This is the part of experience that I believe I am the first person to fully awaken and there’s a reason for that, it was a nightmare.
Most teachers avoid talking about the soul or karma or intuition because it holds all our darkness. If they haven’t willingly gone into it then they can’t understand it or say anything meaningful about it.
The shared soul is what holds meaning and the story of life. In the same way that we don’t have a piece of awareness that is ‘mine’, we also don’t have an individual soul. We are all telling a shared story together, which we connect to with our intuitions.
I spent months suffering immensely while sorting through the absolute mess that is the collective karma/ shared soul. I created and recreated endless systems to try and explain what I found; however, once you have fully awakened something in you, it becomes very simple and elegant, something you can just embody in the moment.
You can access awakening the soul through imaginal practice or deep therapeutic work. Diving into this part of experience is also the best way to get an embodied sense of emptiness as it takes your experience out of your mind and awareness. If you go far enough into it, it’s like you can look back at your mind from your intuition and perceive how your mind is just constructing a reality.
Rob Burbea has recorded hundreds of hours of Dharma talks about imaginal practice and soul-making. He has also written a book about the insight he got from this, including on emptiness, called Seeing That Frees. I haven’t read it, but he talks about it quite succinctly in this podcast with Michael Taft. It is the closest I have heard anyone else come to being able to talk clearly about emptiness.
He doesn’t quite put his finger on it but he points to the fact that emptiness is actually used to describe two different things. Seeing that frees is pointing towards emptiness as an adjective. Seeing that frees is pointing towards emptiness as a noun, or spaciousness as I like to call it.
Emptiness is actually used to describe several overlapping things, but these are two of the main ones.
I think I’m the first person to perceive this distinction clearly. I have written a comprehensive series of blog posts on this here:
- What does emptiness mean?
- When emptiness becomes richness
- Tuning in to space in meditation
You can also read my guide on imaginal practice here.
This one is hard to teach remotely as it is a felt-sense of feeling safe enough to express whatever we feel in our body without disassociating from it.
It can be through guided meditations that make us feel safe and held enough to be present in a pleasant way or it can involve accessing the parts of ourselves that we’ve shut off and processing the trauma that is held there.
I aim to help people do this by encouraging people to create safe spaces and offer themselves compassionate presence. My writing and approach is very allowing; I try to convey that whatever people need to feel is welcome, but unless we have felt this compassionate presence in person, it is difficult to open to it ourselves.
Wim Hof, has almost the opposite approach. He teaches how to take your body out of its comfort zone, in order to increase your sense of safety that way. This is really valid and helpful too.
I really enjoyed this Michael Taft podcast, ‘Awakening and the Path of Liberation with Dan Brown‘. He talked about the process of full awakening to Buddhahood, which resonated with my journey, and touched on some important topics such as silent retreats not being supportive for achieving awakening, that psychotherapy and meditation are achieving the same thing, that you have to let the path change your life and behaviour and the importance of finding people who can guide us on the path.
The only thing I think it is worth pointing out is that when he says it is possible to remove negative experiences, I presume that he means it is possible to eliminate the mind’s negative valence, i.e. people will still feel pain and heart-ache they just don’t think that it is wrong or resist it. The heart and the body don’t distinguish between good and bad sensations or emotions so the only possible way to remove ‘negative’ ones would be to numb out all emotions. I feel this needs to be explicit for people to get it.
Awakening the Darkness of the Soul
I feel this unique part of my awakening holds a deeply important message for and understanding of humanity.
There is at least a drop of darkness present in every moment of experience and it is a lot more honest and helpful if spirituality can accept this and stop trying to tell people that they just need to wake up and get better at meditating in order to solve all their pain and heart-ache. Life is genuinely very hard for most people and we’re all just trying to get to a place where we feel seen enough, loved enough and happy enough for us to relax into it. Embracing our darkness makes it a lot easier for us to do this.
‘The devil wants to know if you’re going down or up
Easy I know what my speech will be
I want to go to heaven for the weather
and hell for the company.’