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Archive for March, 2012

You know the value of every article of merchandise,

but if you don’t know the value of your own soul it’s all foolishness.

You’ve come to know the fortunate and the inauspicious stars,

but you don’t know whether you yourself are fortunate or unlucky.

This, this is the essence of all sciences—

that you should know who you will be when the Day of Reckoning arrives.

            —Rumi

Is this the greatest challenge of our lives? How many of us, as Jung has asked, are really prepared for the second half of life, for old age, death, and eternity? For Rumi, this is all a very practical matter, as much so as knowing the true value of anything in the marketplace. This is a lifelong process that begins as early as we become aware of our own soul – that unique part of us that is with us throughout our entire existence, before we were born and after we die. What happens is we tend to confuse our identity with the multiple facets of our physical form that we know for only maybe eight or nine decades, a mere fleeting moment of our soul’s eternal journey.

As we gain this deeper consciousness, we become increasingly reflective on what it all means to us. Could it be that it is not the I that looks back to review our life, but the soul? Why wouldn’t who we are at our essence be in control when it matters most?

A 47th way to explore your soul’s story – Memory is that soulful part of us that wants us to remember as much as we can before we leave this plane. Could it be the intention of the soul to re-member those eternal images, those soul qualities and virtues, most needed for the rest of our eternal journey? Think back to that time in your life when you first recognized that there was an eternal, changeless, ever-present part to who you are. What was this archetypal moment like for you? How did your own awareness of your soul change how you saw yourself? How did this knowledge of your soul give you a clearer vision of how you want to live your life? What was the greatest lesson that knowing the value of your own soul gave you? Write down this story of coming to know your eternal self.

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As winter turns into spring, as nascent flower buds begin to push their way up from sleeping leaves of life, we too can remember that it is our time to emerge afresh with renewed energy for the things we are most deeply committed to. This renewal is as much a part of our perennial process as it is part of nature’s cycle. We also can – and do – arise from the ashes of our own exertion to become even more than we were.

The Phoenix, the mythical bird rising from its own ashes, is but one expression of a universal archetype of renewal and rebirth, one of the most powerful symbols known to us. It pervades many of the world’s myths and sacred texts. The classic journey of the hero is another timeless expression of this archetype of spiritual transformation, which we also witness every time we observe the inner rhythm of nature unfolding all around us. What appears to be decay, even death, is but a moment in an ever-evolving process of evolution. This is our season to arise, to realize our potential for rebirth.

A 46th way to explore your soul’s story – Like the mythic Phoenix, we carry light and hope within us, as well as the keys to renewal. Change, being the perennial constant it is, need not faze us, for it is a womb preparing us for rebirth. Think about a time in your life when you knew you could see all there was to see ahead of you, and there was nothing that gave you any hope beyond that. Then, suddenly something new opened before your eyes and everything became more promising. What was it that buoyed you beyond the despair of that moment, that gave you the hope to push on, and that allowed you to accept and embrace the inevitable change coming into your life? What was the catalyst that guided you out of your dead end, showed you the continuity of your own perennial process, gave you renewed energy, and got you back in the flow of your own natural cycle? After you’ve had enough time to reflect on these questions, write the story of this spiritual renewal in your life.

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Light and shadow are two halves of a whole, twin forces that direct our lives; they are essential to maintaining the balance of life. Light, an ancient symbol central to many sacred traditions, is represented by the qualities of radiance, sanctity, love, justice, and every spiritual attribute that emanates from divinity; light is even thought to be eternal, boundless, and changeless. It’s opposite, shadow, or darkness, is most characterized by temporality, limitations, and continual change. It is even said that the entire physical world is a shadow of the world of light, a temporary dust heap, or an illusion that can vanish in a moment, ultimately a deception meant to distract our attention from the light it is reflecting.

And so, we are caught in the middle of the dual forces of light and shadow. Yet each can only exist because of the other. Without light there would be no shadow. For each to be understood, shadow needs light, as light needs shadow. Together, their opposition represents a two-fold process designed to bring about the spiritual evolution of humanity, and the transformation of individual lives. Both parts of the whole are needed for progress and transformation. Contrast and opposition create structure. They are necessary to make us who we can become. This is why Baha’u’llah assures us that our share of the Light is already within us: “Thou art my lamp and My light is in thee… within thee I have placed the essence of My light. Be thou content with it and seek naught else.”

A 45th way to explore your soul’s story – Would a rose still be a rose without its thorns? Would the story of Christ be the same without Judas? Would poverty be an injustice without wealth? A conscious life finds meaning in these contrasts, meaning that impacts and punctuates, and that can even transform us. How has your life been transformed by the presence and interaction of light and shadow moments? How have they helped to maintain an essential balance in your life, given it a meaningful pattern, and given you a conscious awareness of wholeness? Write down this story of the contrasts in your life, and how you found the light within you to balance them all out.

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