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Robert Atkinson, Ph.D., is an internationally known author of eight books, a professor of human development and religious studies, and director of Life Story Commons, at the University of Southern Maine. This blog post is adapted from his most recent book, Mystic Journey: Getting to the Heart of Your Soul’s Story (Cosimo, 2012). To learn more about the book and how to order it, go to his website www.RobertAtkinson.net.

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The Seven Valleys: A Road Map for Life’s Eternal Journey

Even though, as Abdu’l-Baha says, “Every soul is fashioned after the nature of God, each being pure and holy at birth”, as soon as we are born we enter the realm of opposing forces and a lifelong spiritual journey becomes necessary to draw out the virtues and spiritual qualities within us so we can develop more fully our inner nature and potential.

This vital spiritual quest might be thought of as a process of “soul-making,” or what the English poet John Keats says we, as “sparks of the divinity”, undergo in this “World of Pains and troubles” in order “to school an Intelligence and make it a soul.” It is what English teacher and Jungian analyst Marion Woodman says happens “when time meets the timeless” as we constantly confront “the paradox that an eternal being is dwelling in a temporal body.” Soul-making is all about communicating deeply with the inner realm, being fully awake and aware as the numinous bursts forth from the unconscious; it is about experiencing the universals of life. Continue reading

Recognizing the Pattern of Transformation in Our Lives

How do we know when transformation is about to happen to us?

The Writings of Baha’u’llah state that,

Adversity is the oil that feedeth the flame of this Lamp! Such is God’s transforming power.

Psychologist C.G Jung also wrote that,

There is no balance, no system of self-regulation, without opposition.

It would seem, from the above, that it is when we consciously experience the adversity that comes from opposites clashing in our lives. But being aware of these life-changing moments is one of our greatest challenges. We do, however, have some very useful tools to help us recognize and welcome such changes.  Continue reading

Remembrance is a Gift from the Soul

If the soul comes from God, as the world’s religions agree, why wouldn’t it have some memories of this remarkable origin? If it did, this remembrance surely wouldn’t come easy. It would require hard work to retrieve such deeply embedded memories. Remembrance of our divine origin may be deeply hidden but it is also the most rewarding of all memories to attempt to recover.

That’s why there is a great power in remembrance. Enough hard work, and remembrance can awaken us to an everlasting, changeless reality. God continues to send us his Messengers to help us remember who we are and where we came from. The world’s sacred traditions acknowledge the importance of seeking answers to the mysteries of life. This quest for spiritual understanding raises two essential questions: “Where have we come from?” and “Where are we going?” The mystery of our origin and our destiny is intricately tied to the nature of the soul.  Continue reading