Much can be gleaned from uncovering the answer to this question of all questions. And an answer can be got. It takes persistence, and only you can answer it for yourself. Since we suffer memory loss in the transit from spirit to body, you must use your intuition - and maybe a little common sense.
Lots of people blame their childhood for their problems. If I weren't abused. If I had had better luck and more opportunities. If I had been prettier, smarter, taller. Or had straight hair! (True confession, but I'm over it now and have made friends with my curls.) But the truth is that since you chose all of this, there really is nobody to blame but you. And don't blame yourself. Rather, congratulate yourself for selecting those circumstances most propitious to the realization of your highest potential. And inquire, inquire, inquire.
The Hindus say that as unborn spirits we see the entirety of our future life in a glimpse. Others say that a womb is selected, we see a couple copulating, and deem them our parents to come. Freudians would say that boys experience jealousy for their fathers and attraction to their mothers, and girls vice versa, but I don't buy it. I do however wonder whether we choose our siblings. If not, then there is justification for why siblings often fight. But only in strife do you know who you really are and who you're dealing with. Don't be fair weather, be a friend in need.
I know why I came to Michael and Laraine Dave. I often say that I enjoy the life of contemplation and solitude because my parents exposed me to the teachings of Sai Baba from birth. In fact when I was in the womb they were already reading his teachings and listening to his songs. Love all serve all was the motto in our house before I had even learned to speak. But what I consider the cause of my retiring frame of mind may actually be an effect. I may have selected such parents, vegetarians committed to the spiritual path, having exhibited these tendencies myself in the spirit realm and to ensure that I remembered where I came from. Thus my prior tendencies found fulfillment and outlet with these two great people as my mother and father, who provided a safe haven for me to explore the sacrosanct. Confused? See title.
Of course my brother Justin had a similar upbringing and he was about as materialistic and hedonistic as they come. Meat wasn't served in the Dave household, so Justin went out and bought Hungry Man dinners which he'd eat alone in his room - and often wash down with a 40 of malt liquor. My father had given up smoking before his sons were born, but Justin liked to leave Costco with a crate of Malboro Lights, which he often pilfered. And then he would get enraged at his older brother (me) for ratting his larceny out to my parents. I miss that scoundrel! Smoking probably contributed to his early death. We live in a world of consequences.
There is much to be revealed in the unseen realm, the pre-life/after-life which represents and also transcends in time both womb and tomb. The fact remains that you are the author of your own destiny. So own your life, and make the best of it. Meditation helps one to see with clarity. You simply sit still, focus on your breathing, clear the mind of thoughts, and see what happens. The better you get at the practice, the less happens. There are whole universes to be discovered in the stillness of your mind. If you don't believe me, heed the words of Lord Krishna, hero of the epic Mahabharata, one of those books my parents read prior to my earthly existence.
Krishna's words to his warrior disciple Arjuna are: "Sitting and concentrating the mind on a single object, controlling the thoughts and the activities of the senses, let the yogi practice meditation for self-purification. Hold the waist, spine, chest, neck, and head erect, motionless and steady, fix the eyes and the mind steadily between the eye brows, and do not look around. With serene and fearless mind; practicing celibacy; having the mind under control and thinking of Me; let the yogi sit and have Me as the supreme goal."
By "Me" Krishna means the higher consciousness, the Self, God. Which can only be known by going beyond mind and JUST BEING.
The question of why we are here admits of no pat answer. Yes the Eastern mystics say we take human form, which is not an easy place to pass the time, to turn away from the distractions of the world and realize the divinity inherent within. But at the individual level there are as many answers to the question why as there are people to ask it. Clearly LeBron James came to earth to kill it on the court. My athletic prowess is modest by comparison, and I am well under the average height of an NBA player. So it was a no-brainer for me, being somewhat diminutive and born in an affluentish part of town, to pass over a career in athletics. I have brains and am also rather comely, like many actors, but the same Sai Baba taught that a career in the performance arts is frivolous and steals one's soul. And yet, if your spirit is infinite then you have a lot to spare, and I'd be a Paul Newman type. But the last 30 years of his life he was only a sex symbol to my grandmother. Surely not a warrior like Arjuna (Krishna's disciple) as I'm more of a lover than a fighter. And not a porn star because as my idol Peter North has said, "You wouldn't believe the amount of concentration, stamina and discipline required to have sex with skanks (of both sexes) in front of the camera all day, and come on cue!" It seems all the great jobs are either taken or not so great. I know, I'd be Krishna! Krishna is God.
I can only surmise that I chose a life in which I would be adequately but by no means abundantly provided for so as to never have to factor money in when choosing my lifelong pursuit. And I'm still searching. There is writing, which I do for fun. And running, also for fun. As they say find the thing you'd do for free and try to make that your career. And if you don't need to work for money, take a page out of Candide and cultivate your garden. Ah the halcyon days of childhood, when all that concerned me was attending school and being on time for practice in whatever sport was in season. Now there is grocery shopping, cleaning, meal preparation, laundry, gardening, and other things that used to be done for me as a kid. Who has time to make money? If you do, where's the time to attend to the other necessities of life? If like me you don't wish to outsource the performance of these daily tasks to some immigrant, you can easily become overworked, then who has time for meditation. But performing these menial tasks with a mind free of thought is meditation in itself.
A strange thing happens with meditation. You can rise above your station in life. You become timeless and spaceless, an immortal. There is no higher bliss. Strive for this bliss, your true nature, throughout life.
Religious texts often mention the lotus flower. The lotus is beautiful, fragrant, noble. But it is born in the muddy waters, where it rises up to break the surface and grace the world with colorful petals and tantalizing scent. You too can be like the lotus flower.
If you don't realize the goal of yoga, which is perfect union with your higher nature, if you are destined to be reborn, Krishna gives you an idea of what is to come, in case you forget between now and then:
"The unsuccessful yogi is reborn, after attaining heaven and living there for many years, in the house of the pure and prosperous; or such a yogi is born in a family of wise transcendentalists. A birth like this is very difficult, indeed, to obtain in this world. After taking such a birth, one regains the knowledge acquired in the previous life, and strives again to achieve perfection. The yogi who diligently strives, perfecting through many incarnations, becomes completely free from all sins and reaches the supreme goal."
The goal is nothing less than Godhood. Happy realizing.