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Exploring the Secrets of your Soul
by Marilyn C. Barrick, Ph.D.
In my practice as a transformational therapist and as a serious student of the world's mystical truths, I have confirmed for myself that life is a sacred adventure of the soul. Our souls have inner yearnings and mystical secrets ready for our discovery when we pay attention to our lives and to our dreams.
I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams,
your young men shall see visions.
Psychology in its essence is the study of the soulmy soul, your soul. We begin to understand the more obvious nature of our soul when we probe our motivations, thoughts, reactions and behaviors. When we pursue the understanding of our nightly journeys, through our dreams, we are exploring our soul's hidden secrets.
The Journey of the Soul
My understanding of the journey of the soul has its roots in the pursuit of gnosis, a Greek term for inner knowing. Raised in a traditional Christian setting, I developed an early sense of inner knowing from my prayers, reading of scripture and communion with Jesus. My soul awareness was also nourished by music, nature and occasional mystical dreams and visions of the heaven world.
As an adult, I meditated and kept track of my inner visions and spiritual dreams. I felt drawn to the mystical aspects of spirituality. My inner nature resonated with the mysteries of the Kabbalah, the Essenes, the Christian mystics and the mystical threads of Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and Sufism. I explored esoteric teachings as well--Theosophy, Rosicrucianism, the I AM Activity, the Bridge to Freedom and The Summit Lighthouse.
My own experiences and those of my clients have taught me that we can travel the high road of spiritual initiation and attainment. We can choose to be one with the mind of our Creator, to exercise loving compassion toward everyone we meet and to claim the empowerment of our soul's divine heritage. Our dreams and visions become guideposts along the way.
A Reverence for Spirit
I had the opportunity as a child growing up in Arizona to learn about the customs of many American Indian tribes. Even then I understood their profound reverence for the spiritual essence of all life. And I learned that they considered dreams to be among life's most important experiences.
Native American customs fascinated me. As a teenager I became interested in the way many tribes provided a rite of passage for their youth involving dreams and vision quests. Usually these rituals were for the boys, and I remember wishing I could have a special rite of passage.
Although beliefs and practices differed from tribe to tribe, the Native American people had a heritage of being deeply in touch with the sacred. They saw the divine spirit in nature and in animal life. And they sought divine intervention through dreams, visions and rituals.
Elders and healers would periodically isolate themselves from the rest of the tribe to fast, pray and meditate. They were in pursuit of dreams that would bring guidance and new direction. A common understanding was that the dreamer's strong will and concentration would draw the particular kind of guidance he needed. When I realized that many of these early customs and rituals had not survived into modern times, I was saddened.
Although today Native American cultures are highly respected around the world, in the 1940s and 1950s they were not. I remember seeing Navajo women in Arizona sitting on the pavement selling for undervalued return their beautiful wares of jewelry, pottery, leather goods and blankets. The ever-present souvenirs of Indian headdresses, totem poles and tomahawks perpetuated a stereotyped warlike image. Young men from the reservations faced discrimination and difficulty getting good jobs. They sometimes ended up discouraged and expressed their frustration by drinking and driving wildly over the desert.
I remember thinking, how tragic that "civilization" could so divest us of a sense of honor and civility toward this people. How tragic that the young men and women of the tribes were no longer encouraged by the larger culture to stand tall in their natural reverence for nature and the dignity of their soul and spirit.* Fortunately, today we see a renewed respect for Native American traditions, especially in the area of alternative spirituality.
The Life Story of Grandfather
As a prelude to our exploration of dreams, I would like to present a glimpse of the life of Grandfather. He was a revered warrior and shaman of the Lipan Apache tribe who spent his entire life seeking to understand and practice the eternal wisdom of Spirit. His soul's journey speaks to us of the high road of spiritual attainment.
Grandfather cultivated an ongoing connectedness to Spirit through an intuitive approach to everyday tasks. He learned respect for the cycles of nature and had a deep reverence for the essence of the sacred in all life.
The life journey of Grandfather was written by Tom Brown, Jr., a noted wilderness survival trainer. He tells us that Grandfather lived a nomadic existence and trekked through forests, deserts and mountains all over North and South America. In his lifetime Grandfather walked thousands of miles, searching for and communing with his Creator. He walked alone, except when called to teach, to pass on what he had learned.
Following the way of ancient seekers throughout the ages, Grandfather prayed and communed in solitude and obeyed the inner guidance of the Great Spirit. He experienced life-saving lessons from the spirit of God in animal life. For example, a lizard came to his rescue and led him to water when he was in the blazing heat of the desert.
In the land of ice and snow he overcame loneliness and experienced the unity of all life while watching the Northern Lights. There he was, lying in a snow bank, seemingly alone in the icy wilds, when his intuition prompted him to look around. And sitting in another heap of snow, practically next to him, was a ptarmigan (a kind of grouse), equally engrossed in watching the cosmic lights in the sky.
Grandfather respected all life. He loved and served people. He did his part to take care of nature and understood that we are God's caretakers of the earth. He was a practitioner and teacher of eternal truths, and yet as civilization moved on he saw little of what he taught being transferred to the younger generations. Only the few carried on the ancient sacred traditions.
I pay tribute to Tom Brown for passing on his heritage of Grandfather's walk with the Great Spirit. This captivating story awakens us to the eternal mysteries of God and to holy treasures hidden in the wilderness. We, too, can hear the voice of Spirit within when we listen with heart and mind and soul.
Grandfather's dream of passing on his heritage to future generations is not lost. As we seek to preserve the beauty of nature, return to a more sacred way of life and create inner and outer peace, we are keeping Grandfather's quest and vision alive and well.
Rediscovering Our Identity in Spirit
How do we rediscover our identity in Spirit while leading hectic lives that seem to continually accelerate? How can we be as connected as Grandfather was and receive the promptings of our soul and Higher Self?
I would point to a teaching that runs through all the world's spiritual traditions--that such understanding comes through the highest communion of the heart. A precious book, Heart, published by the Agni Yoga society, expresses it beautifully:
In substance, the heart is an organ of higher action and offering; hence each offering is of the nature of the heart....Each throb of the heart is a smile, a tear, and gold. All of life flows through the heart....
Many mystics and spiritual teachers direct their students to commune with Spirit through the heart. Elizabeth Clare Prophet says, "Love is the alchemical key." She reminds us that love is the nature of God and the essence of our own Higher Self. Love is magnetic. It draws us close to the angels; it draws us close to one another. Love as the compassionate heart heals our pain. It is truly the greatest power in the universe. Where is it to be found on Earth but in the secret recesses of the heart?
It is not without reason that the Teaching of the Heart is so needed for the life of the future. Otherwise how will you cross the boundaries of the worlds?...The heart is not wholly one's own organ but is granted for highest communion....
A certain hermit emerged from his solitude with a message, saying to each one whom he met, "Thou possessest a heart." When he was asked why he did not speak of mercy, of patience, devotion, love, and other beneficent foundations of life, he answered, "The heart alone must not be forgotten, the rest will come."
Verily, can we turn toward love, if there is nowhere for it to dwell? Or, where will patience dwell if its abode be closed? Thus, in order not to torment oneself with blessings that are inapplicable, it is necessary to build a garden for them, which will be unlocked to the comprehension of the heart.
And so, as aspiring adepts of the heart, hand in hand with our Higher Self, we can pursue a sacred journey. Our dreams and visions along the way become beacons to guide us. Living the mandates of heaven on Earth, we quicken and illumine the questing of our soul and move ever closer to oneness with the Infinite One.
We begin our journey by exploring the mystical roots of dream interpretation and looking at what people through history have said about dreams. We will look at lucid dreaming and Tibetan dream and sleep yoga as a path of spiritual adeptship through dream work.
Throughout the book, I analyze dreams of friends and clients to show how you can discover the symbology of your own dreams. Together, we will pursue the thread of connection between the dramas of daily life, our nightly dreams and the inner journeys of our soul.
As an explorer of your inner territory, you can journey through your own dream world guided by the pages of this book. You can learn to penetrate your dreams and unveil, layer by layer, the secrets of your soul, the fullness of who you are--and who you may become.
*The soul, whether housed in a male or female body, is the feminine counterpart of Spirit. Our spirit (lowercased s) is our masculine essence; thus we say the spirit of a person is joyful, lethargic, melancholy, and so forth.
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