The Soul’s Journey – Trusting The Soul (Or Not!)

April 8, 2020
© Lorne Craig

© Lorne Craig

A client and I were exploring his anxiety about how he was defining himself, engaging with his job and the world. I asked him what it would be like to trust his Soul. His reply left me in paroxysms of laughter, “How can you trust such a flake, it’s like inviting the hippies to the White House to avoid a war.” It appears that when the ego security is threatened the Soul’s relevance can also become diminished. It was not the first time I have run into this phenomenon with those who believe they are on a Soul journey yet when under pressure they regress into following the ego’s path.

Recently friend was backing away from an opportunity that appeared to have been clearly created from her inner guidance system. When I gently probed what I perceived to be her lack of trust in what appeared to be overt signs and synchronicities pointing the way, she suddenly exclaimed, “But I don’t trust my Soul”. A dream partner of mine almost suffered paralysis at the idea of following guidance that she deemed could run contrary to what she had already decided to do.

In his masterpiece the audio book Through The Dark Wood, Jungian analyst James Hollis puts it this way, “Focus on the external task leads to estrangement from the inner journey of the Soul and pursuit of  “The bitch Goddess success.” He also suggests that each of us need to access the inner navigational system that can guide us through the challenges of life. He went on to say, “The alignment of the ego with the will of the Gods – the Soul, is the supreme task for the second half of life.”

Most wisdom systems support the idea that guidance from a deeper place is available to us. The I Ching talks about trusting the sage; Emily Dickenson stated, “the sailor doesn’t see the North but knows the needle can; Rumi’s poem The Great Wagon reminds us, “the breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you, don’t go back to sleep”; in Christianity the Holy Spirit is often considered the Spirit of Truth. There is oceans of support suggesting we have access to a deeper knowledge than that accumulated by the ego. So what prevents people who truly believe in the idea of Soul from accepting the wisdom that can be derived from the deeper self?

I think it comes back to what Hollis describes as the chief delusion of the ego, “it thinks it is in control” The ego thinks it is serving your security needs when in fact it is too limited to see the potential in other options. Unfortunately this is made more complex by the different languages spoken by the Soul and ego. The ego uses language like logic, order, fear, and rationalization.

The Soul uses the language of sign and symbol, synchronicity and serendipity, intuition and dreams. To trust the Soul requires an act of discernment. I suspect the very language of the Soul is uncomfortable and feels unworthy of trust to the Ego. Thus explaining why my client used the word “flakey”. We are so imbued with the logical/rational perspective of the world that we struggle to look beyond it into a world of potentiality.

In my book Life’s Little Book for Big Decisions, I explore the variety of languages of inner wisdom and the importance of developing ways to open up to our inner wisdom. That we need to find the languages that speaks to each of us. I recommend an ongoing practice to build faith and trust in the Soul. Keep a Soul Journal where you keep a record of your personal interaction with the amazing mystery in which we all participate. Write about the moments of magic in your life, about how synchronicity played a significant role in shaping the future, about dreams that carried specific wisdom and guidance, about moments of where you had a glimpse into the Mystery.

Visionary and mystic William Blake once wrote, “If the doors of perception were cleansed, man would see everything as it is – infinite. For man has closed himself up until he sees all things through the narrow chink of his cavern.” O

Is it time to open up the prison of your narrow vision and capture some of magic of this amazing universe. The ego is supposed to be the servant of the Soul not the master.


The Souls Journey – Letting Go of Flow

February 1, 2020

“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.” The wise words of Robbie Burns that I do my best to prove wrong. How frequently I strive to manage all the variables to achieve a specific result and circumstances conspire to pervert my goals. As this seems a prevalent theme in my life, it reminds me to pay attention.

Recently I took off for Whistler with my friend Lorne. It was not a blue sky day and the alpine was closed for avalanche control but as visibility looked poor I was happy to ski the lower slopes. Then the Seventh Heaven Express opened. I felt torn as my friend Lorne was keen to go for fresh tracks. Finally I told him to go without me. We could stay in touch by text and meet later.

At the age of 75 I have enormous apprehension about skiing in flat light where my depth perception completely disappears. Those who ski know that loss of confidence can cause technique and ability dissipate. So I felt good in my decision and had lots of mountain to explore.

At this moment I seemed to lose flow in my day. First I had passed the easy access to the run I was looking for and had to cross some challenging terrain; then I could not find the lift I was looking for; I got a text from Lorne telling me “Dude it’s epic . Vis is good.” – not what I wanted to hear! (Note to self, practice “mudita” – the Buddhist term for sympathetic joy for someone else’s positive fortune.) Then I noticed my phone had gone from 100% to 1% raising issues about how we would reconnect.

I decided to head to the chair he was riding hoping I would bump into him. I took the high trail by mistake and had to navigate steep icy moguls to get there then the line up was considerable; there was no sign of Lorne in the mass of humanity. I had no phone signal. This was fast becoming a day to forget!

I made one run, the visibility must have declined, I made it down but had missed the good powder. I borrowed someone’s phone in the line up and left a message for him. Things seemed to brighten when I found him waiting at the top of the lift. We agreed to head down the easy way to the restaurant at the top of the mountain. He set off confidently in a direction I did not expect but uncomplaining I followed.

Little did I know at that precise moment it would be akin to the British Cavalry following Lord Cardigan in The Charge of The Light Brigade: “into the valley of death rode the five hundred.”

Well it was only one but it felt like the valley of death. I found myself on the brink of a huge alpine bowl, with atrocious visibility and no choice but to either call the ski patrol for rescue or descend 2500 vertical feet in the very conditions I had been trying to avoid.

So my early decision to avoid these conditions had actually resulted in a situation a minimum of ten times worse. The terrain was steeper, the light worse and the distance much longer.

I will not even try to describe my abject misery of the next half an hour. Lorne did his best to guide me down as “my seeing eye dog”. I did my best to avoid screaming at him “you f***ing idiot, don’t you know your way around yet. You used to draw maps for the mountain!!”

Apart from moments when I was lying in the snow wondering if I could ever get up, I avoided spending too much time feeling a victim. Eventually we got to tree line where vision improves and then to the Glacier Lodge restaurant and could enjoy a debrief.

The good news that my philosophy of being curious about my experience overrode my need to blame or judge him. (And he shared his lunch with me as an unspoken apology.)

It did seem that this was a conspiracy of circumstances that in hindsight was predestined. I felt a tad self congratulatory that I had not got bad tempered, or too frustrated and got over the experience immediately. There were days in my earlier life when I would not have been quite so sanguine.

But was there meaning? Ironically had I overcome my fears and followed Lorne in the first place I would have had a much better day skiing powder before it and the visibility evaporated. On the other hand had I spoken up at the top about our direction, I would have avoided the nightmare run. I sense it comes back to the lesson of Equanimity that is my theme word for the year. I wrote about it in December concerning my travails en route to Mexico. (https://wp.me/phAyS-Fs)

I think my lesson in practicing equanimity will take many forms. The dictionary defines it as “mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.” Equanimity looks much more accessible through the rear view mirror. Perhaps equanimity requires letting go of my attachment to flow and accepting it takes practice to make perfect.

 

 


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 – Have I Lost my Mojo?

November 6, 2019

Recently my sister called to check on me and as the conversation unfolded I realize she had some concerns about me. She told me her daughter Amy thought I had lost my Mojo. I was both fascinated and alarmed by the idea that I had left such an impression on my niece.

I thought I should check precisely what Mojo means and found out that the traditional meaning is magical power, a spell or talisman. However in the Cambridge English dictionary it describes Mojo as a quality that attracts people to you and makes you successful and full of energy.

How disconcerting! What had I said to give that impression?

I went to my journal to assess what has been happening in my life at the time of the conversation. To my surprise I had been at my beautiful place in Cortes island and recall feeling particularly joyful and positive at that time. Obviously this had not been translated in my discussion with my niece. My curiosity mounted. What resulted in the impression that she passed on to her mother?

My sister explained that she thought it was connected with a conversation about spirituality and that Amy believed I had lost my belief. A light shone dimly through the fog surrounding my recollection. I recalled sharing with Amy that I had found the simplicity of my earlier beliefs had been transcended by a complexity around holding opposites. I was feeling less clarity and more confusion about my path but I was not concerned as I knew I was in good company. Eminent author and Jungian analyst James Hollis suggests that signs of a spiritual maturity were that, “ The mystery will transcend our desires for clarity and certainty.” The mystery perhaps had become more mysterious after the following transition that occurred last year.

I have just concluded Sapiens by Noah Yuval Harari and I am feeling disturbed. For 25 years I have lived with the belief we are spiritual beings having a human experience and not the other way around. Suddenly this is in question. Previously I had been reading Guns Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond an equally depressing saga of human viciousness and brutality. Where I asked myself, in the bloody, violent, competitive, destructive story of our genus was there any indication of underlying spiritual beings? It was a strange moment to consider letting go of something that had so powerfully influenced the journey of my life and has helped me find meaning in my own experiences. Suddenly like a match extinguishing itself in the dark the light was gone.

Then I asked myself a question. What remains if I let go of this concept of the eternity of a Soul moving from incarnation to incarnation in some mysterious way I did not understand. What would then remain? I went for a walk allowing this confusion and lack of clarity to be absorbed in the exquisite beauty of a Vancouver evening. I noticed no distress I just felt different. I sensed it was yet another evolution of my worldview and there have been many.

I reviewed what remained: I still believed in a guiding force that I call the inner compass in my life. I continue to relate to the concept of the unconscious with all its unseen power over me. I will continue to seek meaning in my life and unravel my own psychology and explore this mystery I am part of it. The driver of this I still choose to call Soul ,for now I give up the need of immortality. I felt a sense of relief.

Then I saw an enormous gift from this transition. It seems to me that the preciousness of this one life expands once one can no longer rely on anything to follow. It creates a sense of responsibility to the collective to support its positive unfolding. I came across a relevant quote from James Hollis that seemed inspiring, “What I long for is an experience of this life that I would not trade for an eternity in those Elysian Fields.”

I have certainly been undergoing a transition in my belief structure. However I always believed continuing change is a positive and not negative. It is as though all the beliefs I have ever held are to some degree like those nesting Russian dolls and the new one both replaces and embraces the old.

I called my niece to ask her what she had meant and she seemed bemused. “Those are mum’s words, not mine”, she said. “I was just sharing our conversation and perhaps not doing a very good job.”

I laughed; it was another lesson in not making assumptions. The good news is my Mojo seems intact and to quote the words of Julian of Norwich “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”

NB I came across this wonderful poem by my friend Ann Ladd who writes beautifully about the sense of deconstruction on the spiritual journey.

Humble Journey

My certainty is tattered and torn

shredded beyond recognition

It is frightening, though inevitable

to dismantle the platform

that gave me a view of the world

that allowed surety of

purpose an action

 

The world as it is!

Bedevilled by its shocking

unfairness and cruelty,

graced by its generosity

and indescribable beauty,

reluctant acceptance

humbles me,

leaving only the choice

of attitude and action

in a given moment.

I choose forgiveness and

loving-kindness.


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 Soul’s Journey – Exploring the Dynamic Feminine

May 23, 2019

A Planet in Crisis

I know I am not alone in believing that our planet is stuck between paradigms. The old one doesn’t work and we have not found a new one. The very future of homo sapiens is at stake yet recent world events indicate we are regressing rather than progressing. Recently I read Carlo Rovelli’s Seven Brief lessons in Physics. he has a clear opinion on the future of the human race, “We belong to short-lived genus of species. All of our cousins are already extinct. What’s more, we do damage.” Can we survive? I still live in hope and recently had a dream that inspired me.

A Dream in Three Acts.

Act 1 takes place in a forest. I am part of a dissident group that is being pursued by government troops. They are firing at us. I do not feel scared but fascinated to the lengths the authorities are going to attack us. Then they bring up a tank. This seems way over the top but before I can flee the troops mutiny and begin attacking each other.
Act 2 we have escaped to a conference where the mood of the group has turned ugly – resentful, aggressive and unbalanced. I am concerned about what may happen and text a woman I know who possesses some kind of authority. She replies immediately that she wants to meet. I find her in a small, somewhat Mexican looking town. Her name is Eva and she says she wants to address the group. I am sure this is a good idea and take her to the event. She is petite, dark haired with incredible presence.
Act 3 something amazing happens as she arrives at the venue. She seems to connect positively with everyone she meets, embracing them and uplifting them. The news of her arrival ripples through the gathering. Meanwhile I try and locate the organizer whose name is Ian. Eventually I find him in a room where they are setting up the final session. He seems disinterested in what I have to say but I beg to talk to him. Finally I begin telling him what has transpired but before I finish I notice Eva has arrived beside him. He immediately hands her the microphone but she wants to use the small lapel microphone that has somehow got tangled in my left foot. I have no shoes on. As she begins to speak I feel myself fading into the background. My work is done. I wake up feeling a little frustrated I heard nothing of her message.

Resolving Problems at Another Level

When I considered my personal environment in which this dream occurred, I had another insight. I have been wresting with the state of the world and the future challenges that face homo sapiens (see https://wp.me/phAyS-Eh). This dream seemed related to those concerns
My feelings in the dream moved from curiosity to apprehension, from concern to action, concluding with a sense of satisfaction at having played my role. However I am left with a lingering question about what my role is?
Albert Einstein once said, “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them” It seems to me we keep trying to fix things at the level on which they occur and perhaps the dream is about new solutions. Changing leaders and ideologies, engaging in opposite solutions creates even greater friction and misunderstandings.
Suddenly the first act of the dream makes sense, our society is at war with itself. The dream symbolizes what is all to real in our society at the moment. There seems to more and more polarization.
Following this thread the second act suggests that as we attempt to fix things at the same level with the same tools, the energy of those attempting to force changes on societies, can turn ugly – protests, violence, revolution, loss of respect and even abandonment of proper principles, all lead to chaos. The imposed solution creates even more resistance and power shifts back to the competing side.
In the third act Eva represents another way. The name is interesting in itself. My unconscious selected a version of the name Eve that means life or the living one. She carries all the aspects of what I sometimes refer to as the divine feminine – compassion, caring, equanimity, love, empathy, passion and enthusiasm. This archetype carries great power. Yet she is also dynamic. My sense of the dream is that it offers the idea that change must occur through the dynamic feminine.
But what does that mean both individually and collectively. Unfortunately I don’t hear her speak. My role was to introduce her. What could that look like in my life? I need to begin by holding the energy and hope for change and seek the guidance for how I can contribute to encouraging a shift.

What Can I Do?

A journey of a thousand miles starts with but a single step. I began a meditation this Summer where I stand beside an ancient tree. I tap into the living energy that has witnessed the transformations of the past 500 years and has seen our progress and our backsliding. I reflect on the positive changes I have seen in my lifetime: human rights, gender rights, the right to be gay and lesbian, transfer of power in South Africa, peace in Northern Ireland, the end of segregation in the USA. I affirm a prayer: “I am a radiating beacon of love and hope, show me the way.”

NB After writing these words I went to the gym for a workout. I always listen to a blog and today it was by eclectic author and anthropologist Wade Davis. (https://www.cbc.ca/radio/ideas/wade-davis-light-at-the-edge-of-the-world-1.4499962) He offers a vision for hope based on his observations as an anthropologist and offered a wonderful quote from his father: “As my father would say, ‘what side do you want to be on? Do you want to put your shoulder to the wheel of justice, or do you want to be part of the problem?”


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- Exploring Hidden Depths Through Poetry

January 12, 2019

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The gift of Soul poetry is that it unfolds itself like a Russian doll

I began learning poems about seven-years ago. It began primarily as an exercise to test my aging brain’s ability to recall yet over the years it has become so much more. I have become curious about the poems I choose to learn. I never know precisely what draws me to a poem or a poem to me. It is more than the words, more than my initial response; it is a connection at a deeper level. I call this my Soul poetry.

The gift of Soul poetry is that it unfolds itself like a Russian doll where inside each doll is another doll. As I go explore the poem’s meaning it requires going deeper not just into the poem but into me. It is no longer important what the poet meant, the importance is how I relate to the poem emotionally, spiritually and psychologically. I can learn a lot about my inner landscape from how I respond to each poem.

I have observed that the attraction toward an individual poem is guided by the current focus of my inner journey. For example when I was getting far too intense about my spiritual enquiry I found myself drawn to poems about play. “There is only one rule in this wild playground, all the signs Hafiz has ever seen read the same, they all say “have fun my dear, my dear have fun in the Beloved’s divine game”

When I found myself at a time of transition the poem that emerged was by John O’Donahoe titled For the Interim Time with the words: You are in this time of the interim where everything seems withheld. The path you took to get here has washed out; The way forward is still concealed from you.”

The more I have worked with poetry I have realized it is an exquisite place to appreciate projection. Projection is when we project emotions, and feelings that are often disowned or unconscious onto someone or something else. So my desire for play that is being restricted by the intensity of my work shows up in my engagement with Hafiz’s poem. (This also happens with dreams – one of the roles of dreams is to compensate for that which we are failing to live consciously). The acknowledgement that I am facing a time of transition shows up in the appeal of John O’Donahoe’s poem.

Recently I did a workshop on exploring our inner relationship with poems. I would recite a particular poem three times. The first time I would ask the group just to listen and discuss their reactions. The second time I would ask them to close their eyes and rather than concentrate on the words check in with the feelings the poem evokes. The third time I would again suggest the eyes be closed but this time they should observe which stanza has the most energy or significance for them.

The result was way beyond my expectation. One of my favourite poems to explore is by Denis Levertov called Primary Wonder. On one level everyone recognized the exquisite description of how the distractions of life can divert us from our focus yet there was one stanza that caused a dramatic division in the perspective of the group. Over 50% were triggered by the lines “and that, O Lord, Creator, Hallowed one, You still, hour by hour sustain it.”

The debate was intense with a lot of resistance to accepting this was not “badly written” but a projection of old wounds around religion. Fortunately my point was made impeccably by one participant who had been brought up in a tradition far from conventional Christianity and could not understand why there was any problem.

Another wonderful poem Prepare to Feel by Julie Leavitt caused one group all to feel sad while another tapped into an intrinsically positive message. Why the difference? Did the words change? Of course not, the feelings arise from some relationship that we project onto the words themselves.

I am so grateful for this interest in poetry that flourished quite late in my life. I have learned fifty poems so far, I have to continually refresh my memory or they can slip away. Yet they are so much more than a brain exercise, rather they help me keep in touch with my inner state. As Rumi once wrote, “Your heart is the size of an ocean. Go find yourself in its hidden depths.”

Quoted Poems – full length.

Prepare to Feel by Julie Leavitt

Prepare to feel the same

Prepare to feel disappointed at having no time for wonder.

Wonder why the starling flew in at that moment.

Wonder why the reflection of the last light of sun through the church window appeared

over head at that precise moment.

Wonder why the neon from the hotel surprised us like night time did?

Prepare to feel surprised and disappointed at once.

Disappointment is the pile of bricks stacked and never used.

Surprise is when you knock them over.

Nothing can be made without knocking over what’s old.

How do I know?

Because I am old enough to be surprised and disappointed many times.

How do I know?

I am embarrassed to tell you how many times I turned away from amazement and was

greeted anyway by starlings, and herons and hawks that flew by in their usual migratory

pattern.

Primary Wonder
“Days pass when I forget the mystery.
Problems insoluble and problems offering
their own ignored solutions
jostle for my attention, they crowd its antechamber
along with a host of diversions, my courtiers, wearing
their colored clothes; caps and bells.
And then
once more the quiet mystery
is present to me, the throng’s clamor
recedes: the mystery
that there is anything, anything at all,
let alone cosmos, joy, memory, everything,
rather than void: and that, 0 Lord,
Creator, Hallowed one, You still,
hour by hour sustain it.” Denise Levertov

A Suspended Blue Ocean
The sky
Is a suspended blue ocean.
The stars are the fish
That swim.
The planets are the white whales
I sometimes hitch a ride on,
And the sun and all light
Have forever fused themselves
Into my heart and upon
My skin.
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.”
by Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky

For The Interim Time

When the near the end of day, life has drained
Out of light, and it is too soon
For the mind of night to have darkened things,
No place looks like itself, loss of outline
Makes everything look strangely in-between,
Unsure of what has been, or what might come.
In this wan light, even trees seem groundless.
In a while it will be night, but nothing
Here seems to believe the relief of darkness.
You are in this time of the interim
Where everything seems withheld.
The path you took to get here has washed out;
The way forward is still concealed from you.
“The old is not old enough to have died away;
The new is still too young to be born.”
You cannot lay claim to anything;
In this place of dusk,
Your eyes are blurred;
And there is no mirror.
Everyone else has lost sight of your heart
And you can see nowhere to put your trust;
You know you have to make your own way through.
As far as you can, hold your confidence.
Do not allow confusion to squander
This call which is loosening
Your roots in false ground,
That you might come free
From all you have outgrown.
What is being transfigured here in your mind,
And it is difficult and slow to become new.
The more faithfully you can endure here,
The more refined your heart will become
For your arrival in the new dawn.
“To Bless the Space Between Us” by John O’Donohue. Pub in 2008 by Doubleday in Blessings


The Soul’s Journey – Nothing Can Be Made Without Knocking Over What is Old.

November 6, 2018

Prepare to feel surprised and disappointed at once. Disappointment is the pile of bricks stacked and never used. Surprise is when you knock them over. Nothing can be made without knocking over what’s old.” Julie Levitt

Recently while reading Living An Examined Life by eminent Jungian analyst James Hollis I came across these words. “There are only answers that make sense to you at this moment in your life and they will fail you tomorrow. What is seemingly true today will be outgrown when life or our Soul brings us a larger frame through which to view them.” It was as though he was preparing me for the seismic event I was currently undergoing.

For twenty-years I had been guided by what I considered to be a simple truth expounded by Catholic theologian and mystic Theillard de Jardin: “You are not a human being having a spiritual experience, you are a spiritual being having a human experience.”

This insight had been presented to me after I had a psychic love affair that shook the foundation of my worldview and led to me seek counselling to help me comprehend how two people could possibly connect mind to mind over time and space. (For more on that see “The Event That Rocked My World.”)

This belief that life was part of a much greater reality became the foundation initially in a quest for enlightenment but once I determined I was not an enlightenment kind of guy, it led to a twenty-year passion to search for meaning and to understand my psychology, theology and spirituality. This foundation eventually led to who I am today – a dream teacher and spiritual coach.

There had been a number of shifts on my journey but underlying it all was the conviction that I was a spiritual being having a human experience with an immortal Soul that would survive the body.

Suddenly this perspective did not fit anymore. It felt like a coat I had outgrown. In his chapter on achieving a mature spirituality Hollis suggests any belief must have personal resonance and mine no longer did.

This discomfort began during the reading of Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. It is a deeply disturbing book about our evolution as a species from Africa 100,000 years ago. He describes the brutal, self-serving, competitive and relentless story of conquest and domination by humans over others. I found myself asking the question, “Where is the evidence of Soul on which I have based on my life? Can I really accept we are spiritual beings?”

As I write I am reminded of Carl Sagan’s words many years ago in Cosmos: “Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.”

Like a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces, my worldview no longer resonated. I felt troubled. Who was I without my belief? What was left once I surrendered my faith in a worldview that had been the catalyst for my personal journey of exploration for the past twenty-two years?

I took a long solitary walk asking myself the question, “what remains if I give up the belief in being a spiritual being with an eternal Soul?” To my surprise I felt an unexpected sense of reassurance; I still had my belief in the unconscious, also in a tutelary or guiding inner spirit, and I still felt committed to seeking meaning in this Mystery of which I am part.

Yet something had changed. Suddenly the focus on the preciousness of this one life seemed so much more important. If I am not eternal and nothing of me other than perhaps some released energy remains when I die then suddenly what I do while I am here is even more critical than ever.

I have noticed that in these times of polarization, political reversals, and the rise of fundamentalism I have found it easy to slip into a place of hopelessness wondering whether we shouldn’t just let this human experiment fail and collapse into the abyss.  I am reminded of Nietzsche’s quote,“Man is a rope stretched between the animal and the Superman–a rope over an abyss.” It may feel like we are on that rope but we need to reach the other side.

Recently I read President Obama’s inspiring speech at the 2018 Nelson Mandela Annual lecture. https://www.npr.org/2018/07/17/629862434/transcript-obamas-speech-at-the-2018-nelson-mandela-annual-lecture.

Despite being totally realistic about the negative forces at play in the world today he observes, “Things may go backwards for a while, but ultimately, right makes might, not the other way around”.

My commitment begins with sustaining hope and today this beautiful poem appeared in my mail; it seems a perfect affirmation.

Sometimes

Sometimes things don’t go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don’t fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes step back from war;
elect an honest man; decide they care
enough, that they can’t leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen: may it happen to you

Sheenagh Pugh