Know yourself. Understand how you work, how your thoughts control and your body follows, how your mind speaks and your soul weeps for recognition. How can you truly know and understand another if you have not fully known and understood all the things about yourself that keep you such a mystery? Why do you do the things you do? Ask yourself—ask your mind and body and soul. That is where the answers lie, not with another being whom you profess all to, but with yourself whom you hardly know, yet with whom you have already traveled a long road. Get to know yourself, your most trusty traveling companion through life, that strange and wondrous being that you are!
Care of the body often overrides care of the soul and care of the soul often leaves the body sitting unattended. Care of both body and soul are appropriate and necessary, especially as they need each other during the duration of life. You can’t have one without the other. Don’t forget that you are of two parts, each needing the other’s support and acceptance, without which there is no unity, only the feeling of discontent leading to the sense that you are missing something. Well, what you are missing is right inside you, body and soul constantly seeking each other in an eternal struggle within. Now isn’t that something! What you’ve been seeking has really been inside you all the time. It’s you! All of you! Right there!
Spirit and Soul are used interchangeably and though indeed they are of the same wholeness each reflects different properties. This same paradox confronts the physicist in the study of elemental particles. The question arises, is it a particle or a wave? The answer, it depends. Sometimes it presents as a particle, sometimes as a wave. The same wholeness is sometimes matter, sometimes energy.
Shamans and dreamers confront the same reality. The same human being in one form is solid matter, and yet in dreaming shifts into pure energy, instantly defying time and space, on sheer intent transversing the universe.
Spirit is associated with the bright sun of consciousness. Spirit is a mental state that brings light into darkness. Spirit thinks, studies, reflects, constructs, abstracts. Spirit is awareness. Spirit is not matter. Spirit discovers, manipulates and exploits matter. It was spirit that ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Spirit is psychically ego consciousness, that which consciously directs the course of our lives.
Soul is the moon, that which animates nature in all its varieties and changes. Soul is the deep instinctual knowledge that animates from the darkness, far from the blinding light of consciousness that chooses and directs. Soul is the knowledge of nature that directs the unfolding of pregnancy and birth, far from the clutches of spirit consciousness that thinks it needs to direct the show.
Spirit dominates the day. In the light, the deeper forces and powers of instinct disappear as the power of the light defines and makes everything seeable and doable. Yes, we can take charge of ourselves, define ourselves, and with orderliness submit to the routine we’ve created for our lives. But as we cross the boundary into dusk, into the growing darkness of night the energies of the soul, long forgotten in the day, animate the dreams and feelings of the night. And we wonder why we have trouble sleeping! We can see in our individual lives the imbalance of our world: spirit so dominates soul and soul strikes back with a vengeance.
Spirit is masculine consciousness. Soul is feminine wisdom. Together they are the Yang and Yin of wholeness, the masculine and the feminine sides of God. Though all human beings are both spirit and soul, women, so much closer to nature, have retained the dominant projection of soul, the irrational instinctive forces of nature. Men, less obviously governed by nature, have picked up the masculine spirit of rational consciousness. And it is this overarching rational spirit that holds the world in captivity right now.
The rational spirit presumes to assert its mastery over all the forces of nature. This rational bulwark worries not about climate change. The world is formatted into a global economy that the God of Reason will order and control. Reason advances more deeply into merging the human brain with the technical computer, the ultimate Frankenstinian creation of the God of Reason. All wars are technical affairs, to be expected and easily controlled, necessary byproducts of reorganization. This is spirit that has lost its way, so dissociated itself from its soul.
The energies of soul, as equally powerful as spirit, continue to mount their counteroffensive. The energies of soul are ruthless, indeed the rage of the Goddess Isis, mockingly exploding the hubris of spirit all around the globe. Just as we all must face the terror of the night, the human race, like the animals in the forest that sense the earthquake and the fire before they arrive, must contend with a subliminal anxiety, even at the height of the midday sun. The spirit in all of us feels the rumblings of the soul.
Spirit and soul are alienated from each other. Their bipolar battle is the backdrop of the times we live in. Like a married couple, spirit and soul presently find themselves in divorce court, though in truth they can never really be separated, for they are the two faces of God and they must find their way back to divine union. This is the positive aspect of our present chaos, for we are indeed finding our way back to balanced union.
It’s true that the world as we know it is undergoing major reformation, but spirit and soul will eventually reconcile and life will find itself in a new world order. It’s just how they work. But we must all take part in the transformation. It’s up to each one of us to face the imbalances of spirit and soul within ourselves and deliver to the present and future of our world a sustainable and more perfect union.
The conscious self, the Adult Self, is the most powerful self we possess in our human form. It is the self that will determine the fate of our life in this world.
The crux of the adult self’s power lies in its freedom of choice. Even in the most dire of circumstances nothing can ever take away our freedom to choose the attitude we take toward our predicaments. And that attitude will define the path of our lifetime, now and beyond.
All circumstances in human form are not equal. Like all of nature, some circumstances are more physically favorable than others. A seed that lands in a fertilized garden is better positioned than a seed that squeezes into a sidewalk crack. Our first challenge is to recognize that life is not fair, all life is not treated to equal circumstances. Herein lies our primary opportunity to exercise our freedom of choice.
This is the fundamental truth the Shamans of Ancient Mexico teach: entitlement, which builds its protest from the unfairness of circumstance, and which consumes the lion’s share of our energy, can be squarely defeated by an attitude that acknowledges: “I am not special.”
This is not an attitude of resigned, negativistic defeatism, but an objective acknowledgment of the truth: being special is an ego construct rooted in entitlement. Being born entitles us to nothing other than an opportunity for life, and even that is not guaranteed for long.
Despite the glamour and power differentially distributed and enjoyed in the world, detachment from defining one’s value by dint of circumstance frees one to humbly navigate life without the burden and nuisance of entitlement.
To be unshackled from the chains of entitlement is to be freed to assess the truth of who we are, the circumstances we were planted in, and the core issues we are confronted with and need to solve in order to advance and resolve the problems that so weightily block us from the light of fulfillment. What are the karmic seeds fashioned for resolution by the context of our present lives?
From this perspective we can see that we are completely freed, in this life, to advance our spiritual journey and attain fulfillment. Our seed fell where it needed to fall to grant us the opportunity to specifically address and solve an impediment that is unique to our personal Soul’s journey.
From this perspective, from a Soul perspective, all lives are equal in that all lives are planted where they need to be planted for their own opportunity for advancement. To be born into another’s life, no matter how attractive that may appear, would have little value for our own unique journey of advancement in this lifetime, or in infinity beyond this life.
From this perspective, the greater the challenge in this life, the greater might also be the opportunity for advancement. For example, people who have experienced severe trauma in their lives have unparalleled opportunity for spiritual advancement.
Firstly, fully mastering the impact of trauma requires a mastery of entitlement issues in order to have the energy and focus to take on the impact of the truth. Secondly, trauma is a natural, or unnatural, hatchway to the discovery of the energy body or the living soul, that which is mental and emotional awareness that remains entwined with the physical body for the duration of physical life.
The direct experience of this spirit essence in trauma ushers the person deeper into the truth of who they really are at an energetic and soul level and what life really is: a spiritual EXPERIENCE, far beyond what any religious teaching rooted in faith and belief can offer.
Entitlement is a vestige of archetypal domination from infancy that produces an imprisoned self, sentenced for life due to a felt paucity of material or emotional advantage. In other words, lifes’ circumstances run deep, even deeper than we might suspect. We are all dealing not only with the circumstances of our present lives, but also with the deeper issues of being alive in a world that is set up for us to have to confront and learn about our personal spiritual journey separate from this world and all that keeps us attached to it.
Though crimes should be prosecuted and victims recompensed, spiritual freedom requires a shift of attitude. And spiritual freedom is the essence of life. Physical circumstance is the playing field for spirit life and spirit evolution. Freedom from the bondage of physical entitlement sets the stage to truly resolve the seeds of our karmic load as materialized in the circumstances of our lives.
As Janis Joplin put it: “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose…” And I would add: because our karmic load is completely sewn, completely freeing us now to choose where we go next!
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.
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.
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!