Mystic Journey: Getting to the Heart of Your Soul’s Story By Robert Atkinson

With so many global crises everywhere we look demanding so much of our immediate attention, is this a good time to be thinking about our soul? There never was a better – or more critical – time than right now to take the mystic journey of the soul that leads us into and through the spiral of life!

As we venture into the unknown of our deeper selves, we face one formidable challenge after another there, too. Yet, as Joseph Campbell has made clear, we don’t have to risk life’s greatest adventure alone: “The labyrinth is thoroughly known… where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence; where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.”

The world’s sacred traditions provide all the guideposts we need for this adventure. Living our lives consciously, we encounter universal motifs, archetypes, and timeless patterns that will help us discover not only who we are but also why we are so deeply connected to all others. The universal journey of the soul is one we all set out upon, and whether we are aware of it or not, it is the only journey that leads ultimately to both personal and collective transformation. This is the most pressing journey of our time.

In the most basic sense, a mystic is one who seeks union, or unity. Whether what we seek is union with ourselves, with others, with creation, with the Creator, or with Reality, we are all mystics at heart. The mystic traditions came into being to help us all remember our true origin and destiny. The great mystics knew that remembrance links us to the spirit we all possess, as well as to each other. As Marion Woodman puts it, “We’re all little sparks of One Soul… once that thought comes through to consciousness, we understand what love is… When we connect with our souls, we connect with every human being.”

In Mystic Journey, Robert Atkinson offers an “exquisite exploration of the spiritual craft of soul-making,” which details a process “that leads us home to who and what we really are,” as Jean Houston said in her endorsement of the book. This is a journey that profoundly links individual effort and responsibility with collective progress and advancement.

Mystic Journey reveals how shifting our perspective to seeing life as an eternal journey will help us better navigate these rapidly changing times while also giving us a deeper appreciation of the process of soul-making, which consists of:

Remembering who we are at our depths
Allowing the universal motifs, archetypes and timeless patterns of life to be our guide and comfort, and
Cultivating the qualities and virtues at the heart of our common spiritual heritage

Once we consciously set out on a life of soul-making, we become committed not only to fulfilling our own deepest potential but also to helping others do the same for themselves. Our very life, and everything we do with it, becomes a benefit for all.

Book Excerpts
Mystic Journey: Getting to the Heart of Your Soul’s Story

“Soul-making is allowing the eternal essence to live and experience the outer world through all the senses—seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, touching—so that the soul grows during its time on Earth. Soul-making is constantly confronting the paradox that an eternal being is dwelling in a temporal body. That’s why it suffers, and learns by heart. Soul hears with eternal ears, sees with eternal eyes, smells with eternal nose. Yet, having no tongue, other than the transitory language of the body, it learns to speak in metaphor.”

~ Marion Woodman, from the Foreword

Introduction ~ Who We Are Is Where We Came From

A deeply lived life allows us to wrestle with our demons, dance with our angels, make plans with our inner guide, and ultimately, connect with our soul. This provides us with an opportunity to exercise our imagination and to use our creative energies to transform our lives by forming mental images of what may not actually be present, but what we would like to be. “Image” and “imagination” are both from the same root, imago, which signifies a likeness or copy of what we envision.

We are formed from archetypal images and grow gradually into our own image of the archetype, as we age and mature through life’s experiences. Another way of saying this, as many spiritual traditions do, is that we are formed in the image of God and we have the innate capacity to reflect that image in the life we live. But character and image are inseparable. Both are the essence of who we are. We get to the essence of who we are by expressing how we have originated from divinity, or how love, order, beauty, and justice, or any of the other divine qualities of the holy have been demonstrated in our own lives.

The necessary, essential context for soul-making is life’s difficulties and struggles, as these are what contribute most to meaning making and pattern shaping. With time, the unpleasant becomes more pleasant, old hurts don’t hurt as much, and what once felt cold becomes warmer.
Living from our soul rather than from our physical self means not always needing to be in control: it is listening more, trying to hear and understand what our intuitions and emotions have to tell us, keeping our eyes on the whole more than on the parts, being as concerned for others as we are for ourselves, connecting with nature and remaining as much in sync with its natural rhythms and cycles as we possibly can, and remembering that our soul is our only lasting identity, the one that is given to us before birth and that we will take with us on the rest of our eternal journey.

Chapter 1 ~ Remembrance Is A Spiritual Practice

There is a great power in remembrance. Through remembrance we are brought to a spiritual life. Remembrance is a meditation that awakens us to an everlasting reality. The conscious effort to maintain this focus expands our view of the world and our role in it; we learn thus to better understand the conflicts that arise in our lives, to distinguish between the endless pairs of opposites that appear, to make wiser choices, and to carry out deeds that become a service to others. This, in essence, is the basis for spiritual transformation, and remembrance takes us there.

The legend of “The Angel and the Unborn Soul” takes us right to the essence of our spiritual reality. The soul is our eternal identity, the only part of us we take with us through this life and into the next. Remembrance is the essence of spirituality. Remembering where we came from, who—and what—we really are, and where we are going, could even be seen as the purpose of life.

We might say, then, that we are hard-wired for transcendence, for going beyond what is seen. Transcendence could be so important to our individual and collective spiritual growth and well-being that we might not even survive without it in our lives and our communities. One cell transcends into many; many cells transcend into one body. Individuals transcend into societies, and societies transcend into world civilizations.

Self-transcendence is consciousness fulfilling itself. A baby is not born with full-blown consciousness. Its consciousness naturally and inevitably undergoes a widening of perspective with accompanying experiences. As we progress through the life cycle, we gain meaning and maturity with each new experience. Unfolding from within is a built-in process of transcending our own consciousness until eventually, we become conscious of the One who created consciousness.

Chapter 2 ~ Life Is An Eternal Journey

We need a framework that will help us highlight our moments of truth, our experiences of transcendence, and our transformations. Beyond this, we need a means to address the mysteries of our lives, the mystery of life itself, where we might be going, and how we can understand and relate to the infinite. We need a blueprint, or at least some guideposts, to guide us in discovering who we are at our essence, what we most want to be remembered for, and what our dreams, visions, values, and beliefs are that have sustained us.

The story of human development is incomplete without the recognition of the soul. Rapid increases in global communication over the past half-century have given us greater access to the wisdom of the world’s sacred traditions and literature, making it quite clear how vital a holistic view of the human life cycle is. Mystics and poets the world over have long described how consciousness continues on in the eternal soul after death. The most vivid and compelling of these descriptions are founded upon personal experience, some upon ancient indigenous ritual practices.

The world’s religious traditions, including Native American spiritual traditions, tell us that the road of life is continuous and never-ending. Death is viewed as an integral part of this road; it is understood as the gate to eternal life. As Chief Seattle said, “There is no death, only a change of worlds.” The soul’s continuing journey in the afterlife gives the path of life even greater meaning and purpose because of the obstacles that are put in our way here as we move closer to the next world.

The practical mystic, knowing that we are restless only at our periphery while still at our center, takes on a discipline in order to remain in touch with the spiritual universe always surrounding us, to participate in it, and to unite with it. The mystic knows also the three levels of existence, the natural, the spiritual, and the Divine, and that as we progress along the mystic way they appear first as three and finally as one.

Chapter 3 ~ The Pattern of Transformation

Transformation is the means by which we stay on the life trajectory that we are intended to be on. One way we tell when transformation is about to happen to us is when we consciously experience the tension between opposites as they appear in our lives. Becoming used to these dramatic changes is one of the great challenges of life. Yet there is a way to recognize and welcome such changes.

Over 100 years ago, a pattern was identified by Arnold van Gennep, an anthropologist, that can be seen as seen as the foundation for how we understand the process that every life transition follows. He was the first to delineate the organic nature of life cycle transitions in his extensive cross-cultural study of rites of passage, although this pattern had existed in the rituals and ceremonies of many of the world’s indigenous cultures for millennia.

There is an essential dialectic to life, a give and take, a push and pull, an up and down, that is at one moment simple and straightforward and at another moment a core mystery of existence. Each day ends with darkness and begins with light. Fall follows summer. We forget and we remember. This dialectic is with us every day of our lives; it is what makes us whole, nurtures and develops our character, shapes virtues and spiritual qualities, and gives us integrity.

Life is made up of an ongoing series of dialectic struggles that are meant to move us along the developmental path we were designed to move along. One of the leading theories of human development, Erik Erikson’s eight stages of life, is a perfect example of how this dialectic makes up the basic structure of life. Each stage, Erickson says, rests upon a core conflict, or an essential tension, designed to be resolved before we move on to the next stage (for example, from “trust vs. mistrust” to “integrity vs. despair”).

Chapter 4 ~ The Soul Is In The Depths

Related Article:

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: