Each week, spiritual teacher Deepak Chopra responds to Oprah.com users' questions with enlightening advice to help them live their best lives.
Q: I'm writing you from Istanbul, Turkey. I am trying to find my life's purpose. I am always reading your advice and trying to practice your teachings. If a person has a problem with finding her/his purpose, can another person, maybe a spiritual teacher, do it for her/his? Thank you for being there.
— Aygun U., Istanbul, Turkey
Your question is on the mind of every seeker, whether they are spiritual or seeking something else, such as love and success. For many people, this process is helped by finding a mentor. I've never heard anyone warn: "Be careful. Don't let your mentor turn you into a mindless follower." Yet one hears that quite often when it comes to spiritual seeking.
I mention this because I don't know if you deeply want a spiritual teacher or, at the other extreme, fear being overly influenced. Let me reassure you. No one can take from you what you don't willingly give. There are countless so-called teachers who want to seize power and control (not just in spirituality, but in all fields). You must be careful not to allow this. The best safeguard is alertness. Be aware of who you are and what you seek. You are not here to gratify any teacher, mentor or guide. You are here to fulfill your deepest personal goals.
Now you can see why your question doesn't lead to a simple answer. Yes, a guide can help point the way to your own sense of self and your purpose in life. No, a guide can't replace your own search. When you drive through town, signposts can tell you where each road goes, but only you can turn the wheel.
How can I be an individual if we're all part of the same spirit?
Every week, Deepak will be answering questions from readers just like you—ask your question now!
Deepak Chopra is the author of more than 50 books on health, success, relationships and spirituality, including his current best-seller, Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul, and The Ultimate Happiness Prescription, which are available now. You can listen to his show on Saturdays every week on SiriusXM Channels 102 and 155.
Published on February 24, 2010