There’s No Place Like Home!

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The completion of a Hero Cycle adventure brings the traveler Home. The hero returns to their point of origin yet it is not the same place, because the hero is a changed person from before their adventure began.  S/he has come into her own strengths and gained maturity from having overcome the obstacles and ordeals inherent in the adventure of living. Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With 1000 Faces aptly notes that what the hero returns with are strengths not only for that individual but as well for the good of the whole.

“The presence of a vital person vitalizes,” says Campbell in his film documentary with Bill Moyers called “The Hero’s Adventure.”  This is the whole point on one level of the Hero Cycle: persons depart from their too comfortable environments to challenge themselves, to strengthen their whole assemblage of archetypal sub-selves; in Jung’s terms to “individuate” by integrating and developing the full range of their individually focused human capacities.

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The Prodigal Son is a big picture or covering myth that expresses a fundamental unity of most religions: Soul departs from Its divine origin to experience life in the worlds of duality, so It can eventually face the weaknesses of the human consciousness. From encountering ordeals and learning the value of divine love, eventually Soul surrenders human passions of the ego and recovers awareness of Its Divine nature; then It can return to the Godhead to assume a greater responsibility to Life Itself with a fully spiritualized consciousness. In a way, all of human experience can be thought of as subsumed under this greater mythic motif that permeates our lives, at least from a spiritual perspective. (BTW by mythic I do not mean a false narrative but rather a vital tale of profound scope and consequence!)

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One of my favorite movies with a slight comic twist of the Prodigal Son/ Daughter theme is Defending Your Life with Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep.  Daniel and Julia, two recently deceased individuals, find themselves–and meet each other– in the afterworld purgatory city called Judgment City, amid a thriving throng of others recently deceased.  They are assigned attorney angels to represent them at a trial before a panel of judges, whose verdict will determine whether the defendant Soul will need yet to reincarnate or they can “go on” to higher planes.

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Daniel and Julia fall in love. Julia (Meryl Streep) is a shoe-in for transcending to higher planes as she is a bright, heroic sort already. Her trial lawyer shows images of her having soared through her previous life: rushing into a burning house to bring out children, then going back in to bring out a cat! Daniel, on the other hand, has a more challenging trial. His lawyer–played by Rip Torn as a rather querulous defense attorney—shows images from Daniel’s his former life that reveal how he often came up short when it came to taking risks; so it becomes very likely Daniel will need to return to earth to finesse his character a bit more. I won’t give away the ending, but you might imagine what Daniel could do to in order move on with Julia.

Defending Your Life conveys important messages about the Hero Cycle and particularly regarding the Return. WHY ARE YOU HERE? What sorts of challenging experiences recur again and again in your life as if to teach you well? What are you here to learn as your most vital life lessons?

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images are from pixabay.com

Have you learned your specific lesson(s) well enough yet? How might you take your lesson one step further? Another way of asking this is:

WHAT ARE YOU HERE TO GIVE?

What could bring YOU Home from your ordeals, for the good of the Whole?

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

Time Out for Summer Reflections

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Still on my Golden Child theme of Summertime, today I walked a Labyrinth because of the relative freedom of schedule that my summertime allows. And I got to thinking about life reflections generally and how Summer travel and ‘time out’ is a good context for reflecting on where you are at in life, how you have arrived here, where you are and/or wish to be going, and how to get from wherever you are Now to the destination of your Life Dream or personal life goals.

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The relative flexibility of a summer escapade or outing can shake up the normalcy of your work routines just enough so that, in a way, your vacation time becomes a condition of “time out of time.” In anthropology we call that a time that is ripe for undergoing a meaningful Rite of Passage. It is a “liminal zone” pregnant with possibility and new potentials. So it may be one of the best times all year to contemplate CHANGE, from minor to major; to look again at staid traditions or even your creative products to see what you might do to tweak or flexibly improve their conditions.

On a larger scale, to me such interstice phases are fantastic opportunities for “mid-course corrections.” Maybe you might wish to rethink a recent or a longstanding decision. Or maybe it is time to start planning the next, new Chapter of your life.

With my own approach of Life Mapping that I have been teaching and writing about, I think of such Time Outs for life reflection as a way to reflect on your life NOW (rather than after death, e.g. if you believe in reincarnation or simply getting the most out of THIS lifetime), so you can envision what sorts of changes of direction or action might best help you reach your highest goals according to your deepest core values.

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I love/ highly recommend the film Defending Your Life, a fun Albert Brooks/ Meryl Streep comedy  that posits two recently deceased souls, one of whom has achieved great strides with her bold and heroic life (Streep), while the other (Brooks) has shied away from some of his greater opportunities. They meet at a level of afterlife called Judgement City where they must go to a court of sorts to “defend” their lives. They fall in love though from such different life trajectories, and that’s where the drama begins!

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images are from pixabay.com

Wherever you are at, time out for life reflection or even a mid-course correction, from small to large, can be invigorating! So I encourage you to take a hike, do yoga or deep active contemplation/ meditation (whatever floats your Boat, as they say!), or go for a swim, take a camping trip while you can this summer, or by all means go walk a Labyrinth!

I welcome your comments and stories!

Your Journey of Soul

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In The Journey of Souls, psychiatrist Dr. Michael Newton reports on his research using hypnosis to regress clients to a state “between” lifetimes. Not a believer in reincarnation when he began this research, he now writes and speaks about it openly. There is an amazing degree of similarity across his hundreds of tape recorded subjects’ accounts.

A significant theme that comes up time and time again in Dr. Newton’s ‘between life’ under-hypnosis stories—from people who do not know what he will be asking and who do not know each other—is the idea of a “Soul group.” This is said to be a group of closely interconnected souls (over several lives) that touch base or check in with one another between lives in order to help each other review the life they have lived to reflect on whether or not, or to what degree, they have realized their life goals and lessons for that lifetime.

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Since this week’s theme is about YOUR LIFE QUEST, this idea of a soul group and particularly about reflecting between lives on how far one has come toward their life goals seems relevant. So, here is a fun exercise I’d like to invite you to do:

Using active imagination and/or a dialogue journaling process, IMAGINE you are between lives like in Dr. Newton’s case stories, meeting with your own familiar Soul Group. First off, who might they be? Who do you want them to  be? Imagine they are there with you then. Next, have a conversation with these dear Souls about how  you–as the one who has passed on–are doing with your LIFE QUEST.  Your friends might ask you about your progress with lessons you  chose to focus on in this life or about how far you have come toward realizing your goals. You might wish to extend this imagination session by then realizing you can still go back to finish this life; you don’t need to wait for a new one!

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Now then, what is it you are here to FULFILL?

Some quests are short-term or may count as incremental steps toward a larger life mission; then there is the Big One; what might that be for you? Your imaginary friends can help you understand that, if you wish.

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Also, have you seen the movie, Defending Your LifeThis afterlife comedy has a similar theme to The Journey of Souls.  Daniel Miller (Albert Brooks) has passed on after a car accident and he finds himself in this intermediate zone where he has to appear in court with his defense attorney (Rip Torn) in order to “defend his life”. He meets and falls in love with a woman he meets in this heavenly realm, Julia (Meryl Streep). Julia was ‘perfect’ in her last life;  a true heroine. We know that Julia will win her case to “move on.” But Daniel has trouble in court; the prosecutor shows scene after scene from Daniel’s life where he failed to take a risk or to confront his fears; the major life lesson he had been sent to Earth for in that lifetime. He will probably be returned to make for greater progress ‘next time’. But he has fallen in love with Julia who is going on; so how can he resolve his dilemma? I won’t share the ending in case you haven’t seen the film. I highly recommend it!

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 Let me be honest with you here. These ideas, from The Journey of Souls and from “Defending Your Life,” have been some of the direct inspiration behind my developing the self-help process that I am sharing in my book, Life Paths. The idea is that rather than wait until death or nearly-dying, why not check in now instead? You can review and reflect about where you are at in your life with respect to your lifetime Quest and goals, and perhaps that can help for you to make a mid-course correction or a tweaking in the direction of your greatest fulfillment or ‘progress.’ Now of course no one knows what that is about except you or perhaps you and your spiritual helpers or guides. One person’s quest may not be of value at all to the next person, so only you can ultimately define your Quest to reflect on where you are in relation to that. Or maybe you don’t like goals; even so, what do you hope to have accomplished or to experience–even as a Bucket List sort of quest–before you move on?

I welcome your insights and Stories!

What Then?

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What are better choices? If we can assume that a choice is meant to bring us to a desired state of being rather than to a less desirable condition, then first we need to consider what the destination is that we hope to arrive at through our choice, and then the ‘right’ direction should be more clear. No one else, though, can tell us what is the ‘right’ course to take. A better choice is one that ‘rings true’ with your own deepest self.

I remember when I had a choice to make of what college to attend after high school. I had applied to and been accepted by three universities in the State University of New York system. I visited all three but that only made my choice more difficult, as each had special qualities I liked. Someone gave me a good idea which helped a lot. I wrote positive and negative considerations in two columns for all 3 choices and then I looked to see objectively which choice had the most positive aspects listed. But then, I asked myself how I felt about that choice, and I knew instinctively that the one with the most ‘positives’ was not the one my heart was interested in.  I chose the college closest to home because I wanted to maintain some cherished friendships. That proved to be obviously the right choice for me, down the road.

Here is a poem by William Butler Yeats about ‘better choices’:

What Then?

His chosen comrades thought at school
He must grow a famous man;
He thought the same and lived by rule,
All his twenties crammed with toil;
‘What then?’ sang Plato’s ghost. ‘What then?’

Everything he wrote was read,
After certain years he won

Sufficient money for his need, Friends that have been friends indeed;

‘What then?’ sang Plato’s ghost. ‘ What then?’

All his happier dreams came true —
A small old house, wife, daughter, son,
Grounds where plum and cabbage grew,
poets and wits about him drew;
‘What then.?’ sang Plato’s ghost. ‘What then?’

The work is done,’ grown old he thought,
‘According to my boyish plan;
Let the fools rage, I swerved in naught,
Something to perfection brought’;
But louder sang that ghost, ‘What then?’

Yeats’ poem has an almost eerie quality to it in relation to the matter of discerning ‘better choices’. How can we choose proactively rather than having to look back in retrospect to see whether our choice has led to personal fulfilment, or not? Some of you might be familiar with the book The Journey of Souls by Dr. Michael Newton. This book puts the topic of better choices into a much larger scope. It deals –(whatever your personal approach, this book brings in  reincarnation as described under hypnosis by people being regressed)–with the question of whether in a given lifetime we have fulfilled our goal or learned our lessons of that lifetime! A more popular example of this idea is in the fun movie “Defending Your Life”, one of my favorites. Here, Albert Brooks plays a man who never takes risks, and in death he is put on trial, literally, to defend whether he made enough progress to “move on” or not. Meanwhile he has fallen in love in this afterlife realm with a character played by  Meryl Streep who has been a real hero in her life so she will obviously graduate to a higher plane! I like the general question being posed by both of these, and Yeats’ poem too. What is your life purpose? Why are YOU Here, in the largest sense, not just day to day?

My notion is that we should not wait until we are elderly, or until we pass on, to ask ourselves what we would really like to be fulfilling NOW, with THIS life, whatever the afterlife might have in store. (And BTW, what might be fulfilling to one might be as simple as an act of kindness  or learning to give love unconditionally.)  Here and Now we do have some control over our conscious choices. For myself I intend to ‘accomplish’ all I can spiritually, and take that forward.

Do you have a Life Dream? That may be all the North Star you need to arrive at your own better choices.