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.

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.

Soul Agreements

Photograph © 2020 Peggy Kornegger
We each come into our human lifetimes with an individual soul plan, which we then forget at birth. God, however, remembers, and God’s presence as the soul continuously reminds us of that plan. What may seem like a complete falling apart of everything in your life is really only a divine rerouting to keep you on course for what you agreed to experience, and expand with, before you incarnated. Your soul always remembers. When you begin to live consciously as your soul, you won’t feel so blindsided by life events. At the highest and deepest levels, everything is unfolding as it is meant to.

In addition to individual soul agreements, there are also collective soul agreements—for families and friends, for social groups, for countries, and for all of humanity. We are in the midst of a very powerful one right now on this planet. We humans had lost our reciprocal, caring relationship with the Earth, so much so that a massive cease-and-desist order went out in the cosmos. The coronavirus put the entire world in a timeout. And just in time. Mother Nature, our deepest connection to planetary life has been slowly dying, slipping away more and more dramatically before our unseeing eyes.

Now, as businesses, industry, transportation, and entire countries partially or completely shut down to prevent the further spread of the virus, we are beginning to see changes on the planet. Reports and photos of clear skies and waters are circulating on the Internet. People can see mountains in the distance and fish in the sea. They can hear birds sing in the stillness. They hear the silence within them for the first time in their lives. All of this was part of our collective and individual soul agreements: to awaken in the midst of planetary crisis to the wonders of the world and remember our connection to each other and to God. To remember why we were born.

Still, hundreds of thousands of people around the world are suffering and dying. In the worst cases, individuals need respirators because they have difficulty breathing, an eerie and heartbreaking reflection of what life is like on a polluted planet. But the Earth has now shown us that if we step away from “business as usual,” the air and waters can clear. We need to continue that recovery process so we can live in harmony with, and connection to, the Earth and all the people who live here. This is our collective soul agreement. This is our sacred responsibility: to restore balance everywhere, in our communities, in our homes, and in our hearts, so that as a species we can breathe again.

Each of us was born to be part of this huge planetary shift, the culmination of thousands of years of evolving, in incarnation after incarnation. Our individual soul agreements are bringing us together to contribute to a global transformation and the realization of our essential oneness. How do we each contribute? First and foremost, with love in our hearts. We all have particular gifts that we came into this life to lovingly share. Compassion and kindness will guide us as we move forward into an unknown and continually changing future.

Uncertainty is our friend. When we surrender to the fact that we don’t know all the answers yet and trust in the perfection of the process, then everything will begin to flow. Each step, each choice, individual and collective, will arise from how our souls see the world: as one consciousness living in many uniquely beautiful forms. Division and separation will be replaced by community and collaboration. One Earth arising from one Heart. Two words, same letters—the synchronicity of oneness.

 

Hide-and-Seek with God

Photograph © 2020 Peggy Kornegger
“I Am Loving Awareness”
—Ram Dass

Over the past decade, I have experienced divine connection in a variety of ways—in Nature, in solitary or group meditation, and with spiritual teachers who helped facilitate that falling away of form into formlessness. In spite of any longing on my part to hold onto it permanently, however, my experience of God came and went, arose and then receded. Repeatedly, I vacillated between the appearance and disappearance, almost as if I were playing hide-and-seek with God. Then Ram Dass died.

His longtime friend Krishna Das wrote a memorial tribute and mentioned Ram Dass’s mantra “I Am Loving Awareness.” He said that now Ram Dass would be found in that “loving presence” that lives within us all. Those words affected me profoundly. All day it was as if the mantra “I Am Loving Awareness” came to life within me. My mind’s filtering and perceptual judgments, pro and con, had dissolved, and there was just, well, awareness. Awareness that did nothing but receive the world around me with love. And gratitude. Tears ran down my cheeks. Yes, this was God, but it wasn’t a powerful rush; it was a quiet presence, a gradual awareness of awareness itself. And with that came the knowing that the rising and receding was only in my human perception, which had made divine presence seem as if it appeared and disappeared instead of being always at my core.

Now when I feel as if God has fallen silent and I am alone in the universe, there is a deeper loving awareness within me that reminds me that I am never alone and that God lives in the silence. It may take a few moments to come to the surface, but that awareness is my companion now. It has always been encoded in my very cells, but only my own soul’s journey could eventually bring me to the point of continuously recognizing the truth of God’s ever-Presence. We humans vacillate in our experiences and perceptions on Earth. God, however, remains constant, permeating the universe with divine light and love. When we pass from the Earthly plane, our souls will merge completely with that light.

Each day my experience of God/dess arises from the world around me, especially in Nature. The quality of the golden morning light, the vibrant colors of the flowers, the stunning blue of the sky–all of these awaken divine awareness in me. I remember who I am, who we all are, and everything around me seems to flow seamlessly in a sweet rhythm of being and becoming. We human souls are part of that. We came to Earth to embody divinity in physical form, to experience ourselves as God in the material world. We are God experiencing both Godness and humanness as one. It is a beautiful dance.

Ram Dass spent a lifetime coming into oneness with his mantra, the “loving awareness” that filled his soul. Just like all of us, he faced difficult human challenges, particularly the stroke that he learned to accept with such “fierce grace” over the last years of his life. In a photograph taken toward the end of his life, you can see the holy light of “loving awareness” shining from his eyes. Though I never met him in person, in the days following his death, I felt his presence in the sacred words of his mantra. It touched my heart and opened me to the loving awareness within myself. I stopped playing hide-and-seek and just rested in the infinite beingness that is God.

 

Does Nature Have Rights?

Photograph © 2019 Peggy Kornegger
Do birds have rights? What about bees, flowers, and trees? Or whales and giraffes? Rivers and lakes? These are profound questions that tap into the very nature of life on Earth. Currently, people around the world are focused on climate change: Does it exist, and if so, is it natural or unnatural? Yet, climate change is only one aspect of the larger issue of how human beings relate to the world in general. Do we see Nature as something to be used and then discarded, or do we see it as a living presence that we are part of, the heart and soul of life on Earth?

At the deepest level, it’s a spiritual, as much as a political, question: How do we live in relation to this planet, our “home” in the universe? Throughout the ages, Earth has been seen as a mother figure to the life forms she provides a home for. Mother Earth, or Gaia. Contemporary societies have forgotten this, or they disregard it as foolish fantasy. The corporate/political alliances that rule much of the modern world do not perceive our planet as alive and sentient. To them it is an object that brings them profit, to be used and used until there is nothing left. They don’t notice the invisible living connections that hold the living world together. To reduce everything to an argument about belief or disbelief in climate change is a distraction that keeps all of us from seeing something greater is at stake.

Ultimately, we need to enlarge the discussion to consider whether or not Earth and Nature have the same rights we claim for ourselves. Corporations are now seen as having the rights of a person because they have had the political clout to obtain that legal status. Mother Earth has never lobbied for her rights in the courtrooms and political arenas of this country. Her children, however, are now standing up for her as destruction of the natural world escalates everywhere. There are many grass-roots groups who have begun to work for the “Rights of Nature.”

In Toledo, Ohio, in 2014, the public water supply, sourced in Lake Erie, became so toxic (because of the lake’s high pollution from agricultural runoff and industrial waste) that residents were warned not to drink or even touch it. This crisis sparked a local movement to establish the rights of Lake Erie and the adjacent communities, which are being infringed upon by agribusiness and industries that pollute the lake. Voters passed an ordinance, the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, which is now being challenged by the state government. Rights-of-Nature groups are popping up in many places, including Pittsburgh (to stop fracking) and Oregon (to stop aerial pesticide spraying). In Southwest Florida, where I live, residents are organizing to establish rights for the Caloosahatchee River, polluted by algae flowing from Lake Okeechobee and contributing to red tide in the Gulf.

There is an awakening occurring across the country, as well as elsewhere in the world, to the essential rights of the natural world and humanity to live a healthy, balanced, unpolluted life on this planet. It’s not only about climate change, which is important but just the tip of the iceberg. Ordinary citizens in rural areas as well as large cities are coming together to say no to the poisoning of their communities by businesses that value money over life itself.* Mother Nature is a living breathing being, which every one of us is part of, and without her, we cannot live ourselves. The “Rights of Nature” movement is an idea whose time has come.
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* See the documentary We the People 2.0 and the dramatic film Dark Waters (based on real events) for the inspiring personal stories of those who are standing up to polluters and state (and federal) governments that back them.