The Soul’s Journey – Reflections on God

April 18, 2018

This morning I finished reading an article in Presence Magazine (The journal of Spiritual Directors International) on pilgrimage and spiritual direction by Valerie Brown. In closing she writes, “for spiritual directors there is one central question ‘where is God?’

I realized that answering that question will be influenced by the personal lens I adopt which creates my perspective of God.

I grew up in household dedicated to evangelical Baptist beliefs that offered salvation through blood or a trip to hell. I was a true believer until about 14 years old when I was given an essay to write titled, “Why God is a good God and not a comic sadist” Somewhat courageously I changed the title to “Why God is a comic sadist and not a good God.” It became my coming out paper and began a period of atheism that lasted 30 plus years.

It was after I turned forty that I realized my atheism was actually a rejection of my “father’s God” rather than an absolute state of disbelief and I began an inquiry that continues to this day into what God means to me. It has embraced many shifts in concepts and a continual letting go of old certainties. At times I have clung to old views reluctant to move into the unknown. Mystery to me encompasses the vast cosmic energies of the universe that embraces all things and that we are one insignificant aspect.

It seems an irresistible and dangerous desire of human beings to claim they know God. Somehow ignoring the fact that each vision can only be viewed from a very limited perspective – that of our humanity. This suggests a good reason that in certain Jewish teachings God is referred to as the one who can’t be named. Yet vast tracts of humanity cling to the belief that their face of God is the only one and waging war on those who may feel differently.

Frankly I like C.G Jung’s perspective – “God is the name by which I designate all things that crossed my willful path violently and recklessly, all things that upset my subjective views, plans and intentions and change the course of my life for better or for worse.”

This is a reflection on some of the quotes, poems and insights that have shaped the way I see something that could be called God but I prefer to describe as Mystery.

Reflections on God 2

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The Soul’s Journey – Reflections on Soul

April 16, 2018

Half a day lost staring out of this window.

I wanted to know just one true thing about the Soul

But I left thinking for thought and two inches of snow have fallen over the meadow.

Where did I go? How long was I out looking for you who would never leave me?

My witness, my here.

 Kate Knapp-Johnson

How is it with your Soul?

This reflection originated after reading an article on the origin of the Methodist movement in the 1700. This was the greeting of original members of what was called the “Holy Club” founded by John Wesley. Methodism was a derisory term used by their critics due to very strict methodology that the Holy Club followed.  John Wesley who was leader of the club turned table on the mockers and adopted the name.

Concepts of Soul

I found a helpful web site BeliefNet that had asked teachers from different faiths their perspectives on Soul and the body. There are common elements around the spiritual nature of Soul but also many differences. Eminent Jungian analyst and author James Hollis talks about psyche the Greek word for Soul as representing inner energies related more to the unconscious than the conscious. Hollis suggests five questions in his book What Matters Most: Do I have a Soul? What does it mean to me? What does it ask of me? What does it mean to show up? Am I willing to engage with it and serve it? I worked with a group and asked them to draw whatever emerged when I asked “How Is It with Your Soul?” No one struggled to form an image and I felt that all images represented something deeper than the ego state.

Personal Concepts of Soul

I think that each of us must answer Hollis’s five questions and determine our own relationship with the idea of Soul. I have found that once we bring conscious attention to Soul, it will meet us in many different ways. My enquiry over the years has led to my reflection below as well as my own personal “ten commandments” to help me fulfill my soul’s desire for expression through me.

Reflections on Soul

My ten commandments

 


Explore The Magical, Mysterious Amazing World of Dreams Vancouver Sunday January 14th

December 11, 2017

Woody Allen

Within a week both Woody Allen and Donald Trump showed up in my dreams. I was not too happy to wake up to the latter. However our unconscious is profoundly brilliant at selecting precisely the right image – our challenge is to find out why a particular image shows up? In a symbolic dream each symbol or figure will represent archetypal significance. This particular dream presented a warning on too much attention on the shallow, meaningless and inauthentic.

Dreams tap directly into our unconscious. Learning to work with dreams can prove to be a source of guidance, inspiration and insight. Dreams come in many sizes, shapes and configurations. Not all dreams are created equal. This workshop will help you discern the different types of dreams, identify the dreams that are most significant, explore why some people and symbols show up and provide tools and a process to explore their meaning. WE can view dreams on different levels. Only the dreamer can truly know the meaning of their dreams and a dream unexplored is a letter not opened. (The Talmud)

Workshop Outline

  • Learning to differentiate types of dreams and discern which are likely to be meaningful.
  • How to facilitate remembering dreams and keeping track.
  • To explore the principles of dream analysis and how to tend a dream.
  • Exploration of the relationship between the imagination and dreams and how symbols are created in dreams
  • Introduction to dream partnering
  • Looking at the dream in the context of your life..
  • An exploration of energy, feelings and consciousness in dreams.
  • Learning to understand archetypes and their influence on dreams.

Location and Timing

Kitsilano, Vancouver Sunday January 14th 2018 10:00 am to 4:30 pm.

Contact trevor@soulclarity.com if you have any interest. Maximum 8 People

Fee by Donation

What Others Have Said

Thank you SO much for such an interesting, inspiring and fun evening! 

You are such a relaxed, organized and passionate teacher so WELL DONE!

Janie Brown

“I found the sessions I was able to attend to be simply excellent.  I loved the opening meditations, your flow in bringing the content into application, and your style in honouring of individual input.   Thank you for showing us a craft that you have obviously invested time and energy in mastering.” Joyce Gwilliam


Poems for SoulClarity 3

November 27, 2017

This is the third in the poems I have learned series. I notice the gap between poems seems to be expanding so only right more.

Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem

and hold it up to the light

like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem

and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room

and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski

across the surface of a poem

waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do

is tie the poem to a chair with rope

and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose

to find out what it really means.

I immediately loved this poem by Billy Collins. It gave me a tremendous sense of freedom from trying to find meaning. It reminded me of why as a child I hated poetry class.

Caged Bird by Maya Angelou

A free bird leaps

on the back of the wind

and floats downstream

till the current ends

and dips his wing

in the orange sun rays

and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks

down his narrow cage

can seldom see through

his bars of rage

his wings are clipped and

his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings

with a fearful trill

of things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze

and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees

and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn

and he names the sky his own

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams

his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream

his wings are clipped and his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings

with a fearful trill

of things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom.

This poem by the late Maya Angelou has so many exquisite phrases. I always begin a Spiritual Coaching Session with a guided meditation and a poem. This one will often result in a projection or transference that leads to meaningful dialogue. One client particularly was drawn to phrase “of things unknown but longed for still”. It caused a deep reflection on his longings.

 Journey by Linda Hogan

The mouth of the river may be beautiful.
It doesn’t remember the womb of its beginning.
It doesn’t look back to where it’s been
or wonder who ahead of it polished the rough stones.
It is following the way
in its fullness,
now like satin,
now cresting,
waters meeting, kindred
to travel gathered together,
all knowing it flows
one way, shining or in shadows.
And me, the animal
I ride wants to drive forward,
its longing not always my own,
overrunning its banks and bounds,
edgeless, spilling along the way
because, as I forget,
it knows everything
is before it.

This is a personal favourite of mine with its remarkable metaphor for the Soul Journey and the sense that dissonance sometimes exist between the inner and outer reality as wel as the sensate and intuitive.

Breath by Kabir (translated by Robert Bly)

Are you looking for me? I am in the next seat.
My shoulder is against yours.
You will not find me in stupas, not in Indian shrine rooms,
nor in synagogues, nor in cathedrals:
not in masses, nor in kirtans, not in legs winding around your
own neck, nor in eating nothing but vegetables.
When you really look for me, you will see me instantly—
you will find me in the tiniest house of time.
Kabir says: Student, tell me what is God?
He is the breath inside the breath.

Be still, wake up, I say to myself, Stop running around all over the placeAnd look at the eyes gazing at you from the next seat.Today, notice the loving gaze upon you from the next seat.

The wisdom in this poem strikes me deeply every time I recite it. How often am I running around not seeing that which is right in front of me. The depth and richness of the lines “When you really look for me, you will see me instantly—you will find me in the tiniest house of time.” Thanks to Robert Bly for his exquisite rendering particularly the words, “Student, tell me what is God? He is the breath inside the breath.”

The next three poems are represent so clearly where my heart is at the moment. I love to recite them; they resonate at the deepest level of my being. There is so much joy. They all contain a similar message about the full appreciation for these amazing lives we have been gifted. Thank you God for the Persian poets!

 On A Day by Rumi

On a day

when the wind is perfect,
the sail just needs to open and the world is full of beauty.
Today is such a day.

My eyes are like the sun that makes promises:
the promise of life
that it always
keeps
each morning.

The living heart gives to us as does that luminous sphere,
both caress the earth with great
tenderness.

There is a breeze that can enter the soul.
This love I know plays a drum. Arms move around me;
who can contain their self before my beauty?

On a day when the wind is perfect,
the sail just needs to open
and the love starts.

Today is such
a day.

This is Now by Rumi

This is now.
Now is, all there is.

Don’t wait for Then.
Strike the spark, light the fire.

Sit at the Beloved’s table.
Feast with gusto, drink your fill.

Then dance
The way branches of jasmine and
cypress dance in a spring wind.

The green earth is your cloth.
Tailor your robe with dignity and grace.

We Have Not Come Here to Take Prisoners by Hafiz

We have not come here to take prisoners
But to surrender ever more deeply
To freedom and joy.

We have not come into this exquisite world
to hold ourselves hostage from love.

Run my dear, From anything
That may not strengthen
Your precious budding wings,
Run like hell, my dear,
From anyone likely to put a sharp knife
Into the sacred, tender vision
Of your beautiful heart.

We have a duty to befriend
Those aspects of obedience of our house
And shout to our reason
“Oh please, oh please
come out and play.”

For we have not come here to take prisoners,
Or to confine our wondrous spirits
But to experience ever and ever more deeply
our divine courage, freedom, and Light!

Yes by William Stafford

It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.

It could you know. That’s why we wake
and look out–no guarantees
in this life.

But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening.

This last poem became particularly meaningful because it was read in a circle of people many of whom were living with the uncertainty of a cancer diagnosis.


Explore The Magical, Mysterious Amazing World of Dreams Vancouver October 29th

September 20, 2017

Nathalie Emmanuel

Why did the lovely Missandei from Game of Thrones (aka Nathalie Emmanuel) show up in a recent dream? I knew my unconscious had selected her for a good reason. Our unconscious is profoundly brilliant at selecting precisely the right image – our challenge is to find out why? In a symbolic dream each symbol or figure will represent archetypal significance. This particular dream illustrated a profound continuing journey with the divine feminine.

Dreams tap directly into our unconscious. Learning to work with dreams can prove to be a source of guidance, inspiration and insight. Dreams come in many sizes, shapes and configurations. Not all dreams are created equal. This workshop will help you discern the different types of dreams, identify the dreams that are most significant, explore why some people and symbols show up and provide tools and a process to explore their meaning. WE can view dreams on different levels.Only the dreamer can truly know the meaning of their dreams and a dream unexplored is a letter not opened. (The Talmud)

Workshop Outline

  • Learning to differentiate types of dreams and discern which are likely to be meaningful.
  • How to facilitate remembering dreams and keeping track.
  • To explore the principles of dream analysis and how to tend a dream.
  • Exploration of the relationship between the imagination and dreams and how symbols are created in dreams
  • Introduction to dream partnering
  • Looking at the dream in the context of your life..
  • An exploration of energy, feelings and consciousness in dreams.
  • Learning to understand archetypes and their influence on dreams.

Location and Timing

Kitsilano, Vancouver Sunday October 29th, 10:00 am to 4:30 pm.

Contact trevor@soulclarity.com if you have any interest. Maximum 8 People

Fee by Donation

What Others Have Said

Thank you SO much for such an interesting, inspiring and fun evening! 
You are such a relaxed, organized and passionate teacher so WELL DONE!

Janie Brown

“I found the sessions I was able to attend to be simply excellent.  I loved the opening meditations, your flow in bringing the content into application, and your style in honouring of individual input.   Thank you for showing us a craft that you have obviously invested time and energy in mastering.” Joyce Gwilliam

Trevor Simpson is a Spiritual Coach, author of Life’s Little Book for Big Decisions and has worked with dreams since 1998. He and Indrus Piche have been dream partners since 2002 and have developed a Dream Partnering process to support others interested in dream interpretation. (www.soulclarity.com)


The Soul’s Journey – How I learned to stop worrying and love the Donald.

August 9, 2017

L-CRAIG-STRANGETRUMP

Recently I was diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation. In layman’s language, an irregular heartbeat. My doctor observed it in my routine check up. I had first noticed it last November, but as I had no other symptoms I had given it no thought. My MD, however was definitively alarmed, threatening to put me on Warfarin – rat poison for goodness sake! However, she ultimately settled for 81mg of aspirin and a referral to the Atrial Fibrillation Clinic at St. Paul’s Hospital.

So what does this have to do with my new relationship with our orange-topped Leader of the Free World? Be patient. All will be revealed.

My belief in the relationship between mind, body, and Soul caused me to immediately begin an enquiry both inside and outside conventional medical treatment.

The physical reasons behind this rhythmic shift, according to the Mayo Clinic, can include: high blood pressure, heart attacks, coronary disease, valve problems, congenital defects, stimulants such as caffeine, stress, sleep apnoea and a host of others. I resigned myself to a journey through the conventional medical system – blood work, an echocardiogram and a heart monitor for twenty-four hours. I also pursued healing on a series of other fronts. I began to have bodywork, started acupuncture along with a series of back exercises. (I had not considered that the spine plays a fundamental role in conducting the signals that cause the heart to beat)

But on the emotional and spiritual side, what could have happened to cause this disharmony?

Clearly my heart had lost its rhythm. That seemed a curious and meaningful metaphor.

I knew that I had first noticed my heart beating irregularly in November of last year. I wondered what could have happened then to trigger such a change, so I sought out my journal and found two entries. Both were on the same subject: My despair at the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States.

I began to see the trap I had fallen into. I had become active at seeking out all news that disparaged the new President. I wanted him to fail, to be impeached or resign.

Every day I would look for the most negative articles I could find. I loaded the New York Times app on my phone as well as the New Yorker, who seem to hate him more than anyone else.

I would YouTube all the anti trump comedy shows – John Oliver, Bill Mahr, Saturday Night Live, Seth Grogan – my life became dominated by my anti Trump philosophy.

Ironically I was learning a poem by Hafiz at the same time interpreted by Daniel Ladinsky and titled “We Have Not Come to Take Prisoners”. It includes the phrases: “Run my dear at anything that does not strengthen your precious budding wings. Run like hell my dear from anyone who may stick a sharp knife into the sacred tender vision of your beautiful heart.” I had been doing the opposite. I had been running towards the very thing that had compromised my heart and my desire to live my life through the lens of love and compassion. It was time to change.

So I disengaged. I dropped the obsession and introduced balance.

I no longer sought out the bad. I tried to acknowledge the good and even began a daily practice based on an adaptation of Psalm 15:

Lord, may President Trump be trusted with power.

May he find a passion for justice,

May he speak the truth from his heart.

May he let go of his selfish interests and grow beyond his own limitations.

May he see the wretched as his family and the poor as his flesh and blood.

May he learn to be impartial and worthy of the people’s trust.

May his compassion prove boundless and his kindness astound all the people.

(Thanks to Stephen Mitchel for his exquisite adaptation)

This is a daily prayer I have introduced into my spiritual practice. It took quite a wake up call for me to change, but I have decided it is time to shift from my obsessive negative perspective on the new president to send positive messaging.

I still have doubts this will change Donald Trump, but perhaps it will change me and support me in creating a deeper rhythm of harmony with my heart.

If you would care to join me, who knows? Maybe we can help his heart, too.

NB Special thanks to my friend Lorne Craig who both provided the hilarious cartoon and edited my original to make it so much more coherent.

 


The Soul’s Journey – What Station Are You At?

January 12, 2017

I think that a train journey is a wonderful metaphor for the journey of the Soul. We move from station to station over our life and of course there are two stations that we will all experience – Birth at the beginning where I sense we are unrealized Spirit and the final terminus where hopefully we have fulfilled the Soul’s desires and become realized Spirit.
Of course the stops in between are unique to each one of us. There are many terrains in which we may find stations – desert, ocean, valleys, dark, light, the roller coaster and the stop named Resistance is all too common.
I believe the journey of the Soul embraces every aspect of who we are: the emotional, psychological, spiritual, mental and Soulful. A client asked me recently how to discern what was Spirit and what wasn’t. My reply: “It’s all Spirit to me.”
This is what makes this epic adventure so challenging, so complex and so rewarding. It is important to differentiate between the station we inhabit and the current state. The station is our personal climate while our state is the current weather within that climate.
For example an early station in my life was Fundamentalism. It was a demanding station with a very masculine, authoritarian God, severe punishment for wrong-doing and only one way out by being saved by the blood of Jesus. While stopped at that station there was good weather and bad weather. Times of great happiness combined with equal confusion.
The train eventually pulled out. For a while it travelled through no-mans land then arrived at Atheism where it remained on a siding for twenty years. There was lot of varied states at this stop from enormous joy and success to absolute shock and despair.
Discerning our current station can help us identify the foundation that helps us manage the variety of states that may occur. For example my current station has evolved from the belief that I am a Spiritual being having a human experience. My specific stop at this point in my life is a station called Flow. It represents the worldview that if I stay conscious and aware, attend to my spiritual and psychological needs, set intention and pay attention then what is mine will come to me – both the good and the less so. During a recent Spiritual Guidance evening with the small group that I work with we did a practice to reveal the current station of the members of the group. I started with a guided meditation to encourage a process of practice of active imagination to access the guiding wisdom that each of us can access.

“Close your eyes, perhaps sigh and feel yourself coming fully present to this time, this place, this moment. Then bring your intention to a single breath. In, Out, Deep, Slow, Calm, Ease, Grace, Peace, Smile, Release, Present Moment, Wonderful Moment.
Now imagine an empty canvas, it is blank, it is waiting for you. It will reveal to you the station your Soul train sitting at. “Held in the embrace of silence, resting in the deep heart, allowing my Soul to be, I come home. Allow an image to begin forming in your mind. Where are you? Don’t engage with it or shape it, allow it to take its own form. When you feel ready begin to draw the image or write the words that are emerging.”

What was most revealing was how unique each image was to the individual journey and in every case there was a deep sense of wonder at the positive aspects of the station despite current conditions that may be challenging. One participant was reluctant to draw because she feared the image would represent her current difficulties. Instead it offered her an oasis for respite when things seemed too intense.
Some times we get stuck at a station too long. We have to be aware that if energy departs from this place, it is time to move on. Resistance can result in being stuck. One client of mine who clearly realized she had stayed too long at stop named Constructive Discontent exclaimed, “I jammed the emergency brake on and can’t recall how to release.”
Unfortunately there is no map of all the stations. We muddle our way through as best as we can – hoping we fulfill our personal itinerary and doing our best to remember the wonderful words of the poet Em Claire.

It’s a beautiful time to be alive.
And the long walk home is peopled—
We, are everywhere.
Yet the struggle to surrender is where we walk alone.
So the next time you fall
look
to either side where you lie
and take the hand
of your dear Sister or Brother
whose own face is muddied.
We can rise together,
even if we fall alone—
for it’s a beautiful time to be alive
even
on this long walk home.