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…
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*Listen to the deeply honest participants in Oprah’s two-part program Where Do We Go From Here?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09ysfL2SlHo

Hold Your Beliefs Light-ly

Photograph © 2019 Peggy Kornegger
Beliefs are tricky, especially in times of uncertainty. They can be a source of inspiration or a heavy chain around your neck. They can uplift you into possibility or weigh you down, keeping you from open-hearted expansion. Historically, beliefs have been the cause of cycles of planetary polarization: renaissances and wars, connection and separation, coming together and tearing apart, hope and despair. Humans have yet to reach the evolutionary tipping point of being present in experience without filters of any kind. Maybe now is the time to let go and see everything as light, including ourselves and our beliefs.

Growing up, we are taught to identify with our beliefs, that they are the “truth” of our experience. Social groups band together around certain values and perceptions, and identification with those views causes any differences to be seen as a threat. Very early in our lives, a sense of “other” is cultivated, as well as an emotional investment in one’s own view of the world. Mine vs. yours; us vs. them. Cliques, clubs, religious groups, sports teams, states, nations. The ubiquitous “they” follows us through our lives, fostering suspicion and stubbornness. This life view becomes an overlay to your inner light-filled soul self who only sees commonality and unity.

Even when you or I embark upon a spiritual path that encourages opening into the oneness of all life, those old tendencies can interrupt the flow of our soul’s journey on Earth. The personality self, or ego, still holds onto past stories and mental habits, which often center on beliefs. It can take years of conscious practice and commitment to awakening for a deeper awareness to break through the rigidity of belief itself. Eventually, the journey becomes about letting go of everything so that life can move through us unimpeded. This is where we are now on this planet.

Is there a place for belief within complete letting go and acceptance? Personally, I’m still coming into balance with this. I find open, expansive beliefs arising from kindness and inclusion to be inspiring and enlivening. My core belief in a divine loving Presence in the universe and within all beings connects me to others and to life itself. But if I go one step further and attach that core belief to a particular teaching or an expectation about how things should unfold, then I can slip into inflexibility and rigidity without even noticing it. If I look at someone else’s behavior or beliefs and judge them in any way, I have lost the thread of connection.

Perhaps it becomes a balancing dance in which we hold a belief so lightly that it can slip away easily when we open our hearts completely to the present moment and to those we share it with. When we relax into Presence fully, nothing else exists except a love that is both endless and wordless. No separation, no need to differentiate or articulate. There is a freedom in that, as well as a profound sense of connection to everything in the universe. Who would want to give that up in order to hang onto a belief of any kind? This may be our collective direction as a species and as a planet: to hold all of life lightly—with light, as light—and to see our own light-filled reflection in all we perceive. After all, we are just spirits passing through, part of a vast oneness beyond believing or not believing.

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.

 

Living Peace, Allowing Grief

Photograph © 2020 Peggy Kornegger
Yesterday just before sunrise I was overwhelmed by feelings of sadness, grief, and mourning. Tears streamed down my face. The unfathomable loss of life around the world from the coronavirus hit me like an avalanche. The number of cases is continuing to rise here in Florida and throughout the U.S. My thoughts turned to Boston friends who had died of cancer in the last year and the trip home to Massachusetts in May that Anne and I had to cancel. My own and the world’s sorrow and pain rushed through my body in waves as I wept. Gradually, after a time, it subsided, tear by tear, and I sat quietly in the half-darkness, breathing in the silence. The sky began to lighten. Then, as if in answer to my heart’s call for comfort, a mockingbird began to sing its morning song, a medley of every possible birdcall it had ever heard. My heart lifted, as it always does when I hear a mockingbird.

This is how life works. You fall head first into grief, your heart cracks open, and through that crack, grace enters: a birdsong or a sunrise, the comforting words of a friend or the kindness of a stranger. Grace takes many forms, but it always brings us back to the peace at our core, our soul’s presence. I realized that even as I wept in pain and sadness, I had not lost the feeling of inner peace that has been with me since the beginning of the year, an ongoing connection to something greater. Growing awareness of the peace that lives within us will be our greatest strength in these times of huge planetary change. We are learning to let go of the known and trust in something beyond knowing.

My own years of spiritual exploration and questioning have at last settled into trust in a universal Presence (or God) that holds the Earth in its loving embrace. We—meaning humanity—are going through a tremendous shift and rebalancing on this planet. It is a release of inharmonious old patterns, an opening into greater awareness, and ultimately a coming together in oneness. It may not look like it on the surface, but I feel that is what is happening. All of my adult life I have believed in such a shift, foreseen by elders and masters in many traditions and cultures. That vision has inspired and sustained me through the years. Now it is occurring, more and more powerfully.

This paradigm shift is not pretty, a gift tied up with sparkly wrapping paper and bows. It is messy and painful, as all birth is. Fear and anger come up, as well as mourning the end of a familiar but worn-out way of life. In the midst of all those emotions, something new is being born on this planet, and we are all part of the process, midwives and newborns, angels and human beings. What appears to be chaos, conflict, and a shattered world weighed down by suffering is actually the shedding of an old skin and a restrictive structure that has been killing our spirits instead of uplifting them. In the ruins of the current paradigm based in top/down exclusion, a new one is arising that is centered in circular process and inclusion. Humanity is rediscovering its collective soul through the experiences and expanding consciousness of every single courageous one of us.

A cause for celebration, yes. Still, there is sadness, loss. Life on Earth, even in a new, more open and compassionate world, is never just one thing. A utopian vision must include the full spectrum of human emotion and being. We came to this planet, God incarnated in form through us, to experience it all. When we accept that—the sorrow and the gladness, the breaking and the healing of our hearts—we can then hold within us both grief and deep peace. The grief is human; the peace is divine. If we live life fully connected to our souls, peace and calm never leave us, even as the tears flow. In full acceptance of all that we feel and all of life as it is unfolding, we can experience that peace and live it in the world. It is who we are and why we are here.