I learned about Commonweal years ago when a good friend had cancer. I’ve loved Rachel Naomi Remen’s books for years. Today I quote from an interview with her in the Commonweal newsletter on A Life with Purpose.
She says, “My grandfather believed that each of us has a holy purpose and that we fulfill this purpose in many ways – through our relationships, our families, our careers, or just on some street corner somewhere. We may fulfill our life purpose simply by something we say to some stranger on a bus.”
She continues on speaking of collective purpose which has a Hebrew name, Tikkun Olam, which translates as the word service.
“One of my favorite authors, Kurt Vonnegut, writes about this in his book Cat’s Cradle. According to Vonnegut, God has organized the world into working units called Karasses. A Karass is a group of people who have been born to serve one of God’s holy purposes without ever knowing. Their lives and their work may bear no outward relationship to one another. No matter. They serve their holy purpose together perfectly. Vonnegut says the members of a Karass circle around their holy purpose like electrons circle the nucleus of an atom. Some orbit very close to the nucleus. Others orbit at a great distance. But all are bound to their holy purpose by spiritual bonds, bonds of the soul. Those who orbit very close to the nucleus may be friends or even a married couple. But most others are total strangers: people whose lives and work seems to bear no relationship to one another, people of all ages who speak different languages and have different religions, people who will never meet or have any awareness of one another. Yet their lives fit together in service to their holy purpose. Vonnegut contrasts this to the Grandfaloon, the way human beings organize the world. The people in a Grandfaloon think they are related to one another but actually have no relationship to one another at all; for example, the Yale class of 2003 or any professional sports team anywhere.”
She continues: “According to Vonnegut, should you have the good fortune to meet a member of your Karass, you feel a sort of deep recognition that you can’t explain, a sense of bondedness, a feeling that this other person is truly family.”
And here we are!