Individuation is a process of discovery, finding out who you are, why you are there, and what purpose life has in mind for you personally. Will you discover who you truly are and what you are capable of in this lifetime? Will you follow your dreams this time around? Will you allow your spirit to fully live through you, so that you may know this ethereal self? It’s up to you. Individuation is the unfolding journey that leads to the discovery of all that you are, your fuller potential unleashed, so that no part is left behind or unlived. Life, it’s quite a wonderful journey, especially when all of you gets to live it!
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.
We live in the most spirited of times! Exhilaration is thrilling yet energetically exhausting, and as current events highlight, potentially perilous. Conserving and accruing energy is key to longevity and full self-realization in human form.
The Shamans of Ancient Mexico developed a practice they called controlled folly to conserve energy, through tempering the human spirit. The human spirit is actually the ego-Soul portion of one’s greater SOUL. The two are connected, but it is the ego-Soul that lives and acts upon the world stage in our current sojourn in human form. It is the ego-Soul that grasps at life and wants more. Our greater SOUL lives as our silent partner, in infinity, the more comprehensive context of the human life we are currently in.
Controlled folly is engaging one’s ego-Soul in one’s chosen path of heart in this world, with great earnestness, like a true warrior and yet, having NO attachment to the outcome of one’s actions. This detached edge is possible because one never loses touch with the fuller backdrop of one’s surrounding life in infinity.
The Shamans cite three essential facts, gifts of wisdom from the greater SOUL, as the foundation of controlled folly: (1) All life in human form is transitory and terminal, hence, (2) regardless of the role we play, or story we live, all roads lead to the exact same ending: death in human form, therefore, (3) the greater backdrop of all human life is our full transition into infinity, the ultimate destination of our definitive journey.
Shamans see, in some form, their energetic interconnectedness with everything, glimpses of infinity. Shamans read their journeys in dreaming, and the synchronicities in everyday life, as revelations and promptings from their greater SOUL to wake up to the fuller storyline of their ongoing life in infinity. By inviting the full awareness of ultimate death into their current incarnation, they transform an ordinary life into a magical life.
From this seemingly morbid perspective an individual can recognize that indeed, all the world’s a stage. And, as Carlos Castaneda once recommended, be the best actor you can be in the role you’ve chosen during your present time on the human world stage. Live the life you’ve chosen to the fullest, yet don’t get too attached to its significance; it’s not the main event or the only event.
Practicing controlled folly does not absent us from expressing human emotion. What great actor has not fully lived and expressed the true emotions of their role. Nonetheless, when the show is over the actor disengages from the role and shifts to their true human identity.
Controlled folly allows us to live with passion while knowing that, in the ultimate sense, none of it really matters. Thus, we can simultaneously be incredibly engaged in all that life offers, with utter seriousness, yet ultimately, be completely detached. This dual focus is how we temper our passionate spirit and how we are able to let go when what we have fought for doesn’t come to pass.
Similar to the message of the Bhagavad Gita, Carlos deemphasized the morality of the role you play. No one role is more important than another. To judge harshly another’s role is to get caught in the self-importance of overvaluing the particular play you are in. All roles are parts of the play, angels and demons alike, creating a complete cast. To remember this is how to temper our own extreme emotional reactions to the dance of now, that which is taking place upon our world stage. All spirits are equal actors in the play, and yes, Marianne Williamson, though some are dark psychic forces, they nonetheless have critical parts in the play.
Life in this world is extremely important, why live it as a failed play? But at the same time, it’s all relative when contrasted with forever, the greater reality we will all return to when this play is done. Nonetheless, this is our play now, our moment in time to experience this drama to the fullest, and that matters; and yet, at the same time, it doesn’t. This moment is assured its place in infinity’s ultimate historical record, the Akashic record. It will never be erased, no fake news in infinity’s library. Nonetheless, it is only one moment among infinite moments.
The significance of the play we are currently in is the completion of Kali Yuga, the utter destruction and disintegration of civilization’s highest achievements. But what is the reality that lies beneath civilization’s false self? Freud really did call it accurately when he called civilization a sublimated id. What has emerged from the depths of the collective human shadow now is the repressed ancient rivalries and conundrums that have never been resolved in our revolving human dream. We’ve all acted in plays together before; this is just one more show. And yet we have an opportunity to finally resolve some things that we’ve left hanging from previous lives.
Where, for instance, on the globe is the core center of volatile unrest? In the lands of the Middle East, of course, where ancient issues have yet to be resolved. Who’s entitled to the land? How does one protect what they feel is their’s? Simple questions, ancient, never-solved dilemmas. We all have them.
And yet, these ancient core dilemmas are impacting the safety of the globe, and they are being mirrored in the dominant politics and daily atrocities in most countries throughout the world, impacting us all. We are coming frightfully close to absolute rulers, outright racism, nuclear winter, concentration camps, and flirtations with final solutions. We’ve lost our perspective on the greater reality we all face.
As the Shamans codified, it is our awareness of death that elevates our time in this world from ordinary life to magical power. Why settle for a redundant, mediocre play when we can elevate our time here to a Tony award performance! Why not let all the actors stand on center stage to deliver their best performances? Why settle for world neurosis as the best compromised dream we can deliver? There is so much more.
Woodstock 50 is cancelled, no time for hallucinogenic reruns, but alas, Marianne Williamson has entered center stage! She is indeed the ticket to call out the dark side of the force. The play we are now in would best be played by such a rivalry; Donald Trump requires such an opponent as Marianne Williamson. He gets bored, and rightfully so, without a worthy opponent to challenge him.
We must all call upon controlled folly here to temper the spirit. We are all here for such a brief moment, such a brief appearance on the world stage. At the end of the day, the curtain falls and it’s the end of an era; this play is over. All of us will exit the stage, where we will shake hands with our fellow cast members, all rivalries dissolved. Only self-importance, the seed of reincarnation, will keep us replaying the same drama.
Controlled folly offers us the opportunity to truly advance the issues that have thwarted humankind for eons. Imagine Marianne’s Department of Peace. Imagine hugs in the Middle East. Yes, John, we can still Imagine, but with the edge of controlled folly we can do it with no attachment to the outcome.
Live the dream, intend it forward, and when it’s time to go, exit the stage, in love with it all.
As I recapitulated my childhood of sexual abuse, I would often wonder why I had lived such a life? What was the purpose of it? In the beginning I could find no logical reason, nothing made sense to me. It felt like a painfully useless, wasted childhood.
As I learned more about myself during my three-year-long recapitulation, however, I began to appreciate the child I had been, felt more succinctly her struggles, her pains and fears. I also eagerly embraced the many mystical experiences she had had, and that I too began to have again, in ever increasing numbers, as I understood that her childhood exposure to sexual abuse had afforded her access to such things, things I would never have had the opportunity to experience had I lived a different kind of childhood.
Ponder the following quote, from Edgar Cayce, 20th Century American psychic and medical intuitive. (Cayce, a devoted Christian, unwittingly discovered that he had access to the absolute knowledge of what he called, the Source, while in trance. He provided countless medical readings for afflicted patients that guided doctors to healings.)•
“No soul takes on flesh without a general plan for the experience ahead. The personality expressed through the body is one of many which the individuality might have assumed. Its job is to work on one or several phases of the karma of the individuality. No task is undertaken which is too much for the personality to which it is assigned—or which chooses it. (Some souls choose their own entrances and set their own tasks; others, having made too many mistakes and become dangerously subject to earthly appetites, are sent back by law at a time and under circumstances best suited to them.) The task is seldom perfectly fulfilled, and sometimes is badly neglected.”
Do we really come into this world to be abused, to live a sad and neglected life at the hands of others? Have we lived several lives being abused and neglected? Are we assigned, or do we choose, to live a childhood of sexual abuse because we can handle it and our Soul advances because of it?
As is revealed in the final volume of The Recapitulation Diaries, which I am writing now, I did come to discover that my life as an abused child was not a useless, painful waste of a life but an opportunity to learn and grow. It was through my intense inner work, the work of recapitulating my entire life, that I evolved, and, I believe, fulfilled my Soul’s intent in this life to resolve the issue of abuse and neglect once and for all. During my recapitulation I was also exposed to a bigger picture, to ideas I had previously only briefly wondered about, for it was through the deep work I did on myself that I experienced the possibility of past lives, the idea of karma as a viable work order for a life, channeling, and life after death as a true potential. Such things have now become central to my life.
I was always very sensitive, empathic to the point of feeling other people’s feelings and pain, but rarely my own. During my recapitulation, in the final few months, I finally began to experience my own feelings and emotions, which had been blocked my whole life, up until that point.
I had been born into a family where emotions were not allowed, feelings rarely expressed, and I learned to follow the family rules early in life. Better to withhold emotions than to be ridiculed or shamed for having them. I learned to hide my true self.
The following quote, also from Edgar Cayce, made me realize that the family I was born into, that family that I found so rational, so cold and insensitive, was the perfect setting in which to work toward becoming and owning the truly emotional, feeling, sensitive being I really was at heart.
“Choice of incarnation is usually made at conception, when the channel for expression is opened by the parents. A pattern is made by the mingling of soul patterns of the parents. This sets up certain conditions of karma. A soul whose karma approximates these conditions will be attracted by the opportunity presented. Since the pattern will not be exactly [their] own, [they] must consider taking on some of the karma of the parents—relatively—in order to use the channel. This concerns environment, companionship with the parents, and certain marks of physiognomy.”
From this explanation, I would have to say that I chose my emotionless parents as the perfect pattern in which to finally confront my own karma. Perhaps I had lived previous lives as rationally cold-hearted as my parents, especially my mother, who even today at 95 has yet to crack the emotionless facade that has always encased her. Perhaps I saw them as the right vehicles to force a personal karmic change. Born into a family that dismissed emotional outlets as sentimental chicanery, I was forced to either follow suit or fight to find a way to be who I really was. I chose the latter.
At the same time, my childhood of sexual abuse was well-served by the lack of emotion in my family. I learned early on to keep a stiff upper lip, to be independent, stoic and uncomplaining, to hide what I was really feeling. On the one hand, these personal attributes served my abuser well, for he was assured by my strong quiet demeanor that I would not betray his secrets. But on the other hand, inside myself, I knew I was not that hard being that I pretended to be, though I learned to emulate my mother’s personality to a tee.
I struggled through the first half of my life with how to be. Should I uphold the family values or blaze my own trail? Could I really break ranks with the family patterns, leave them behind, and move on into a new life of my own creation? You bet I could!
It was not until I recapitulated my childhood self that I realized my choice of career, as an artist and writer, gave me the outlet I needed to attend to my emotional self in artistic, poetic expression. My art had always been my outlet, I realized, where I could be the gentle, sensitive person I really was inside. It was in my art that I could caress the neglected child self and empower the blossoming adult self. It was in my art that I learned to let go of old ideas and forge ahead into new territory, new patterns that served me well, as I learned what it meant to individuate, to grow into the being I am today, the being I always was inside, now matured and whole.
And so, rather than feeling neglected by my distant and emotionless parents, I thank them for giving my Soul, and my individual personality in this life, the opportunity to advance. By their strict teachings, I learned how not to be. I learned that I was not them, though I arrived in this life through them, my Soul having taken advantage of the cold environment they afforded me, to once and for all confront the cold and emotionless side of myself, and resolve my personality of its own emotionless karma forever.
Today, I am a happy, well-adjusted emotional, feeling being. I see the people in my life as having their own karmic issues to work through, those who came through me and those whom I am blessed to have in my life. We all have work to do in our lives that goes beyond just learning to live in the world. We have to learn how to live our Soul’s intent. Reincarnation and recapitulation afford us a way to do that; they are both Soul work.
I found this quote to be another helpful reminder of why we may have come into the life we have come into, why we meet and interact with people and then leave them, why we do the things we do. It’s all about what our Soul needs in order to complete something left undone in previous lives, and the opportunity to advance.
“Things other than pattern concern the soul in its selection of a body: coming situations in history, former associations with the parents, the incarnation, at about the same time, of souls it wishes to be with and with whom it has problems to work out. In some cases the parents are the whole cause of a soul’s return—the child will be devoted to them and remain close to them until their death. In other cases the parents are used as a means to an end—the child will leave home early and be about its business.”
Knowing more about the Soul, and karmic reasons for life’s circumstances and the situations we find ourselves in, we see how reincarnation becomes a viable means of personal transformation and growth. Having a perspective on reincarnation, and Soul purpose, and with the ability to accept the life we are living as a vital step in the evolution of our individual Soul personalities, we are afforded the opportunity to view every moment in our lives as part of our karmic journey to completion, to bringing our Soul to fulfillment.
• Excerpts are from There is a River: The Story of Edgar Cayce by Thomas Sugrue, pp. 251, 252
• Brackets […] in the second quote indicate author’s editorial changes
• More about Cayce: Many of Cayce’s original healing recipes are available today, and a hospital that he established in Virginia Beach still functions today as a healing and teaching center: The A.R.E.
Though you may struggle, remember always to look at the bigger picture, your Soul’s journey, for it is this journey that matters in the long run, this journey that seeks completion, that yearns for fulfillment. And what is your Soul’s journey? It is the journey of many lifetimes of accumulated teachings, of the lessons you have selected to learn, allowing you to live the challenges you have decided would be most useful and beneficial. It is a journey of ultimately learning the greatest lessons of all, those of love, kindness, and compassion and what they really mean in the context of your own many lives and all the lives you have had the opportunity to intersect with. Some of life’s greatest lessons come in some of the most difficult forms, but they are also to be the most treasured, for they are the ones that have the potential to catapult you into greater awareness, consciousness, and true understanding. They are to be treasured for the possibilities they offer you to more fully learn, resolve, and put to rest life’s most difficult lessons. Trust that your own lessons are allowing you to finally master something that is important to your Soul and your Soul’s journey, so that you may move on into a more perfect state of union within your Soul self, having fulfilled the greatest lessons of them all; loving kindness and compassion for self and other. Journey on knowing these things and that you are indeed on the right track!