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Archive for the ‘timeless pattern’ Category

C.G. Jung wrote: “My life is a story of the self-realization of the unconscious… I can understand myself only in the light of inner happenings. It is these that make up the singularity of my life.” He seems to be implying that at our essence, we are like all other human beings. The soul is what links us to the archetypal world. Soul-making is communicating deeply with the inner realm, being fully awake and aware as the numinous bursts forth from the unconscious, flooding our consciousness with eternal images.

James Hillman sees soul-making as what happens when we evoke the emotions and experiences—of crisis and opportunity, of love and dying—that give life a deeper meaning. This occurs as the unique turns into the universal, and the temporal into the eternal. Only this world, with all of its opposites and dualities, as Keats said, provides the necessary stuff of soul-making. And, as many spiritual traditions say, we are formed in the image of God and we have the innate capacity to reflect that image in the life we live. This inborn image serves as a spark of consciousness that benefits our growth and has our best interests as its purpose. We can also think of this mysterious force overseeing our lives as “grace,” “providence,” or being invisibly watched over.

A 49th way to explore your soul’s story – Whether we remember it or not, we are always connected to our Infinite self. We are always living in the archetypal realm. We just have to be a bit more conscious of where we are each moment. Take some special time right now to communicate deeply with your eternal self. Listen carefully to what your soul has to tell you. Be open to all moments, to all dualities that have come your way. Knowing these polarities as well as you can will greatly assist your process of soul-making. As we become more familiar with this deeper, lasting sense of who we really are, we recognize more clearly that all that does come to us is purposeful. Take in deeply all of these moments of grace, reflect further upon their meaning for you, and, when you have reached some new or deeper clarity, write down your insights from this reflection in the form of a flowing narrative.

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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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One of the many things we all share, as members of the human family, is our recurring experience of what we perceive as the clash of opposing forces, whether we see these forces as positive and negative, good and bad, or light and shadow. They are all parts of the whole of reality that are not only necessary but also extremely purposeful. Light and shadow represent the core opposition we face in this life. And their purpose is nothing less than to bring about transformation in our lives.

When we can see the entire picture of reality in its wholeness, rather than get lost in or overwhelmed by any of its parts, we are much better able to appreciate both the light and the shadow that does come into our life. These essential opposing forces in our lives not only create growth opportunities for us, they facilitate our progress toward reestablishing the original unity we were born with.

The intermingling of light and shadow in our lives is actually a blueprint for transforming our lives. Knowing that there is a blueprint to our growth (physical, psychological, and spiritual), allows us to see and understand both the detail and the whole while keeping us focused on the whole.

A 44th way to explore your soul’s story – What is it that has brought light to your life? What is it that you are most thankful for in your life? How has the light in your life made you a better person, or more of who you really are? Would you have really known the value or benefit of this light if it hadn’t also been for the shadows in your life, those things that greatly challenged you, created tension, or made things really difficult for you? Think of those times when you have been most aware of the forces of light and shadow in your life, and reflect on how they were at odds in your life, as well as the greater purpose they represent, and how either would not have the meaning they do for you without the other. Write your thoughts down, and tell this story of light and shadow in your life.


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Our universal story is made up of archetypal experiences, those that connect us to the source of basic human tendencies and to the timeless elements of the human experience. This is because archetypes are ultimately the Imago Dei, or God-image, within us. When we consciously experience an archetype in our lives, the archaic becomes contemporary, and, most importantly, the universal becomes personally sacred.

Myth and ritual incorporated archetypal experiences in order to bring about the transformation from one state to another that was desired to maintain and strengthen the community. So when these universal archetypal elements emerge into our lives today they carry a transformative power. They keep us in the vital, nourishing riverbed through which the water of life has flowed for centuries, and which is the soul of our existence. They bring us to life, and keep us truly alive.

An archetype integrates into a meaningful whole all the illusory splits of apparent oppositions. It is in this way that archetypes also carry a “healing” function, in unifying the differing facets of the same reality, and their presence is felt as also having a profound spiritual significance.

A 42nd way to explore your soul’s story – It is important to grasp how and why living an archetype can help bring about healing. This will add much more meaning and depth to the life story we have lived. Think of any experience where some aspect of your life was healed, reconciled, or resolved. Then think of whether that experience could possibly be unique to you, or if it is more likely shared by others. Was it the uniqueness of the experience, or was it the universality of the experience, that ultimately enabled the healing to happen? Was it the fact that only you could have experienced it, or the fact that many if not most other people could have also experienced it, that made it healing for you? What is it about either uniqueness or universality that makes it healing? How and why is this awareness important in telling your life story? Incorporate these reflections into the telling of your life story, and share them here if you would like to.

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In addition to the unique story we live (our story like no one else’s), and the group story we live (our story like some others), we also live a universal story (our story like all others). Our universal story is shared by all human beings, due to the deep-seated patterns and processes we all have in common. This is the form of our life story we will look at for the remaining blogs here.

The place to begin in understanding our universal story is with myth and ritual, since this is where the timeless and sacred patterns are contained that gave meaning to every aspect of the constantly changing lives of indigenous peoples worldwide who created these original wisdom stories in narrative form. Because myths contain deeply held beliefs about the nature of life and the people’s relationship to their Creator, myths around the world describe a common process of change and transformation.

This universal process, also contained within the sacred rituals of the world’s religious traditions, makes up a common, therefore sacred, pattern and consists of timeless elements, repeated over and over throughout life at key transition points, known as archetypes and motifs. These define and facilitate the process of transformation.

Archetypes are latent potentialities, or pattern-forming elements, residing in the human psyche – the actual “energy-charged,” or meaning-making content of the collective unconscious. As Jung might say, archetypes are part of our vast store of ancestral knowledge about the profound relations between God, man, and cosmos, that remain unconscious until our own real life experiences bring them forth into consciousness, making our individual experience part of the universal human experience.

When an archetype passes over into consciousness, it is felt as an illumination, or a revelation. The archetype itself is the original form of a type of experience from which all other forms of that experience follow and are copied; it is a recurring ‘mythological component,’ a type of a common situation, or a type of universal figure, what we would think of as a literary motif, that is part of our inherited humanity. Examples of such archetypal situations would be “the hero’s quest,” “the battle for deliverance from the mother,” or “the night sea journey,” while archetypal figures would include the divine child, the trickster, or the wise old man. The archetype carries a power to impress, influence, awaken, and therefore transform us.

A 41st way to explore your soul’s story –  When in your life have you experienced the archetypal energies that have always existed within you bursting forth into your consciousness? What was going on in your life at the time? How did this illumination from an archetypal level change or transform things for you? Reflect on this, and then tell this part of your universal story here for others to benefit from.

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The personal, or what we think is unique to us, is also what connects us to all human beings. No matter how personal we think telling our own life story is, we are also telling, at the same time, a universal story. In telling the very personal things of our life experience, we are also sharing what is common to us all.

Sometimes, we may not even be aware when we are making that shift from the personal to the transpersonal. One way to recognize this shift is to become familiar with the ageless motifs and archetypes that make up all the world’s sacred stories, myths, and folk tales. One example of universal archetypes, or themes shared by all humanity, is the pattern of renewal and transformation in life. This pattern is most noticeable in nature, what we observe all around us all the time. With the coming of spring, we witness an annual renewal.

In our own lives, too, what we may think of as a very personal experience of renewal, or moving beyond a hurdle, suddenly allowing us to experience a new perspective, is really one of the most universal of all experiences. This experience consists of one of the most common patterns pervading all of creation. It also offers a clear set of guideposts for us to follow along the path of our spiritual development. From our personal, or what we think may be unique, experience, we can recognize a universal pattern (beginning-muddle-resolution). This not only makes the personal transpersonal, it gives us even more reason to act upon the natural inclination to tell and pass on our life story to others. Turning the personal into the transpersonal clarifies even more for us how the truly universal takes place through everyday life experiences, identifying an organic pattern of transformation in our lives.

A 26th way to review your life story – Think of a time in your life when you were surprised to find that something you thought was a very personal experience was actually quite universal. How did you discover the universality of this experience? What new information or understanding did this give you of yourself or your world? Reflect on this for awhile, then put your thoughts into a story that tells how and why the personal became the transpersonal for you.

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