Leaving Islam



The Root of Purpose

Personal Reflection (Sermon)

By Erik Miller 

When I was a young child, I asked my mother, “Where is God?” Mom gestured to the green canopy of trees surrounding our home, as if searching for an answer, and gave me the kind of spontaneous reply that flows from the heart, rather than from books or rote memory. 

“God is in every thing!” 

Seeing the trees sway in a sudden gust of wind, I sensed a soft green aura emanating from the sunlit emerald leaves. I realized then that Nature radiates a Purpose beyond mere human consumption. 

The forest was never meant to be a furniture store.  

The Earth is sacred, and has a destiny of its own. The sooner we appreciate this fact, the better, for us and for our children. 

We face mounting evidence of environmental catastrophe, and yet the human species fails to comprehend, or even care about the level of damage it has already inflicted upon the other life-forms that depend on this planet for sustenance. 

The global economy today is built on money rather than on values. Therein is the problem. In our system, capital is the end that justifies almost any mean, any cost, even the extermination of ecosystems. 

The false profits of capitalism claim that we need nothing, that “progress” and hard work will solve all our problems. But what is the purpose of breaking our backs from nine to five if it leaves us little time for our families, and our dreams? 

Indeed, to find your personal purpose in this lifetime, seek it out in your dreams! As you move through the mythical fields of your sleeping mind, greet the people and note the sights. Bring a camera with you so that you may remember your journey on the way home. 

Awaken from your dream! 

Know thy desire and thy need. Then sing the story so all the world can hear it. Your purpose will resonate in the quality of your voice, and in the beating of your heart. 

The English word “Purpose” stems from the Latin root “to put forth”. So purpose means putting forth an intention to do or accomplish something. Purpose penetrates the world from within. It springs forth from the deepest recesses of our heart. 

Purpose sets an agenda and then strives to achieve it, no matter what. It is an energy that must be harnessed carefully.  

In the heart of a loving person, purpose focuses into determination and steadfast resolution. 

But in the hands of the loveless, purpose hardens into stubborn zeal, the kind we see in radical religious groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, and Al-Qaeda, and anyone else willing to maim and kill for their cause. 

Children are murdered in the streets everyday because men with bombs think they are following the purpose of their god.  

So-called religious leaders have killed many more children, in their mind and spirit, by teaching them guilt-ridden doctrines like original-sin, eternal punishment, and blood sacrifice. 

The Judeo-Christian-Islamic word “sin” derives from the Hebrew verb chayt, which means “to miss the mark”. It is an archery term. Metaphorically, it simply meant to miss an opportunity, or to fail at attaining a certain goal. 

That’s it!  

Originally “sin” meant to make a mistake. 

Mistakes are a part of being human. They are the scrapes on the knee that we endure while learning how to walk. Mistakes are a natural component of the learning process. The point is to learn our lesson, correct it, and move on.  

What right, then, do these priests have to accuse our children of sin-guiltiness?! Why do they focus their sermons on “getting right with God” if not only to line their pockets with the faith of the masses? 

“Blessed are the poor, for their financial and spiritual poverty justifies our purpose here on earth”. 

It seems that the law of supply and demand applies equally to the Temple and Church, the Mosque and Synagogue. Without the problem of moral/mortal sin, what purpose does organized religion have to exist? 

If the criticism herein seems too extreme or harsh, consider all the wars, conflicts, and battles raging across the globe right now. What is the common denominator?


Whether we are referring to the Indian-Pakistani arms race, or the Irish civil war, or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or the Russian-Chechen struggle, or the Kosovo massacres, or the Sudanese slave-trade, or the Bali bombings, or the Taliban’s persecution of women, or the American “War on Terror”, and the events of 9/11 that provoked it, we are referring to horrors inspired by religious ideology.

Where is the outrage? 

One can brush this aside and claim that these examples are just people “using” or “hijacking” religion for their own twisted purposes. Or one may argue, as many have, that anyone who murders in the name of religion is not “truly” a Christian, Jew, Muslim, or what have you.  

But what is the purpose of these arguments, other than to avoid the difficult truth one doesn’t want to face or admit – that there may be something fundamentally wrong with the belief-system itself! 

Arguments that try to separate religion from the violence carried out by religious fanatics are desperate attempts to cover up a long history of bloodshed committed in the name of God.  

Nothing has done more to spread atheism, nihilism, and the existential sense of purposelessness, than the example displayed by organized religion’s history of witch-hunts and suppressions, crusades, inquisitions, and jihads. 

No, this is not a finger-pointing contest. 

No religion is exempt from these charges. This is a human problem, and it is our collective responsibility and obligation to fix it immediately. 

In light of this, the hard question arises again -- what purpose does religion serve in the modern world? 

Do we really have good reason to cultivate faith in a higher power, or should we just throw religion out with the holy water? 

And if we devote ourselves solely to scientific method and mechanical reductionism, do we not risk loosing sight of our soul, that is, the meaning of life beyond tooth-and-nail survival? 

Is there a middle ground?  

Is there a neutral zone where the two armies of our modern day, secularists and the religionists, can meet and discuss matters civilly, rather than resorting to physical or verbal violence? 

If nothing else, language is the buffer zone we seek. Both religion and science are built on language, as are all areas of human scholarship and discipline. 

Language, as a sonic technology that uses sounds to represent meanings, has made it possible for humans to communicate, and through communication, to form communities and evolve. 

The purpose of language is evident in the words you now hear. It is our way to express feelings, thoughts, hopes, and beliefs with each other. By sharing, we grow in love and appreciation for the other. 

The true “holy communion” occurs when all creatures communicate using one common language, when humankind joins together to participate in the group-project of healing the world. 

But this goal will seem idealistically beyond reach as long as religion and science consider themselves opposites/contradictions towards one another, as long as they speak different languages. 

Religion speaks the language of metaphor, meditation, prayer, faith, morality, and revelation. Science speaks the language of measurements, rationality, reason, mathematics, and methodic questioning. 

Dualistic philosophies have duped us into believing that these two realms of thought have irreconcilable differences, and that the child must choose one or the other. 

We have a left and right hemisphere in our brain. Why must we choose one over the other? 

What science and spirit do have in common is a mutual urge, a purpose, to learn about the nature of the universe, and understand how humanity may best live and thrive in its environment. 

Think about it…. 

We want to find our purpose in this lifetime. We want the empowerment, the tough determination, and the positive feeling of personal fulfillment that purpose brings, do we not? 

But the two reigning authorities on this subject speak two different, seemingly conflicting languages. 

So we want a common language, a lingua franca on the meaning of life, whether it exists at all, and if so, what we may do to realize it in our own lives.  

I implore the reader-listener to open his or her mind and listen with a humble heart to what is about to unfold… 

Hebrew, the ancient language of Canaan , serves as the master-key that can unlock the meaning of purpose in terms agreeable to both science and spirituality. 

The power rests in Hebrew’s unique ability to translate forwards and backwards in a consistent teaching.  

The reason why this special language can unleash the power of purpose will become clear soon. First, we need to briefly cover some history… 

Hebrew, while not the first language per se, was the first alphabet. Where possibly older tongues -- like Egyptian, Sanskrit and Chinese -- possessed thousands of word-pictographs understood primarily by the priestly elite, Hebrew was special because of its versatility and user-friendly interface. 

For the first time, an entire culture was able to communicate in a coded system of “letters” that exceeded no more than 30 characters. This system can and does re-present every sound imaginable through near-infinite combinations and variations of the basic code, similar to how DNA or a computer-programming language works. 

The native Canaanites who possessed this language lived and thrived in the Levant long before Jews or Arabs, Israelis or Palestinians, were even conceived. 

The Canaanites, or the Phoenicians who later inherited their culture and speech, sailed the high seas and traveled to many lands in search of trade and adventure. One of these lands was Greece , where they taught the people there how to use the alphabet.  

Indeed, the Greeks attribute the source of their alphabet to the Canaanites, in the form of the mythical hero “Cadmus”. So the Hebrew aleph changed into “alpha” (A), as beth morphed into “beta” (B). The very word “alphabet” derives directly from the first two Hebrew letters. 

Greek evolved into Latin with the rise of the Roman Empire , and later gave birth to the familiar “romance” languages, including our own English. Today, the world regards English as the most important and only cosmopolitan language, the lingua franca of the Information Age. 

Hebrew’s influence reaches far. 

In fact, Hebrew is not only a qualitative language of meanings, but also a quantitative language of numerical values. In other words, each letter is also a number, so Hebrew is a mathematical system based on the power of 10. 

So it makes sense that if we grasp the meaning of ancient Hebrew roots, our investigation will shed light on the essential meanings of our own language, including the concept of “Purpose”. 

And when we realize the nature of our native language, we realize the nature of our own thoughts, because language is a verbal _expression of our cognitive processes, and vice versa. 

And when we realize how to think clearly, then we become masters of the mind, which means that all things, purpose included, should clarify itself before the mirror of our mental vision. 

These are facts that even the most skeptical scientist can not easily dismiss without violating historical record and common-sense. 

As for the religious among us, Hebrew already exhibits a long-respected reputation as a spiritual language. This was the language, after all, that gave us the Bible.  

The Hebraic stories embodied in the Bible gave birth to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, all three major religions which claim the Hebrew texts as their foundational scripture. 

This means that Hebrew colors our collective paradigm in ways both obvious and subtle. 


Hebrew, according to Jewish tradition, is not only a holy language, but the holy language, the Code, by which God uses to speak, and by speaking, to create the universe and all that exists. 

Each letter is an archetypical symbol that represents a frequency or type of energy.  

Yes, on the surface, Hebrew appears to simply be the national language of the Jewish people. But on a deeper level, Hebrew is a universal language that opens and teaches everyone, no matter culture, creed, or ethnicity. 

The only thing required is the willingness to learn. 

Thus, people in both secular and religious camps, and all those in between, should rest assured that Hebrew is a valid source for understanding “purpose”. 

Now that we have established the necessary connection, let us move forward and test the verity of this sermon.  

Yes, we must think critically, question our own beliefs and challenge our own arguments, if we hope to hear the soft whisperings of the TRUTH that speaks only when man listens. 

Let’s begin… 

The word PURPOSE has at least three equivalents in Hebrew. For the purposes of this short sermon, let us examine only one: Kavvanah, which often means “intention, intentionality, and devotion”. 

Already, this teaches us something beautiful: when we live our lives ethically, never harboring the intention to hurt other people, but rather an intention to give, to learn, and love……then does our purpose transform itself into passionate devotion! 

Kavvanah stems from the root-verb Kun, “to stand firm, to be established; to be firm, steadfast, faithful, sure, reliable, fixed; to be ready, prepared, determined”. 

Purpose is what makes each person stand out from the rest. You are precious to the world because you are unlike everyone else, and your contribution to this world is equally special and necessary. 

But sometimes the mass consciousness, the status quo, works against individuals who realize, or begin to sense, the embryonic purpose budding in their heart of hearts. 

Sometimes the sheer charisma that emanates from a purposeful individual marks that person as suspicious to others, because that person becomes a threat to the ‘system’. 

Sometimes we must stand firm against outside influences that try to convince us not to “live our bliss”, as the great mythologist Joseph Campbell had interpreted purpose. 

Sometimes these pressures come from our loved ones, the people closest to us, like mothers and fathers, lovers and friends, who fear for our safety, who fear change. 

I once knew a woman who would unconsciously feed her overweight boyfriend ice-cream every night, despite his declaration a month earlier that he was going on a diet. 

Certainly, she didn’t want him to suffer, but subconsciously she had associated the experience of their “ice-cream outings” with his love for her, so that her own attachment and fear got in the way of his deeper purpose to change his habits and regain a healthy lifestyle. 

The man later explained to his girlfriend that their relationship transcended food, and that ice-cream was merely a symbol, one ‘vehicle’ among many that they could use to express devotion for each other. 

They now ride bikes together! 

We can love and respect the advice of our loved ones. But if we know our calling in life, then we would do well to follow it, even if it’s not completely understood by everyone yet. 

Surely, even if we don’t fully grasp the purpose of our lives (who does?), we can at least y_konain, “set up, establish, make firm, build, prepare, direct” our energies towards a future goal, according to the dreams that inspire us, and the visions that make us feel most alive. 

Kavva’n means “a cake for offerings”.  

To reap the benefits of this language, we need to think metaphorically, we need to use imagination as children do. 

How do we make cake? First we mix flour, liquid, eggs, and other ingredients, and shape it into a rounded mass. Then we bake it, and decorate it with sweets and icing. Finally, we serve it to eat. 

Likewise, before we can enjoy a purpose-filled life, we need to draw together all the various “ingredients” at our disposal; our interests, our talents, the experiences we’ve gained over the years, the lessons we’ve learned. 

With this ‘recipe’, we are able to “form and shape” our sense of purpose in a way that suits our tastes, and those of others too.  

The “baking” stage is the time of tests, trials, and tribulations where our formulated purposes either burn up in the fires of reality, or rise up triumphantly like yeast! 

If we followed the recipe correctly (the one inside our hearts) then the “cake”, our personal mission in life, will appear, and we can spice it up, decorate it, or stylize it however we wish.  

Finally, and this is the best part – we get to eat it! We are able to feast in the fruits of our labor, that is, realize (make real) our highest dreams and experience it in every-day life, as countless celebrities and great figures have done throughout time. 

To return to the word kavva’n, “cake offering”, there’s the quiet reminder here that the greatest part is actually yet to come -- the true goal of realizing our purpose in this lifetime is to offer it to others so that they may enjoy the fruits of our hard-work as well! 

Note how the first letter of this word, Kaph, is called “the curved or hollow hand, palm”. Usually, the first letter in a Hebrew word determines the main theme of the concept. 

Thus, Purpose, or Kavvanah, is like a “curved hand” because a curved hand or palm, unlike an open hand, has the ability to conceal something while holding it at the same time. 

Sometimes our Purpose in Life is not so clear, but “concealed” by the momentary blindness we suffer in the daily dog-eat-dog society we live in, or simply because we are not yet ready, spiritually or mentally, to carry such a heavy burden as our own destiny. 

But the hand that conceals, far from cruel, is a gift in disguise, because it also contains, or holds, the surprise gift, the possibility of our future mission. 

When it comes to purpose or intention, what we don’t know also contains what we will eventually know, but only if we remain steady in our creative pursuits, and prepare ourselves to overcome whatever obstacles lie along our path. 

As we see, the Hebrew answered our challenge and taught us something consistent and insightful about the nature of purpose.  

While the point of this sermon was not to teach the listener-readers a new language, it does at least offer a new METHOD to unlock meaning in the mundane. 

This is not so much an advocation to take up Hebrew, but rather a Call to delve into your own heart and soul, to re-discover the child within you, who was you, when you first came into this world. 

Did we come into this world with an inherent purpose, or do we create it according to our choices? Personally, I don’t know. But I’d bet that the answer is both. 

Regardless, the proof of purpose exists in the Vessel of the Child. Look at your own children, or your niece, or nephew, or grandchildren, any one.  

They are born innocent! 

We are all born with dreams and hopes, imagination and insight. We feel no shame or existential angst, until it’s taught to us by adults already plugged into the “Matrix” of tradition.  

No, this is not an advocation to revert to an idyllic childish state. We cannot go back.  

What we can do is preserve the child-like spirit, the playful, curious youth inside our hearts, because there rests our purpose, like seeds sitting silently in the fertile soil, waiting to be born and blossom into maturity. 

Equally as important, we must treat real children with the same respect. We must encourage their strengths and creative impulses, without making them feel guilty and God forbid, “sinful” anytime they make a mistake. 

As long as our society refuses to treat the environment with respect, as long as we allow religions to continue preaching accusatory doctrines meant to scare and control, we betray our children, and the generations to follow. 

What we need now is a revolution in spirituality, a dramatic change in attitude. We need a common purpose aligned with LOVE in the highest sense of the word. 

Though we all have our individual, unique purposes, whether self-created or God-given, whether based on logic or faith, we all must measure up to the standard of LOVE, because there is no higher calling, no greater responsibility, than that of creative passion. 

The purpose of LIFE is to live it, and in the process, to learn how to love.  

I know this because I remember the wisdom of my mother, while observing the trees rustling in the wind on that fateful day. I saw the green glow from the forest, as if the earth was alive with vital energy. 

I know this because I keep the root within me alive, and listen…..  

Feel the energy of your body!

For that is your identity.  

Use your mind!

For that is your greatest tool.  

Know your purpose!

For that is your legacy. 

Now go, child, with love always upon you, and discover the wonders of life…. 

** ‘amen **


Feyerabend, Karl Dr. Langenscheidt’s Pocket Hebrew Dictionary to the Old Testament. New York : Langenscheidt Publishers, Inc 

“Purpose.” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Third Edition. New York : Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992. 



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