Soul and Consciousness Query

Just as law of attraction suggests thought energy is as powerful as physical energy, the two quotes below appeared from completely separate sources in my inbox today.

The past few days while living my life and while all these images were captured, a piece of my background chatter has been churning on the word soul. What is it?

Say not, “I have found the truth,” but rather,

“I have found a truth.”

Say not, “I have found the path of the soul.”

Say rather, “I have met the soul walking upon my path.” For the soul walks upon all paths.

The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed.

The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals.

~ Kahlil Gibran

The soul, fortunately, has an interpreter—often an unconscious but still a faithful interpreter—in the eye.

~ Charlotte Bronte

How can Buddhists not believe in soul concept yet believe in reincarnation? What are general Jewish teachings on soul? Christian?

After reading briefly about each, they all seem similar except what’s lost in translation. Some of the differences in definitions actually seem to be more error of translation than difference. Buddhists analyze there is no permanent “self” or “soul” because self is an illusion, a construct of the mind. All forms are impermanent, ever-changing, interconnected. So therefore an unchanging “soul” cannot exist, but consciousness can have continuation lifetime to lifetime.

Hebrew version of soul very generally is breath, life force, vitality.  Christian soul concept is something created by God but separate from mind, heart, body and spirit.

Western thought seems to be using the word “soul” often to mean simply an individual person or expression of mind consciousness.

Merriam-Webster soul definition:  “the immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life.”

So what is consciousness? The closest thing most modern writings come to is a spectrum of states in spiritual, medical and psychological fields. Many writers have decided defining consciousness is next to impossible. The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition is far too limited to material individuality to satisfy me personally.

1: a: the quality or state of being aware especially of something within oneself
   bthe state or fact of being conscious of an external object, state, or fact
   c: awarenessespecially concern for some social or political cause. 
2the state of being characterized by sensation, emotion, volition, and thought: mind
3the totality of conscious states of an individual
4the normal state of conscious life, regained consciousness
5the upper level of mental life of which the person is aware as contrasted with unconscious processes
 

After this brief review, I recognize that my personal understanding of consciousness is as a cosmic field of energy expressing itself through all sentient and nonsentient beings in different ways yet transcending and connecting all life forms as one entity. In other words, consciousness is what can both be witnessed by sensory apparatuses (I looked up plural and it is not apparati) of life forms AND extend beyond physical body, through lifetimes, whereas soul is the manifestation of that consciousness. In my limited way of perceiving, a soul has an integrity throughout a life like a person’s fingerprint and may be the seed of yearnings, drives and deep longings for expression during a lifetime of an individual, but soul is informed through truths of life experience and does not extend as far as consciousness beyond a single lifetime.

Such are the ramblings of my limited understanding, but it’s something I just want to jot down for further exploration.

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Sacred Time

In my endless progression toward what works for me, I have discovered a key. We all have to find our own keys.

I call it sacred time.

One of the things I observe in years of working around media that grants me often a bird’s eye view of business and culture are some core messages that seep through the collective unconsciousness.

  • Everyone is behind and has to work super hard to catch up.
  • If Company A does not do what Company B is doing, Company A is doomed.
  • No one has time, and things are speeding up. (Which is why we need automated technology services like home and car deliveries of consumer packages or why we need navigation systems that should be able to understand our voice as if they’re a human and guide us precisely to the kind of coffee we want. So we can get more energy to keep up).

I’ve found a key that seems opposite of it all.  Even while my circumstances are such that I exist inside a system making it hard to avoid the work-every-day-much-more-than-40 hours a week to get by.

  • Slow down. Just take the next stop off the faster-faster train and breathe.
  • Make time daily for what gives joy. Whatever that is, if only an hour. That’s your sacred time. Note to self that you may need to hear as well:  “It’s okay if you haven’t found that joy-filled, money-earning job. Just don’t let a day go by without practicing moments of joy around it.”
  • Connect with nature. Daily. For me and therefore I assume most humans, this connection is what most in the human-constructed rat race unconsciously crave even if they may not think so. There’s a whole lot of nature unfolding in every moment and many have forgotten we are part of it and it is us. And money doesn’t mean a thing to it. Some days I feel inside my heart the pressure around money is so great that it becomes easy to assume money = life energy. But if you want to experience a utopian, waste-free, non-monetized system, look no further. Spend a few moments standing in the woods or by the ocean listening to waves.

Nature does not hurry, yet all is accomplished. ~ Lao Tzu

Waiting for Salmonberry

Green Shadows

Knitting Experiment In Progress

I’ve identified a few things that feel like boundless joy for me:

  • Teaching knitting to others because knitting has given me so much, I want to share.
  • Walking anywhere in nature. Hopefully far and free range some day on more of the Earth. Ooh, and when I figure out a way to combine knitting AND nature in some kind of workshop, I’ll have arrived in the ultimate joy zone.
  • Living simply, in touch with a self-identity free from several cultural conditions to be a consumer, to eat things that don’t come from the earth, to always be partnered, and instead embrace myself as a maker, a mystic seeker, choosing to live in as much solitude as I prefer because it’s where I’m happiest, no matter how many psychologists and writers on happiness warn me otherwise.

I hope you find your keys. They’re probably exactly where you left them.

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Earth Beauty and Intelligence

Happy Earth Day every day.

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Whittling

Whittling: Reduce something in size, amount, or extent by a gradual series of steps.

I feel a strong pull to shake myself free of most belongings, most books, all furniture, fish tank, cantankerous upright piano. Keeping a mattress, a work desk and computer, knitting supplies, a few pans to cook in, a few bowls, utensils, coffee mugs. I have a year to whittle away before my daughter moves on and I move who knows where.

Three years ago I wrote a vision plan for an ideal future, and at that time it included partnership. Revised version does not. Instead, I feel truly accompanied spiritually and no longer feel a pull toward partnership. In addition, my revised vision includes continuing what one beautiful person called “my ministry” of knitting items of comfort for people in crisis and starting to teach beginning knitting classes to whoever wants to learn.

From 2015 future vision:  In summer, I was able to afford to take a week off work and head for the Oregon Coast. I can also afford to complete further training to become a nature guide with basic survival skills. I went on my first week-long meditation retreat. I am working on my third self-published book on the topic of emotional regulation and balance via feedback from the natural world. This includes resources people can rely on to encourage reconnection to the stabilizing, purifying, joyful love and peace one can experience in connection to Nature. People want to pay me to guide groups in the woods and are contributing their strengths in biology and botany to these walks. Each gathering is rewarding and educational. 

Books are nuggets of wisdom meant to be shared. I am donating all my books to my local food bank, with exception of the following. This batch equips me with enough wisdom to face anything.

 

 

Knitting Update

My 50th birthday present  to self was to be an over-sized cardigan in my favorite deep blue color. I set the project aside to knit for other people’s requests, a year and a half flew by, I lost weight and no longer wanted such a big sweater. So I frogged the half sweater I’d completed and am repurposing it into a pattern called Tree Seeker by Joji Locatelli. Transformation is inevitable. : ) Here is my progress thus far. I am determined it will be done by my 52nd birthday.

Magical moments among the Great Firs after 28 consecutive days of screen time. Each cell in body feels a shift, breath deepens, posture and eyesight improve. Imagine what would happen to me if I could live more hours in the woods!

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Waterfall of moss

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Ancient one

Heart in sky on Easter.

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Necessary

 Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.
― St. Francis of Assisi

Doing a lot of what’s necessary these past three 75-hour weeks of typing while praying for a financial miracle. I was just breaking even when a minor fender bender happened to which I will assign no blame, only thankful no injuries. Cha-ching, need to earn $500 more.

Such is life in the mundane zone.

Meanwhile, spirit soars with the eagles.

With so many voices running through my ears for so many hours, I have been aware my normal time for “emptying” to air out the old and open to the new has been rare. Here is a beautifully articulated analogy to the state of being human as empty cups and why “emptying” practices are essential for our renewal.

Sharing a few images from precious moments airing out.

 

 

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Grasping Wisdom

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Machu Treechu

Membrane Theory

This week I stumbled upon a documentary on M theory, Membrane theory or “superstring theory.” A flash of recognition:  “Hey, this is precisely the truth I grasped in 2005.”

The thing that gets me is, how many times do those of us who receive information we don’t know what to do with are labeled “mentally unstable” or our knowings dismissed by ourselves or others because we aren’t able to articulate our wisdom in ways that those with higher education can?

In a moment of what I’ve come to call spiritual download, while sitting at my daughter’s bedside when she was rapidly decompensating during an episode of septic shock during her cancer treatment, I received a clear directive, “A membrane separates this and the next reality; she will be okay no matter what.”

I was able to find this paragraph from a real-time journal entry from 2006 where I describe in the most general way the truth I was shown. I was shown a more complex vision but could not articulate it past the moment of download:

I have come to believe strongly in the energy of prayer and staying connected to Source. I don’t believe the channel of that source connection matters, I only know the connection is important. As I have started praying more and keeping my connection open to Source, I have seen manifested results in my life I cannot explain any other way than the fruit of this connection. When I reflect on the times my daughter came close to leaving, and being around other children who passed, I have an image of life and death being separated by a membrane. Somehow that membrane seems most porous when we are connected with Source.

Now, I don’t have a degree in physics, only went as high as basic statistics in math, and truly don’t understand quantum physics beyond a rudimentary intellectual level. But I know with every fiber (or membrane) of my being that membranes are what separate dimensions and realms of existence. A few googles later, and it turns out M-theory was first proposed in 1995 at an international conference on string theory, and in 2005 this man gave a TED talk best explaining it to us who are not physicists.

A few bits from that 2005-2007 old journal that demonstrate how we all exist in different realities even in the same dimension:

To illustrate the vast chasm between a mother’s anxiety about all the “what ifs” and the 6-year-old’s reality, here’s a little snippet of conversation from yesterday.

Doctor: “(Daughter), do YOU have any concerns?”

(Daughter): “Yeah. . . the TV in this room is not working!”

Lessons in Resilience

She got a finger poke for blood and her platelets did not clump this time, so they didn’t have to draw from her arm and keep trying. She says it was because “I told those platelets to get movin’!” ~ 2007

For the finger poke, (daughter) told the lab tech, “I’ve had one million 500 of these before, so I don’t even need to cry.” ~ 2007

Spiral

Glad that phase of my life is behind me and my daughter, but I will continue to look back on that time period as my most profound spiritual awakening. Just as a spiral moves around and around at higher levels, I hope to continue progressing in some way understanding more and more of what being here in this laboratory of life shows me. Right now, it’s a bit of a muddle. I can see the matrix grid of which I am a part as far as my current circumstances for what they are: That I co-create the matrix, that I can see what I’d like to change, that I know I want to work toward greater freedom of movement, greater growth, greater service, but I’m at a loss of what steps to take or how to get to the next level of that spiral. It feels like every move I see requires something I do not have and what I do have does not allow me to progress.

Video taken during a 24-hour period I saw 10 bald eagles recently in response to me asking to be shown a sign of what steps to take. They certainly know how to ride the thermals of the spiral.

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Flow and Numbers

Not to go all Shirley MacLaine on you, but here goes. A few things I’ve been exploring of late in case they are of interest to anyone else. There are different levels of trance states, and I’ve learned I seem most comfortable living inside two of the lightest forms.

Some Trance Types

One source educating about hypnosis online defines a few levels (by practitioner Beat Wettstein)

Light Trance:  “In light trance, the breathing is steady and even, the muscles are somewhat relaxed, and the attention is fixed. This level of relaxation is ideal for concentrating, meditating, and visualizing.”

Medium Trance or Flow:  “The ‘Flow’ state as described by the Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his book ‘Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience’ is as much trance as is the feeling of being in the zone where nothing else matters other than the task at hand.”

I’d like to practice automatic writing, which is described as accessible in a deeper trance. I experimented with this once in the past and it was interesting. My handwriting looked like that of a different personality, I wrote with my eyes closed, and I was relaxed enough to get a 10-minute response to an open-ended question like, “What information do I most need to hear right now?” I was told I should eat sweet potatoes for my health and wrote down details of agricultural experiments on plants. I started thinking I was accessing George Washington Carver, a man I was fascinated with in middle school. The subconscious mind is a treasure trove.

With a half century on the planet under my belt, I seem to be in a perpetual state of life review with feelings from regret to appreciation to gratitude to anger at self arising. But it’s okay, I’m my own therapist because the price is right, and feelings are just the weather. Part of this life review offered me an “aha moment” that nearly everything I gravitate toward seems to fall in the category of a trance state. Or flow. Everyone probably does this without recognizing it as such. I experience it as providing comfort, security, and a way to manage overactive thought patterns. In other words, I am unable to focus on flighty or anxious thoughts when I am in FLOW.

Over the trajectory of my life, the following experiences have consumed most of my waking hours and all involve repetitive patterns that require focus:

  • Practicing music over and over until able to play it in a deeper “trance state” than flow, which is what I feel all musicians achieve who put the hours until focus goes beyond the technical part. It’s absorbing oneself into frequency. One of these years when I am not keyboarding seven days a week for a living, I will return to my first love, piano.
  • Knitting. I don’t know where my mind goes when I knit, but it is similar to meditation’s focus on the breath. I am unable to think many thoughts, both when working on a pattern easy for me or a pattern that requires more intellectual problem-solving.
  • Meditation. Repetitive focus on breath for me allows a “sifting” of silt of daily experience until awareness is clearer.
  • Transcribing. I did not seek out this job, but it has sustained me for a quarter century. It feels to me I could not have confidentially transcribed people’s medical traumas and all manner of heart-wrenching interview subjects 8-10 hours a day for 25 years without either a psychotic break or physical injury if I was not in some mild trance state. This work requires hyperfocus, ability to physically relax into repetitive motion, alongside constant letting go of emotional content while capturing it accurately. I imagine this is akin to spiritual channeling, but I have never attempted such.
  • Walking. One foot in front of the other, kissing the ground. Centering, empowered, at one with body, Earth, mind freed.
  • Communing with at least one tree a day. I try to feel what it is to be a tree once a day and feel completely grounded by this practice.

Over the past decade, I’ve become fascinated with NDE (near-death experiences) since I have met several people that had them. I’ve long been convinced of the idea that physical death is not final so reincarnation is a probability. I’ve read books by prominent researchers in the field like Dr. Brian Weiss, Dr. Eben Alexander and the 50 years of research from the team at University of Virginia.

To explore further, I took myself on a few weeks of intermittent regression self-hypnosis via online recordings. This might be more effective or healing to do with aid of a trained professional in person, because it would allow for someone to process information with afterwards. But a person without money does what she can. After trying several recordings, I found one that worked well for me to relax enough to get into deep trance state. I knew I was there because my entire body felt paralyzed like in deep sleep except my mind was lucid and spacious.

Three separate times I was able to experience what felt like distinct past lives (one a Catholic woman who died age 24 in the 1600s, one a male French researcher in the 1800s who never married but focused solely on contributing something academic to society for which he was honored on a stage – but not too prominent, another a Bedouin man many centuries ago). All three gave me something to learn from in my present.

I say “felt like,” because the human imagination and mind capacity is hugely powerful, largely untapped in our daily lives, and I have no objective way to know the difference between what I experienced in a trance state as true regression or imagination.

One thing that gives me pause is, at the very least, the people I experienced inhabiting in self-hypnosis did not give me answers my conscious mind wanted to learn and instead provided information that I did not expect or consciously seek. I was able to think in French when inside the French man, but then again, I took 5 years of French in school. I haven’t used it in my conscious mind for 30 years, but maybe the subconscious mind retains it. The Bedouin man felt incredible responsibility for his family group and moved nomadically, walking hours a day to set up camp. (Nod to my deeply felt, lifelong impulse to walk long distances!) As I went into hypnosis, I asked not to be shown anything I couldn’t handle alone, so when I saw the young Catholic woman in a heap on a floor, I was not shown how she died only heard the phrase “It is very hard to be a woman.”

I have a few childhood memories under age 3 that I’ve wondered about all my life. These are what I was hoping to find answers around.

  • Repetitive nightmares of myself rising above a city on fire in aerial view, accompanied by a rushing in my ears. I would crawl into my parents bed each night and the nightmares stopped only after they reassured me it was just the sound of blood rushing in my ears.

  • Repetitive solving of codes in a “lucid dream.” I would scan a panel of numbers and figures passing in front of my eyes from right to left like a conveyor belt and tried to decode the codes.

  • Texture dreams – black-gray-white experience of textures by sight and touch.

  • Extreme fear of dogs as young child. As adult, extreme allergy to dogs (and most furbearing critters). Did I do something horrible to these animals in a former life? I would do almost anything to stop living in a bubble of isolation, with all the limits this puts on my life.

I am curious about key experiences that fall in the “paranormal” as an adult, which in my humble opinion should be called supranormal, since so many people experience these. One in the Four Corners area of the US (later I’ve come to know  is a highly active zone for unexplained phenomena), several in Japan, two involving relatives, others in rare sleep states where I embodied a completely different being than I am in waking life and/or was given extremely detailed information or aerial views of cities I have never visited in this life or seen in a movie.

I have no supernormal powers of which I am aware, but inquiry into human capacity and consciousness based on self-evident experience fascinates me. All without the benefit of consciousness-expanding substances, I might add.  Plain old vanilla awareness is a rich enough playground for me.

And now for the numbers

Numerology shows I am a 1 Soul Urge representing independence and wanting to be good at stuff, and 5 Life Path representing freedom/change including a concern for other’s right to freedom. I’m supposed to thrive most in jobs that require travel, feel constrained by relationships and ties. Fits, which is why I probably let a big part of myself go dormant while typing alone in a room for a decade and may not be really “thriving.” It’s all in the numbers…if you want to figure out your Life Path numbers, here’s one of the countless sites out there that provide the formulas. What I’ve discovered is numerology is like astrology. Each numerologist has a different way of interpreting the numbers, but at their core a number represents a frequency, just as a letter, a star cluster or a sound does.

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