The Soul's Journey part 1 of 6 by Rev. Christine Emmerling 2/19/2023
“The Soul’s Journey part 1 of 6" by Rev. Christine 2/19/2023
Today starts the first of a 6-week series on The Soul’s Journey inspired by Caroline Myss’ book “Sacred Contracts; Awakening Your Divine Potential.” She is also the best-selling author of “Anatomy of the Spirit.” This series is based on key people of the Bible and their Sacred Contracts or their sacred soul’s journey.
First a little on what a sacred contract is about. It all starts before we are born to this life experience. Our soul chooses and agrees to certain experiences for unfolding our soul, in helping others, and for divine purposes. Part of the contract requires that we discover what it is that we are meant to do. That can take well into adulthood. The Divine, in turn, promises to give us the guidance we need through our intuition, dreams, hunches, coincidences, and other indicators.
When choosing our sacred contract, we are looking at what it is we want to be or become. So the choices we make aren’t always going to be giving an easy life, and the more growth the more pain or suffering.
For example, we may want to learn about forgiveness, or become forgiving. This contract will require us to experience what it is like to have been betrayed or harmed so that we can learn what it is like to forgive and be forgiving. By the way there is no way to fail our sacred contracts. Some may choose to be a healer, but first we will have to learn about healing. Usually that will mean being very sick or injured and seeing a healer. How about compassion, think upon what kind of experiences that would require?
We also have souls who lovingly volunteer to assist us in fulfilling our sacred contracts. Their contract may be to be our adversary – the one who betrays us so that we can be forgiving. Carlos Castaneda said that the people from whom we often learn most in life are the “petty tyrants” – the ones who push our buttons and make us see in them the very qualities we most dislike about our self.
In terms of our contract, the petty tyrants in our life are as helpful and significant as our most beloved noble friends. We have agreements to work with because they each have something to teach us about our self that we cannot learn anywhere else. We can choose to learn by wisdom or by woe.
Our contract, along with all the subcontracts that constitute it, is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end, a plan to help us develop our divine potential. Think of our Sacred Contract as a life course in which we are meant to learn many lessons. When we start out exploring any course, it’s best not to become overly concerned about defining it in a single sentence or narrowing its purpose to a single lesson. It will take a while to discover our purpose or mission.
We have prototypes in which to follow, we call these the masters, prophets, and myths. We will be looking at these in the coming weeks. The Bible has examples of both sacred contracts, and God making contracts or covenants in the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. Other masters or prophets we’ll be looking at are, Buddha, and Muhammad.
There are five basic stages to a Sacred Contract. The first being the Contact; a moment of connection occurs between you and the Divine. We will all be introduced to the Divine through ordinary and extraordinary experiences, even if spiritual messengers are not involved.
For instance, the divine influence is evident when a cluster of disasters occurs in a remarkably short period of time reroutes your life. (“Dis-aster” means “from the stars,” indicating a long-held belief that bad things happen for reason known by the heavens.) Or an unforeseen opportunity might present itself. The Divine might also be revealed through dreams, extraordinary “coincidences,” a transcendent experience of the natural world, or during contemplation, prayer or meditation.
The purpose of a divine experience, regardless of what form it takes, is that it gets your attention and leads you to think something out of the ordinary might be happening to you. Divine encounters will be ongoing as opposed to one-time phenomena. That does not mean that disasters will be continuous, but it does mean that once you make a conscious connection with divine energy, that Presence is forever within your awareness and life.
The second stage is Heeding the Call; having been awakened, you apply new wisdom to your life at hand. Awakening to the Divine is meaningful only as a step in the journey of spiritual transformation. It is a big first step, to be sure, but then you must act and take another step.
There is an old Zen saying, “Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.” Heeding the call of the Divine within does not mean retiring to a life of contemplation in the mountains. Both Moses and Jesus came down from the mountain tops to serve the people. Today’s mystics are more likely to continue to live in the material world but with an entirely different orientation and set of values.
Ram Dass has said emphatically that genuine spiritual awakening always manifests as a desire to be of service to others. Your compassionate acts are the physical manifestation of all the inner spiritual work you are doing.
The third stage is Renaming; you assume a new name or role with spiritual significance. An example of this is in our workplace, we get a new title or position when we have achieved a new status of skill or responsibility. In the Roman Catholic tradition, boys and girls at about the age of thirteen take a new “confirmation name” for the ceremony in which they are confirmed in their faith. In the Native American tradition, a boy about the same age, goes out on a vision quest to find his purpose and spirit guide, he comes back to his tribe as an adult.
For a woman, she traditionally takes on the name of the man she marries, as her new role as wife. Then as husband and wife have children, they become mommy and daddy. We have many titles or roles in our families.
Students graduating from college receive degree titles, such as, Bachelor, Master, PhD and Doctor. Those of religion, receive titles as Priest, Father, Mother, Sister, Reverend, and Pastor. Then in the Bible we have the examples of Abraham, Sarah, Israel, Jesus and Paul.
The Fourth stage are Assignments: throughout life you encounter extraordinary opportunities and challenges that require continual transitions and adjustments. At crucial points in our lives, we are placed in situations that require of us unaccustomed skill, courage, or wisdom. Such moments are indications that our Sacred Contract is in play, but how we respond to these moments is up to us. We grow primarily through our challenges, especially those life-changing moments when we begin to recognize aspects of our nature that make us different from the family and culture in which we have been raised.
The old truism “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” may well apply. Another one that I have held onto during those very challenging times is “God never gives you more than you can handle.” But, I do know that at times I felt that I may not live through it, or wasn’t sure if I wanted to.
Examine your own life. Don’t be overly harsh in your self-assessment, but look for the unexpected results. By his own account, Christopher Reeve wanted to die after a riding accident left him a quadriplegic, and he asked his wife to pull the plug on his respirator. But in time he came to the point where he chose not only to live but to show other people how to live. He chose to embody the truth that your value as a human soul does not decline just because your body is seriously impaired. He accepted what was necessary to reach his highest potential.
The Fifth Stage is Surrender: you are given ongoing tests that ask the question “Which world will you choose to follow, that of the Divine or that of the earth?” Or which voice “The ego’s or the still small voice within you.”
You will never finish the process of choice and surrender until you have surrendered all to the will of the Divine. Just when you feel you’ve reached your limits, you are pushed further. Perhaps your career or a relationship seems to decline faster, for instance, the harder you try to revive it.
Then maybe you decide to let God take over your life’s direction, come what may, and it takes off, but in an unexpected direction. Or perhaps you feel an inner urging to try a more creative line of work that is financially risky but could repay you with a deeper sense of fulfillment.
Should you follow your intuition? Perhaps you feel drawn to a spiritual life path – leaving your traditional field of work. This is where you need to combine intuition and intellect to discern the voice of the Divine within.
The following is the Bible story of Adam and Eve. This story begins with Adam and Eve living happily in the Garden of Eden with the Lord God who talked directly to them. God commanded them they could eat of all the fruit from the trees but not of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. For in that day you eat of it you shall surely die. Their contract was now made.
They come to the forbidden tree with a serpent in it that tells Eve to go ahead and eat the fruit and be like the gods. Eve, listened to the serpent, her adversary or tempter, and gave in to her desire. How many times have we given in to our tempter? Our tempter comes in many forms. But the choice given is to learn by wisdom or woe.
Adam also ate of the fruit. They were now aware of good and evil. For the first time they were aware of being naked. They felt shame and covered up their bodies. When God called for Adam, they hid and didn’t respond.
Their innocense was now replaced with guilt, shame and fear. They had entered the world of human self-consciousness, and of forgetfulness to their true divine nature. They had died to their innocense, the Garden of Eden and the carefree life. As they are being expelled from the Garden of Eden into their new world, God gives them skin to cover their soul light bodies. They are now to know of work, give birth, raise families, and pending death.
Then Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us, to know good and evil; and now, unless he put forth his hand, and take also of the Tree of Life, and eat, and live forever.” A new contract was made, and the journey continues throughout the generations.
And, some say that Jesus is Adam returned to resurrect all mankind not back to the Garden of Eden, but to the New Jerusalem – the new evolved Self or God Self.
Next week we shall continue Noah’s sacred contract.