Ascension: The Art of Soul Perfection and the Attainment of Grace (book)

For a while now the conception of human life that makes the most sense to me is that we are here on planet earth to learn, and human life is in essence a metaphysical school. I used to dismiss the idea of reincarnation: sure, it was in the works of Plato and Buddha, two towering influences in the history of thought, but I couldn’t see how it was possible. The reason for this was that I had fallen for the trick of believing we are a body that creates a mind through physical processes, rather than a consciousness that manifests a body.

It was Immanuel Kant’s classic “Critique of Pure Reason” that convinced me that all is mind, and that space and time are an illusion (confirmed further by my reading of quantum physics). Kant left me with the lingering thought that we never have an experience which is not subjective, first-person awareness. Another way to put it is that there is never a separation between subject and object: the knower and what is known are irrevocably connected. Kant’s arguments are very abstract but for someone stuck in her head, his brutal logic opens the door to new mystical possibilities.

If we accept that we are in truth a type of conscious, energetic entity, and that space and time as we experience them are illusionary, it becomes entirely possible that what we experience within our conscious awareness could radically change, and be continuously re-set, offering new types of experiences. It was this line of thinking that slipped me into the belief that we are eternal souls (conscious beings) that incarnated into human form.

The groundbreaking hypnotherapy sessions of Dolores Cannon discovered that when under hypnosis people would recount their preparations for their journey into human life. Many recounted planning with a group of other souls to incarnate at the same time to play out roles to learn about their inner natures. Her patients even mentioned entering agreements with souls on the other side of the veil to perform harm against them to teach how to forgive, overcome obstacles and live with faith in the creator God. We work together so we all have a chance at learning the great lessons that human life allows.

I would like to suggest an addition to this: life is a school and archetypes are the subjects. Archetypes, according to Carl Jung (the Swiss psychologist who popularised the concept) are the contents of the “collective unconsciousness” – they exist at a deeper level of our psychology than what we experience consciously. They are not merely our personal unconscious but are common to every human. Common archetypes are the hero, the trickster, the prophet, the healer and the martyr. For those looking to explore in depth the range of archetypes and how they play out in our lives, I highly recommend the work of Caroline Myss.

My intention here is not to go into detail about the various archetypes but to propose the idea that these are the subjects that we must master in the school of life. As each archetype has its positive and shadow side, we can either succeed or fail in meeting the demands of the archetype, and if we succeed, we complete that particular “subject”. Myss argues that we all come to the school of life with 12 archetypes, which play prominence at different stages of our lives. Free will certainly is part of human life; however, it occurs within the framework of situations determined by the archetypes we have chosen to master.

Much work has been done in outlining how archetypes have taken on a defining role in human mythology, and how the same archetypes are found throughout global mythic traditions. However, there is another key point to the story, which is that there have been humans who have so successfully met the demands of a particular archetype that their story has become synonymous with that archetype. A key archetype in Western history is the martyr: Socrates, Pythagoras, Jesus and Joan of Arc were killed by the state for teaching people the truth about who they really are and for working in the interest of humanity against the political and religious powers of the day. They fully instantiated this archetype as they were murdered for their virtue, with each fully accepting this possible ramification of their decisions. We saw a similar fate in the 20th century with the death of prominent leaders such as JFK and Martin Luther King, as well the less heralded death of many brave whistle blowers who were killed for doing what was right.

Connected but slightly different is the truth teller who is punished for her work against vested powers, but due to grace is not executed but rather freed after a harrowing experience or personal suffering. The two people that immediately come to mind are the Russian writers, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, both sentenced to severe punishment and probable death in Siberia, only to emerge from the ashes stronger and wiser. The mythological figure representing this archetype is Prometheus. It is however possible that the person playing out the truth teller may switch into the martyr archetype (if such actions lead to their permanent demise), or the trickster (if they begin speaking the truth to destroy society rather than reveal what was unjustly kept secret).

This brings us back to reincarnation. It is my suggestion that we keep incarnating into the school of life until we finally meet the demands of the archetypes we have chosen to master. By “clocking” the archetype (to use a classic computer game analogy) we in fact meet the demands of our sacred/soul contract; this is what I take to mean when we speak of the eradication of our karma. This is an idea shared by Dr Bruce Goldberg, as presented in his lovely book “Ascension: The Art of Soul Perfection and the Attainment of Grace”, which provides a series of extremely helpful spiritual exercises to assist us in the fulfilment of our sacred/soul contract.

It was through an understanding of how our sacred/soul contract works that I was personally freed from the fears and resentments that previously plagued me; it also helped me make sense as to why the same situations kept occurring in my life until I met them head on. Even the so-called villains began to take on a different flavour as according to this manner of thinking we all agreed to different roles to induce understanding and growth. It is through this process of death and rebirth, both symbolically and literally, that we can complete our sacred/soul contract and ascend into a reality of our choosing, absent the karmic demands that keep us in a cycle of frustration and despair.

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