The Souls Journey – Reflections on Fate vs Destiny

September 2, 2022

James Hollis suggests in his wonderful book Hauntings that we should look at the relationship of fate vs destiny. He suggests we look at fate as the givens with which we are endowed – genetics, parents, family, culture, upbringing for example. Destiny: the potential within the person that which wishes to unfold within us. How have we shown up in the world? How did our fate manifest during the first half of life? How about the second half? What made the difference? Do you notice any sense of a guiding principle or spirit that helped shift you from one destiny to another?

We can also apply this principal to any major event in our life. Any event that seems entirely out of our control could be also construed as our fate. For example a separation, a major injury, the loss of a job etc. In this case we begin by looking at the circumstances of our lives at the time of the event- what was going on? Where had fate seemed to intervene? What destiny may be unfolding as a consequence?

On a beautiful day in Vancouver some years ago, I went on a day hike up Grouse Mountain. I began with the Grouse Grind, an impossibly steep three km. winding trail that averages about a 30% grade much of the way. At the top you are greeted with magnificent views of Vancouver below you. Then feeling energetic I decided to ascend a higher trail to Goat Mountain. At times this involved clambering steep rock faces, but the reward was a magnificent vista of coast range mountains and even glacier capped Mount Baker in the distance.

It was on the way down that the unexpected happened. I stepped over a log and my left foot turned and I heard a distinct “crack”, I feared I had broken an ankle because although I could move my toes, it no longer could take almost no weight. It was a quiet trail and I was alone, no help in sight. Fortunately I had taken a hiking cane, unusual but with its aid I struggled 40 minutes to the top of the mountain where the gondola awaited. It was an eventful trip home via driving with one foot, a clinic to tell me I needed an X-ray, the emergency room at a downtown hospital to be finally six hours later sitting on my couch contemplating ruefully the impact on my life and why this may have occurred.

It was indeed broken but because of my experience it was too swollen to cast so I had a splint and a pair of crutches. This proved a blessing as the follow up X-ray a week later persuaded the orthopaedic doctor that an airboot would suffice saving me six weeks on crutches! It could have been so much worse!

So how do fate and destiny enter the picture? Fate clearly contributed to the accident; I had not been careless or mindless, it seemed to be imposed on me. Fate had also been kind to me by reminding me to bring my hiking cane and minimizing the impact of the trauma. However was there meaning to be gained from this experience? I very much believed that life sends us signs to guide our way – was this such a sign?

The circumstances of my life at the time was that I was exploring my spirituality. I had become a spiritual wayfarer exploring different traditions and interests. I think “spiritual flirt” would be an appropriate description. I had developed a belief in universal power and energy and was seeking ways to access and utilize this.

Two other factors seemed relevant. First a friend of mine had been trying to persuade me to accompany him to church. I had great resistance due to an earlier “fate” of being brought up in a strict Baptist home and developing a life long antipathy to religion and church. Secondly I had been reading a book titled The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying and had just read a critique of new age spirituality as having no depth. It suggested finding a path preferably one connected with your cultural identity and going deeply into it.

Somewhat reluctantly I accepted fate was leading me to return to organized religion so I began to attend the Unity Church. This undoubtedly was a key determinant in my destiny as each step led to another. I made peace with Christianity, studied at theological college and eventually became a Spiritual Coach. Fate indeed stepped in to manifest a destiny I could not have even imagined and changed my life forever.


The Soul’s Journey Moving Healing from the Head to the Heart

June 16, 2022

 A son who showed up like a mirror reflecting all his worst fears.

A left hook, his son crumpled on the kitchen floor.

Tortured by clinging to a faith that betrayed him.

A restless angry God that he struggled to love.

And the fear! And the fear!

Haunting him.

An insidious thought he could never truly own.

“Perhaps I am wrong”

Part of my morning practice is to read a page or two from James Hollis’s remarkable book Hauntings. On this particular day he was suggesting that everyone’s life has a core complex, a subterranean, archaic reflex that can regularly impact our current reactions and behaviours. I have known for a while that my own core complex has been my relationship with my father. It could colour my reaction to many situations causing either fight or flight depending on the trigger – similar responses that my father had often triggered.

I have learned how to live with this conflict; the wound is always there but how I react to it can be managed. This was not always the case as I remember once getting fired because in the moment I yelled at my boss “you don’t have a constructive bone in your body” when I thought he was being unduly critical. This was  was actually a child’s response to his father rather than a reasoned adult to his superior. My past could haunt my present in a way that at the time I seemed unable to control.

Much time has passed since then and I have done an inordinate amount of exploration around my relationship with my dad and have over time learned to forgive him, believing that he had done the best he could under the circumstances. I felt curious about why I was revisiting this once again when I felt that I had completed my work around this issue.

Hollis was friends with the great poet Stephen Dunn who gave permission to share his story of his relationship with his father where a secret had permeated family life causing ongoing friction in the household and a complex to develop around secrecy. I sensed that much of Stephen’s healing came from writing about this. In a poem titled The Ghost, he writes, “An outgoing man, my father once held back a truth that would have rescued him from sadness. Now he roams my inheritance in every word I hear him speak. He vanishes, returns, no place for him in this entire world.”

Hollis suggests that only dialogue with such “stuff” provides release. I reflected on my journey and all the complexities derived from a father who could not accept his son the way he was. My disbelief in God at the age of 14 had become a wall as impenetrable as the ideological iron curtain that had developed between the west and the USSR after the war. Our relationship was forever strained as a result. He accused me as being “willful” as though it was a deliberate choice made to offend him.

As I mused about the past, I noticed words flowing up from somewhere deep within. Words, then phrases, then sentences that seemed to morph independent of the thinker into a poem. I stopped in wonder and surprise at what seemed a miracle. As I read the words I sensed I understood my father for the first time. Then I felt a piece of my personal puzzle slip into place reminding me of Dorriane Laux’s exquisite poem Break. “ we put the puzzle together piece by piece loving how each curved notch fits so sweetly with another.“

I realized that underneath this core complex I had unconsciously wanted to know why my father could not love me unconditionally. As I read the poem I could see how impossible I would be for him to express love to someone who mirrored all his worst fears. Suddenly I felt more at peace. It was as though the healing had shifted from my head to my heart.


The Soul’s Journey – Splinter Personalities

January 18, 2020

At the end of the year I was feeling somewhat judgmental about my output as a blogger. I decided to check my WordPress site and to my surprise I had published 16 under SoulClarity, 9 under DreamClarity and 6 On The Road, my travel blog so in fact it had been quite a productive year. However, what surprised me most was to see a blog I that wrote in 2015  was viewed by over 200 people last year. I was flummoxed. How could that many people find it?

It was titled Splinter Personalities – Anxiety, Energy and the Unconscious. The year it was published it had 35 views and now has reached 715. Presumably some strange anomaly in the search engines resulted in people encountering it. I decided to read it myself and consider updating

First to explain how I understand the concept of splinter personalities. It derives from the work of C.G Jung and refers to the variety of personalities that we each may employ at different times. So imagine those moments when you may say, “Well I wasn’t myself.” Who were you? Circumstances can cause us to shape shift into a persona that is uncomfortable, sometimes unfamiliar and normally short term. This is like a splinter or faction that temporarily breaks off from our normal personality.

These deviations from our norms are generally triggered by circumstances that tap deep into our history into what Jung would refer to as complexes. Eminent Jungian Analyst James Hollis, in his profound audio book, “Through The Dark Wood” suggests that our life is predominantly lived in service to powerfully charged, deeply reinforced messages. These are complexes – structures that can carry a large charge of energy and a charged historic experience can cause us to act unconsciously. Given the right activation, or stimulus one can get thrust back into that disempowered time of the formation of the core idea.

When I originally wrote the blog I had an encounter at a social gathering that was profoundly challenging yet most of the time I had no idea what was transpiring. A bit like a wave in a storm wind, I seemed to being pushed in a direction with no control of the outcome except to inevitably crash somewhere.

I began to feel harassed, a victim, outnumbered by my guests. I began to wish I had never invited them. I sank back in my chair. I tried to retreat but my friends pursued me. I felt uptight, my energy would not shift, my anxiety and angst grew and they both suggested I was being hostile.

I sat feeling as though I was an outsider at my own party. I was told my energy was like a negative barrier. I knew I was in the grip of something but had no idea what and desperately wanted to find out. I would have preferred to leave but it was my house. I sat feeling almost paralyzed and unable to regain my composure.

Then something magical occurred. The words “I was feeling attacked” entered my head and it felt like a light switch being turned on. I realized that the person sitting abjectly outside of the group was my thirteen year old self. This was a splinter personality. My energy was that of a sullen, glowering teenager. This was the age when I began to run away from life. It had all been too painful to stand up; it led to failure and hurt feelings. Being combative had rarely been effective, in fact at times I felt like my own worst enemy. Retreat was a safer and less damaging option.

At this point the energy autonomously lifted. My body felt differently, I felt calmer and more peaceful and both of my friends could feel the shift. The complex had been disarmed by the journey of enquiry and understanding. The relationship of energy, anxiety and the unconscious is complex and at times confusing yet it is a sign of something requiring healing.

As the great Sufi poet Rumi observed, “This being human is a guest house, every morning a new arrival, a joy, a meanness, a depression, some momentary awareness, comes as an unexpected visitor, welcome and entertain them all”.


The Soul’s Journey- The Search for Meaning

June 12, 2019

As we progress on the spiritual journey we will inevitably begin to seek for opportunities to create a meaningful life. This is laudable yet comes inherent with its own pitfalls or handcuffs. Recently during a group I facilitated this became all to clear.

You Don’t have To Feel Guilty About Feeling Good

Recently at my small Spiritual Guidance group one member checked in with the deep concern and frustration she was feeling about the course of her life and the sense that she had not found her purpose or meaning. She has just accomplished a major transition completing a two-year program called The Art of Spiritual Guidance that had both absorbed and directed her life for almost two years. She felt anxiety that she was not able to move ahead in a direction that she found purposeful and soulful. When I checked in with the state of her current life she responded that it was wonderful; she was loving a summer of great weather, meeting friends and family, playing golf, and making brief trips in the glorious scenery of the British Columbia in late spring. However she was feeling guilty and concerned that after all her inner journeying and seriousness she was becoming a dilettante.

Summer is for Recreation

It was the perfect start to the evening because the theme I had chosen was recreation. In the Merriam-Webster dictionary I had found this exquisite definition that seemed so appropriate. Recreation is the “refreshment of strength and spirits after work”. Summer is a restorative season where we enjoy the fruits of labour and refresh ourselves for future endeavours.

Trust Your Life

I am a firm believer that we must “trust our lives”. As eminent author and Jungian analyst suggests in his book Living An Examined Life “when the path we are on is right for our Souls the energy is there…. the feeling function supports us.” So if things are going well and you feel in balance and flow then let go of the angst and enjoy it to the fullest.

The Soul will let you know when it is time to shift orientation. When the direction of our life becomes disconnected with our Soul’s desire then there is likely to be a series of indicators – ennui, frustration, loss of energy, obstacles and obstructions for example.

It is normal for the early symptoms to be minor and easy to miss but then there can be an escalation if we do not pay attention until we are confronted by the full on cosmic 2 x 4 to get our attention.

Have an Intention and Pay Attention

I recommend a daily reflection on purpose. I affirm “to serve when called” and to pay attention to the signs and synchronicities that may indicate something is trying to engage with me. I have learned that the cosmos will bring me what is mine; I need to wait on the will of heaven and practice equanimity and pay attention to what comes. I also check in each day to see if I am living a balanced life. To me this means activity for the body, the mind, the emotions, the Soul and Spirit and I always ask, “Have I played today?”

Don’t Force It

I have learned by some bitter experience that if I go out to create meaning and purpose without being called it can be met with disaster. In the late nineties in my desperation to find meaning in my life I went and became a Big Brother. It was truly a disaster; it did not feed me; nor the poor kid I adopted. To be fair he had not been entirely honest about his interests, for example sports actually consisted only of video games and even walking was not popular. I suspect I am one of the only people to get fired by their little brother. It was a huge relief.

Practice Discernment

Be cautious about taking on things that seem unduly familiar or have a “should” connected with them. When searching for meaning we are vulnerable to that which make us feel comfortable (caretaking for example) or the desire want to model our life on someone we admire and respect.

Recognizing The Call

How do we discern a call? I think there are four key things to look for:

– It approaches you rather than you seek it out.

– It evokes passion and inspiration.

– The doors open easily to bring it forward.

– There is affirmation of your choice from an external source.

I love the poem Suspended Blue Ocean by Hafiz that reminds us the journey is not always meant to be taken so seriously. It concludes

There is only one rule

On this Wild Playground,

For every sign Hafiz has ever seen

Reads the same.

They all say,

“Have fun, my dear; my dear, have fun,

In the Beloved’s Divine Game

O, in the Beloved’s

Wonderful Game.”

 

 

 

 

 


The Soul’s Journey – Exploring the Power of Belief

June 8, 2019

WC Fields“Everybody’s got to believe in something. I believe I’ll have another beer.”

W.C Fields

For much of the eighties I suspect that this quote by W.C Fields summarized my worldview. The beauty of this belief is that as long as you were upright there was the possibility of it coming true. Recently I have become fascinated by the power of a belief to influence external circumstances. There are so many stories of miracles, manifestation, positive life change, and mystical experiences that it raised the question of how and why so many different beliefs appear to have power.

The Power of My Parent’s Belief

My parents truly believed that God would provide. Their belief came from scripture. In Philippians 4:19 it states “And my God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” They believed this and there was always just enough even if it took a miracle to accomplish it. On one occasion I heard them discussing the fact that they could not meet the mortgage payment on our house in a lovely part of London and unless God showed up with some solution we would be forced to move. The next day an envelope containing a significant amount of currency arrived with a note to my father saying, “God asked me to send you this.”

Is The Proof In The Pudding?

These types of miracles were not uncommon in Christian circles and of course were presented as evidence of their one true God. However one thing I have learned about belief is that you can’t manufacture it and once it has evaporated it has no power for you any more. I recall more than once my mother saying to me, “you have got to have faith and my response “mum you can’t ‘got to’ with faith”.

More Miracles?

In the early nineties I began to let go of my atheism to embrace a concept of the new age called manifestation. The basic premise is to set a clear intention then bring positive reflection and visualization on the outcome and the inherent power of the universe will eventually work. This was best marketed in a book and video package titled The Secret that presented miracles just like the Bible. And despite eminent critics like author and depth psychologist James Hollis crying, ‘hogwash”, it works – at least for a time to people who truly believed it. Even yesterday a friend of mine was describing utilizing just such a technique to achieve a breakthrough in their career.

Back to Christianity

In the late nineties I came full circle and embraced Christianity in what was called “the new thought” form at the Unity Church. It had a much nicer, mother/father God and no crazy notions about salvation through blood. Everything in scripture was to be explored as mythic guidelines for living. At the centre was a core belief that if you were in right relationship with God then all good things would be yours. Financial success, relationship and health were easily attained however if you fell short then each of these would suffer. So if someone got sick, you could heal yourself as long as you were good with God. (I realize now it was basically The Secret with an added sense of responsibility and guilt.) At the time my belief had its own power in the manifest world. I have a record of a number of occasions where I appeared to defy science through instantaneous healings. It served me well until one day it no longer made sense and as Hollis mentions, “When the energy leaves the symbol all you have left is a dry husk.”

The Esoteric Exploration

In the year 2001 I began a much more esoteric exploration that embraced many of the wisdom traditions – Sufism, Buddhism, Jewish Mysticism and Christian Mysticism. At the mystic level beliefs are not so much about getting things but more about how to live. Loving kindness, compassion, mindfulness, equanimity, sympathetic joy for others became measures of one’s life. I was also introduced to depth psychology and Carl Jung. I learned that true change required me to understand myself at a deeper level and that spirituality was no longer enough. The path to true change was through psychology and understanding the unconscious. The quest for things was replaced by the desire for meaning.

Embracing The Mystery

Why is belief so powerful no matter what you believe in? It is truly a mystery although I sense it is part of the journey toward change and personal growth. Perhaps we need something to believe in to coax us along the yellow brick road. Once the belief loses its power for us we can never go back we have to go forward or stay stuck. My current belief too has its own power to manifest through dreams, complexes, signs and synchronicities all connected to my belief in the power of the unconscious.

At times like this I go back to the Sufi poet Rumi as my exponent of the mystery.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don’t go back to Sleep

Rumi – exquisitely interpretated by Coleman Barks

 

 

 

 


The Souls Journey – Creating Your Self Care Kit

May 8, 2019

Version 2Stress Can Grow Like a High Rise

Recently I have encountered a number of friends  experiencing unusual levels of stress. including death in the family, changing jobs and countries, personal illness, marriage, changes in employment of a partner and illness of a loved one. Two psychologists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe developed a stress index to assess if stress related to developing illness and in their opinion it does. If you are experiencing four of the above factors you would be at a higher risk of illness (See index)

Then We Forget Self-Care

One thing my friends had in common was that the aspects of their lives concerned with self-care had evaporated. Pressure of life had got in the way of things like exercise, yoga, going out in nature, relaxation and play.

It is no wonder that stress and anxiety create such a toll. It seems a general rule that the first things to go from a stressed life are the things that could actually help us cope. We are more likely to devote any available time and space top mindless distractions. Why is that?

Likely it is some form of childhood coping mechanism that has never left us. Under pressure we are more likely to engage in old patterns. Hiding one’s head under the covers seems a sound strategy to escape life’s challenges as a six-year old. Perhaps it has less relevance today.

Developing a Self-Care Kit

Each of us needs to identify our own self-care plan and find a way to remind ourselves when life takes a turn for the worse. As Carl Jung once said, “ the shoe that fits one person pinches another, there is no recipe for living that fits all cases.” Each plan needs to be individual.

Mine embraces daily meditation, a walk in nature, listening to music, writing in a journal, learning poetry and stopping watching TV at least an hour before bed. However we don’t all feel stress equally. It is essential to pay attention to how life unfolds.

Mindless TV and Games Playing and other Distractions Are Not Self-Care

I have learned to recognize that when I find myself slipping into mindless pursuits it is assign of underlying anxiety. I try to check in each evening and ask, “Did I live a balanced life today?” I do not beat myself up if I have not but I do attempt to stay fully conscious of what is going on in my life. And make adjustments.

So What To Do?

I also believe that times of great crisis remind us to assess whether the path we are travelling is in concert with our deepest being. Jungian analyst James Hollis in his wonderful book Living An Examined Life suggests, “When what we are doing is wrong for us we can temporarily mobilize energy in service to goals but in time such forced mobilization leads to irritability, anger, burn out and symptoms of all kinds.”

I think our society has detrimentally confused selfishness and Self-Care. Self -Care can help reduce stress and make our lives more productive and meaningful. Each of us should design a simple “Go To-Self Care Kit As the poet Hafiz (exquisitely interpreted by Daniel Ladinsky wrote in his poem The Swing, “You carry all the ingredients to turn your existence into joy, mix them, mix them.

Components for a Self-Care Kit

Developing your own self-care kit requires identification of the aspects of your life that bring you joy, help you to feel grounded, support you in moving into the witness state (observing what you are experiencing) and exploring the moments you seem to move into a relationship with the mystery or a larger sense of who you are. Some examples:

Meditation, Contemplation, Centering Prayer, Yoga – all ways of stilling the mind. Medical doctor and meditation teacher Jon Kabat-Zynn runs a successful mindfully-based stress reduction clinic at the University of Massachusetts medical Center that has demonstrated significant results.

Exercise: Running, a bike ride, walking, skiing, and many others can get us back into our bodies and  help reduce anxiety and stress.

The Arts: Music, poetry, art, theatre can all offer nutrition to cope with life’s traumas.

Grounding: This is considered a powerful way of addressing emotional trauma. Ruth Lanius, MD, PhD, is Professor of Psychiatry and the director of the posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) research unit at the University of Western Ontario recommends a Grounding Toolkit.*

Journaling: Writing and exploring can also be extremely cathartic.

Humour: Laughter is great medicine. It produces natural endorphins creating a natural high. Find things that make you laugh – out loud is even better. My personal favourites – Fawlty Towers and Black Adder (but hen I am a Brit).

Frequently we will argue that there is not time for these things but that is generally resistance. When the Buddha was asked, “what do you do when you are to busy to meditate” he replied that he would meditate for twice as long.

*This includes walking meditation where you’re paying attention to the feet on the floor; listening meditation where you’re listening to ambient sounds; nature meditation where you’re looking at trees and sky and the like. There are also equanimity practices where you imagine yourself being a mountain going through seasonal changes with a sense of continuity and stability to your “mountainness,” even though there is a lot of change going on around you. (https://s3.amazonaws.com/nicabm-stealthseminar/Trauma2017/confirmed/NICABM-TreatingTraumaMasterSeries-Module3TalkBack-TraumaticMemory.pdf)


A Soul’s Journey – From Clarity to Confusion

April 17, 2019

Either this deep desire of mine will be found on this journey
or when I get home
It may be that the satisfaction I need
Depends on my going away, so that when I have gone
And come back I will find it at home.
I will search for the Friend with all of my passion
And all my energy until I learn
that I don’t need to search.
The real truth of existence is sealed,
until after too many twists of the road.
The seeker says,
“If I had known the real way it was,
I would have stopped looking around”
But that way of knowing depends
on the time spent looking.

Extract from Baghdad Dreaming by Rumi

Living An Examined Life

This morning I began to read for must be the fourth or fifth time Living An Examined Life by eminent Jungian analyst James Hollis. It is a profound book of guidance for the soul journey and I found myself thinking, “This is the only book I really ever needed” then laughed out loud as I recalled Rumi’s poem above.

My bookshelves are full to overflowing with different theological, and philosophical perspectives of life. Today some of them seem downright crazy and it amuses me that they captured my attention so intensely at different moments on the journey. Some I still love but many reflect a very different station of my life. From belief in the occult and bizarre new age extra terrestrials to the tomes on new thought and how we could have everything we wanted just by setting intention.

Each of these stations of my life had its own power then at a certain point I needed to move on. As James Hollis suggests in his book Hauntings, “There are only answers that make sense to you in this moment in your life and they will fail you tomorrow. What is seemingly true to day will be outgrown when life or our Soul brings us a larger frame through which to view them.

A Trip Through Time

My library is like a time machine. From the New Testament, the last gift my father gave me, to Living An Examined Life, the books journey through evangelical Christianity, to new age craziness, to the power of intention, new thought consciousness to an eclectic combination of Christian mysticism, Jewish mysticism, Sufism, and Buddhism. Then the sad realization that despite all my Soul study and reflection I could still relapse into the same reactive, inconsiderate, impatient SOB I had always been. So my library then became crowded with books on psychology and all of James Hollis’s eighteen books as I realized the journey of the Soul necessitated not only Spiritual but psychological exploration.

Certainty Evaporates Like A Mist Over The Ocean

Now after twenty-five years certainty has vanished; I stand in awe at this unfathomable mystery of which we are all part. As C.G. Jung observed, “No-one can know what the ultimate things are. We must take them as we experience them and if such experience helps make life healthier, more beautiful, more complete and more satisfactory to yourself and those you love you may safely say, “this was the grace of God”. or more simply expressed by Sufi mystic Rubia of Basra, “No-one knows anything about God and those who say they do are just troublemakers.”

Many years ago I wrote a small book to help people through tough decisions, it was titled “From Confusion to Clarity in Four Simple Steps”.* I think my next book may be “From Clarity to Confusion – A Soul’s Journey”

* www.decisionclarity.com

 


The Soul Journey – Midwife for the Soul

April 16, 2019

Recently I had a dream where I was in a classroom and one of the topics was advocacy; this caused me to review an earlier blog I had written after doing a workshop on the archetype of advocate of the soul. It reminded me that I prefer the metaphor of the midwife for the Soul and so my dream led to this reflection. *

The Spiritual Midwife

As a spiritual coach I believe the role of supporting someone in the birthing their Soul on its amazing journey is a great honour and privilege. The midwife of the Soul’s responsibility is not just to assist in its birthing but to support the growth and development. There is a lovely line from the poet Hafiz, “What is this present love and laughter budding in our hearts, it is the glorious sound of a Soul waking up.” As a Spiritual Coach I help to bring awareness to these Soul moments that can so easily get lost in life’s busyness.

Mirroring The Soul’s Journey

Life can be one constant distraction and remembering the nature and power of our Soul’s journey is challenging and can easily get lost. I keep a Soul Journal where I keep all the examples of mysterious, unexplained synchronicities and serendipity that feel Soulful. Whenever I am feeling lost or disconnected my Soul Journal becomes both a reminder and a reflector.

When a client is sharing the circumstances of their life they sometimes miss the significance of the connecting events. I am often able to become the mirror of their experience reflect how the pieces connect together like a jigsaw puzzle. During one session a client a client shared a series of what she saw as disconnected events:  the recovery of a long lost e-mail connection, a song – “the answer will come on a blossom covered breeze”, the dream of a lost bag, followed by losing the bag, the dream of the visa, culminating in seeing the four blossom covered cherry trees cherry trees. Putting these experiences together like a puzzle formed a picture that enabled her to capture the awe and wonder her Soul’s journey.

Cultivating and Feeding The Soul

Eminent author and Jungian analyst James Hollis in his book Hauntings suggests seven questions we need to ask ourselves in relationship to the Soul.

  1. Do I have one?
  2. If yes, what do I mean by that?
  3. What does that mean to me?
  4. What does that ask of me?
  5. What does it mean to show up?
  6. Can I mobilize the wherewith all to engage and serve it?
  7. What happens if I do not?

As a Soul midwife this requires me to explore both personally and with my clients the continued focus on these questions. This requires feeding and cultivation. There was a time when I realized that devoting energy to feeding my soul is an essential part of the mind, body, and Soul balance in my life. Up until that time I thought it was enough to meditate regularly. (I have had a morning practice for twenty-years.) However I sensed that my Soul needed more so focus on sacred music, walking in nature and beauty, poetry, journaling, dance, even play became essential nutrients for the soul. So now I commit three segments of the day to my soul – morning meditation, afternoon walk and evening contemplation listening to sacred music,  and reading or learning poetry. In Spring I love to consider the possibility of the Soul saying to me, “as you feed me so shall I blossom.”

Psychology as Soul Work 

One of the great challenges I continue to work with is my failures to be as Soulful as I intend to be. It was only when I realize that unravelling my own psychology was an essential part of engaging my Soul. This journey was begun by a chance meeting with James Hollis’s book, Why Good People Do Bad Things – a life changing encounter that helped me realize that without understanding the factors that were unconsciously influencing my reactions and responses to life, I could never truly be Soulful. Only when we understand what shifts us from our Centre can we truly embrace the role of the Spiritual Warrior.

The exploration of Soul brings us into a relationship with the invisible world. It is life shifting work and as James Hollis reflects in Hauntings, “if we open to this possibility of an invisible, dynamically active world, we then live in a mystery anew, a prospect both inviting and daunting.”

  • An interesting consequence of this process was that it led me to think about the client who was the catalyst for part of the original blog. I was curious about how she was so I emailed her to check. (I had not seen her for over a year.) Her response was as follows, “Isn’t it always so amazing how things happen.  I’ve thought about you a number of times more recently and when I recently drove up Arbutus I glanced at the coffee shop in case you might be sitting there having a cup of coffee!  I’ve wanted to visit with you but because I didn’t have a specific focus or concrete purpose  I put it off.  One time, not long ago, I put it out to the universe that if I was meant to converse with you or someone else the “Universe” would let me know.   Well….I guess this is it….” She became the mirror for my Soul and what a gift that is.

The Soul’s Journey – The Theory of Everything Stakes

December 7, 2018

Theory-of-Everything Stakes

I have had many personal experiences that defy the scientific paradigm. (For example I once had a psychic connection with another person that truly rocked my world.1) This led me to an ongoing commitment to “Explore my Relationship with the Mystery”. Scientists and philosophers are also intent on solving this relationship of consciousness, the universe and everything, with a number of theories battling it out for supremacy.

Recently, the metaphor of a horse race occurred to me; ‘The Theory of Everything Stakes.’ Here’s the call: “The scientific twins, Supersymmetry and Multiverse are nose to nose, battling it out for the lead. Ahead for most centuries of the race, due to Darwinism the Yaweh/God/Allah steed is losing pace,  resulting in its cousin, Intelligent Design making rapid strides. The two late entrants, Biocentrism and Panpsychism are making a nuisance of themselves, changing lanes mid race and causing much confusion among the punters…”

So who are some of these contenders for the Theory of Everything Stakes? Let’s start with the leaders. Science has been somewhat pulled apart about over the years by the mathematical challenge of proving a theory of everything, but that doesn’t stop them from trying.

Supersymmetry and the Multiverse

The idea of the standard model or supersymmetryis that you can identify the building blocks (emerging from the Big Bang) that allow matter to form in the universe. However, the tiniest variation in these four original forces, (gravitational, electromagnetic, strong nuclear, and weak nuclear) would stop matter forming and life would have no starting point.

What’s more, recent cosmological measurements have indicated a minor error in these calculations. To the power of a hundred billion, billion, billion, billion, billion, billion. 2Oops.

I understand few of the specifics, but this error upset physicists enormously because they were faced with accepting what is untenable to a scientist – that there was some form of intelligence shaping these forces to ensure matter could form and life would evolve.

One mathematical alternative that satisfied scientific calculations is the multiverse, an infinity of universes, all with hostile conditions, except for ours. We would be the random single beneficiary of this chaos. (Frankly it is easier for me to accept some degree of intelligence in this mystery of which we are part, but maybe that’s why I’m not a scientist)

One of the key missing links in these scientific theories of everything was the Higgs Boson, a particle that would hold the math together. Recently, physicists appeared to prove the existence of the Higgs particle using the Hadron collider near Geneva. Unfortunately, its size (125 Gevic) caused yet another ripple in the scientific community, because it is mid-way between the value that would have supported the standard model and the one that would have supported the multiverse.

Back to the drawing board, scientists.

Biocentrism and Panpsychism

Recently, discussions of consciousness have bridged from science into philosophy. Dr. Robert Lanza, in his theory of Biocentrism has proposed that in fact it is consciousness that precedes everything else. He states that, “This theory explains that life and biology are the central pieces to being, reality and the cosmos. It explains how life creates the universe rather than the other way around.”

Lanza then cites evidence from quantum physics that the observer influences the behaviour of object, and concludes that the universe is created backwards from consciousness.

I listened to a podcast on Biocentrism on Ideas  and was intrigued but disappointed that the interviewer did not ask what existed 100,000 years ago when homo sapiens was still in Africa.

I discovered Panpsychism on another Ideas podcast presented by a Dr. Phillip Goff of Durham University. He argues that every particle in the universe contains consciousness of some form and this provides the building blocks for everything. He argues that consciousness is neither physical or dual and states, “On the basis of this, I defend a form of panpsychism, the view that consciousness is a fundamental and ubiquitous feature of the physical world.”

Yaweh/God/Allah, Intelligent Design and Darwinism I will leave you to explore on your own.

Who will win?

James Hollis reminds us that part of living an examined life is to construct a mature spirituality which requires taking responsibility for our choice and ensure that whatever it is resonates deeply.

So I’d like to introduce a contestant that has not yet been born (and may never become a starter) but for now is my personal choice. The progeny of science, religion andphilosophy, I call it Super Mystery.

It is perhaps best described in Jung’s words from one of the Terry lectures at Yale University.

“No one can know what the ultimate things are. We must therefore take them as we experience them. And if such experience helps to make life healthier, more beautiful, more complete, and more satisfactory to yourself and to those you love, you may safely say: ‘This was the grace of God.”

And they’re coming into the stretch…..

Thanks to the amazing Lorne Craig (unitoons.ca) for his cartoon and editing.

1 https://wp.me/phAyS-bO

2 Particle Fever broadcast on PBS and available on Youtube

 

 

 


The Soul’s Journey -25 Things I Wish I Had Known When I Was Young.

November 15, 2018

Recently I was invited to participate on a senior’s panel for a class of students studying psychology. It was an extremely interesting and enjoyable experience sharing reflections on the gifts and the challenges of aging and being asked all kinds of interesting questions.

One question has stayed with me, “what would you like to have shared with your younger self?” At the time I quipped, “I doubted my younger self would have listened”. However the question has been haunting me since then. I realized that there are so many things that could have helped me on the journey. Two of us on the panel deeply regretted having no sage mentors to offer such counsel. So here is some of mine.

I am not sure which of these I could have heard at the time however now they all make much great sense. Here they are – in no particular order.

1) This too shall pass – the wise reminder that everything – the good, bad and indifferent will change.

2) Do not make assumptions and do not take it personally. (Two of Don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements.)

3) Know thyself – inscribed in the Temple to Apollo in Delphi. To understand who we are and why we react the way we do is priceless and has become a twenty-year passion of mine.

4) You are better looking and more interesting than you realize. (I was terribly challenged by lack of self-esteem and shyness.)

5) Be curious about everything that happens in your life.

6) When a door closes always look around for the door that may be opening rather than batter on the one that is closed.

7) The other two agreements – do your best and be impeccable to your word.

8) Meditate every day – I did not start until I was 50 and wished I had begun earlier.

9) Read poetry, it speaks to a deeper part of who we are.

10) Find music that touches you deeply and listen to it often,

11) Accept that in life you will win and lose – do both gracefully.

12) Learn to recognize that there is a gap between the stimulus and the reaction. (Steven Covey)

13) Don’t drink so much; you are not as funny as you think; it is an escape.

14) Learn the difference between being alone and feeling lonely – you don’t have to go out on a Saturday night.

15) Always remember the four immeasurables (from Buddha) – Compassion, Loving Kindness, Equanimity and Sympathetic Joy. (Enjoying the success of others)

16) Attachment is not necessarily bad but it will eventually end in suffering. (Buddha)

17) When someone upsets you look inside before you react outwards. A psychological truism is that “it is never about what it is about.”

18) You don’t have to be religious to acknowledge the wonderful principles of the great wisdom traditions. How can you argue with “Love One Another”?

19) Our close attractions are normally projections of some part of ourselves that is unfulfilled or unrealized. We project our inner gold on other people and need to reclaim it. (Robert Johnson)

20) Your parents did the best they could – forgive them.

21) Look for patterns in your life they come to teach you something.

22) We wake up each morning with two gremlins at the end of our bed – they are fear and lethargy. (James Hollis)

23) Pay close attention when you develop an instant dislike to someone, they normally represent something we don’t like in ourselves. (We all have shadow and light)

24) Anxiety is a nebulous free flowing child state, when you are anxious try to ascertain what the underlying fear is, it will reduce its power over you. (Sometimes anxiety is unconscious and shows up as mindless diversions and distractions.)

25) Forgiveness is about the self not the other however to forgive you do not have to condone.

I am sure more will come to me but this seems like a good starting point.