For all my years of traveling, what I know is that places, if we allow them to, speak to us physically, spiritually, emotionally, energetically. They offer a presence that speaks to the body, the Soul body–that part of us that expands out beyond the physical form and that eventually allows us to acknowledge we are a Soul with a body, rather than a body with a Soul. Though we come into the world ‘forgetting’ our original nature, our growth towards death is this remembering, this coming back into awareness of the Soul’s vast capacities.
This last week, after leaving the ranch in northern California, I have been perhaps more aware, more conscious of, the expansiveness nature of Soul energy, as I made my way down the California coast–to Monterey, Carmel, and then onto Santa Barbara.
I thought I was going to Santa Barbara to visit the C.G. Jung library at Pacifica Graduate Institute. I wanted to see what was available of The Black Book, the book much of The Red Book was extracted from. I thought I would spend time in the library, in the town. I thought I would connect with certain people whom I’d met over the years there. Instead, I found myself each day heading to the beach, as well as spending time first at Lake Cachuma off Route 154 on the backside of the Santa Barbara mountains. The landscape of dry hills resplendent in emerald green following days of rain were magical. I didn’t know why, but each morning, I would rise and Ruby and I would spend the early morning at the lake, then late morning head to Santa Barbara to the beach–one where I often found myself one of the few on the long sandy stretch, one of the few walking or lying open to the sun, the water, the sky…the sound of the waves breathing in and out on the lip of the shore.
Sometimes, when we travel, we force ourselves to see things that a place is known for; or, if we know people in proximity to a place, we feel somehow ‘obliged’ to connect. One of the beautiful things about this trip is I have done neither of these. Oh, I have chosen to see people, chosen to spend time with individuals, but not in the way I would have only a few years ago, and not in the way I originally imagined I would. Now, I am listening to my body, listening to my Soul body and what it wants, where it needs to go, what it needs to do, feel, experience. This is the path less traveled for so many of us. But a path many more of us are beginning to take, truly allowing ourselves to experience ourselves whole again–to know ourselves first as spiritual Beings, energetic Soul Beings, come to experience humanity, physical form, and our human hearts.
Our Soul body is larger than our physical body–it’s an energetic presence that expands beyond the physical form. It’s the body that senses things, the body that suddenly informs us to ‘Cross the street’, the body that lets us somehow know, ‘No, I’m going to avoid that situation,’ or says, ‘This is the thing to do, this is the place to be…’ Many call it ‘intuition’, second sight, or inspired vision, or extra sensory perception. But the truth is, we all–all of us–have this larger sensory awareness, this energetic body, and it operates through and as us by informing, infusing, the physical body.
Each of us has hundreds of what might be called ‘energy circuits’ connecting us to each other, to the environment, and these circuits infuse our body, hearts, and mind with energies. It has been known by different names in various cultures: prana in India, ‘ch’i’ by the Chinese, the Holy spirit or grace by many Christian traditions, and is what most of us who are more secular call Source energy, life-force. The energy that flows through us from the Universe, that makes us first energetic Soul Beings rather than simply physical matter. The fact is, we are both, and when we consciously attend to, become more conscious of this energetic body that receives Source energy, we know when we know things, we experience intuition and can infuse our systems with more life energy when we are depleted, and transformation and growth occurs more fluidly. But so often, we close ourselves off from consciously being aware of this life force, this energetic consciousness; we allow the mind to over-ride it instead of allowing the mind and heart to work with it.
When we allow our minds to work with this energetic body, we move into symbolic sight, symbolic logic that may not make sense outwardly, but inwardly is as right as right. We allow ourselves then to see our lives in a larger context, a larger vision, map or movement, and it’s then we begin to understand more why we are here, what we need to do, what we came here to learn and why we’ve had the experiences we’ve had, and what will fulfill us at the deepest Soul-Heart level. True. I use the word ‘Soul’, but it can simply be ‘energy’, our energetic bodies, or our expanded heart–the Heart that feels, knows, experiences far larger than the physical organ. To understand its vastness, we need only close our eyes and ask ourselves, “Where in your body can you locate a separate self?” When we really begin to feel/look, this energetic presence infuses the body…
There are many of us who know this energetic heart body. There are even still more of us trying to allow ourselves to feel it more consistently, experience its knowing more deeply, to live in its uncertain certainty and allow it to lead us as we allow the mind to work with it in mind-heart coherency. It requires listening to our hearts, to our bodies, and understanding that while our minds are beautiful organs, the mind is limited to what it has known, to what it can know based upon the past, or what it can learn conceptually, and is focused mostly on our lives in the external world and keeping us safe, productive, externally.
Our mind wants to control our emotions–those energy flows, e-motions, that come in through the heart–either by pushing them down or by trying to control the external environment, which usually translates into controlling other people or shutting them out. But our energetic body, our Soul body, wants us to know those emotions, those energies-in-motion to understand ourselves more, and the internal movement and coherency in our lives. The who and what we truly are.
When I started this trip, I didn’t know why I was suppose to do it, I only knew I was. I know I’ve said this in every post, but it’s true. I didn’t know where I was suppose to go except ‘west’. I didn’t know, and still don’t know, where the trip will ultimately lead me if anywhere but to greater self-understanding. But I have come to trust the many gifts of listening to my Soul’s desires, its directions. I have come to let my listening lead me over the land, across the country, and to allow myself to trust how long I’m to stay in each location, and the where-next-ness of each move. What I knew when I left Woodstock, New York is that the journey was going to be long enough to make me uncomfortable, long enough to require, ask me, to trust this knowing in a much deeper way, and to stay with it, in it, and allow my mind and body to grow accustom to its rhythms, its heart and its own fluencies so that I could assist others as they come in touch more deeply with their own knowing.
It has not always been easy.
It is not easy to explain to people, my family, and friends, “I’m not sure where I’ll be…or why I’m going where I’m going…or if I’ll have enough support…” And fear sets in some days, some moments in a day–the fear that I’ve somehow lost it, the fear that I’ll somehow end up homeless, etc.. But I breathe through the fear, the uncertainty, and try to come back to being present–right now–while also feeling into the next step. I have been in most of my life pretty responsible. I still feel I am responsible but in a very different way. Speaking to a colleague who is both an artist and psychotherapist, we described this journey as a kind of ‘trust walk’, a kind of blindfolded feeling, trusting, forward movement.
And so the morning I left the 5,000 acre ranch in northern California that had so graciously opened its doors to me, I simply knew it was time and that I was headed south. Two days in Monterey and Carmel–Ruby running in her joy body on Carmel Beach, and then to Santa Barbara, or I should say, to Santa Barbara County, as I stayed too on the east side of the mountains that run down to the sea. The Santa Ynez valley that was just coming into sudden profusion of yellow bloom amidst a luscious emerald green.
I have had a long history with Santa Barbara. For years, in my twenties and early thirties I would visit a Zen Priory there, frequently staying and training with the Zen Buddhist Prior from Shasta Abbey, Reverend Jisho. I can still feel the mornings waking in the guest room with the orange bed spreads and sliding out in the hushed dawn light to slip quietly into the Zendo and onto my zafu for the morning meditation period, and then the recitation of the kama sutra of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisatva of Compassion. Kuan Yin.
Afterwards, there would be breakfast and walking Max, the priory’s public relations officer. A dog–part shepherd and part collie–given to Reverend Jisho by Shasta Abbey Abbess, Reverend Master Jyu-Kennett. Max was terrified when he arrived—he’d been terribly abused and the San Francisco SPCA had been having difficulty placing him, but Reverend Master received him and gifted him to Reverend Jisho. Max hid under the sofa in Reverend Jisho’s living quarters for days until he had his own large crate, but in the larger areas, he’d shy behind doors, under the table, around corners. But slowly, he came to trust–risk being in the open with visitors, risk walks outside the priory yard, risk playing in the backyard, and then, just like that, he was welcoming guests–known and unknown–at the priory door. So blossomed back into his own Being, his own wholeness. He was a great teacher. For all of us.
The priory is no longer there. Reverend Master Jisho Perry, after a time at Pine Mountain Priory in southern California, now resides at Shasta Abbey as Chief Monastic Instructor. I can still see him so clearly in his brown habit, rubbing his hand over his shaved head and looking down into the distance as he chuckled, laughed, preparing to point out the way or the conceptual obstacles I managed to create inside myself as I made my way through my own emotional barriers and circumstances. That is what a good teacher does—helps hold a space and helps you avoid, if they can, the boulders, the cliffs, the sharp objects as you make your own way into wholeness and the truth of who and what you are. The container is both formless and formidable.
So each morning when I rose this last week, I sat, I listened. I listened to my Soul body, asking, “Where?” And then to Lake Cachuma and then the beach I would go.
What I began to recognize slowly, even driving through town, or stopping to eat, is that my body was soaking up something. I could feel it. My body was communicating with the land itself, the sea, the lake, the mountains. I could feel the energy of the land and the sea speaking to me–to my energetic body. This awareness, this conscious awareness, made me feel relief–that it wasn’t just somehow ‘me’ wanting to be in a pretty place or my small self thinking about, focusing obsessively on T.’s past relation to the place, as he’d been entering my consciousness and heart again in a big way–who he is, his past, and his sense of loss that somehow at times seemed to define so much of who he thought he was, though I experienced him repeatedly as strong, focused, accomplished, and deeply sensitive. But I felt his presence in the days, felt too his imagination alive in Santa Barbara.
But what I had come to realize even more was that there was a profound reason I was drawn, led, to Santa Barbara, where the mountains rush down to the sea. And it was a reason that made no outward logical sense but felt profoundly alive inwardly.
The logic belonged to my inner body, my heart, my Soul body.
It was on the third day when Ruby and I were playing on the beach and we’d just sat down to take a break that I got a first glimpse of what this visit was offering me: a vision came to me–as clear as the presence of Tecumseh had come in Costa Rica. A voice as clear and fluid as water simply said, “We’ve waited so very long, very long, to mourn her, raise her, honor her…Thank you…” And then as clear as day–though I knew somehow it was both internal and external– I watched as these beautiful women in white gowns carried this shrouded body on a canvas cot raised to their shoulders. They walked down the beach so calmly and stood in the waves, and a voice seemed to intone, “We thank you for the wisdom she came to share…We thank you for her courage, her stead-fastness. We thank you for bringing her to us and we offer her back now to the sea of consciousness, the one being of us all…” And then they walked farther into the ocean, the waves rushing around their thighs, and lowered the cot, pushing it out onto the back of the next swell… As they did this, I heard myself ask, “Who are you?” What I received was simply “Your Lemurian sisters…”
And so it was… and is….
When I returned later that day to where I was staying on the other side of the mountains, as I headed over the pass and drove down the valley, a clarity ‘dawned’ in my body, in my Being… That is all I can call it…a clarity that seemed to grow into me as much as come out of me…that is the best articulation I can give. But within that clarity came too a vision of choice, of love, of freedom in a way that I’d not experienced in some time–the depths of it, its clarity. Everything that I had been envisioning for myself seemed both absolutely clear but also oddly distant and disconnected. There was a space around and in me that I couldn’t quite explain, but it was clear, open, so calm…
And I felt love…
Love for myself, and for T. too who had been so much with me in these days–his presence simply arriving like a stitch in cloth. On this day, I felt the deep, clear love between us, and connection… Connection not just to him, but to life itself…all of it…. But in this love, this clarity, there was choice… freedom…and a profound understanding of what it means to have choice, be in choice. That was the distance and disconnectedness—to feel, see clearly ‘choice’….
Consciousness is choice… we are truly not victims of our thoughts, of circumstances, of our experiences or life itself. In being conscious, choice simply is… It is the supreme gift of our free will. We choose to love who we love in the particular. We choose our thoughts and have the power to change them any minute to experience and feel something different, as our thoughts generate so many of our feelings. We have the daily, moment-by-moment power to choose love over fear…
Over the next two days as I and Ruby repeated our routine–first to Lake Cachuma where the park attendant now recognized us and simply acknowledged and smiled at me as he waved me through, and then afternoons to a beach on the southern side of Santa Barbara—the image, the vision, of these women carrying this body into the sea stayed with me, and on the third day, as I was sitting on the beach looking out at the sea that was remarkably glass calm that day–the spirit of the shrouded woman on the cot actually sat up and then stepped off, walking out of her body. And then she came to me and walked right into me, into my body.
And the scene and the beach then was suddenly clear, up front, beautifully resonant and loud…
Over the next hour or so as I sat on the warm sand–the sun and sky and sea and white waves all one thing–my thoughts ranged widely, deeply: I thought of the spectacular and singular Lemurian Dow Crystal that had made its way into my hands the year prior and the miraculous story of its arriving to New York. I thought of the ‘dream-vision’ I’d had when I heard so clearly the name Capwell. I thought about the Bedouin woman at Pretra in Jordan who had sat me down in front of her, having been led to her by her daughter who had approached me and braided my hair, and how when I arrived in front of this woman, she had simply grasped my hands as she tugged me down to sit with her in the dry dirt and said things I knew I heard and understood somewhere in my body but still can’t translate, though looking into her eyes I had the experience of the night sky opening up and the cosmos being viscerally alive as she seemed to look right through me into the universe as well, and how later I had cried for hours in one of the burial caves, and how after that visit, I knew in every fibre of my bones, my work as administrator as it was was over.
And I thought of Carl Jung as he suddenly ‘grasped’ the energetic nature of the universe and how archetypes and complexes figured energetically in our subconscious, a place not of geographical location in the body but of the energetic field, and how as he ‘got’ this, he left Burghölzli hospital, left his professional associations and moved to the lake to explore how it is through our relationship to archetypes we can gain a great vision into the lessons we are here to learn and how if we stayed with the archetype without trying to ‘interpret it’, great insight would arrive. And I thought too of the Mindful Heart and Isis, and Ephraim, who have so patiently been present for me, to offer me their guidance, if I could only continue to surrender more deeply to knowing my own truth and the truth of who and what I am.
All this came through me as Ruby dug in the sand, and the waves and sun lulled onto the beach, and I knew too it would take days and weeks to begin to feel and understand the ties, the connections and the knowing that were being integrated back into my Soul body, my Heart body and that was slowly coming into conscious recollection.
Some of us dream at night. Some of us have awake dreams, visions. And having done dream work at Pacifica in the Depth Psychology program, I had become much more conscious of how our internal dreams worked with us. And what it is we can know, see, if we only allow ourselves to stay with the vision instead of trying to jump to analysis, interpretation so quickly…
And too, I thought of Plato and the beautiful scene he depicts in The Republic of a Soul choosing to come into human form, and how often, as I’ve spoken to colleagues who’ve taught The Republic over and over to young minds, how often we’d scurry over this book, this vision–we all had–but in fact, it is there, in that scene, where we ought to begin to set forth the whole discussion of the Soul, and the city-state as the Soul ‘writ large…’
In the days following, as I wondered how I would ‘write’ this experience… I realized in many Shamanic traditions from around the world, this was also what might/would be called a ‘soul retrieval’, when aspects of the Soul are reinvigorated energetically into our Being, and particularly our conscious Being. When this occurs, we are recovering disintegrated aspects of ourselves that have been closed off to us energetically, aspects of ourselves that have been blocked off from consciousness, but that we are now ready energetically to invite back in, open ourselves up to and hold with all their knowing.
We are star-seed. We are consciousness coalesced into form through the sacred act of love. Energy condensed into live, living matter. We arrive here with lessons to learn, lessons we chose to learn as aspects of Source consciousness, the energetic life-force, prana, Holy spirit or grace that infuses our bodies, is our bodies and animates our Being, for there is no separation between this energetic force and ourselves. We are not victims. When we can begin to see our experiences as lessons, Soul lessons to show us something about being consciousness in human form, we begin to get more curious about our experiences–all of them–the good, the bad, the ugly, and the internal as well as external. And then we hold them more tenderly, allow ourselves to be more tender with ourselves, kinder to ourselves.
It doesn’t mean we don’t have to wake up in the morning with the same small personality self in the mind wondering if she is loved, wondering momentarily what it’s all about, but we can wake up, become conscious when we hear her wonder, and we can invite her into our hearts, our larger Soul bodies with open arms…We can invite ourselves in with love, ease and grace… When we do this, we get to see a different kind of logic, an internal logic of our lives…a logic that points to growth and Being on a totally different scale than the days and minutes by which so many of us have so frequently measured our worth, our lives….
We are indeed so much vaster, so much kinder…
In deep gratitude,