The quiet isolation of growing up in an alcoholic home accustomed me to silence, sent me into nature for my solace and companionship, and gave me the recognition of stillness and knowledge of the implicit order of that which is God. An emotionally abusive boyfriend taught me, finally, to channel my abilities toward my own support. My legal problems and the loss of my business caused me to rethink my entire dream, building a new one based only on my own values, my soul's agenda for my life, and connection to my Source. Failure of health brought back my remembrance of the divine physician within me and forced me to activate that infinite wisdom to become whole.
Each of these periods of growth was sparked by difficulty. The intensity of the difficulty was of my own making. The soul will knock gently at first, and we often do not hear, then insistently, but we may not answer, then very loudly. Most of the situations I cited were harsh because I ignored the quiet voice of my soul. I lingered in fearful inertia until the drama fully captured my attention and gave me few choices but to grow. I do not believe we grow only through difficulties, but the soul does not hesitate. It uses the means necessary to move us out of stasis. As I have grown in my ability to hear the soul, the curriculum has become a gentle and joyous one.
It is the soul's agenda that forms the infrastructure of everything that occurs in our lives. Its intention is for us to grow, moving inexorably toward a higher and higher potential. It has this curriculum always: consciousness, self-knowledge, and growth.
When you have been fired from your job, or are trying to recover from your sixth painful relationship, ask yourself what your soul's agenda is for you. It may be to resolve an ancient fear or to take responsibility and embrace power. Perhaps it is to understand illusion, gain the freedom of surrender, or grow more peaceful. Whatever it is, you may be certain that it will serve the highest in you if you rise to meet it. If you do not, you may be sure the soul will call again.
WHO IS IN CONTROL?
We may believe our lives are dictated by our relationships, that we are subject to spousal demands, or that we do not have freedom at work to express our values and more authentic selves. For instance, I sometimes feel controlled by my obligations to my business; the jobs and opportunities I provide my team members seem a responsibility that restricts my freedom of choice. We may feel this way about our children, that we cannot pursue our own passions until they are grown because we are locked in service to them, which consumes all of our focus and energy. We may feel an abusive parent controlled our life, that they are controlling it still. We feel controlled by time and by lack of money.
Insecurity comes in many guises: financial difficulties, a troubled child, an unfaithful spouse. Having a tyrannical employer can make each day one in hell. But imagine that you realize you have a choice about your work, that your soul is actually offering you a chance to change, that everything you need for that change is available to you. In that case, you do not feel the same entrapment and fear. You are still afraid, certainly, but you have a sense of there being choices that can be made, action that can be understood and taken with courage.
Brian is one of the most loving and unusual men I know. Yet his history is a truly heartbreaking story of childhood abuse. His is the kind of story that horrifies, that seems impossible to comprehend. It relates physical and emotional torture, mental cruelty, sexual abuse, shocking neglect. But Brian's life now is full of love. He has a large family of loving friendships and a vast global network of people who support his creativity and work.
When I asked Brian how he survived his horrible childhood, how he healed, his reply was startling.
"Lenedra, my childhood made me who I am. I absolutely believe it was my own choice, before I came into this life, to have that experience. I know what it is to be oppressed and for reasons I can't fully articulate, I know it was important to my soul that I experience this.
"Beyond that," he related, "I learned that the body doesn't have to feel pain, that there is a 'self' which nothing can efface. I spent days tied up in closets, and that gave me my unique creativity as I plumbed the wonders of my mind to keep from losing myself to the fear and pain. Many, many insights came to me in the darkness and despair. Something beyond myself comforted me and loved me even there in that closet, and I became familiar with that loving presence. Something deep within taught me. Entire worlds of meaning and possibility opened to me."
I struggled to comprehend Brian's perspective in the face of such damaging experiences.
"I am not damaged," he continued. "As I moved into adulthood, I learned that, ultimately, I control my well-being. I found I could call to myself the healing I needed, the nurturing and family. It is all here for me. It was up to me, really, to love myself; no one could do that for me, and as I offered the gift of love to me, my life became full of love. I do not regret my childhood in any way. My parents played the role of tyrant so I could learn to become utterly free of tyranny."
Why would the soul place a being in such a situation? Brian would answer, "to grow"
Jack Swartz, a Dutch-born author and lecturer, might say the same. In studies conducted at the Menninger Foundation, the University of California's Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute, and at other institutions, Jack astounded doctors by his ability to be pierced with six-inch needles without bleeding, be burned with cigarettes without pain or harm, and to heal immediately. He held hot coals in his hands for extended periods without damage. Throughout all these events, he produced none of the beta brain waves that are normally present when a person is in pain. He explained that he acquired the ability to be able to control the pain of severe beatings he received while in a Nazi concentration camp. He believes anyone is able to learn such control and thus gain responsibility for their own health. He lectured and taught tirelessly to help others learn, feeling it was his life purpose.
Why would the soul place anyone in a Nazi concentration camp? Or give them an abusive childhood? Brian and Jack have their own answers. Brian feels it was vital for him to become utterly free of his fear of tyranny. Jack felt he learned the secrets of freedom from physical pain and an awareness of consciousness beyond the body. He felt it was well worth his experience to gain them for himself and to demonstrate them to others. Both Brian and Jack felt not only undamaged by their experiences but also a sense of purpose in them.
This is not an idea we can easily embrace. It is a discussion we cannot fully bring ourselves to because we are so deeply terrified by the heinous acts in our world, confused by and afraid of the pain and injustice and danger. Yet in a larger context, we must at least ask, "Could there be meaning and purpose in them?"
We fear that if we allow that there is purpose, it means we must accept the gross inequities and exonerate the people who perpetuate them. But this idea defies reason. It is a "victim" mentality. Feeling, on the other hand, the situation is unredeemable and beyond our control leaves us without options. But recognizing the purpose or opportunity in such chaotic events, we can then utilize them to bring change. When we see the larger purpose underlying an event, our understanding aids us in healing the pain and bringing about growth. When we act on that understanding, we learn to trust ourselves.
LOOKING FOR LOVE
The urge toward union, the longing for love, is innate in us. But what is the longing really for? What do we want union with? Why? Is there a hole we are trying to fill? Is the longing for union based on a need for security? Can anything truly make us secure? The ultimate answer is that the underlying cause of our great insecurity is the absolute, inculcated belief that we are our body. We are not our body; we are the indwelling soul. As long as our context is primarily the physical side of ourselves, we will feel fear and anxiety about our well being. Ego, disconnection from source, and abandonment of self derail most of our relationships. The root of peace and security is in the blueprint of our soul. Accessing that understanding opens us to myriad realms of possibility and stability.
Instead of looking to others for love, become love. Inhabit it. Love your divine soul, love who you are, love the dream you have manifested. When you do, what manifests in your dream? Love. It comes in on the incoming wave and engulfs you.
Moving into a life in which the experience of loving is the only thing you will accept, there are many feelings of vulnerability; and there may be awkward stages. There are many graceless moments in which you struggle to involve yourself in a new economy, the economy of love, yet you are still struggling to use all of the old tools of intimidation, humiliation, withdrawal, and others. This is a natural part of the process. By listening to the voice of our soul, we are guided to new tools and experiences and new relationships with others.
To develop access to that voice of the soul, I have found it necessary to return repeatedly to the silence, refining my ability, honing it with discipline and patience. I have learned that, while failing and succeeding to varying degrees but insisting and persisting over time, we can achieve communion with that great I Am, the animating principle of this world.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
New World Library, ©2001
The Architecture of Abundance: Seven Foundations to Prosperity
by Lenedra J. Carroll.
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About the Author
Lenedra J. Carroll is an artist, poet, author, entrepreneur, singer, and philanthropist. She also manages the career of her daughter, singer/songwriter Jewel. Visit Lenedra on Facebook. For information on Higher Ground for Humanity, an organization founded by Lenedra and her daughter Jewel, visit www.highergroundhumanity.org