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Hell: Facing the Shadow

The photo is not about proclaiming the author’s beauty. I picked the grittiest, most unflattering filter I could find. I wanted to show something about me. This is my state of mind these days. I am squinting at reality because I don’t like what I see. It hurts; it’s overwhelming. I am unable to control it, understand it, or manage it any way. It’s happening, and I’m watching it. I’m wondering how to escape it, but knowing all along that you can’t. There is no escape from reality–there is no escape from anything. All you can do is change your perception. Changing a perception requires seeing the world around you–with its tragedies, insanity, cruelty, power struggles, and deep sadness–with different eyes.

I now understand detachment as a survival mechanism. There is a practical reason that Eastern religions promote observing reality rather than reacting to it. If you were to react emotionally to everything that happens to you, to your loved ones, to your community, to the world, you would lose your sanity and any ability to change what is under your control. An example of this is happening right now. Southern California is burning. Houses, neighborhoods, entire cities are vanishing in smoke. A ranch up north lost 40 horses in the blaze. The coyotes are screaming as the flames engulf them. We are surrounded by black, billowing smoke and ash. The world, our world, seems to be dying. At any moment, an ember could drift into my area and start a raging inferno.

My level of anxiety has skyrocketed to the point of paralysis. I now understand why people stand in front of the tsunami or the wildfire and don’t run. There comes a point where you can’t react anymore. The body and mind shut down. You decide to give in and drown. Or burn. Anything but continuing to live like a prisoner of panic and horror. What else can one do besides slowly go insane with the bad news that floods us minute by minute, or abandon ourselves to the abyss? There is only the option that I mentioned above: observe. Take only targeted and specific action. What does it really mean to ‘be the observer’? You must step outside of your mind. You must detach yourself from the spinning thoughts, worries, hypothetical disaster ruminations, and other chaotic maneuvers of the mind.

This means, of course, that you must understand that you are not your mind. There is an identity separate from the crazy chatterbox that pushes you to misery, depression, and anxiety. The Self that is not a slave to the mind is always there, always available to take over, always silently connected to God, or the creative principle, the One, the Source, or whatever you wish to call it. You have to find that Self and bring her forth and grant her control of reality. How to do that? This is what I did last night that has helped me tremendously to conceptualize the pain my mind subjects me to. I sat on the sofa, closed my eyes, and observed my thoughts, my state of mind.

It wasn’t enjoyable to watch my mind. It conjured up pictures of me burning alive, of my loved ones going up in flames, and my lungs shutting down and filling with smoke. Then I watched as my mind ran through multiple disaster scenarios and played them out. My mind noticed that my Self had detached from it, so it decided to call in the Big Guns: Demons. The pictures of Hell played out across a screen in my consciousness: Satan ripping me to pieces, devils eating me alive, horrifying monsters committing atrocious acts to my body, and animal predators chewing at my skin and muscles. Needless to say, it wasn’t my favorite meditation. However, there seemed to be a purpose. No matter how many scenes of graphic torture my mind put me through, “I” still survived. Kirsten’s essential self was unaffected by any of it. I arrived at the point where I didn’t care what horrors I was subjected to, because none of them destroyed the Observer. I was watching it all, but it was just another bad movie.

The news depends on keeping our minds in a state of total panic and fear. I am not denying the emotional impact of what is actually happening here in Southern California and elsewhere in the world; but what we are subjected to on social media and all over the Internet is far beyond calling our attention to situations that require our intervention or assistance. It’s not about how we can help; it’s about keeping us in a permanent state of alarm. A populace in a constant state of tension will willingly give in to whatever ‘fixes’ the people in power decide to ram through. Fear allows us to look for false solutions, which often are based on finding a scapegoat to absorb our sense of terror and powerlessness.

Most situations are beyond your control. There is nothing you can do concerning the events playing out at the moment. There are small, compassionate actions that you can engage in: offer a room to a displaced person, provide financial assistance when you can to relief agencies, or bring food/clothing/toiletries to a shelter. There are multiple kindnesses we can present as an offering to assuage the suffering of the world. But we can’t change the course of events alone; the fires will burn no matter how much we pray. Reach out to people and see what they need, but the course of droughts, fires, destruction, and climate changes are out of our hands now. Our world is reacting violently to our collective lack of caring, our exploitation, our rampant selfishness. We are going to pay the price for that for a long time. It will hurt.

But you can save your soul in the process. Stand back. Connect to the part of you that isn’t spinning in outrage and fear. Hold on to that authentic self through meditation, through prayer, through whatever means necessary. For if there is any hope for the world, it is only through our collective connection to something higher and finer in ourselves that can reach out and uplift others; if this divine vibration reaches enough of us, perhaps we can douse the flames of our own destruction.

–Kirsten A. Thorne


Paranormal investigators can become obsessed with the existence of demons and the location of Hell. All along, I have advocated for the reality of the demonic, having experienced it myself on three investigations over the last ten years. My view recently, however, is that Hell is right here on Earth, and Heaven is here, as well. Hell is the circumstances created by negative, ego-driven consciousness; Heaven is a radical change in perception that can be accomplished now.

The longer I investigate such mysteries, the more I am convinced that our dividing lines are false and arbitrary. The line between life and death concerns purely physical processes, and has nothing to do with identity, personality, and spirit/soul. Our massive, cultural fear of death is based on a false premise, and yet it drives everything that we do, from consumerism to youth obsession to entertainment. Somewhere in this fear of death lies the notion of Hell. What I find so ironic is that so many of us believe that Hell is ‘located’ anywhere but here on Earth.

If you watch or listen to the news, it should be clear that the worst pain and punishment is right here, right now. The recent massacre at a Sufi temple in Egypt is simply one example. The mass shootings here in the United States happen so often that we have started to build up an internal resistance to them and barely register shock or horror anymore. We are the devils, the demons, the horror show itself; but we are also God, the angels, and all that is beautiful in the world. When we act in the world based on fear, vengeance, anger, greed, and a host of other deadly sins, we create Hell; when we act on generosity, faith, love, compassion, and empathy, we live in Heaven.

The problem, of course, is that to avoid creating Hell on earth, we have to be fully conscious of how we are bringing about destruction and pain; most of the time, it seems that we are not aware of how our actions, beliefs, and assumptions create Hell for us and others. If you ask members of ISIS if they believe their cause is holy and sacred, of course they will respond that it is. Sacrifice, in their view, is necessary to save the world from the evils of capitalism and American-style popular culture. We are the Great Satan for a sizable percentage of the population on this planet. They are utterly unaware of the evil nature of their actions; but I am also aware that many Americans perpetuate evil and injustice thinking that their Christian values support such a thing (and lest you forget, I am a Christian). I could provide abundant examples of how our ‘values’ support racism, poverty, and prejudice, but it’s not necessary. If you have read this far, I’m sure you understand how this works.

The preconditions for Hell exist right here, right now; all it really takes is for us to convince ourselves of a certain version of reality that makes us feel right and safe, and voila! We are on the road to perdition. While we are busy destroying the lives of others through apathy, indifference, or a warped ‘value’ system, we fail to realize the Hell that we are building for ourselves. That Hell looks like depression, addiction, anxiety, rage, illness, and anything else that causes suffering in us. We don’t have to worry that Hell is ‘waiting’ for us. It’s already here. When you wake up consumed with fear, anxiety, and feelings of doom, you are in Hell. Here’s the awful part: we created the conditions for it. That means we can escape from it, too.

I’m not here to tell people how to escape their personal Hells. I can’t write a prescription or provide a recipe. It requires a fearless act of self evaluation and examination of conscience. What I do know is that the original nature of the world is divine and beautiful; if you were to see the world as it was created, you would know that we live in Heaven, that it’s our home, our purpose, the core of our being. Whether you believe in one God or many, whether you are a pantheist, a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Wiccan, or ascribe to any organized belief on the nature of reality that includes a Universal Consciousness, one tenet is the same: the original creation, the nature of everything, is holy and sacred.

In other words, Heaven is the matrix in which we exist. It is our home, and it’s here, now. We create Hell from this perfection in a million ways. We contain the demons and the angels. If we were to face the demons in us and dissolve them, we could spend much more time in Paradise. Most of us, however, are far too afraid to confront the ways in which we destroy ourselves and others. It’s a miserably difficult process to face yourself and see the darkness that we created through false beliefs and ego desires. We cling to the very things that eat at our souls and keep us from God. Somehow, for some reason, what kills us is what we are the most loathe to give up. I find that eternally strange and confusing.
I know that it’s possible to live in Heaven before you die; dying is just another way the Universe gives you a second chance. I believe our second chances are infinite—it depends on how long you are willing to suffer. There is no afterlife, no separate place called Hell or Heaven; there is just life, periodically recycled, presenting endless opportunities to figure out our true nature.

All of the above makes it appear that I have all the answers. Let me assure you, I do not. I have theories that seem true for all of us, but I admit that I could be wrong. For example: I have come across examples of the demonic that seem to have a life of their own, that appear to be independent of us and feeding on the vulnerable. I don’t know how that could happen based on what I stated above. I am also starting to think that entities such as elementals, fairies, gnomes, elves, shadow people, black-eyed children, nature spirits, and extraterrestrials are names for independent beings whose relationship to God is unclear. The multiplicity in the spirit world confuses me and makes me wonder if sometimes we are led astray by something outside of us that has intentions and motivations that we do not understand. That would derail some of what I believe and said earlier.

The quest continues, and my faith and confidence that we can figure it all out has lessened dramatically. The worlds we live in continue to be very, very, mysterious.

With love,
Kirsten

Do We Choose Suffering?

My dear friend wanted me to address a question; I say ‘address’, because there is no way to fully answer it. Do people choose their next incarnation, and if so, why would they willingly opt for a lifetime filled with suffering?

Instead of discussing this with vague generalities, I will make this personal, since my experiences and observations are the only valid foundation I have for this discussion. There are books written about this topic where other people share their stories about life between lives, and anything written by Brian L. Weiss, MD should help those seeking more information.

As I have written about before on this blog, I remember being Mary, a child of the 1960s who died from a heroin overdose administered by someone she thought was her boyfriend (he was more like a pimp and a murderer). I remembered her death quite vividly on June 25th, which kicked off what the Internet calls a ‘spiritual awakening’ involving something like rising Kundalini energy and a whole lot of other concepts that I hadn’t heard of before. I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster and experienced new realities that have left me humbled and overwhelmed. Clearly, Mary’s story involved a great deal of trauma; she was homeless after she left foster care, she spend a great deal of time on the streets or sleeping in parks, she was addicted to various substances (mostly pot and alcohol), and men took advantage of her. She had to steal to survive, and ultimately, a man she trusted decided that she was too much trouble to keep around, and he killed her. As a side note, this is not the post where I ‘prove’ that Mary existed and was me; if you want to know more about the evidence for Mary, please refer to previous entries where I discuss this further.

Why would I ‘choose’ a life like Mary’s? If I were interesting in inventing a cool reincarnation story, her life would emphatically NOT been the one I would have picked. Was Mary given a choice regarding who she would be next? Did Mary choose Kirsten? If so, why this set of circumstances? I do not remember the choice or the discussion, if there was one. I have no awareness of making a decision in either incarnation or personality. I had a revelation that God took me off the streets and back ‘home’, because God could no longer watch me suffer and wanted it to end, knowing that as Mary, I was not going to be able to turn my life around.

After thinking about this a long time, I believe that Mary chose Kirsten because she wanted to ‘do it right’ this time; she didn’t wait long with God or the Cosmic Consciousness and rushed back into a life as my as soon as she could. It seems that my constant, bizarre need to please everyone and follow all the rules that society and family consciously or unconsciously promote has something to do with this feeling of failure and inferiority that Mary carries around. Because Mary was impatient, she didn’t fully heal her karmic wounds and they became my wounds. Her choice not to heal but to start over as soon as possible has had repercussions in my life for decades. Much of my trauma as Kirsten seems directly or indirectly related to Mary. That does not mean that I don’t ‘own’ my own issues; I most definitely do. It simply means that healing from two lives (and probably many more of which I am unaware) has been a challenge, and differentiating between the current self and the past self is very difficult.

The only choice that I see Mary had or made was how fast to come back, and she might have wanted similar circumstances so that she could make different choices. She had no control over how much suffering Kirsten would endure and had no idea that I would have serious medical problems and multiple surgeries. That just happened; I don’t know why. So I suppose that our ability to choose is limited. We can hang out in the bosom of the Universe for awhile and heal our pain, or we can jump back into the cycle and hope for the best. It seems that our ‘new’ circumstances are not far removed from the previous ones, as we see in the multiple cases in India and other countries where reincarnation is not laughed at or ridiculed. Ian Stevenson himself noticed this commonality.

Do we, then, choose to suffer? Not in my case. I chose to come back fast and ‘get it right’. In retrospect, that was not the best idea. I had work to do before returning, but I didn’t want to do it. I was only 15 when I died last time, so my impatience might have had something to do with my age. It also may be the case that Mary didn’t have much to say about what happened next. I’m not at all sure that we determine anything but the ‘when’. The ‘how’ might be up to God or the Universe. We have little control over the evolution of our souls. We can be open and willing, but the rest doesn’t appear to be up to us.
Kirsten does the best she can to navigate her life. I try to heal what requires healing, be kind to all, make a positive difference for anyone that listens or cares, and care for the Earth. What happens is often not a result of anything I did or did not do. Tragedy has befallen me as it befalls most; did I orchestrate that tragedy? Do I create the pain that I feel, both physical and emotional? Maybe on some level, I do; but that pain was presented to me as a challenge from God, and it’s my job to either give in and die or do something with it that will transform my soul.

Maybe the question is not ‘why did I choose to suffer’, but ‘what will I do with the suffering God presented me with’. Nobody deserves or wants to suffer. It’s a challenge and a necessity that we inherit from the Divine principle. Nobody truly achieves closeness to God without navigating and overcoming pain and tragedy. We label and judge what happens to us as good, bad, terrible, unfair, excruciating, awesome, and so on. I can get stuck in the truly horrific things that happened to me in the past, or in the pain I experience now; or, I can decide to take my pain and reach out to others who also suffer and transmute that pain into community, love, kindness, and support.

I can’t justify by human standards the murder of a fifteen year old girl. I can’t sit here and write that I am just fine with what happened to me. But on some level, it was simply an event, a circumstance, something belonging to humans and our depravity and sin, if you will. On another level, I was always with God, and I would return to God, and nothing that happens on Earth matters as much as we think it does. I have experienced what people would label as ‘horrific’, in both this and the previous life. However, I no longer see any of it as monstrous or horrific, simply as a consequence of my human lives. Shit happens.

That doesn’t negate God, or bliss, or the ultimate perfection of it all.
No matter how miserable our lives can become, part of us—what truly matters in the end—is with God at every, single moment. The tragedy is that we don’t realize that. We forget who we are. It’s that forgetting, that disconnection from the Divine, that is true suffering. Everything else is a consequence of our alienation from the Source. The more you hurt, the harder you need to look for the eternal within you.

With much love,
Kirsten

I used to know things. I read a lot of books. I fancied myself a well-trained academic with a great pedigree; I was proud of what I thought I understood about the world and the people in it. People used to think I was arrogant; I was. Of course, I didn’t know it at the time. I would never have defined myself that way. People misunderstood me; that was all. If everyone around me would simply listen to me and follow my lead, everything would be just fine. Deep down, I truly believed that I was smarter than most other people.

The last 4.5 months have taught me that I know almost nothing. I have some ideas and theories, but in terms of what I KNOW, I can’t say much anymore. When you suddenly and vividly recall how you died in a past life and who you used to be, nothing makes much sense anymore. My emotions have bounced from one extreme to the other, as the Universe or God is clearing out my dramas, traumas, preconceptions, habitual thought patterns, destructive behaviors, stereotypes, prejudices, you name it, if it doesn’t serve me or others, it’s disappearing.

What I have realized, however, is just how much we depend on negative behaviors, addictions, presuppositions, and cultural stereotypes to define ourselves. Our culture promotes a kind of group think that divides people into categories and encourages competition, victimization, outrage, false values, and glaring, painful, insecurities. So many people I know and come across at work or in social circles don’t feel at all good about themselves. They all carry around this sense that they’re missing something, they’re incomplete, and they don’t and can’t measure up to an ideal that they see promoted everywhere in the media and in their social/family circles.

Strangely enough, if you have the epiphany that ‘you’ are just the latest version of something eternal, all of the above starts falling away. Once you know on a visceral, emotional, level that you are the most current incarnation of a you that has lived multiple lives, the sense of you as a separate being falls away, and you see yourself as part of a large and complex plan that you understand only parts of, but that relieves you of the burden of ‘yourself’ with all your stories, pain, and dramas. When you see yourself as living along an endless continuum of lives and identities, the craziness of the current moment is less and less overwhelming; it frees you to ‘do the work’ in order to safeguard the planet for future generations, but that work can now be accomplished without misery and hopelessness.

That’s the ideal. However, the crumbling of your false identities can take your breath away in its intensity. It hurts a great deal. If you have lifetimes of trauma to clear out, it feels like you’re going to die from the emotional pain. I end up on the floor a lot, curled up and crying, asking for help from God. And God, whatever that name means now, intervenes and helps me manage it. There is nothing specific in my current life that creates this purging of trauma; this is about eradicating everything in your past that led you to make false and damaging assumptions about who you are and who others might be. You also have to let go of the previous lives, and that in itself is hard. You can no longer blame or even be influenced by the person you used to be. Her circumstances are over; it’s your responsibility to move forward on your own.

This has, of course, radically altered my views on the ‘afterlife’, death, and ghosts. I no longer believe in the concept of ‘after’ life at all. It’s all one, conscious creation. We have multiple lives, all of us, and there is a period of time when we are with God (or whatever name you prefer for the cosmic, divine, consciousness) healing and making decisions. Part of us is with God all of the time; parts of us might still be living out other lives. There can be fragmentation or multiplicity in our identities. There is a ‘me’ living as Kirsten, another ‘me’ living out another life simultaneously, and a ‘me’ that is currently with God. Since time has no meaning outside of our material lives, all of these selves are operating at once. There is also a ‘me’ living out some moment in the past, which is present for the ‘me’ that is aware of it.

So . . . a ghost is a version of the self that we have called into existence who is living some version of its past life in a dimension that we have tapped into. It is the present moment for the ‘ghost’ or the self that is living it. It is ‘reality’ for the person who is experiencing it. What is a ghost NOT? A ghost is NOT:

• Dead. There is no death in the universe, simply transitions to other modes of existence.
• A ‘spirit’. We are always fully real and realized. We always have some sort of body which we perceive as material.

Here’s the rub, though: Trauma, such as I discuss above, creates false identities that can split off from the true self and take on a life of their own. The trauma identity, after the true self has moved on to another incarnation, STAYS BEHIND. A trauma identity is going to have certain characteristics.

• Repetitive behavior. Your ‘trauma self’ will go through the same motions again and again, as it is stuck in an event or series of events that scarred it.
• Nonsensical interactions. You can’t get the ‘trauma self’ to explain itself or ‘move on,’ since trauma creates a self that plays out pain endlessly with no solutions or illuminations.

The “residual” hauntings are selves trapped in thought and emotion loops. They can’t and don’t ‘leave’ or resolve themselves because they are not whole, true selves. They are fragments of consciousness that split off from the soul that reincarnates. All of the attempts we make to ‘send’ them to the Light might be useless if ‘they’ are not fully formed souls. We are dealing with aftereffects, not true, God-identified selves.

The process I am undergoing feels like an exorcism of the ghosts that reside in me now. The traumatized selves that still remain in my heart and mind must leave my soul. I wonder where they go. Will I end up haunting the locations where I was most hurt? I think that is entirely possible. A ‘ghost hunter’ could find my trauma-self in various places, now that it’s leaving my current body. All of us have some sort of split off ‘pain body’ that is hovering in the places it most identifies as the ‘scene of the crime’. You do not have to be materially ‘dead’ to haunt people or places. We have so many versions of us in various dimensions that we could actually be picking up on our OWN spirits during investigations.

That’s more than my brain can handle on a Wednesday morning, so I will leave it at that. Please write to me. I need to hear from anyone for whom this resonates on some level.

Much love,
Kirsten

Is This Heaven?

Have you ever glimpsed something so beautiful that your life changed?

Did you call it Heaven, Paradise, Nirvana, cosmic bliss, or something else? Did it matter what you called it? You know that names mean nothing now. Only experience teaches.

How did you get there? Did you fast for three days, eat a mind-bending plant, drag yourself on your hands and knees to Talpa, whip yourself into a frenzy, pray until you collapsed, or did you simply look deeply into the eyes of a loved one and see God? Does it matter how you got there? You know it doesn’t matter. It is in the finding it.

What did you see? Is it beyond words? Of course; but words are all I have, all you have, in this strange, disconnected world. Can you describe it? The world is glowing from a perfect Light, but most of the time we see through a glass darkly. There is perfect Love, but most of the time we can’t feel it. Life never ends, but we choose to kill ourselves, just a little, every day. Eternity is where we live, but we ruin our lives with clocks and fear, because time is terrifying when you see it with human eyes. There is a center to everything, and it’s still and quiet; there is a communion every day with every creation, and you could live there . . .

There is this place, which is not a place, there is this reality, which is nothing like reality, there is this state, which is constant, behind and over and through the buzzing craziness of us and the world we created, which is, which is, which is . . . something like the deepest love we ever felt, the freedom of when we were eight, climbing a tree and seeing every leaf as a novel, something like that, which now we can’t reach, can’t grasp, can’t see, can’t touch.

But we know it’s there.

Giving Up, Giving In

I dedicate this post to Amanda, the best reader ever, and someone who understands what I’m talking about more than most. 

I have wanted to write something here that would make sense to other people, a post that was articulate, logical, fascinating, and enlightening. I tried to come up with topics, themes, any way to organize the chaos and confusion of a ‘spiritual crisis’, or whatever you might wish to call it (spiritual awakening, spiritual emergence, ‘kundalini rising’, etc.). Nothing I tried to write seemed worth posting. I’m not sure that this will be worth posting. I can only write in fragments and hope that you all can fill in the blanks.

As best as I can describe it, a spiritual crisis–for me, at least–is when your theory on the nature of God or the divine, the nature of consciousness, the existence or lack thereof of time, becomes an experience of revelation that leaves you in total shock. You find yourself in a constant state of emotional flux. One day, you’re in a state of bliss because you know that life never ends; it just changes form. You’ve seen the luminous energy of the creative universe shining through everything and everyone. The next day, something happens and you’re on your knees in pain and suffering, because you have to start the process of clearing out your worst traumas, including the ones that happened to you before you were born.

This process demands something in return for the stunning revelation of the Divine. The contract goes something like this: I (God) will allow you to see how (some) things really work and let you know (directly, no research required) that you are always going to exist. In return, you must surrender your little, scared self completely: your ego, your traumas, everything that holds you back from joy and communion with spirit. But the universe demands you surrender ALL of it. As it turns out, that is the hardest task I have ever been assigned.

Imagine burning through every trauma you have ever lived through: the near death experiences in the hospital; the agonizing divorce; the abuse; ah, the list could go on and on, since it includes more than just the content of this life. By ‘burning through’ it, I mean you must relive it, hit rock bottom, curl up in the fetal position, and give it all to God. If you don’t completely feel the emotions associated with the trauma you must exorcize, then you will have to go through it again and again, until you have really, truly, allowed your feelings their full expression and you’ve surrendered yourself utterly to a Higher Power. The spirit driving this expansion of your consciousness will not allow you to take short cuts in your healing.

I am not finished with this, not by a long shot. I have amazing days so filled with joy, I think I might just float straight into the Cosmos. There are other days that I feel crazy with grief and sadness, barely able to function, praying and crying, begging for help. Help always comes. The purpose of this is not always clear to me, but as far as I can tell, I am enduring a rebirth into another life. This new life requires me to relinquish the dramas, stories, and traumas of the old life. Completely. It’s clear that God wants me to give up completely and understand what faith really means.

I don’t go to church anymore. I meditate, but not as often as I should. I write in my journal every day. This intense relationship with the Divine is an ongoing experience; attending church seems strangely unnecessary. I suppose I will find another spiritual practice somewhere, but not in order to find God. My search now is simply for a supportive community who has some idea what I’m going through. I am not special because this is happening to me. Many people go through this spiritual trial, but not many write about it as far as I can tell. Fewer still form communities to assist others with the process. I don’t know how long this lasts, or if it ever truly ends. There are some days when I feel ‘normal’, and then it starts up again. In any case, I understand this–no matter how difficult or heart wrenching–as a gift from the Universe.

I had always prayed for knowledge. Since I was a child, I wanted to know the secrets of God. I had arrived at a point in my life where I was sure that God was going to keep silent on the issue, and my depression was profound. On June 25th, 2017, God decided it was time to reveal to me what it means to be a human being with an eternal soul and spirit. It would be lovely to report that after that, everything was roses and life was a grand adventure. I wish I could say that; but as I’ve stated before on Soulbank, what most people want, myself included, are simple answers to complex questions. Choosing Heaven or nothingness as reality is easy. Either way, you don’t have much to think about, and you aren’t required to undergo a complete transformation of your very being.

The truth is stunningly complex. It will bring you to your knees.

–Kirsten

Sometimes, it feels like I have joined a secret organization of spiritual adventurers and knowledge seekers, but the club never meets. The members stick to the Internet and keep out of sight. There seems to be nobody to talk to about spiritual issues who are not intimately involved with the Christian faith, and I suspect that those pastors, vicars, and priests would not approve of where my spiritual seeking has taken me. So I remain alone in a culture that does not support or even understand profound spiritual experiences that occur outside of church. I could be wrong. I hope I am wrong. If anybody out there knows of any group accepting of ‘alternative spirituality’–whatever that means–please let me know. I don’t mean New Age, Topanga-style, rich white hippy stuff. I just mean, where are the people who have had a massive breakdown in their concept of self, of religion, of God, of reality, and of all creation? Where are the people who have felt that they are finally on the path to understanding a tiny portion of what and who God is, but that understanding is not what they’ve been taught?

I failed at Christianity the way it was presented to me, as something I was supposed to figure out. I was supposed to understand the Bible as mainly allegorical, but sometimes I was instructed to take it literally; the convoluted doctrines pertaining to sexuality and morality made little sense to me, and the Old Testament seems like the story of God on a power trip, all ego and little compassion. Jesus makes more sense, but even He is wrapped up in doctrine that probably had more to do with Church fathers and ancient cultural norms and beliefs. I think Jesus probably both understood and believed in the concept of reincarnation, for example, but the passages where that issue is referenced are always explained and circumvented by those who have the power to interpret God’s word. I thought that was us. I thought that could be me. Jesus says that ‘Ye are gods,’ but that is explained away as meaning ‘judges,’ even though the judge reference makes no sense in context. There is no point in continuing. It’s an endless battle of interpretation that has no definitive answer outside of an authority figure telling you what it means.

I have found out part of the answer to my biggest, most pressing and often painful questions regarding God, the nature of reality and identity, and what ‘spirituality’ means. I got there through a spiritual crisis that involved vivid memories of a past life–more specifically, of a past death–but that was only the beginning. After that, the process of illumination sped up and left me in a state of shock and awe. How I got there is less important that the fact that it happened; and once you arrive at this knowledge, there is no going back. That might also mean, no going back to church.

Briefly, this is where I am right now. And, this is probably where many human beings end up at some point, some very young, and some old, and others like me, at the midway point. All of the following is probably blindingly obvious to the many people who are farther along their spiritual path than I am. However, I just figured out that I’m a spiritual novice and that I basically know nothing. Well, I know a little. This is what I know:

  • I have lived many times. The purpose of past lives, no matter how objectively painful they may be, is to present us with a spiritual challenge that we must learn to overcome. If we don’t, we come back and re-experience the same challenge in a new guise. Since there is no time in the world of God, it doesn’t matter how often we return to work things out. Once one challenge is met, there are many others. Why don’t we all remember our multiple lives? Simply put, our conscious mind can’t handle that much trauma and pain in addition to whatever we are working out now. Our previous lives are stored as patterns of behavior and emotional/instinctual responses to our environment. Our subconscious mind knows  who we were and what existential dramas we are working through. We would be flooded with overwhelming spiritual chaos if we were aware of all our lives.
  • My stories, my trauma, my past life trauma, my status as a victim of people and circumstances, are all unimportant in the final analysis. There is a purpose to remembering emotional upheaval and unfortunate circumstances, but those terrible events do not define me, they don’t explain me, and they don’t control me. During a unique moment of insight while I was babbling on and on to my husband about how my past life trauma fed into my current life issues, I realized that none of those stories were necessary to my spiritual development or my sense of self. Bad things happened to me. Those bad things did not destroy me; I survived them all. Here I am.
  • When I wonder where God is, why He allows me to freak out about everything on a regular basis and won’t simply remove my panic and anxiety problems, I realize that God is with me constantly. He is with me when my husband looks at me with tears in his eyes as I pour out my soul to him. He is with me when my husband wraps his arms around me in the middle of the night when I’m consumed with terror. He is with me when my kitty sits on my chest and purrs at 3:00 AM when I can’t sleep. He is with me when my kid tells me how much she loves me. He is with me every second of every day for all eternity. He is the love in everyone I know. He is everywhere, always, trying to make me see that I am cherished. God doesn’t want to punish me, He doesn’t want to send me to Hell, he doesn’t want to hurt me, He doesn’t wish any harm to me at all. He wants me to heal, to evolve, to understand, to transform, to see and feel the truth of Eternity and the kind of love that radiates throughout all of creation.
  • Panic and anxiety are, in a sense, defense mechanisms against God and love. I can’t imagine that there is a force that loves me that much; I cling to the idea that I have to protect myself from a scary world where I can control the outcome if I worry enough. Anxiety reflects a lack of faith in a loving God. It’s also an expression and representation of the ego self, the little Kirsten who is terrified and defines herself by being in control in a world that is chaotic and confusing. There is evil in the world, and I can’t stop it. I don’t understand how this works, but God uses evil to arrive at the good and the holy. It’s pointless to be angry about dying from a heroin overdose or suffering abuse at the hands of those who were supposed to protect me. I can recount stories all day about how unfair one’s circumstances can be; but in the end, I do not know the purpose, the plan, the design, the Big Picture that is working throughout the multiple universes, dimensions, and realities that we inhabit. I don’t know the mind of God. But as someone who is, on occasion, invited to be directly in God’s presence, I can know that I am loved, no matter what the outcome of this life or what stories will play out in the coming decades.

That’s all I can say for the moment. This process is exhausting and frequently challenging. I don’t know if anything here resonates or makes sense to anyone, but whatever is happening to me, I can only hope that it leads to a better version of me that loves more, helps more, and can do her part to lend a hand to those standing on the precipice, wondering if it’s worth it to keep pushing forward. It is. It’s not easy, not at all, but it’s always worth it.

–Kirsten A. Thorne