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Posts Tagged ‘spiritual transformation’

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

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Praying hands

Praying hands

2015 ended poorly. In fact, without going into great detail, the year left me in a state of near constant anxiety, insecurity, sadness and confusion. When I have fallen into a state of spiritual disrepair, I pray; but I am not satisfied with the way I am praying. Prayer, I should add, has nothing to do with one’s religious affiliation. Prayer is universal and cosmic in nature.

What do I not like about the way I have connected–or not connected–with God? I wasn’t sure until this morning. Sometimes, what you THINK is bothering you is simply a screen or a deflection from what is ACTUALLY bothering you. Praying for a particular outcome does not work. For me, there is no point praying that I won’t die or get sick, because it is our peculiar human destiny–along with everything in the natural, material world–to get sick and die. I might hate that, find it unfair, repugnant, crazy, terrible, and so on, but I can’t change it, and I’m not going to pray for the impossible. When I was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness 18 years ago, I did not pray that God would spare my life. I asked only that the result of the process leave me more spiritually evolved and more healed as a broken human than I was before.

I didn’t die. Once again, I survived. I did grow a tremendous amount in the direction of God, but what really upset me was the reality of what that means. Following God can be terribly painful. It means letting go of the people who have hurt you, giving up homes, family, friends and sometimes, your very life. Most of all, following a universal principle means losing your fear. You are forced to lose your fear to follow God, even the biggest fear of all: your physical death. Did I succeed in losing my fear? HELL NO. However, I did learn a huge lesson: as long as you try to control what happens to you and to other people, you will be miserable and afraid. I can’t control someone else’s path in life, even if that path horrifies me, upsets me or confuses me. I can’t even control what happens to me, much less other people! My job is not to micromanage change, but to accept it and attempt to understand it. Of course, I can take productive and proactive steps to change my circumstances, and one should always move forward on a path towards a goal; but if the path floods or you get lost along the way, what matters is your resilience, your faith and you ability to see God through the obstacles.

I have discovered that it is far better to pray for someone’s continued, spiritual evolution and healing. I can’t know what form that will take. If I pray for one’s spirit instead of one’s body, I have allowed God to decide the form that the healing will take. That is what I am attempting to do for everyone I love: I won’t pray that Uncle Todd stop smoking, but I will pray that he is spiritually transformed to such an extent that he will no longer wish to harm his body, the temple for his soul. This is all we can do, pray for enlightenment, for progress, for deep understanding. The particular way this progress will manifest itself is not our concern or within our power to determine.

When I thought I had only a few years left of life back in my early thirties, I understood it was useless to ask God to spare my life. If I needed to die to evolve in the next life, then so be it. If I was supposed to lose my life at that time in my development, then my job was to accept it as gracefully as possible and find a way to make that time mean something. For in truth, we are ALL on borrowed time and we ALL have to learn this lesson, whether we have only a few months to figure it our, or a few decades. In the end, we have the same task; some of us have to learn it faster than others. None of us escape suffering, and it is now my belief that most of us don’t learn anything at all unless we’re in pain and we figure out how to relieve that pain through considered and thoughtful prayer and meditation.

My particular case is odd, since I was dying at age five from kidney problems. I truly was not expected to survive, and I knew it then. What has been the strangest experience for me in this life is to have survived at all. I think that is why I am often confused about my path, about what I am supposed to do with myself. That is why every year I make resolutions to figure out what my mission is as Kirsten in this life. Death seems oddly more familiar to me, and what I mean by that is not annihilation of consciousness, but that state one is in between lives. I came into the world very strongly connected to my previous life (I have written about this before in previous posts on this site) and remembering a great deal of who I used to be. As a child, I felt that I was ‘going back’ to a place I had been before that was much more familiar than the hospital and my family. I couldn’t explain where that place was or what my role was in it, but I KNEW it. Now, halfway through my life, I still feel that I am not entirely HERE. On a purely animal level, death terrifies me. The physical self is hard wired not to die. On the level of consciousness and identity, death means very little. It’s a gateway to a more understandable world. I was there before, I’ll be there again.

I do believe with all my heart and soul that prayer works and is effective, but not if the prayer is directed towards specific, concrete, ego-driven goals or desires. The prayer must not be grounded in fear of loss. The only prayers that work are those that ask for love and light to do their work in and through us. We must heal our fractured, fearful minds before the real work of transformation can begin.

Many blessings to you and yours in 2016.

–Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD/PHW

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