Body, Soul and Spirit 2: The Way of the Soul

3614955279_1404b6dde5_oaIn my second posting (1st here) on this beginning exploration and reassessment of what I’ve come to see as true, beautiful and good I’m going to look more into what Soul is and does. And again, I’m just going to go with my meanderings and contemplations; I’m not trying to be comprehensive and go through the history of that idea, or into explaining what distinguishes it from psyche etc. Much of that you can find by googling it and looking it up in the wikipedia and similar.

There are a couple of aspects of Soul that are important to me, now, aspects that can be put into these questions:

  • Reincarnation being a reality (will get into that a bit in just a minute), what is it that becomes – or is embedded in – flesh?
  • Given the very long duration of the Soul’s existence (don’t want to call it eternity until I’m sure it is), why would it incarnate in the first place? What is so interesting about hanging out in an embodied and matterful dimension?
  • And what about evolution, oneness, enlightenment in the light of the ‘never ending story’ (at least from an incarnated point of view) of the Soul?

I already mentioned my friend from Basel, Switzerland, who does remember a long line of incarnations and can actually see those of others as well. I haven’t mentioned that I’ve not taken reincarnation serious for most of my life – actually I considered it off and on, but I didn’t think it was relevant for this life. I rather liked the metaphor of Alan Watts, that an individual life is akin to a vortex in a river that can stay there for a very long time. And then it dissolves again. As long as it exists it evolves and even develops a sense of unique and separate existence, whereas it obviously is simply water whirling in a very particular way…

I’m not reconsidering because of the fear of dying and the desire to last any longer than my allotted (if it is allotted) time on earth. Some years ago, when on the Czech country-side, all alone by myself, I felt like I was having a heart-attack and seriously thought, “This is it!” And apart of not being able to say good-bye to my family and friends and telling them that “all is very good, and thank you for hanging out with me,” I felt very fine with dying, and was at peace with the what I then believed to be true – that I would end definitely; no further existence, an absolute end from my point of view, and a slow fading into oblivion in the larger context of the people who live on. There was no desire to stay and hang on to life or survival of my person or soul in any way.

graveThis is the conviction my father died with in January this year. But spontaneously, at the ceremony before his cremation, I said, “He’ll be surprised that death is not the end. Actually, they’ve got specialists in the next dimension for souls who were sure that there was nothing after death, to help them overcome the shock of post-mortem existence.” I don’t know where that came from, but I do tend to trust such matters. So I guess that was the beginning of opening up to the possibility of – at the very least – ‘surviving’ death in some way or other.

Looking into the research by Ian Stevenson and seeing some interesting videos on the topic it’s now quite clear to me that, as professor Dr. Robert Almeder puts it, “It would be irrational not to believe in reincarnation … if you have a very commanding argument that you cannot refute, not to accept the argument is irrational.” But, whatever the case may be, the material I’ve seen has convinced me that reincarnation is a matter of fact. But why does that matter?

It talks to me about what a human person is, at least what a person is giving expression to. It tells me that it is the Soul that reincarnates and sounds through you and me (old Greek: per sona, through sound). Obviously this gets me into philosophical trouble with materialists who believe that a person, consciousness and mind are phenomena caused by and utterly depend upon an embodied brain… but frankly, I don’t care. I go with the evidence as it presents itself, and then discuss, if one of my monist friends wants that.

underwater15aAfter this ground work on why reincarnation is obviously real I can come to my first question, “What is it that becomes – or is embedded in – flesh?

I will try to illustrate my thinking with two metaphors, music and character.
Imagine an orchestra. We hear a few instruments, then more, tuning to a common note, and when all instruments are tuned the conductor ticks on his desk and everything goes silent. He looks at the score, just to be sure, and starts conducting. The first notes of the music break through the hushed expectations and off we go: A new life, a new self is born, a new orchestral work sounds.
In it’s first notes it might be remniscent of some earlier music, some melodies half forgotten, and somehow – if we knew what came before – we might recognise a theme, or the way the composer goes about writing his music, or the style of the conductor. But then we embark upon the new work’s opening sequence and we are taken by the polyphony or symphony, or whatever our destiny sounds like.
In this metaphor reincarnation is like moving from orchestra to orchestra. Does it depend on the orchestra, how the sym-/polyphony sounds? Certainly it does. Do the instruments and voices matter? Certainly they do. Is the score, the music created by the orchestra? No; it has been written by a composer. Does the orchestra determine what is played? Not really; it is the conductor and the leadership of the orchestra that does that. In our metaphor it is the Soul and whomever the Soul consults with when it chooses the particular incarnation for this musical work.

Character is an ambiguous word as it refers to both persons and letters and words. Which is why I like it as a metaphor for what is embedded in flesh, what is incarnating. A body of writing, a poem, a story comes as characters on paper or screen (or sounds in the air, but let’s stick with the written word as we’ve already covered music and sound). Are the characters causing the poem? No, they embody it. Their embodiment certainly influences the reception, but that’s about it. It is the way the story is told, or the poem is composed that makes all the difference in the world, not what are its constituent letters – except, maybe, that a well readable typography is a good thing…

symph1Both these metaphors illustrate two aspects of reincarnation and a Soul’s Way – we cannot hear a symphony or polyphony without voices and instruments embodying it, and neither can we read a story or poem without the use of letters or ideograms. I’ve used both metaphors as if the embodied music or poetry pre-exists, but that doesn’t need to be so. Not being a composer I just know a bit about writing. Writing, in my case at least, develops as I’m writing and re-reading what I’ve written. And so our metaphors do not only answer what it is that incarnates but also if there needs to be a pre-existing fate or destiny. Does the end of the story already exist when we start with the first lines? It depends on the writer. In reincarnation it might depend on the maturity and artfulness of the Soul that composes the life; maybe it is already quite accomplished and has composed enough previous lives to be confident enough to ‘free-style’ in this life. Maybe it already knows the plot, and maybe not. I think we’ll know in the very end…

So does the Soul incarnate? Well, I’d say as much as an artist incarnates in a piece of art. While s/he’s in the act of creation, s/he’s absorbed by creating; maybe once in a while taking a few steps back, but that’s all there is for the time being… (Writing this I suddenly understand why great art touches us so deeply; the Soul is very much of an artist.)

Which brings us close to a possible answer to, “Why incarnate in the first place? What is so interesting about hanging out in an embodied and matterful dimension?” The richness of using a restricted palette is fascinating – matter, 3 space dimensions and 1 or 2 time dimensions, first-person perspective, impermanence, fallibility, spirit etc.
The view from a mountain top is amazing. We can see very far. We’re above the clouds. We can breath free. All is clear. This is very different from moving about in the valley, the jungle were we can see just a couple of meters, maybe. We’re right in the middle of the blood, sweat and tears, the parties, joys and beauties of deep immersion.
It seems to me incarnation expresses the unending creativity of Soul and it’s fascination with limits, impermanence and diversity.

Which brings me to the third and last question for now, “What about evolution, oneness, enlightenment in the light of a ‘never ending story’ of the Soul?”
Since a human life, a given incarnation, is very much akin to a symphony or a poem, a piece of art, it doesn’t make much sense to insist on the bourgeois imagination that the Soul is learning and moving to some superior state of enlightenment, divinity or some such, taking reincarnations to be a kind of school where with every life we have to learn some lessons or repeat them in a next one.
Obviously, in life, there is learning. And, obviously again, the orchestra and instruments have been evolving on this planet since it came into existence billions of years ago. And, even more obviously, human kind has been developing as a society in a more or less wholesome direction in spite of the numerous challenges we face. But to take that to mean that there is a goal to the Soul’s incarnating activities, and that this goal is some sort of unembodied existence as a post-enlightened being seems to be much more part of a heroic story-line than connected with the ‘goal’ of reincarnating.
Every piece of art is the artist expressing hirself – and possibly getting better at doing that with the given medium of expression – so a human person and particular life is the Soul’s expression, it’s writing in flesh and behavior, dreams and visions, joys and fears and everything else that comes with being alive.

Tat tvam asi! That thou art!Keizaburo Tejima, Swan Sky, 1983a

What else is there

One of the bands I’ve (re-)discovered recently, turning me on wonderfully with their music… and then discovering far out videos of them. Here is one you might also enjoy

Directed by Martin De Thurah

Featuring Karin Dreijer Andersson from The Knife

More Royksopp videos here: vimeo.com/royksopptv

The Nest that Sailed The Sky

I’m so happy to have stumbled upon this video – the music is by Peter Gabriel, one of the most creative musicians that I know. I don’t usually like music videos as they tend to subtract from what I can see with closed eyes when listening. This is different. Relax. Breathe in and out and click play…

The Nest That Sailed The Sky from Glenn Marshall

You can find a HD version here.

Everything That Happens Will Happen Today

Very beautiful music, I feel, of two of my all time favorite musicians. And I do love the way they are distributing it, bypassing the whole industry – you know, those people lamenting that everybody infringes on their copyright …

My own radio station…

I’ve discovered a service that allows me to create my own internet radiostation without the advertizement etc. that makes others so annoying. This one shuffles the songs I indicate around according to some random logic, so I can’t really set the station to anything like a real radio station… but it’s a beutiful way to share some of the songs I find beautiful.
Just click on the station in my sidebar… and enjoy.

Create your own radiostation

Type in the name of your favorite band…

Being is the Matter

On my other blog Jikishin had an interesting response to the audio I put up recently. It inspired me to go a step further in the direction I spontaneously started to go in “A Taste of Language”.

So here it is – version 1

[audio:http://www.gaiaspace.org/mushin/files/91/215/being+is+the+matter.mp3]

And here is the experimental version (which I like more)

[audio:http://www.gaiaspace.org/mushin/files/91/216/being+is+the+matter-edit1.mp3]

A Taste of Language

Tonight inspiration took me and had me create this taste of language.

Sit down, relax, close your eyes and listen….

[audio:http://www.gaiaspace.org/mushin/files/91/214/a+taste+of+language.mp3″]
A Taste of Language 6:59 Min.

Great Music Video

I think this video shows what can be done with videos that, instead of telling a story about the music or illustrating the music, embody the music.

“Moonlight in Glory,” by David Byrne and Brian Eno. Video design by Trollback + Company.


Moonlight in Glory by David Byrne and Brian Eno

Beautiful Music from Amiina

These are some of the women that played with Sigur Ros.
Enjoy.

The Flow of the Present – A Contemplation

space is like air… is like water…
… and matter very much like dynamic, standing waves.

[audio:http://www.mushin.de/audio/Flow_of_the_present(blog.mushin.de).MP3](7:52 Min – 2,7 MB) Download.

We do not see air – we see the wind moving grass and branches and leaves, and we feel the wind on our skin. What is present everywhere being so important to our life that we cannot do without it for more than a minute or two – we don’t see it. Air is so invisible that we act as if it were nothing – empty space.
And we see something different: things, objects and beings, humans – limited, separate, singular forms and gestalts.

Yet, closing our eyes we do not feel limits, even if we touch whatever-it-is.
Touching we can explore where surfaces interface & touch; we feel textures, temperature and sometimes inexplicable pulls and pushes, yet their limit and shape as independent form is added in our imagination. We create an image, imagine: not wrong, not right – an image.
We cannot touch the air; it’s surrounding us entirely. Only when moving we feel it – the wind of our movement.
We have no image of the air. It, being transparent, only is experienced in movement, touching grass, branches and leaves and all manner of ‘things’, carrying some of it along in its breeze, wind or storm.
We have no image of the air.
No image, but a feeling.

Holding our hands still with eyes closed in a windless place, the feeling-touching field of our hands goes way beyond the skin we see, imagining it to be its limit. Holding still we don’t feel were the hand ends and the air begins, and also we don’t feel were exactly our hand ends and where the arm begins… except if we use our imagination.
We don’t feel limits.
Just close your eyes and feel, sense and experience for yourself if there are any limits there, any separation, or if not everything is flowing into everything else…

Expanding the field of awareness to the whole body, you don’t know where what is called the body begins and ends. All limbs, all so called parts of your body flow into, melt into each other. You can discern between arm and hand but in your feeling experience, in the immediate presence of your awareness – eyes closed – you cannot separate them.
Separation is an act of imagination, an artifact of our cultural heritage – not good, not bad, just the case we can put our experience in. You can’t feel the limit, the separation, even though its easy to discern or differentiate.

And, feeling what’s called your body when you close your eyes it’s easy to feel the living spaciousness expanding way beyond the limits your imagination habitually creates.
A living spaciousness, a presence gradually melting into an absence. And when you focus on where exactly the presence ends and the absence begins… can you find it?
What’s present flows into what’s absent.
You feel the presence of the absence – not as if it were something, but also not as if it were nothing: The absent is present to you.
Just close your eyes and feel, sense and experience what your feeling reveals to you.

It is as if you were feeling unlimited vastness – space.
A space that, even more than air, permeates everything.

The more often you enjoy this spaciousness the more often you sense what flows within it – as if it were a soft breeze maybe or a current in water.
And you might feel a tingling in what, with your eyes open, looks like your body – the dynamic standing wave whose continual flow forms your whereabouts.
Sometimes the tingling feels like the fine bubbles in champagne, a freshness that bubbles through and through, coursing through the streamings in the whereabouts our imagination calls body.
Sometimes the tingling becomes stronger and stronger in certain areas of the dynamic standing wave that forms the flow of your whereabouts – maybe as if it were flowing into a whirl. (In New Age folklore these areas are called “chakras” using an ancient Indian, Sanskrit term: ???? “wheel”, vortex of aliveness.)

All of this appears where we are, at the place of our presence; not a separate place, not an object at all. Like a village is not separate from the landscape it’s embedded in, although easily discernable fom its surrounding, so we are never separate from the spaciousness that we feelingly so easily experience.

The Art of Relating

Some days ago I gave a talk to the people participating in my open event in Prague. And these are some of the things I covered:

  • We are relating all the time
  • There is no self outside of relationship
  • Whatever you are doing, feeling, thinking, this is how you relate to reality right now
  • Why is there nothing to get & nowhere to go?
  • Relationship makes us one with whatever is the case right now
  • Why we cannot divorce from Oneness
  • What happens if we try to keep relationship under control
  • Honesty as one of the best ways to change realtionship
  • Relating to reality right now produces truth
  • Why we can relax even when mad, sad or stupid
  • You’re always just the way you are because you’re always relating

[audio:http://www.mushin.eu/audio/RelatingtoReality.mp3|option1=0xffe4c4]
(English with Czech translation; 56:00 Min. & 20 MB)
You can also download it with a right click.

Awakening to Mutuality (Audio)

A few days ago in our daily evening contemplation it seemed important to me to state what I feel my present position is on spiritual matters.

It turned out to be a quite critical appraisal of traditional spirituality and it’s view that the sprit or “the world beyond” is radically different from the world we all inhabit, deeming “spirit” to be superior to “matter”, turning away from the world to gain spiritual merit, etc..

I also give an explanation why there is so much (sexiual and other) abuse by teachers of students, and why basically the ‘heros’ are mostly male (giving also an answer to Ken Wilber’s question, why there is so few women in the ‘integral movement’ he’s mentoring.

I’m still groping for what’s to come instead of this basically feudalistic – or top-down – spirituality, and go for ‘mutuality’ where we treat the perspective of toilet-cleaners, morons and wise men with equal respect.

The talk comes in four installements due to the slowness of our Internet-connection here in this Czech village. I hope, you enjoy it, and would be delighted to read or hear your comments.

[audio:http://www.mushin.eu/audio/AwakeningToMutuality01.mp3]

Download the MP3 file (32 kps; 2,6 MB; duration 10:42): right click this link Awakening to Mutuality and “save as…”

[audio:http://www.mushin.eu/audio/AwakeningToMutuality02.mp3]

Download the MP3 file (32 kps; 2 MB; duration 8:39): right click this link Awakening to Mutuality and “save as…”

[audio:http://www.mushin.eu/audio/AwakeningToMutuality03.mp3]

Download the MP3 file (32 kps; 4,8 MB; duration 20:20): right click this link Awakening to Mutuality and “save as…”

[audio:http://www.mushin.eu/audio/AwakeningToMutuality04.mp3]

Download the MP3 file (32 kps; 1,7 MB; duration 7:17): right click this link Awakening to Mutuality and “save as…”

The Magic of the Timeless Witness (audio)

I was in an interesting mood today and opened up to a rather timeless dimension. In this meditation with the members of the Serenity-Community here the following talk ensued. And I wanted to share it with all of you…

The basics of this contemplation comes from the work of the “Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research” Institute and I probably got some numbers wrong, and maybe some of the data were a bit mixed up – but that really is of no consequence for what I wished to express: the influence we have on what is usually and quite naive called ‘reality’ that is supposed to somehow exist ‘out there’.

But when you listen you might also think that – oops! – reality is much stranger than we ever supposed, and you will understand how pliable it is… and how you can use that pliability to lead a much happier life in the present, the future and – really? – also the past… and if that is not a strange thought…

[audio:http://www.mushin.eu/audio/TheMagicConsciousness.mp3]

You can download the MP3 file (32 kps; 7 MB; duration 29:04) by right clicking on this LINK and “save asr…”

(32 kps; 9 MB; duration 37:40)

The True Witness (audio)

This is an enquiry as much as a contemplation. This has been recorded during a contemplative enquiry in a seminar here at the Serenity-Community – that gives it a life character which might help the German or Czech speaking audience on their journey towards the essence of what it means to be here.

German with Czech translation by Pranama.

[audio:http://www.mushin.eu/audio/DerWahreZeuge.mp3]

You can download the MP3 file (32 kps; 9 MB; duration 37:40) by right clicking on this link Der Wahre Zeuge and then “save as…”