Shedding

In the second week after my first chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer, I began to lose my hair. Like a white angora cat, I shed hairs everywhere: on my clothing, in the shower drain, on my chair, in my hairbrush. Sometimes they drifted down onto my shoulders like cherry blossoms in the springtime; other times they clumped like small snowdrifts on my pillow. All of it strangely fascinating to me, as if they were bits of my identity falling away, freeing me even further at a soul level.

That may seem an odd way to view it; yet the process feels symbolic of a larger shedding that occurs as I clear out the clutter of a lifetime of identities. To be human is to move through many experiences and identities. I used to gather identities like flowers in a basket (flower child, activist, feminist, lesbian, writer, editor, spiritual seeker), feeling glad that I was eclectic and not tied to any one self-identification. I felt freer that way. As the years went by and my spiritual practice expanded, I began to realize that freedom is a much more expansive designation when viewed from the soul’s perspective.

The soul is pure being. It has no identity in the way we think of that term. The soul comes into physical form to experience life as a human and to evolve and expand its beingness. It has no attachment to any one identification we may claim as we pass through our lives. When we begin to drop attachments to particular identities, the soul moves to the forefront of our experience. We begin to experience being in an entirely new way. And we see more clearly, and intensely, the world we are passing through here on Earth.

I first experienced this “dropping” of identity when years ago (2005), I was invited to travel to Guatemala with Maya elders Mercedes and Gerardo to participate in ceremonies at sacred sites there. I was both honored and excited because the Mayan cosmology held great meaning for me. However, the “gateway” I had to pass through was the fact that women traditionally wear long dresses at every ceremony. As a lesbian feminist, I had not worn a dress in 30 years; consequently I found my attachment to that particular identity being challenged. In my heart, I knew there was no way that I would ever turn down such a precious invitation from the elders. So that meant opening to a different way of being in the world. At the time, I experienced this as a complete falling away of who I had been before and going to Guatemala “naked” at the soul level. I honored the Maya tradition by wearing a beautiful long skirt, and in the process, I stepped into magical interdimensional experiences at the sacred ceremonies, beyond language and definitely beyond identity.

As I continued on my soul journey over the years, I found that the more I dropped identification with any identity at all, the more I experienced a beingness without beginning or end …. and the more I knew God, or Spirit, in a way I never had before. Ultimately, I came to understand that the final realization is that all identity is an illusion. Our identities are merely the costumes, or disguises, that we put on for this human ride; when we take them off, all that remains is Spirit.

So this is where I am now. Yet another identity falling away with the hair on my head. Perhaps one of the last identifications and attachments: to my physical form and what I look like. Once again, soul-naked before the universe. One definition of the word bald is “undisguised” or “unveiled.” The process of life often removes our protective veils and disguises if we don’t do it ourselves. Either way, it is liberation for the soul. I can feel that. To live my life as pure spirit, unfiltered and free. It is our collective human destiny to shed identity and shine the light of soul presence in this world.

Your Soul Knows Best

Sometimes it seems as if life is random, crazy, a mistake of cosmic proportions. It isn’t. There is intent and purpose woven into the fabric of the universe. And your soul knows this. Your soul chose this lifetime for its own evolution, for humanity’s evolution. We humans are on a collective journey through diverse Earth experiences to integrate polarities and find our way back to balance, peace, and harmony. The soul is our guide.

The challenge for the soul-as-human is to reach peaceful harmony within a physical form with its complex emotions, thoughts, and anatomical circuitry. At times it can seem overwhelming. However, if you remind yourself that your soul chose the scenarios and experiences of your lifetime for its own growth and expansion, then perhaps you can come to acceptance and even gratitude. It’s not necessarily something that will make sense to the mind, but your heart naturally allows life to flow through it. If you remain centered in your heart, life will feel more whole and less fragmented.

In truth, we are each one cell within a greater whole that includes the entire cosmos, every part connected to every other part. There are no mistakes at the level of universal consciousness. Everything is unfolding perfectly for our evolution. This is probably the greatest lesson of my lifetime. When I can view all of my life—both the joy and the pain—as a symphony written and orchestrated long before I was born, then I can let go of the need to control and relax into just being. The music of the spheres plays itself unassisted, and I begin to see the miracles. I realize that I am living out a beautiful divine design.

Every morning is a fresh opportunity to remember these truths and live in awakened consciousness. Not always easy, because my mind gets distracted and forgets. My breath is the built-in reminder that I am spirit beyond form. If I begin each day with quiet conscious breathing in meditation, my thoughts slow down and fade to the background. I settle into a deeper awareness that God is breathing life into my physical body in every moment. Taking a deep breath periodically throughout the day (ongoing meditation) returns me to that focus. It aligns me with my soul and with Presence.

God’s presence on Earth is experienced through the soul. When you let your mind’s filter become transparent, your soul’s light can shine fully, and divine Presence is known. This is soul vision and soul awareness. Live life for the experience, not the results. Immerse yourself in the present moment, and you forget about past/future and cause/effect. You are limitless and free. The wonder of the Now is all-encompassing. It’s why we came here. To move through what appear to be challenges and finally see everything as grace. To live the infinite in a finite world. To recognize God in yourself, in others, and in everything. And to understand finally that your soul and your heart are your wisest guides, always.

The Disappearance of “I”

Photograph © 2020 Peggy Kornegger
What would my life be like without me? Well, for one thing, it wouldn’t be “my life.” It would just be life—being, expanding, evolving. Exactly what it is without the filter I apply to it with “my.” As I continue along the path my soul has chosen for this lifetime, I see more clearly the limitations of language. “My” is a convenience for conversation, but the possessiveness we feel about so much in life is reinforced by that simple two-letter designation. In fact, nothing is mine. Even my soul is not really mine, nor is God. There is a limitless universal Spirit that we are one with, beyond description or possession. Caught up in “me,” “I,” and “mine,” our vision is restricted, dead-ended. Many times, our identity is so busy defending itself and its viewpoint that we can’t see the beauty and wonder around us or the love in the hearts of those closest to us. We lose friendships in arguments and misunderstandings.

Humanity seems to endlessly struggle to come to a peaceful resolution of conflicts everywhere in the world, especially now. Perhaps the greatest wisdom is that peace can only be found within, which is where it begins. Without inner peace, world peace is unreachable. In my own life, I am most at peace when “I” disappears. That occurs in stillness, in Nature, in empty spaces with no busyness. A global pandemic has provided us with those opportunities, if we recognize and explore them. Try living life without the distraction of possessive labels and perceptions. Walk through your day as if you had no ego, seeing everything without pronouns, maybe even without nouns. Empty of self. In peace.

The whole world is born in emptiness. From formlessness: form. The infinite potential of Source energy created a visible universe within which we find our way back to our beginnings. Every part of the material world is a form of living light that fills our human experience with richness and radiance. We too are light, and we are now awakening to that awareness. Many people discover a connection to their own inner light when they face the disappearance of the familiar and predictable in life, something we are now seeing on our planet. Within that opening, the soul’s presence is often revealed, and the self begins to fade.

When “I” disappears, there is only light, the light of Universal Soul that infuses our lives. That is our Home. Is it possible for us to experience each moment of our lives as that light? To see the light of Home everywhere and in everyone? I believe it is. In the past few months as so much has fallen away in my life, I have known moments of peaceful soul presence that flood my entire consciousness, becoming more frequent and lasting longer. I am not alone in this; it is a collective deepening and expansion. Soon we will meet one another as light beings (the truth of who we are) in all parts of our lives. This is our destiny, we divine/human souls on an evolving blue planet slowly spinning in the cosmos. When “I” and “my” fade into the background, peace arises, love arises. And we are Home, together, as one.

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.

 

Unsubscribe and Live Peacefully

Photograph © 2019 Peggy Kornegger
“Subscription” once referred mainly to printed magazines and newspapers (“Your subscription is about to expire—please renew”). Now it’s the backbone of online communication. If you ask a question or sign a petition online, you automatically get subscribed to a barrage of ongoing emails. Subscription has become a cyber activity, distanced from anything real or living. We don’t subscribe to, or unsubscribe from, life. It’s just there, always supporting us. We can, however, lose touch with the essential simplicity of life. We can get entrapped in excess minutia—like too many emails.

A few weeks ago, I reached critical overload with the number of non-personal emails flooding my inbox. Political and environmental groups, spiritual programs and teachers, doctors and alternative healthcare practitioners, bookstores and theaters, online businesses. What a waste of time just to delete them multiple times a day! I went through and unsubscribed from virtually everything except a few key ones. At the same time, I decided to cut back on social media, visiting only occasionally. It was a relief. I felt as if I had lifted the heavy weight of contemporary social busyness and distractions off my shoulders. At least one day a week now I don’t even turn on my computer or phone. Wow, what freedom!

In unsubscribing there was also surrender, letting go into the natural flow of daily life, unmanipulated by technology. I was once again the 9-year-old girl who spent summers running through the fields with my dog or sitting up in a tree reading mysteries. Life was rich, full, perfect. It was a simpler time then, both in my life and on the planet. Now we have to filter out unnecessary complexities in order to live a simple life, one dedicated to what’s really important: connection to the spirit within us and all around us.

Spirit has become the focus of my life in recent years. The idea of unsubscribing as surrender somehow fits with that. As my soul’s wisdom moves to the forefront of my consciousness, I make choices that are more in alignment with a loving beingness in the world. Heart more than head. Social media engages the mind for the most part. What we want is to engage the heart, with the mind giving quiet feedback but not dominating. This is the way to balance, to harmony. The heart is directly connected to our soul’s purpose, and when we live a simple heart-centered life, we are living the “why” of our presence on this planet, in this lifetime.

If I remember each day to choose love and appreciation over distraction and dissatisfaction, then I am connected to the natural flow of spirit everywhere in the universe. Even disliking social media or emails can take you to a place of judgment and negativity. The key is to calmly “unsubscribe” from anything that is not positive and uplifting, anything that locks you into busyness instead of beingness. It’s not as hard as it may seem. Allow your computer or cell phone to be an occasional tool for information or connection. Visit now and then, not continuously. Life is not “virtual.” It expresses itself everywhere in extraordinary bursts of color and light. When your awareness expands and your heart opens, life becomes both richer and simpler. Within that is peace—of mind, of body, of soul.