Beyond human experience lies what you call the great unknown. In true reality it is the other side of life and full of great knowledge, not the unknown at all but the source of all possibility, transparent and fully available to explore. In your dreams you may tap into its infinite possibilities, yet do you believe what you experience? Some day you will know. Until then, trust all that you are shown so that you learn the simple art of trusting your experiences, in sleeping and waking life.
Life is a journey that never ends, for the spirit is eternal and forever evolving. When one life ends another begins, the spirit’s evolution the main purpose. Turn to your spirit more often to gain knowledge of it and its purpose, for there is more to you than you know. For you and everyone else is eternal and thus full of all that eternity is full of. In finding your spirit you will find that you are full of knowledge and wisdom as well as eternal life.
After Jeanne Marie Ketchel left her life, in a human body, she was amazed to discover that she was still very much a part of this world, though in a much more subtle body than the physical body she had recently shed. Following a period of rejuvenation and orientation she chose a task that was to become her new life mission.
More precisely, she describes this afterlife choice process as, “It will be of your choosing, but not of your choosing. It will be granted because it is exactly where you need to go, but it will also be where you fit perfectly.” (The Book of Us, p. 165)
No outside judge decides where we need to go, we are the ultimate judge of our lives.
“Where you need to go” is how I define karma. The underlying law of nature, both physical and spiritual, is growth. Spiritual growth progresses through lighter and lighter stages of being. We shed the denseness of physical matter upon physical death and enter our lighter energy body soul-state.
However, an individual who remains attached to their worldly possessions and physical proclivities upon death will, of necessity, enter a bardo environment that fits this state of evolution. The Buddhists define bardos as alternative worlds that reflect a soul’s state of spiritual accomplishments, high or low, offering what is necessary for continued growth, for every soul is destined to grow and evolve at their own pace.
Thus, continued life would be in a bardo of one’s choosing and yet not; it would be the only fitting place in which to evolve, hence, would be a natural next step. Souls remain in bardo states until they are ready to move on, meaning until they have grown or progressed enough to shed their attachment to the coveted activities of physical life or have completed the necessary expiation resulting from them.
The significant point here is that we are in full control of where we land based upon the choices we make and how far we spiritually evolve, in whatever world we are in. Upon changing worlds, at death, we can only go where we have prepared ourselves to go.
Karma is not punitive, it is objective. Though we might covet a highly evolved spiritual existence, we will only manifest it when we have completed the prerequisites for such an existence. Death does not automatically result in spiritual advancement, unless we have consciously worked toward it during our lifetime. Alternatively, though we may in fact be spiritually advanced during our lifetime, we may be placed in a remedial bardo to complete the necessary requirements for even greater ascension.
The same principle governs the life we are currently in: we can only advance in our careers and relationships to the extent that we have learned and prepared ourselves to advance into deeper fulfillment.
We are the ultimate judge of our lives, as we place ourselves where we need to go based on the choices we have made and the consequences of those choices. Judgment is based on full transparency—the truth. We are free to ignore the truth, but in that case we land ourselves in the bardo best fitted to allow us to accept the truth that we avoid, and to grow beyond it.
Our truest judge is the voice of our conscience, which is located in the heart center. This is the heart not of sentimentality nor romance but the heart of our morality, our deepest knowing of what is right. This voice of the heart is to be distinguished from the voice of the aberrant inner critic, the product of the conjuring mind’s incessant storytelling.
If we quiet our mind and ask our heart to speak the truth, it will calmly reveal it—no drama, just the plain truth. The true judge—the voice of heart centered conscience—will always know and choose rightly where we must go next.
If we align our decisions and actions with the truth that we are shown, we will advance as spiritually enlightened beings.
How do we end up in the life we are in? If we accept the notion that human life, like all life in nature, is driven toward fulfillment and completion then we can view our current life circumstance as the next step necessary for our personal evolution.
Whatever life we are in, we are being presented with the opportunities to advance our growth. Thus, for example, if we have been dominated by a selfish attitude it might be necessary to suffer loss and a period of scarcity to truly understand the value of charity, the missing character ingredient to our evolutionary advancement.
Viewing our current life circumstance as personally tailored for our evolutionary advancement suspends the judgment that we are defined by our circumstances or being punished for some prior misdeed. Objectively speaking, our current life drama—regardless of what it is—is nature providing us with a fertile field imbued with seeds of growth possibility.
The notion of our present life as karmic punishment for prior misdeeds casts a shadow of negative judgment upon the positive growth opportunity before us. In one respect, it is true that we are where we are as a consequence of prior life choices. However, the stopping point on the road we have previously travelled is, of necessity, the only place we can begin our current journey; we are simply not experienced enough yet with the challenges we must progressively meet to traverse beyond our former endpoint.
Some next steps may require experiences seemingly contraindicated for the forward progression of our fulfillment. For instance, we might find ourselves caught in a repetitive loop of unsuccessful relationships when we are sincerely seeking a truly compatible partner.
This redundancy of failure may actually accrue toward a critical mass that ultimately leads to a breakthrough in awareness, where one discovers the blind spot within one’s self that until now has sabotaged one’s desired advancement. Without the benefit of this awareness one’s ultimate goal of a fulfilling relationship could never be achieved, as the problem was seen as originating from a partner, when, in fact, unbeknownst to the self, it lay within the self!
Within the subconscious of everyone is the desire body that serves the evolving spirit by attracting to our lives the physical circumstances that will materialize our needed challenges. This is commonly called the law of attraction. Though, with intent, one might influence this law of attraction, one will not advance toward fulfillment if the necessary circumstances for growth are not present.
Generally, intent will automatically manifest the necessary circumstances to achieve growth. Frequently, however, we may be confused by the circuitous route of events attracted to us. But again, the foundational lessons we need may require experiences we hardly expect. Even if we are able to bend intent to our will and manifest our desire, if it doesn’t accord with our needed growth it will likely result in a painful but necessary lesson.
When we approach the path of our spirit’s evolution, once it has definitively left its human body traveling companion, and journey into the afterlife, we will first experience a thorough review of the life we have just lived in physical form. From this assessment we will determine what kind of new life will be required for our continued growth.
For some souls, a reincarnation, in this or some other world, may be selected to further refine one’s spirit by once again coupling with a finite physical body, with the desire body of our spirit attracting to it the DNA and social context likely to provide it with the opportunity to advance its growth.
Other souls might discover that their further refinement is best served by venturing into the more subtle realms of spirit discovery and adventure.
Jeanne has explained to us that the transparency of spirit life beyond the physical body affords the spirit the obvious clarity to know what issues must be addressed. Hence, the spirit willingly acquiesces to what is necessary.
In some circumstances spirits refuse to relinquish their attachment to the physical life they were previously in. Hence, they must continue to live the illusion of being physically alive and able to participate in human life, until they are exhausted by such futility. Nonetheless, this experience is indeed the next necessary step to further their evolution.
The question to ask oneself, now, regarding one’s current life circumstance, is: “What is the specific challenge being presented that I must master?” Avoid the trapping of self-judgment or blame of other, regardless of how wrong that other may be.
Right and wrong are necessary discernments in clarifying a problem, but are not necessarily a solution. Many an unfair situation must be endured to experientially learn about unfairness and further refine one’s ability to detach and not take things personally—a very high spirit challenge, indeed!
Wherever you are is where you need to be, until you are truly prepared to move on. Accept your life circumstance with equanimity; study it and master it.
Several months ago, I found out that the man who had abused me during my childhood had died. A few weeks after his death he appeared in a dream.
Putting his arm over my shoulder, he hugged me gently and spoke some kind words. In the dream he was very loving, not at all how I knew him in real life. It was a little disconcerting to say the least. I was not sure what to make of it.
Then again, two months after that, he came in another dream. I am lucid, fully conscious of dreaming in this dream, fully aware of being with him. I have no reaction to being in his presence; I am as calm as calm can be.
We sit opposite each other, foreheads almost touching, looking directly into each other’s eyes. Once again he is kind, concerned, as he states: “SHE says I did this to you,” and he glances to the side, as if looking at someone standing offstage.
Then, he gestures with his hands and a scene from my childhood appears between us, suspended in midair. It’s like looking at an old movie; in the scene he is abusing me. I nod at him, and say, “Yes, it’s true, you did that to me.” I have no reaction; I am perfectly calm as I see the scene play out and as I tell him the truth, that it actually happened.
Again, he repeats, “SHE says I did this to you,” and once again he gestures with his hands, putting them together as if praying and then pulling them apart, and as he pulls them apart another scene of him abusing me materializes.
“Did I do this to you?” he asks, incredulous.
Again, I nod at him, and say, “Yes, it’s true, you did that to me.”
We sit like this, head to head, for a long time as he repeats, over and over again, “SHE said I did this to you,” glancing over his right shoulder toward the SHE whom I feel standing off to the side, observing, as he materializes yet another scene of him abusing me and which I acknowledge as truth. Again, I have no reaction to any of the traumatic scenes playing out between us. I do not wish to blame or shame him. I am perfectly calm and emotionally neutral.
As this plays out I realize that he has no memory of the life he has just lived, that he can’t remember anything that he had done. It appears that he’s going through a life review with SHE as his guide. He has total amnesia and appears flabbergasted every time I tell him that he did all those things to me. It’s as if he’s hearing about it for the first time.
We look squarely into each other’s eyes and I can see that he’s being honest, he simply does not remember; he’s a clean slate, with no memory whatsoever.
At first, I think I’m being challenged to recant my own life story, but then I see that this is not the case, that SHE is his teacher, helping him to recapitulate the life just lived. SHE appears to know everything about him. I sense that SHE brought us together, to help him remember.
I intuit that everyone must recapitulate at death, that all memory of the life just lived is lost and must be brought back into consciousness so that all can be reviewed and reconciled with in order to move on into a higher plane of existence.
The setting of the dream is desert-like, empty except for some low adobe buildings in the distance, which I intuit are spartan living quarters. Low dry brush, desert grasses and sand stretch in every direction as far as the eye can see. There’s a kind of dull light, not dark, not light, just kind of overcast, the temperature neither hot nor cold but comfortable.
After going through countless scenarios of the abuse he inflicted on me, we get up and he takes me over to a pile of long scrolls of tapestry lying on the ground, the frameworks upon which he must weave his just-lived life as he recapitulates, creating a large tapestry to study, learn from and evolve from.
“SHE tells me that everyone does it when they come over,” he says, and he suggests that I pick one up and create a tapestry too, but I tell him that I don’t need to do that, that I’ve already done it.
“I already did a recapitulation,” I say, “my books, you know.”
He nods, but I sense that he still doesn’t understand that he did all the things he’s been told he did. He’s an empty vessel, unable to grasp, totally clueless, but he understands from SHE that it’s his job now to remember and to weave the tapestry. It will take him a long time, he says, because he can’t remember a darned thing. He shakes his head in disbelief.
I sense how low his energy is, as if he’s depressed, stunned or traumatized by what he’s learning about himself. It feels as if he’s being slowly eased into knowing a little at a time about who he had been, not the kindly man I met in the first dream, nor who he appears to be now but a cold-hearted pedophile.
How interesting, I think, that his overall personality is gentle and kindly, that though he was a pedophile in his last life that may not be who he actually is in his spirit body, but that it was a persona he wore in order to learn something or challenge himself with.
Later, I tell him that I love him because I know that he is genuinely trying to fathom what he had done, and I sense that the work he has to do on himself is being attended to with diligence and honesty, that he really wants to get to the truth. And I can love him for that.
Recapitulation, I tell him, is the key to advancement. He nods when I say this, still muttering that he just can’t believe what he’s been told he did.
As I leave, I see him hanging up the framework, preparing to begin the job of building the tapestry with the truth. I am happy to have helped him verify that truth.
As I walk away, I am perfectly calm and at peace, knowing that indeed my own recapitulation of my abusive childhood is done. There will still be other things to recapitulate I’m sure, but that at least is fully done.
J. E. Ketchel, Author of The Recapitulation Diaries and All The Gifts You Are Given