents who were uplifted by him went on to touch hundreds of patients every day. Who knows? Perhaps Oscar saved lives . . . not just those of the patients in that hospital, but those of the students and residents who have some of the highest suicide rates in the country. Sometimes one hug is all it takes to make a real difference.
The Collective Vibration
In Australia, I met Ami, an Israeli jeweler who had a near-death experience and came back channeling the teachings of gold. One of the teachings he shared with me is the notion that the planet is one big energetic bowl with a constantly changing vibration. Every act of love, he told me, raises the collective vibration of the planetary bowl, thereby changing outcomes all over the planet. For example, because one man quits his job to stay home and take care of his aging grandmother, perhaps the vibration is raised just high enough to keep an oil-driller from plowing down a plot of trees in the rainforest. Perhaps because one child risks her reputation and stands up for another child who is getting bullied on the schoolyard, one less human gets beheaded by ISIS. Perhaps love affects the world in ways that are different than the typical cause and effect we think we understand.
If this is the case, then anyone—including you—can find and fulfill his or her calling simply by doing whatever it is that you do with great love, from the heart, infused with meaning and kindness. This is what I wish I had said at World Domination Summit.
Your calling need not be some grand thing. The person who starts the nonprofit to feed hungry children in Africa is no more important to the collective vibration of the planet than Oscar the janitor/saint. The author who writes books and gets up on stage to speak about global peace is no more valuable than the stay home parent committed to raising compassionate children who are beacons of love and forgiveness. It takes a village to create global peace. Your loving influence on just one person could affect history in ways you don’t even realize.
Perhaps when we hit a threshold vibration, global miracles become possible. You can help. We all can. Every small act of love can cause miraculous changes globally.
Make Me an Instrument
So please, do pick up when the phone rings with instructions for your calling. But don’t be surprised if the little voice on the other side of the call instructs you to do something seemingly simple. I’m convinced that some of the most enlightened people on the planet are performing some of the most humble tasks, far from the spotlight and often in thankless positions. Just watch any of the angels who work or volunteer for Hospice.
So take the pressure off. Relax into your calling, one baby step at a time. Let go of the “not enough” thoughts or the pressure to be grand. Nothing describes this better than the prayer of St. Francis. May we all make this our daily prayers as we commit to being vessels of love in our own unique ways.
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness; joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood, as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.
Lissa Rankin, M.D., New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine and The Fear Cure, is a physician, author, speaker, and founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute, a training program for physicians and other health care providers. She is on a mission to merge science and spirituality in a way that not only facilitates the health of the individual; it also heals the collective. Lissa also co-teaches teleclass programs about spirituality, such as Medicine For The Soul with Rachel Naomi Remen, MD and Coming Home To Your Spirit with Martha Beck, PhD. Read her blog and learn more at LissaRankin.com.
If you’re a health care provider interested in enrolling in the 2015 Class of the Whole Health Medicine Institute, we’re accepting new students until the program begins with a live event in the San Francisco Bay area on June 5. You can register here. Along with me, guest teachers include mind body medicine pioneers like Rachel Naomi Remen, Larry Dossey, Bernie Siegel, Bruce Lipton, Kelly Turner, and more.