Archive for January, 2010

We live in remarkable times, the worst of times and the best of times. It often seems like the worst brings out the best in us. Where does this ability, this virtue, value, or spiritual quality, to care for others we don’t even know, and at the same time give up something else that may be so important to us, come from? Are we truly, at our deepest nature, “Homo empathicus,” as Jeremy Rifkin says in The Empathic Civilization? (Researchers have discovered “empathy neurons” that allow us to feel and experience another’s situation as if it were our own – and our empathic consciousness has steadily been evolving over history).

Could it be that we are all born with these qualities, and that it just takes time or the right circumstances for them to emerge? Are virtues like love, compassion, caring, empathy, charity, mercy, service, sacrifice, helpfulness, cooperation, courtesy, kindness, thoughtfulness, and so many more, hardwired into who we are, as spiritual human beings?

We seem to either know intuitively, or we remember from gaining access to our inborn wisdom, that caring for and assisting others in time of need, without concern for our own needs, not only feels right but also contributes to our own sense of well-being and happiness. Altruism is compassion and kindness in action. What we are all witnessing more of recently is that certain natural tragedies in this world set off a compassion trigger in the brain and we feel called to action.

A 20th way to review your life story – In a personal reflection upon the outpouring of compassion, caring, and charity the world has seen recently, think about those times in your life when you have been moved to action to offer some needed service to others, to be helpful to another, to sacrifice something because of your commitment to cooperate with others rather than thinking only of yourself. Why, and how, has your empathic response to others been unexpectedly rewarded? What has being altruistic in your own way done to bring peace, unity, or understanding to your life? Think about these questions, and when you have come up with a time in your life that has triggered compassion or inclusive caring, tell the story of what this has meant to you or how it has changed your life, and share as much of it as you would like to here for others to benefit from.

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Living from our soul rather than from our physical self means not always needing to be in control; it is listening more, trying to hear and understand what our intuitions and emotions have to tell us. It is keeping our eyes on the whole more than on the parts. It is being as concerned for others as with ourselves. It is connecting with nature, and remaining as much in sync with its natural rhythms and cycles as we possibly can. It is remembering that our soul is our only true and lasting identity, the one that is given to us before birth and that we will take with us on the rest of our eternal journey. What the soul wants from us is to be remembered as that changeless, eternal part of us.

If we can take a before and after “this life” perspective on our life, if we can become more concerned with our eternal self than with our temporal self, we will gain an archetypal perspective on our life which will also shift our consciousness from the physical to the spiritual and lead us directly toward the healing or balance we most need in our life, even if we don’t know we want it.

A 19th way to review your life story – The important question is not, what do I want, but rather, what is wanted beneath and beyond my current consciousness? What does my soul want? What are my deepest longings? What is the spirit of my life? What is most sacred to me? Answering and giving narrative voice to these soul questions is an essential tool for achieving wholeness. Take as much time as you need to reflect deeply on these questions, and then write down, in story form, what seems to make the most sense to you from these musings. Share the essence of your story here for others to benefit from.

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Our existence from before birth to after death follows a process of knowing, forgetting, and remembering. According to a number of sacred traditions, we had some kind of an innate knowing about this world and our life to come before we came into it. But because our traumatic physical birth into a strange new world brought about a forgetting of what we once knew, we spend the rest of our lives remembering what we forgot in order to come into the knowing we started out with. Remembering, and telling, our life story is a way of getting back in touch with our soul, the source of that knowing.

We’ve all had those moments of wonder when something happens to make it seem like we already knew what we just learned. This is part of a cognitive process of coming to our soul consciousness. The soul is the storehouse of eternal memories, and everything else that feels familiar when we realized that what we thought was new may not have been new after all. Each time something pops up from that deep reservoir is just the right time for it.

The key is being conscious of knowing when we have remembered something we forgot whenever it happens. Consciousness is a necessity in telling the stories of our life, especially the story of our soul. The more we can identify with our immortal, eternal self, instead of with the temporal self, the more will we be able to learn from our soul of its stored knowledge and wisdom.

An 18th way to review your life story – What did your soul know before you came into this world? What have been your most memorable déjà moments? How has your life been enriched by connecting with this storehouse of eternal memories? Think about these most meaningful moments of remembering who you were before you were born, and put them together in the form of a brief story that you would like to share with others here.

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Here’s a thought for the day – As we step into our future, it is our memory that most guides and inspires us! As each of the nine Muses in the ancient myth artfully formed their values by musing upon their mother, Mnemosyne, the goddess Memory, we too can muse over our memories, let them take the shape they want, and notice how they form our values, virtues, and character. Life review, remembering the story of your life, is really about musing into the meaningful patterns, themes, and subthemes of your life, which happen to carry the values your life is built upon.

This is the basic context for the soul’s story. Life’s difficulties and struggles, especially, contribute to this meaning making and pattern-shaping function of memory. With time, the unpleasant becomes more pleasant, old hurts don’t hurt as much, if at all, and what once felt cold becomes warmer. Each step of the way, whether difficult or easy, awakens the potentialities we are born with. When our life stories are told in such a way as to reflect the timeless and universal motifs and archetypes that characterize our humanness, they not only transform us, they become the story of our soul, our sacred stories, carrying the power and force of a living myth for us and our listeners by bringing about insights, sentiments, and commitments that result in a new level of maturity, and possibly even a new status.

The soul naturally and innately wants to let go, to lighten up, in preparation for an easier lift off. Could this vital work, James Hillman asks, be the soul’s “premonition of what religious traditions call heaven”?

A 17th way to review your life story – Get in touch with your soul, and together see if you can identify your greatest muse, that which most inspires the deepest part of you. What values, virtues, and characteristics – those qualities that most define who you are – has your muse formed for you? What life patterns, themes, and subthemes does your memory hold? Your soul’s story is shaped by the difficulties and struggles of your life. How are what were once your greatest challenges now the seeds of your greatest potentialities? How has your muse ultimately brought about your own transformation? See if you can help your soul lighten up, and let go of what really does not matter, to better cherish what really does matter, and to be better able to carry this forward with you in your continuing journey. Take some time to put together your musings on this part of your soul’s story, and when you are ready share what you would like to of this with others here.

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