Your Unique Soul Journey

Photograph © 2020 Peggy Kornegger
Our soul journeys—how we find our way to recognizing the enlightenment or God that lives within us—are completely unique to each of us. I mean completely. Even your closest friend or wisest spiritual teacher is not on exactly the same path as you. We need to remember and honor the wisdom within us that is our guide in this, especially now at this time of such tumultuous change in the external world. The old religious structures that prescribed certain behaviors and beliefs, monitored by an external authority figure, are not the wave of the future. Neither are current spiritual programs that revolve around the popularity of one teacher or speaker. Previous paradigms of all kinds are falling away. We may eventually live in a “flexi-paradigm,” part of an ever-evolving and expansive collective consciousness. Within that, each one of us is singular, unrepeatable.

Over the years, I have found wisdom and inspiration in a variety of places. Everything I received from external sources, however, had to resonate with something inside me in order for me to experience it as true. I think this is probably the case for most of us. I came to realize that there is no one viewpoint or perspective that supersedes my own soul’s voice, the peaceful essence at my core. My life journey upon this Earth is unique to my particular human/divine embodiment. God speaks to, through, each of us differently.

My spiritual path has become primarily centered in a connection to Spirit through Nature and the beauty and light found therein. It is something I can find anywhere on this Earth. Even one flower in a single flowerpot holds that sacred life force. I celebrate this connection through my presence, love, and gratitude. Life becomes a living meditation, a never-ending prayer. It is not a mental process; it arises spontaneously from my heart and soul when I am immersed in the natural world. Simple loving awareness. No breaks in which I am or am not in meditation or prayer. I am always there.

Perhaps spirituality and religion began with the voice of one seeker speaking his/her awareness into the silence. Someone heard and repeated it, and then someone else repeated that, and eventually it was written down. Over the centuries form overtook essence, and we lost the free-flowing aspect of our connection to something greater in this universe. Now, in this unusual transformative time on planet Earth, form in all its various manifestations is falling away, and essence is once again appearing. The ancient wisdom “Look within” for God, for peace, is being heard again as if for the first time.

Truly, you yourself are God, as are we all. We can listen to, and learn from, one another’s soul stories, but we cannot walk this journey in someone else’s footsteps. Divine intelligence has given each of us a blueprint, a piece of the puzzle, which is our gift and blessing in this lifetime. Individually, as we live each moment in gratitude and compassion, we become part of a oneness that weaves each unique individual thread into a collective tapestry of peaceful universal consciousness. God returning to God, who never really left.

Racism and White Privilege: The Hard Look

Photograph © 2020 Peggy Kornegger
It’s hard to look unflinchingly at the full extent of racism in the U.S.; it’s ugly, brutal, inhuman. The knee on the neck that chokes the breath out of a living person, the lynching rope that has choked the life out of generations of African Americans. White people have looked away, not wanting to see that cold-blooded brutality or the systemic racism built into American institutions created by white men and slave-owners. Black people don’t have that choice, that privilege; they face racist reality full-force every second of their lives. Parents have to instruct their children how to behave when they encounter a police officer (“hands up”). The adults carry fear in their hearts just living an ordinary life because they know they could be killed no matter what they do or don’t do (George Floyd, Breonna Taylor). Black lives have never mattered in the history of this country; the inability or refusal to see that is white privilege. This is the harsh reality of racism in America.

The other day, a friend of mine, a lifelong activist, asked me how one can be a supportive loving presence at protests in solidarity with angry participants, both black and white. Where does love figure in unity and demanding justice? Can love and anger coexist? Difficult questions. If we believe in the power of love, how do we live it, especially now? The first thought that occurred to me was to listen (which is an act of love), to pay attention to the voices of African Americans who are speaking the truths of their lives.* Voices that have been suppressed and silenced for hundreds of years. Outrage at injustice and murder is part of those truths. White people have to remain open to hearing that anger without filtering or deflecting it.

I am a white lesbian; I know sexual discrimination and homophobic hatred from the inside of my life experience. But I do not know racism from the inside. No white person does; that too is white privilege. We have to listen, and we have to look inside ourselves for the racism we carry within, the preconceptions and privileges. This is the hard uncomfortable look. It’s not up to black people to instruct white people about racism; it’s up to white people to learn by listening, to be willing to have uncomfortable conversations, and then to act in order to be the change. Can we do this with love and compassion in our hearts? I believe we can.

It’s a practice. It’s coming back to the perspective that together as a people, we are all mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, children and parents, single and married, young and old, black and white, gay, straight, and trans. Yet, within that, there are actions we need to take as individuals and collectively to change a system that was built on inequality and exclusion of people of color. It’s not a broken system; it works perfectly to support those in power and keep others from knowing their own power. It’s time to recognize that much of the story of American freedom and democracy is a myth that excludes a large part of the population. It’s time to create something new, out of outrage and out of love. Both can live side by side, if we are willing to truly listen to each other and work together.

The hard look for white people often involves discomfort, defensiveness, guilt, and fear of saying the wrong thing, of being thought insensitive and racist. But if we face the fact that we, as white people, are racist, shaped by a racist power structure (from which we have benefited just because of the color of our skin), then we have a place to begin. There is embarrassment and vulnerability in acknowledging that truth, but perhaps that is the opening we need. To be willing to say the “wrong thing,” to learn from our mistakes, from what we don’t know but can learn. Out of open conversation comes the opportunity for transformation in a world that desperately needs it. The global and national crises of COVID-19 and George Floyd’s murder have placed this country, and the world, at an historical tipping point. It’s up to us to redream humanity’s future, from division into unity, from separation into oneness, from fear into love. It’s time…
*Listen to the deeply honest participants in Oprah’s two-part program Where Do We Go From Here?:

What About Love?

Photograph © 2020 Peggy Kornegger
“How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?”
—Jonathan Larson

Your mind can’t comprehend it, and your heart can’t absorb it: Sudden death—and the fear, pain, and anger that accompany it. Yet another African American man, George Floyd, murdered by a white police officer. Hundreds of thousands of lives cut short by a virulent worldwide virus. In the U.S. and internationally, thousands protest in the streets against years and years of racism, violence, and injustice. As COVID-19 circles the globe, people lose relatives and friends, their jobs and homes; immigrants are again targeted and blamed. Grief. Anger. Is this how life is going to be from now on? It is unless we make the conscious choice to change it. It is until we see our neighbors as ourselves.

We are at a turning point in this country and in the world. Our direction will determine our future. Will we repeat the fatal mistakes of the past, continuing to exist in a polarized “reality” of hatred and mistrust, separation and fear, every stranger a potential enemy, our green planet dying right along with us? Or will we wake up in the midst of this nightmare and recognize the madness for what it is: inner pain externalized. The idea of “other” arising out of a distorted desire to feel “better than.” Can we salvage something livable from this brokenness? Is it possible for humanity to learn how to value life again? And what about love?

We have that love within us. We were born with it. Look in a newborn baby’s eyes and you see only possibility, only love. Children have to be taught how to fear and hate. Can we erase the programming and start afresh? The coronavirus stopped the world in its tracks. In the absence of “things as usual,” the skies began to clear, and new ways to live were born out of compassion and kindness. Still, racism and attitudes about “difference” remained. Now is the moment of truth. Let’s not fall backward into old patterns of divisiveness and “otherdom.” Disagreements about wearing face masks that end up in physical fights, racial hatred that ends up in murder. We can choose differently. We can value the lives of every being on this planet. We can open our hearts in love instead of close them in mistrust and fear.

What will it take, you ask. Seems impossible. But the world we are currently inhabiting is just about as “impossible” as it gets. And that is becoming obvious to more and more people. An awakening is happening on this planet. Humanity is breaking through to the other side of hundreds of years of internalized and external separation. The concept of “other” is being shown in all its distortions so that we can at last see it for what it is—a prison that we are all entrapped in. As we awaken more and more, we begin to see ourselves in every person. What happens to you is simultaneously happening to me. The universal point of view suddenly opens up, and we recognize that separation is an illusion of the mind; at the heart level, we are inseparable. Oneness is not a concept, an unreachable ideal. It is the truth of our existence. There is no “other”; there is only the energy of love out of which we were all born and within which we always dwell.

Love is the awakening. Love is waking up to itself in everyone. Choose it every day in every way and transform the planet. Love everyone. Break through preconceptions and stereotypes (race, gender, age), opinions and beliefs, judgments and arguments. End the war inside you and live in peace with everyone. Allow your heart to guide you. Love every single person you encounter as you would a newborn, and love yourself as well. There is no way to “measure a life,” for life is immeasurable, unfathomable. It is a miracle of love and light that we are blessed to experience. Let that awareness fully awaken within you, and your life and the lives of all those around you will transform immediately. That is why you came to this planet at this time, to be part of an awakening. To open your heart to love even when you are facing a wall of seemingly solid opposition. Keep loving courageously, and the walls will eventually fall, the opposition dissolve. The awakening is in you and me and all of us. Our collective love and compassion are more powerful than “impossibility.”


The Last Attachment

Photograph © 2020 Peggy Kornegger
In the course of our lives, human beings form attachments to events, people, memories, feelings, beliefs, experiences, physical objects, and much more. If we choose at some point to follow a spiritual path, we learn, sometimes quite painfully, to see the impermanence of everything and to let go of many of those attachments. One of our strongest attachments is to the personality we have constructed over the years and the stories we tell ourselves about our lives. Lives that are in reality ephemeral and transitory—a truth never more poignantly visible than in the past few months as humanity confronts death on a daily basis because of the coronavirus. We are taking a collective crash course in letting go—of everything.

The very last attachment in life is to our physical form. It keeps us tethered to Earth and if held onto too tightly may prevent us from experiencing the seamless connection between the physical and the spiritual. Between humanity and divinity. However, when you step into the free formlessness of the soul, of living with and within God, you begin to flow with life and eventually let go of hanging on so desperately to your physicality. This may happen fully only at your death, but if you are fortunate, you may experience it in life as you open to the greater wisdom of nonattachment.

Over the past year, I have faced the unexpected early deaths of several good friends. Such losses seem to increase as the years pass, and we look at our selves and our lives with a new awareness of the fleeting nature of time. In childhood, we have a whole life of endless days and nights ahead of us. As we grow older, the days appear to shorten and the years pass more quickly. In counterpoint, our bodies slow down, and we realize there is no reason to rush through the days and years. This is precious wisdom, moving us gradually to releasing attachment to time and physicality. But now that process has been accelerated for everyone. When people are dying by the thousands everywhere on the planet, there is no time for gradual acceptance. The last attachment is front and center all the time.

How do you navigate that awareness so that it infuses your life with wisdom and not suffering? How do you come to accept the deaths of loved ones and/or your own eventual death? Perhaps this global acceleration has been given to humanity to help us to face all of life’s beginnings and endings with peace instead of panic. To fully realize the preciousness of each moment and live from love and acceptance rather than judgment and attempts at control. We are here on Earth in physical form for a split second in time. Yet our nonphysical souls live forever in eternity. If you open to connecting to that soulful presence within (through whatever spiritual practices resonate with you), you access a timeless inner peace that is not attached to your body. That experience can sustain you through life’s most challenging moments.

When you begin to see everything from your soul’s perspective, moments of peaceful connection can multiply and become continuous. Much of the suffering that arises from attachment to a fixed predictable “reality” will gradually dissolve, and you can be more allowing of life, even in times of crisis. Maybe the entire world is now learning to accept the process of living and dying as part of a greater spiritual unfolding in the universe. Our physical form is just a temporary costume. In truth, life at its very core, you at your very core, are Spirit, which is eternal. When you are no longer so “attached” to external physicality, you begin to experience that inner loving connection as a constant companion.


Where Is Your Home?

Photograph © 2020 Peggy Kornegger
The coronavirus mandate to “stay at home” has meant different things to different people. For some, it has meant freedom from external-world busyness and distractions and a return to inner peace and quiet. To others, it has felt like unwanted confinement and loss of in-person social contact. Some have lost their jobs and incomes; others, like healthcare workers, have had no choice but to leave the “safety” of home to provide critical services, despite the risks. All of us are suddenly facing issues of life and death. Our entire world, inside and out, has changed radically and continues to do so. In the midst of these huge ongoing changes, what does home mean?

Is home a place, or is it other people? Is it simply “shelter” or something much deeper, within you? Many of us have found ourselves considering such questions. When death appears at your doorstep, it is hard to ignore. Losing a loved one or facing the possibility of your own death is traumatic. You long desperately for solace and comfort, something that “home” has traditionally provided. But what if you are homeless, or you live in fear of losing your rented apartment because you no longer can pay for it? What if, even inside your seemingly secure home, you feel insecure and lost? How do we handle such painful, often isolating experiences?

Perhaps it’s possible, going forward, to feel at home within ourselves, whatever the situation, through the power of connection. Connection to other people, near or distant, gives us shared experiences and shared support, both individual and community. Connection to Nature takes us out of our own worries and fears and opens our hearts to the living world around us that we may have ignored or taken for granted. A peaceful walk in a park seems like a tremendous blessing right now. As does time spent with family, friends, and neighbors. These two are inseparable connections, and they can assist us in finding a sense of “home” and inner peace in the midst of uncertainty. As we navigate the future, we will be sustained by the ways we work together to make the world more livable for everyone as well as by the way we honor Mother Earth.

Equally important is a connection to something greater, beyond this lifetime, beyond all lifetimes. Whether you call it God or Goddess, Source or Mystery (or have no name at all for it), there is a loving Presence that permeates our material world and holds us all in its awareness. We carry that Presence within us; it is in our hearts and souls. It is in the love we share with others and the appreciation we feel for the Earth’s beauty. This is the Home that is infinite and eternal. It is who we are, we human spirits in physical form. During times of great crisis, people often begin to explore this aspect of themselves, the part that can never die or be lost. Here is the comfort we seek when everything else seems so tenuous and uncertain.

We can find courage and sustenance in connecting to our souls. We can also be more at peace with the unknown if we feel that connection. Yes, we have been facing fear and aloneness. Yet something else has been awakening: a soulful energy that emerges when we live our fullest, most loving expression in the world. When we sing in the night to our neighbors or care for the sick and helpless or share our deepest thoughts about life with a friend, the heart of the world is healed. Each of the ways we live love moment to moment is a unique, unrepeatable contribution. This global crisis could be a catalyst to help us remember the home of Spirit within ourselves, which connects us to all of life.