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Archive for April, 2010

As noted last week, the world’s religions agree that the soul comes from the spiritual realm, spends a lifetime adjusting to the physical realm here, and then returns to the spiritual realm. Paul speaks to this duality in our eternal existence and what we can do about it in Corinthians (II, 4:1, 18): “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands… So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Many Christian mystics throughout the centuries have sought union with that ‘eternal house in heaven’ while still living this life, each one standing upon the shoulders of those who went before. The 20th century English monk, Bede Griffiths, recalled the timeless mystic vision when he wrote, “There is a window in my consciousness where I can look out on eternity… then I discover my true Self, then I begin to see the world as it really is… Here all is one, united in a simple vision of being.”

A 30th way to review your life story – As an essential tool in the practice of remembrance, this mystic knowing (being aware of a sacred realm and our link to it) brings us into contact with what is eternal, and therefore with who we are at our essence. What happens when we fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen? What has happened in your life to shift your focus from the temporary to the eternal? Have you ever looked out onto eternity? What did you see there? Did you remember who you really are? Did you see the world as it really is? Reflect on these times of mystic knowing in your life, and if you would be so moved, share with us here what ‘simple vision of being’ this gave you.

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The Arabic term Irfan explains mystic knowing as “knowledge of a divine nature dealing with a realm ‘beyond’ the earthly,” or the “sacred” and “holy” realm. Its sister term, Gnosis, from the Greek, signifies “immediate knowledge of spiritual truth.”

The world’s religions agree that the soul comes from and returns to God. The foundation of the Jewish tradition regarding the soul, and mystic knowing, is seen in Ecclesiastes (12:7), “The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” The longstanding mystical tradition of the kabbalah has evolved over the centuries to include practices such as prayer with the intention of uniting with the divine, which could even evoke the image of God breathing the breathe of life (the Holy Spirit) into man, or the state of union we are born with.

Such practices are to facilitate what a story from many traditions tells us about how we learn, as an unborn soul, what our nature and destiny is, but are then born forgetting where we came from and why we are here, and that we therefore spend the rest of our lives trying to remember what we forgot, as Wordsworth hinted at in his poem from last week.

After arriving in this physical world, and being immersed in taking care of our new and on-going physical needs, we can only really remember who we are when we are truly conscious. Only a fully conscious effort enables us to remember our essential spiritual nature, which begins the process of moving us from the world of matter toward the world of the spirit, which then brings us back in touch with our spiritual destiny.

A 29th way to review your life story – This mystic knowing, or being aware of a sacred and holy realm and our direct link to it, is an essential tool in the practice of remembrance. Knowledge of spiritual truth is also essential to remembering who we are. Can you identify any times in your life when this awareness of a realm beyond the earthly gave you any insights into your life meaning or purpose? Can you remember ever transcending your physical needs and, in this state of deep, unified consciousness, gaining a new understanding of your spiritual nature? Reflect on these times of transcendence, or union with the holy, and share with us here the essence of this story of mystic knowing about your life.

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What is really going on when we remember something we didn’t even know we ever knew? The world’s sacred traditions acknowledge the importance of seeking answers to the mysteries of life. At the heart of the quest for spiritual understanding, for mystic knowing, are two essential questions: “Where have we come from?” and “Where are we going?” The mystery of our origin and our destiny is intricately tied to the nature of the soul. The world’s sacred traditions agree that the soul is eternal. It exists prior to birth and continues after death.

Poets, too, understand the lure of the mysterious. William Wordsworth provides a clear perspective on this fascinating phenomenon of remembering what we didn’t know:

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:

The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star, hath had elsewhere its setting,

And cometh from afar: Not in entire forgetfulness,

And not in utter nakedness, but trailing clouds of glory do we come

From God, who is our home: Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

…Our Souls have sight of that immortal sea

Which brought us hither…

It is through remembrance that we are brought to a spiritual life. Remembrance is a meditation that awakens us to, and focuses us on, the deeper, everlasting reality of the soul. When we suddenly remember something that is totally unfamiliar to us, we may be getting a soul memory, something we may have even known before we were born. When this happens, it provides the key to knowing where we have come from and where we are going.

A 28th way to review your life story – think of a time when you may have gotten a glimpse of what your soul knew before you were born. Did this provide you with a sense of home, of compassion, of belonging, or of contentment? Did this also give you a sense of connection to an ‘immortal sea’ that brought you forth? How did this experience give you a clearer sense of where you are going? Reflect on the times of knowing what you didn’t know in your life, and share with us here how this added to your life’s purpose or meaning.

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