Sunday 21 May 2023

Encounters with the Soul - Final Part

                The scene painted in the previous encounter represents an ideal situation in which the damaging effects of an unbridled ego are not present. However, that is a case not realised in practice. Spiritual cataracts trouble the divine lens, and tendrils of blackness reach out to ensnare the soul. It is as if the soul forgets, "a hundred, a thousand times a day.

It is as if it forgets the treasure held in some dark, run-down, Dickensian pawnbroker's shop. There is a constant need to self-remember, but such matters go beyond the remit implied in the first incounter described earlier.

               I spoke earlier of the need for the soul, imaged as an egg, to break through its surrounding shell and be hatched. This, perhaps, gives too strong an avian flavour to the event. That sense of hatching out is better described as a proto-star bursting out into full brilliance. 

               To progress any further would be to attempt to describe the steps that the soul deems to be necessary in order to escape its confinement. And that lies beyond the limits of this discussion. I will, therefore, bring these writings to a halt. The nightmare has been noted, and that is enough to bring it into focus. 

               I will leave with this final quote from Father Sylvan,

"It is not demanded of us that we always be in a state of the heart (or soul - my bracketed insertion) which grants us vision and self-mastery. It is only demanded of us that we know the state we are in. But this is difficult."

Saturday 20 May 2023

Encounters with the Soul - Part 5

                At this point I will reproduce an unpublished blog post of mine, written in 2022.(11)

After my experiences of deeply probing my inner world [Into the Enchanted Forest Parts 1 & 2] I tried to determine whether I had reached the limits of my descent.

"..........It seems to be very difficult to descend any lower into the spiritual depths of my being. In the darkness, there is a very powerful sense of protective wings, the presence of some emanating Spirit. There is also an awareness of vast energies present, a three-dimensional world interacting with the two dimensions of another. I feel so small, so very vulnerable. I am in the presence, or embodiment, of some enigma that keeps watch over an ultimate meaning which must remain for ever beyond my understanding.........." 

               I cannot describe that experience; only report on a memory, albeit a flawed memory, of that experience. But I needed to probe, to confront whatever might exist in the depths of my Self. All that I could offer I willingly laid before me. And, finally, there was an answer, a series of visual metaphors.... 

"..........It was as if I were experiencing a waking dream. There hung before me an Equal-armed Cross. At the place where the horizontal arm crossed the vertical there hung a Rose. There at the point of paradox, where there was neither horizontal nor vertical, yet also both, hung a great symbol of ..... perfection and love. I approached the Rose and saw, at its centre, a window, a ..... lens ..... that offered a glimpse into the depths of the Abyss beyond.

               I stop before the lens; feeling some kind of tensionless tension. This is the source of ..... not danger exactly ..... unease, apprehension perhaps. If that lens should break, if that ..... portal should open, I would be at the mercy of the dark, divine light, which must surely wash me away. That would feel terrifying. Light out of darkness; the terrible abyss.........."

               Is there, in me, a soul? There are no cast-iron certainties in this universe, only probabilities. The only worthwhile question to ask is whether that assumed-to-exist soul is healthy or unhealthy. Does it enjoy a plenitude of love, or is it undernourished? Is it a living force, or is it dying? Is it destitute and weak: has it, indeed, sunk into a state of spiritual dementia?

               A lens, the means by which .....the Infinite can be focused on the soul, but which can also become flawed by a psycho-spiritual cataract, the illusions of the ego, appears to be an interface between the soul and the divine abyss. But there is a 'cure' for the cataract, and it lies along the Paths of the Dark Night. 

(11) 2022 Blog Post - unpublished

Encounters with the Soul - Part 4

                Assuming that the soul does indeed exist, then a non-dual assessment would imply a solution beyond the "it-does/it-doesn't" approach. That alternative solution says that the question of existence or non-existence is the wrong question. The real question is, "How effective and efficient is the soul when it is operating?" In other words, this alternative approach recognises a spectrum of operability which only gives an impression of non-existence at one end of that spectrum, and total existence at the other end. The difficulty here lies in the use of imagery to communicate an idea by that which lies beyond ideas.

               The soul is like an egg which develops by feeding on its spiritual albumen. There comes a point when that growing presence must break out of its shell, it must be hatched. When that event occurs, and the soul in all its brilliance and light becomes "visible", a contact is made with something far higher. Perhaps that contacting beam of white brilliance is a call, a homing signal, or a new pathway for further nourishment. I do not know. Yet there hangs the soul intermediate between the realm of the spirit and the domain of the ego. It is in necessary contact with both yet apparently belonging to neither. Here lies a great mystery, and one which is beyond the power of the ego to unravel and, perhaps, refute. ".....and light shines in the darkness (of the ego), and darkness could not overpower it." (5) 

               The ego deals in dualities, either/or solutions, and definitions. But the intermediate soul is beyond these considerations. They are meaningless to the soul, yet the soul must become involved with the ego. It needs its "powers", as Meister Eckhart (6)  calls them, to learn about its path back to its source, or so I believe. There are too many references about this journey to list here, but they would include the parable of "The Prodigal Son"(7), the descent and return of Sophia (Gnostic text)(8), the Greek dramatic "Fable of the Pearl"(9), and others. In each of these stories there is one thread that repeats itself, and that is the element of "forgetting". This is a factor which Gurdjieff often refers to (10). Is it not possible that the process of forgetting oneself is what is being interpreted as the aborting of the soul?

              I will develop the idea of the link between the soul and the realm of the spirit, and what it means for ones spiritual development, in the next part of these encounters.

(5) John 1:5  NJB

(6) Meister Eckhart, Sermon 2.

(7) Luke 15:11-32

(8) "Pistis Sophia"

(9) "The Gnostic Gospels", from the Apocryphal Acts of the Apostle Thomas

(10) "The Reality of Being", Jeanne de Salzmann

Friday 19 May 2023

Encounters with the Soul - Part 3

               Before moving on to discuss the states of the soul, I would like to back-track a little to cover what one other person has to say on the matter of the existence, or otherwise, of the soul. That other person is a Father Sylvan (2), sadly now dead. In the section referenced below, Father Sylvan says, 

"In short, the soul is not a fixed entity. It is a movement that begins whenever man experiences the psychological pain of contradiction. It is an actual energy, but one that is only at some beginning stage of its development and action. Every day, every more or less average human experiences the appearance of this energy in its most embryonic stage ...... But almost always, almost without any exceptions whatsoever, this new energy is immediately dispersed and comes to nothing. A hundred, a thousand times a day, perhaps, "the soul is aborted"."

               I find this to be an interesting approach, but one which may bear the seeds of duality. As described, it would appear that the soul makes an appearance, only to disappear, yet implying that it continues to exist, awaiting its next opportunity to become evident. It is, yet it is not; a paradox. It would appear that the soul can exist as potential energy, in a manner not unlike Meister Eckhart's (3) use of the word 'potential' when referring to the darkness of "unknowing". 

               Certainly, as a result of my own inner searching, I have experienced something similar to Father Sylvan. But I would describe the experience as one of encountering a state of "having the lights on, but with no-one at home." This always seems to occur in the presence of overwhelming thought and/or emotion (4). Interesting though this phenomenon may be, however, the question as to whether or not the soul exists, or whether it simply fades out and returns (like the collapse of the electro-magnetic field in an electrical generator), is less important than determining how effective and efficient is the operating state of the soul. 

(2) See "Lost Christianity," by Prof. Jacob Needleman - The Appearance and Disappearance of the Soul.

(3) Meister Eckhart, Sermon 4.

(4) See for example "Loss of Awareness Through Anger," Gwynt Blog Post, 17 Dec. 2021

Thursday 18 May 2023

Encounters with the Soul - Part 2

               The title of this series supports my belief in, or perhaps more accurately, my "knowing" of the existence of the soul, but with no real knowledge of its nature. Does it come into being fully-fledged, as some believe? Is it immortal? What is its relationship, if any, to the ego? I should point out at this juncture that I believe the ego to be a function of the physical senses, the intellect or 'Thinking Function' and the emotions or 'Feeling Function'. This is important here.

               When the material body dies so does the physical brain, along with the senses, the emotions and the intellect. The ego is necessary to allow the material body to survive the tribulations of material existence, up to a certain point. Beyond that point the body is no longer able to satisfy the internal conditions for its continued existence. The soul on the other hand has no such apparent survival value. What then can be its function and purpose? It would appear to have none, and that runs counter to one's experience of nature.

               But what does the soul say of itself, as to its finite or eternal existence, for example? I discovered long ago that when dealing with the question of morality, for example, the soul is completely nonplussed. Morality, as stated, is a series of dualities dealing with how we live in the world. For the soul, dualities do not exist. Neither, therefore, does the issue of finite life or eternal life. That is an issue which attracts the attention only of the ego, which lives in space and time. And what is spacetime? Perhaps only a great bubble being carried in a great river of eternity. It is that river which is the natural habitat of the soul. Spacetime is a passing phenomenon with nothing in common with the soul, except that the soul seems to require a medium in which to be conceived. Spacetime, the material temple of the soul, contains the soul's psycho-spiritual womb. 

Tuesday 16 May 2023

Encounters with the Soul - Part 1

                This series of posts on the soul is in response to "Lindsay's Lobes" postings about the soul, a subject about which I feel I never fully, or satisfactorily, developed my thoughts in the past. I feel, as I said in comment to Lindsay's posts, that I have nothing to say, yet must say something.(1) 

               In describing an encounter with the soul, or to put it another way, reporting a conversation with the soul, one has to start somewhere and describe the event in a particular manner. To do this I must struggle to overcome my instinctive, intellectual approach, born out of years of scientific reporting, and tell it as it was. The past tense is important here because I cannot re-live and express the actual experience; only report on a memory of that experience. Furthermore, conversations rarely seem to start, develop and end in a strictly linear fashion. There always seem to be diversions, incongruencies, and even questions that occur as part of an overall communication. So where shall I begin? I will begin with a nightmare, one which has a recurring theme but which expresses itself in a variety of settings.

               In this dream, not really a bad dream but one which always arouses deep discomfort and maybe terror, I am carrying the husk of the decomposed but re-animated corpse of my long-dead father. A person enters the dream who attempts to rob me of the corpse. This attempt I fight off with much vigour, and succeed. (The other figure is a man who I know about; one that I respect but who is flawed. He will remain unidentified.) How may this dream be interpreted? I say 'may' because any interpretation will be mine. Others may disagree with that interpretation. 

               The re-animated corpse represents a powerful authority figure in my life. After a great deal of meditation on the matter, I conclude that the image is one which represents my ego. Only that now has the power to govern me as once my father did. The robber who attempts to remove that corpse from me is my soul, flawed though it may be. Regretfully, my ego is still winning, apparently.

               Now the questions begin. Although the title of this post implies the existence of a soul, yet there remain many questions about its existence, and its relationship(s) with the rest of me. These questions I hope to address, realistically, in future descriptions of encounters with the soul.

(1)          This sounds like something St. Paul might have said, but I can find no such reference.

Wednesday 22 December 2021

Goodbye 2021

To all of you who read my scratchings and scribblings, may I wish you a happy, loving Christmas. And may all your needs for 2022 be met in abundance.

                               Au 'voir, et Bonnes fêtes