Tag Archives: bardos

Chuck’s Place: Journey To The Light

Are we ready to emerge from the bardos into the light? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Are we ready to emerge from the bardos into the light?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

This past weekend, as Jan and I immersed ourselves in Dr. Elmer Green’s The Ozawkie Book of the Dead, I wrote: “If we intend to live with abandon we must first fully relive with abandon.” This was in reaction to Elmer’s exposition of the depths of the subconscious that completely encloses us in the bardos* of our unrealized selves, unable to find our way to the light.

I was reminded of the many traumatized individuals I have known, through the years, who were unable to be helped by lamas in their Buddhist retreats to release attachment to the impact of their traumatic pasts through mindfulness training.

Though mindfulness can still the mind and the central nervous system, it cannot absolve one of the necessary energetic encounters with unprocessed traumatic experience dissociated in the body and the psyche.

I picked up A Path with Heart, by Jack Kornfield, off the bathroom library shelf and opened to the chapter entitled “Psychotherapy and Meditation” where Jack, the Buddhist monk, eloquently confirms my above observations.

The next morning, from the same shelf, I picked an obscure book that Jan had purchased some time ago, entitled Activation of Energy by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and opened to “The Place of Technology.” In this chapter de Chardin wrote, in 1947:

“…From the psychic point of view the earth would seem to be becoming progressively hotter, continually even more incandescent. If we consider not its harmony but its general intensity, the earth has never been through a phase to equal the present.” (p. 161)

At the crossroads, where we've been, where we're going, and what's next? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
At the crossroads,
where we’ve been, where we’re going,
and what’s next?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Contrary to the Sunshine State’s recent ban on DEP officials using the term “climate change,” the truth is, global warming has us heated to a phase unequal to the past. And we find ourselves at an evolutionary crossroads as a result; the heat is boiling over everywhere. The challenge, as de Chardin describes, is for the light of consciousness to fully take charge of evolution now. But how will we bring light to the earth?

Last week, Netanyahu delivered an unprecedented speech to Congress, breaking ranks with all diplomacy as he anxiously expressed his unwavering position: Iran can never be trusted, ever. Don’t make a deal.

Obama responded to Netanyahu’s speech, saying that he heard no new ideas or solutions with this stay-the-course approach. In fact, the rise of terrorism throughout the world appears to be fueled in large measure by the powerlessness of this stalemate.

The other day, 47 Republican Senators wrote a letter to Iran warning that regardless of Obama’s negotiations regarding a nuclear arms agreement, Congress would undo any agreement when he left office. Some view this unprecedented behavior by the Senate as treason.

The heating up of politics and international tensions is part and parcel of the growing charge to humankind to shed truthful light on its problems and find solutions based on right action. There is no great God gonna come from the sky and make everything all right.

We are charged, just as we are in recapitulation, to find our way through the hazy bardos of our largely subconscious planet. In de Chardin’s first essay in Activation of Energy, “The Moment of Choice,” written at Christmas 1939 on the eve of World War II, he states:

“This will be the second time, then, in the span of one human life that we shall have known War. The second time, did I say? Is it not, rather, worse than that? Is it not the same Great War [WWI] that is still raging, the same single process: a world being re-cast — or disintegrating? (p. 13)

Well, here we are again. It’s not a new war; it’s a continuation of the same disintegrating process, heating up evermore powerfully, begging us to recapitulate, to face all the horrors and all the truths of our choices and behaviors since we took over the wheel, since we ate the apple in the garden from the tree of knowledge. We’ve been driving ever since and look where it has gotten us!

Are we going to wait until it's too late? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Are we going to wait until it’s too late?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Unless we face ourselves and act in the light of truth and consciousness the globe will continue to heat up under the stewardship of the dark side: greed and self-interest.

Yes, there are guides, angels, bodhisattvas, masters, all dedicated to helping us find our way to union with that light, but none of those entities can lift us out of the bardos into the light. We must boil in our bardos and free ourselves before we can benefit from such guidance. Channels broadcast messages everywhere, but do we listen? Can we listen? On what are we satiated?

When I posed these issues to the I Ching yesterday, I received hexagram #27 The Corners of the Mouth (Providing Nourishment). This hexagram is a picture of an open mouth. The real crux of the issue is, what will we put into our mouths and what words will come out of our mouths?

The bottom three lines of the hexagram refer to actions that seek nourishment for oneself alone: actions of greed. The top three refer to nourishment for others: compassion.

I received the six in the fourth place. Here the I Ching states: “…this line refers to one occupying a high position and striving to let his light shine forth. To do this he needs helpers, because he cannot attain his lofty aim alone. With the greed of a hungry tiger he is on the lookout for the right people. Since he is not working for himself but for the good of all, there is no wrong in such zeal.” (p. 110 Wilhelm translation.) The guidance here: turn the hunger of greed toward the light; bite through to the truth.

I also got the nine at the top. Here the I Ching states: “This describes a sage of the highest order, from whom emanate all influences that provide nourishment for others. Such a position brings with it heavy responsibility. If he remains conscious of this fact, he has good fortune and may confidently undertake even great and difficult labors, such as crossing the great water. These undertakings bring general happiness for him and for all others.” (pp. 110-11)

The guidance here makes it pretty clear that it’s time to do the right thing, to take full responsibility and cross the waters of our personal recapitulations just as the world, as a collective unit, must face the truths of the choices of its human nature and compassionately right the course.

Eventually we come into the light... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Eventually we come into the light…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

There are no saviors. We are the saviors. We’ve been charged with using our heated up planet, to use its light to make things right, deepening its journey into the light.

Journeying into the light,
Chuck

* Bardos refers to the Tibetan after-death bardo states, but is intentionally used in a broader context to suggest that we are in the bardos all the time, in a confusing state of disorientation that we must come to terms with (e.g. in recapitulation) so we can proceed into new life and higher realms of consciousness.

Chuck’s Place: Alzheimer’s & The Journey Of The Soul

Who knows what we will encounter as we take our first steps into the bardos... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Who knows what we will encounter as we take our first steps into the bardos…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The rational sensibility of the modern world observes the deterioration of the brain with Alzheimer’s disease and questions the validity of the soul. In effect, it asks the question, “What is left to ascend after death, when clearly there appears to be a total dismantling of the personality as the disease progresses?”

All religious systems, nonetheless, propose that a soul, an ethereal essence, separates from the body and continues to live after death. Hindu scientists have an elaborate understanding of the composition of that soul, or what they have termed the astral body. According to their findings, our abilities to think and feel originate in the astral body. The astral body, or soul, is intimately connected with the physical body; feelings are experienced in physical sensations and mental processes are connected with the brain. These two bodies, physical and astral, are inseparable except in dreaming, shamanic journeying, and in severe trauma, when the astral body—though still attached to the physical body—separates and goes off on its own journey.

Shamans utilize dreaming and journeying to explore life beyond the body, as they prepare for life after death, for the moment when the astral body completely separates from the physical body.

The Tibetan Buddhists, as outlined in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, have identified several bardos, or in-between worlds, that all humans encounter shortly after death. In the bardos we are all confronted with unresolved issues from our lives. Our ability to resolve, or not attach to these issues in the bardo states allows us to progress deeper into our soul’s unfolding journey in infinity. However, this cosmic recapitulation process in the bardos may require many lifetimes before we achieve true freedom. Alzheimer’s, as I see it, is the beginning of that cosmic bardo adventure, begun while still living in the human body, offering the opportunity to engage in recapitulation.

With the deterioration of the brain during Alzheimer’s, the astral body is freed to enter the bardos and deal with deep issues, as it is freed of engagement in the affairs of daily life. Deterioration of personality in this world in no way reflects loss of self, it simply reflects a breakdown of cognitive functioning connected to the physical body.

Things may clarify the deeper we go... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Things may clarify the deeper we go…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The mental and emotional self is fully present in its astral travels and is deeply engaged in working through karmic issues with souls from other lives, as well as those who have already crossed over, whom one was associated with in this life. Alzheimer’s offers an individual an extended opportunity, while still in human form, to resolve issues of many lives, with the added benefit of possibly breezing through the bardos after real death, moving quickly into higher spiritual realms. What appears in physical form as a difficult to manage and heartbreaking pathological disease, in spiritual form is actually an opportunity for great healing and advancement.

Relatives of Alzheimer’s patients are often treated to stories of these adventures in the bardos when the Alzheimer’s traveler is in lucid moments. He or she may speak of adventures with relatives and other beings in the astral realm. And, yes, some of those encounters with entities in the bardos realm can be quite terrifying, as patients might report their terror at feeling robbed or attacked, or having met evil or monstrous beings.

Nonetheless, if we can value their experiences as coming from layers of reality that we are unable to witness, rather than simply dismissing them as hallucinations, we might be granted glimpses of life beyond life. Not only are we offered valuable insight into what we will all one day encounter as we enter the bardos ourselves, but we are able to support our loved ones as they deepen their soul’s journey in infinity, preparing for their final launching.

Is Alzheimer's seeding new life? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Is Alzheimer’s seeding new life?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Looking at Alzheimer’s from a different perspective,
Chuck

I wish to thank Elmer Green, PhD, brain researcher and pioneer of biofeedback, for his insight into Alzheimer’s as he took the journey with his wife, Alyce, learning what she was encountering on her trips into the bardos. You can hear him talk about it here: The Ozawkie Book of the Dead He mentions his findings about Alzheimer’s within the first few minutes and goes into it in greater detail throughout the recording. It’s well worth listening to!

A Day in a Life: The Bardos & The Reality We Create

The consensus reality we all uphold... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
The consensus reality we all uphold…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

“The earth will never be destroyed,” said Chuck to me last night. “It’s a consensus reality.” What he meant was that there are millions of people upholding the idea of earth and everything in it as real. Each person now alive would have to drop their projections, lose their belief systems, free their minds, and release their attachments for the earth to suddenly fade from sight. It would be like taking a mass psychedelic trip or a giant thick fog rolling in, hiding from view all that we consider reality.

Does that idea send shockwaves of fear through you, the idea of having nothing to hold onto, nothing familiar in your life? Personally, I find the idea utterly freeing, the notion of all of this disappearing and there being nothing but the ethers: defined as a formless, infinitely elastic medium, also known as the space above the atmosphere of earth, the heavens composed of the moon, the stars and planets. Imagine the energy we’ve all projected into creating this reality, that we’ve spent our lives upholding, finally released, to be used for something far greater.

The bardos, negative emotional states, beliefs that we project within the consensus reality of this world, are always right next to us, ready to snag us and pull us back, away from such ideas as the one I postulate above. The bardos make up not only our consensus reality, the world we inhabit, but the world within as well, the world of thoughts and ideas that keep us caught in the repetition of our behaviors, habits, beliefs, stuck in the core issues that keep us from evolving, such as rejection, abandonment, entitlement, victimhood. The bardos are where worry, fear, indolence, strife, and negativity reside, popping up to defeat us in endless battles with the projections of this world. We turn to them more often than we turn to our spirits, which seek to be freed of all that is in this world so that we can enjoy “All That Is” in the ethers of infinity.

Our projections keep us bound to the bardos. I create my reality by that which I project. My needs, fears, and worries create my reality. If the consensus reality says that my symptoms indicate a certain condition, then I get sick. If I project my fears into the world, those fears come to haunt me. If I am certain that something bad will happen, then it will happen. In the bardos of my projections, in the thoughts I create, the ideas I uphold and the fears I hold onto, my world is created. If I am aware that I am doing this, however, I can change how I attach to the consensus reality. I can decide that no, I am not sick, I am not afraid, and only good things will happen to me. Suddenly, my reality shifts.

Detail of the Indolence card, the 8 of Cups from the Thoth Tarot Deck...
Detail of the Indolence card, the 8 of Cups from the Thoth Tarot Deck…

I also know that if I project my needs, fears and worries outwardly onto others then other people in my life will not advance either, even if I hold onto them with my deepest love. My sense of owning or entitlement to another human being only holds them back. We must let all beings go. Others will not move out of my sphere if I hold onto them with negative thinking either, with jealousies, hatred, or even with perceived brilliance, with adoration or worship. I must own and learn from all my projections if I am to free myself too to move on.

We have the power within us to change our reality, but do I really want to see the world obliterated? I don’t believe, as Chuck suggested last night, that it will ever happen at this worldly level, but it is what we are all charged with doing at an individual level. We must accept also that the world we have created is here for us to fully engage and learn from. We must fully live in this world—do our time so to speak—if we are to be at a point of detaching from it for the last time.

To fully live means that as we grow up and seek to make a mark in the world, we must encounter all that we project, all the challenges that belong to us in this lifetime. It’s so easy to fall back into the slumber of the bardos, but the true work of individuation is to journey through life becoming increasingly awake and aware of how things really work, and that takes work.

As we do our deep inner work, as we attempt to free ourselves of our personal projections and issues—in a process such as recapitulation, for example—we do free ourselves of this consensus reality in a step-by-step process of eliminating from our psyches all that once held us bound to the bardos. In the bardo states of this world we churn away overdoing, over indulging, over eating, over drinking, over stimulated to the point where our energy reserves are depleted and our spirits sunk to the depths, far from contact. In this depleted energy state we no longer contribute any energy either to the advancement of this world. As our own energy flags, we become nothing more than entities draining the energy that others contribute to a changing world.

Do I really want my world to disappear? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Do I really want my world to disappear?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

If we are to be part of a changing world we must constantly contribute new energy to that change by changing ourselves. It is not healthy to stay in the bardos, dulling our energy and the energy of the world. If we are challenged to do anything during our lives, it is to keep the flame of change burning by adding to its potential by challenging ourselves to constantly shift into states of higher awareness.

Just as the bardos are there always ready to grab us, to sabotage our progress, so too are our spirits right there too, ready to connect with us. Our true work of individuation is the work of gaining knowledge of our spirits, of learning to trust them as we allow ourselves to drop our projections and have experiences of the ethers, of our energetic selves, even while we are living in this consensus reality. It is the work of the human being who is aware of reincarnation to live up to the challenges of each lifetime and gain the momentum to move beyond continuous cycles of reincarnation.

In pulling our heads up out of the bardos long enough to grasp the possibility of the disappearance of this consensus reality as we know it, we offer ourselves new energy and new momentum. Without fear that we are missing out or losing something, as we grow into later adulthood we must learn how to let go of our attachments to all that is in this world, knowing full well that each of us, even those closest to us and whom we love the most, are on the same journey.

Each individual is challenged to move out of the bardos and advance to a higher level of consciousness. In so doing, at our death we do not leave this world a more depleted place but a brighter place, our evolving energy feeding the fires of change. I feel this kind of vibrant energy every time I communicate with Jeanne. Her evolving beyond this consensus reality has left a brightness in my own life, and I have learned more from my connection with her than had I not dared myself to trust her and take up the challenges she gave to me during my recapitulation.

We are all as separate and individual as each drop of rainwater on this leaf... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
We are all as separate and individual as each drop of rainwater on this leaf…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

And I am aware now too that my true purpose extends far beyond this life and this reality. And so I am not afraid to imagine the world disappearing and all that is in this reality releasing—as it will upon my own dying—because I know that all of us are part of something greater, just as Jeanne and her soul group are.

Just trying to add to the energy flame of changing consciousness,
Jan

A Day in a Life: Of Blue Jays, Dreams & Resolutions

What's the story Mr. Jay? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
What’s the story Mr. Jay?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Why are there so many blue jays in my yard? I ask this question because it’s true; the jays have taken over! I study them as they come to feed on the seeds I’ve put out. If I don’t get there early enough they knock impatiently on the window, suggesting that I hurry up and feed them! Their coloring is a combination of blue, gray, white and black. They have come to teach me something, I surmise.

Along with the usual New Year’s resolution to do more yoga and meditation, to eat healthier, to cut back on what I know is not good for me, I have set the intent to become a better dreamer, to train myself to be aware while I dream, and to discover what the shamans and Buddhists, and many others mean when they say that all worlds are one, whether we are awake or dreaming. I’ve had plenty of experiences of this concept, but I’m interested in going more deeply into the true meaning of reality while I’m asleep and my energy body is active. So far, I’ve had some pretty cool dreaming experiences, which I won’t go into here, but suffice it to say, my intent is working.

If I am to use my dreams to evolve beyond this reality, as is my underlying intent, I must learn how to remain fully aware as I dream. This is all in preparation for the time of my death when I intend to seamlessly pass through the bardos and achieve life beyond human form. At least that’s my intent. As far as I know, this is what we are all challenged with, to find a means of not having to reincarnate in human form more than we absolutely have to. If I can do this, I feel that I will have not only accomplished my own personal soul intent, but that I will free up space on earth for others to live more comfortably. We all know that the earth is overpopulated and overtaxed. I don’t really want to come back again, knowing that I could possibly have done more to free myself of this realm, and this realm of me! Now, back to the blue jays.

While they sit and scarf down the seeds I’ve put out, I study their coloring and the way their wings lie enfolded across their backs. When in repose, an intricate pattern appears, so beautiful that I am reminded of stained glass windows. As soon as they spread their wings and fly, solid bars of color appear and the intricate pattern disappears. Okay, this, I see, is what I am being shown, what I must learn something from.

Ted Andrews, in his book Animal Speak, says that the blue jay “has the ability to link the heavens and earth, to access each for greater power.” The jay represents both heaven and earth, the white of the heavens and the dark of the earth separated by the blue of the sky. The gray perhaps represents the veils that keep us from fully knowing and experiencing our full potential, to be both of the heavens and the earth, aware in dreaming and while awake. The colors also represent our light and dark sides, what we show about ourselves and what we keep hidden, to both ourselves and others. Andrews also notes that the jay is a little tricky in that it can be a bit of a dabbler. It shows us our potential, but if we are to gain mastery and fully utilize all that we are capable of we must grapple with this side of ourselves. I see how my New Year’s resolution, to train my dreaming intent could be a challenge if I don’t stick with it, but I have no intent of dabbling.

I notice that when in repose—in dreaming, as I see it—the blue jay’s colors are all present, though the pattern of them is quite different from when they are actively flying—going about in their everyday reality, as I see it. We all wear certain stripes and patterns. We are perceived and perceive of ourselves in a certain way. But in actuality, all that we are is present in us at any given moment. When we dream, I surmise, everything that we are in waking life is also present. Likewise, in waking reality, all that we are when we dream is present as well.

Will I remain aware when I enter the bardos? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Will I remain aware when I enter the bardos?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

It’s easy to assign to our dreaming selves some of our more challenging possibilities; the ability to fly or shape shift, to instantaneously be in one place or a thousand miles away. But, if we keep in mind that all that we are, all of our potential, is present in us at all times—like the colors of the blue jay—we might just be able to appreciate what our dreaming self is trying to teach us about the oneness of worlds, the fluidity of our energetic selves, and the fact that all realities, dreaming and awake, are equal and the same, just formatted a little differently. Whether we are in stained glass pattern or striped pattern, it doesn’t matter, we’re all composed of the same substance, and that is energy.

I watch the blue jays fly back and forth, feeding on the seeds and then flying into the trees or off to have an adventure in the world. They drop to the earth with ease; they fly to the heavens with ease. This is what we are challenged to do in our lives, to be fully energetically present in our daily lives, finding the means to realize our fullest potential at all times, all parts of us assimilated and in alignment with the fact that we too can fly. At night when we spread our wings, disrupting the usual patterns of who we are on a daily basis, we earn our energetic stripes as we fly through our dreams.

And so, if we can just remember that we are energetic beings all the time and not only while we dream, we are well on the way to achieving what the Buddhists call enlightenment, freedom from samsara, the suffering of being in human form. With intent, we can gain mastery to fly seamlessly, and with awareness, between heaven and earth, just like the blue jay!

Happy dreaming!
Jan