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(To receive my Perspectives newsletter, please fill out the form at http://summerjoy.com (scroll down). I send it out about once a quarter, usually with a short insightful channeling and sometimes with some other writings, humorous as well as serious.) On this page, I have omitted announcements.


FROM COAL TO DIAMONDS

Michael Channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin
October 12, 2013 Guerneville, California, West Coast Michael Students Retreat

Transcribed by Lauren Jensen


GUIDED MEDITATION:
[Channeled from Shepherd’s Essence]

Feel your breath.
Feel it massage the insides of your lungs.
Hear the breath bringing joy to your lungs.
What is that joy like?
What are its sensations?

As you breathe in joy, feel it moving throughout your body.
As you exhale, feel joy filling the room.
Notice your joy playing with the joy emanating from those around you.
Feel the collective joy of the group.
Feel the joy expanding.
Feel your capacity for joy becoming greater.
Feel this great joy traveling through your overleaves … and becoming happiness.

Since your body is connected to all other people and to the earth itself, this is joy to the world. We can choose to demonstrate through our lives an alternative to insanity, to growing through pain.

Bring to mind one situation that is uncomfortable for you.
Feel the feeling.
Imagine yourself in this situation allowing joy to flow through your personality as happiness and through your body as pleasure, while radiating joy to others.

Joy doesn’t have to do anything. Its mere presence is a gift. Whether others in that situation consciously realize joy today or in this lifetime, your emanation of joy shifts the energy.

Think of another situation that could use the blessing of joy. It could be a personal situation or even a worldwide situation.
Put yourself in that situation joyfully.
Observe the healing power of joy healing you and healing the situation.

When you feel ready you can open your eyes and marinate in the joy that you are helping to generate.

Let your breathing be just the way it wants to be. So often we hold our breath. Be with your free and easy breathing, and see what happens.


MICHAEL:

Greetings to you all.

This event has been planned partly with the intention of broadcasting a particular quality of energy into the world. This location was chosen with a similar care that one might take when planning where to put a radio tower.

One reason that this is a smaller group this year is that those who were called to be here have abilities as energy transmitters. Some people are gifted as receivers and so the many people who are connected to this group in spirit, as they say, have chosen to be receivers where they are. We see receivers throughout the entire world, some who know about this event and many who don’t.

The energy being transmitted is not concerned with further popularizing the Michael teachings per se. It is about increasing consciousness: that it is possible to do things in an easier manner, that one can learn to live in true personality, that there can be much more joy in life, even under difficult circumstances.

You are familiar with the concept of love, truth, and beauty (or pure energy). The realization that the universe is made from these building blocks has extraordinary ramifications no matter what a person’s religious beliefs are.

In Christianity there is the idea of the holy trinity. We would say that this is the holy trinity. Love is the Tao expressing itself via the inspiration axis—emotionally, you might say, although it is more than that. Its highest manifestation is unconditional love or agape. Truth is the Tao expressing itself through the expression axis (intellectually). And beauty is the Tao manifesting through the action axis (physically or energetically).

It appears to the naked eye that love, truth, and beauty are in short supply in human affairs. The discord that is everywhere apparent, the ugliness rather than beauty, the hate rather than love, the falsity rather than truth, could be seen as love, truth, and beauty in training. They just need some fine-tuning. The definition of what some call a lightworker—and all of you are that —includes the ability to recognize the love, truth, and beauty that is struggling to blossom through the hate, falsity and ugliness.

Doing so helps you experience joy, whereas when you temporarily forget what you are seeing, and you think that it is only falsity, ugliness and hate, it is easy to feel despair. If you are ever in despair, a good approach is to recognize that despair is joy in training—you just need to look deeper at what you are seeing.

We speak of growing through joy. Why is it important to grow?
 
Because we’re the Tao playing.


Consider the alternative: Nothing would change. That doesn’t seem as interesting, productive, fulfilling, or good.

Yes, you would become disinterested if there were no growth. Things could change without growing, and that would be more interesting than stasis, but growing implies an increase in capacity, both in terms of quantity and quality, for love, truth, and beauty.

When you are cast as a spark of the Tao, you probably had a lot of other experiences behind you. But when you chose to come to a particular planet and inhabit a particular life form, such as the human life form on planet Earth, you took on a new soul. And that soul, at that point, had no experience. Therefore, on that level, it was a blank slate. To become something, it had to grow, just as a fertilized egg in the womb has to start taking on nutrition to become something more than a fertilized egg.
 
The nutrition for the soul is experience. It draws from the raw material of pure potential and through experience converts it into soul substance. And that conversion is growth.

Let’s make an analogy: A coal deposit can be compared to raw material. Through the pressure (of experience), it is possible for a diamond to be generated. There is nothing wrong with coal— it can be used as fuel, both literally and figuratively (as in this analogy). But what a joyful thing it is to create a diamond.

As the soul moves through the cycles, it generates more and more substance. It is not necessarily beautiful yet. It is not necessarily characterized by love and truth. It is no longer purely raw material but it is not yet consistently made up of diamonds: something that transmits glorious light, love, truth, and beauty in their purest, highest forms. There is not only the matter of having the experience but of refining it, so that a step at a time it can become closer to its highest potential.

Let’s say that an infant soul kills a lot of people out of fear. That is a big experience, but it is not a beautiful one. It is at the first stage of refinement. It has taken black coal and created some substance around the soul that is dark grey—lighter than it was, but a long way from being a diamond. Let’s say that in the infant soul’s next lifetime, he is killed in repayment of one of those karmic debts. What happens to that substance depends a lot on how the soul understands, interprets, and frames that experience. He will probably not consciously associate it with the time he had killed that person. If he also unconsciously (on a surface soul level) refuses to take responsibility for it, he may see himself as a victim. Maybe he will feel angry and vow to take revenge. In that case, his substance is expanding—he has had more experience now—but it hasn’t gotten much more refined. It could go in various ways from there. The ideal scenario would be if the soul finally puts two and two together and realizes that “This is what I did to that other soul. Now I’m getting it back and it doesn’t feel good. Maybe I will think twice before I kill someone again.” That would be the beginning of compassion.

What often happens, though, is that it may take several rounds of similar killing-and-being-killed before there is this realization. This is a clear-cut example of growing through pain. There’s going to be a lot of pain on both sides until that realization kicks in.

There are a few souls in whom that realization never kicks in. They become calcified in hate and blaming others; they never take responsibility for their part in their exchanges, and so they contract. They are referred to as being “evil.”

You might think that, eventually, everyone would “wake up,” but since all is choice, one can choose to move through the physical plane without taking responsibility. There are fewer such souls than one might think, based on the things that go on in the world. Most souls are a mixed bag: they’ve gotten clarity in some areas, and not in others.

Those who have contracted, more or less permanently, do not experience joy. They do not really, in fact, take much pleasure from controlling others or in getting their way. They do not find happiness. They are driven.

At any time, as long as a soul is still incarnating, it is possible to change course. No one is written off on the physical plane.

Do evil people ever cycle off?

Those who do not choose to take advantage of the opportunity to break the pattern eventually are disassembled on the astral plane: they cannot cycle off. That is very rare.

Embodying joy is the greatest service to humanity that you can offer because it demonstrates that there is another way to be. On the other hand, those who have chosen the path of evil are serving humanity in their own way because in interacting with them, others are clarifying their own choices. If they finally do break the pattern, they can bring rich insights. Nothing is wasted. We like the saying “It’s all good.”

Sometimes people wonder why they even bothered to come to this difficult planet from the Tao, where everything was in perfection already—from your point of view, indescribable bliss. The reason is that the Tao itself does not wish to be static; it also wants to expand. Those who choose to be sentient souls, such as humans and cetaceans, are leading this expansion for the Tao.

On the physical plane, you are making your light conscious. You make things conscious by comparing and contrasting them to what it is not. In the Tao there is only light and so it is useful to construct a playground where you can contrast light and dark.

We’ll make an analogy to a newborn baby. Babies are full of light. They are a joy to be with, especially when they are happy. They radiate light but it is unconscious. They have not yet owned their experience; they are not capable of doing so. Therefore, they easily lose the joy. They can go from great happiness to a screaming fit in the blink of an eye. As they grow up they can gain skills for remaining happy no matter what is going on outside of them. They become conscious of their happiness and have more control over it. That is what you are doing on a soul level.

Many early infant souls are quite happy, especially if they have incarnated into a circumstance in which the weather is nice, they have enough to eat, and they can play. But eventually they feel called to have more challenging experiences so that they can build their capabilities. One way they do this is like what toddlers start doing when they refuse to share their toys and kick other toddlers in the sandbox—they create karma.

This is not the only way that souls can grow. It is theoretically possible that a soul could grow only through joy. There is no law that one must grow through karma, or at least through negative karma. But because this is an aggressive, difficult planet, we know of no soul who has grown entirely through joy. We don’t think any of you have managed to get to where you are without having lived through several wars, for instance. But now that you have some skills, you can make conscious choices that minimize growing through pain and maximize growing through joy.

One of the ways is through being alert, noticing when trouble is coming and finding ways to finesse that, either removing yourself from the situation or diffusing it.

We are fond of saying that all is choice. One way of describing the journey of your soul through the physical plane is that you are learning to choose consciously. You are always choosing unconsciously: you choose to breathe and how you breathe, but most of the time you allow that to be an automatic process. You can control it when you want to but you usually let it stay the way it normally is.

The way it normally is may not be the best it could be for you. You may be in the habit of breathing in a shallow way. So occasionally taking it out and looking at it—noticing how you’ve been breathing and establishing a new pattern—can be a smart choice. This is a good analogy for all your unconscious patterns.

You need unconscious patterns. You cannot be conscious of everything you are doing all the time; your brains are not sophisticated enough to allow for full conscious control of self. There are species that are equipped for that. In your case, you get to examine your unconscious patterns, now and then, a little at a time, especially when they are triggered. If something upsets you, something that you hadn’t been thinking about before, that is your opportunity to bring it out into the light and to refine it, to take that murky substance that you had developed through a past experience and make it more refined, bringing love, truth, and beauty to it.

If you have been through something traumatic, you may do that many times. Each time, you will refine that substance further—you will bring more love, more truth and more beauty into it. Each time you do that, you grow. You know more. You understand better. And you bring more refinement to your overall substance. When you finally refine a piece of experience as much as it needs to be refined, you have made it into something truly beautiful. Then you integrate that and it goes more deeply into your soul and becomes part of who you are. It is growth that you have earned, and your soul becomes more substantial. The light can shine through that experience, which is no longer trauma—it is deep knowledge. Then you move on to something else; something else is triggered.

Because all is choice, you are not required to refine every experience to its ultimate possible form before you cycle off (finish with the physical plane). You may decide that some or maybe all these various experiences are good enough. They may not shine like diamonds but you are okay with what you did with them. It is comparable to those who graduate with a C average. They decided that what they learned in that school was good enough or they did the best they could and that was fine. Someone else may want to work very hard and have a higher grade point average.

So people can get to be seventh-level old and not have substance that is full of diamonds. They went through all the stages in the way they chose to do so. They completed the course as they saw fit. There are even people who are fairly dark in their energy field who get to be seventh old and finish up. We would not characterize such people as fully evil; you cannot get to seventh old if you are totally shut down. But you could if you were somewhat shut down. So it is incorrect to assume that everyone who is an old soul—especially seventh-old—has it together: All is choice.

By “all is choice” we are not saying that you’ve chosen everything that happened to you outside yourself. Others have free will and they are making choices as well that affect you. But you have a choice about everything, including about your evolution.

There are those who work on themselves constantly. Although this is mostly admirable, it can be out of balance. There is, for everything, a sweet spot where you find the just right amount. Those who work on themselves more than is valuable for them are usually driven in part by low self-esteem. To believe and know that you are beautiful just the way you are is a better starting point for working on yourself because you can do so with equanimity. You can observe correctly that, “Yes, I have some dark spots here—some blind spots—that I need to work on,” because everyone does. And you can have a joyous experience doing so.

When you first face your shadows—your shadows are the dark spots, the places in you that you’ve not yet brought fully into light—it can be a terrifying experience. Many are afraid to look within because they fear that they will find out that they are a terrible person. If you start to work with a therapist and discover that you have a lot of anger, for example, you may be afraid of the power of that anger. You may fear that you will hurt someone or yourself with it. However, if your therapist is good, you will quickly discover that it is not anything to be afraid of. You can bring it into the light and release the energy from the past so that you have more energy to live in joy now. You gain skills for dealing with anger when it comes up, so you start storing less anger and dealing with things in the present. Therefore, your backlog of unresolved anger starts to go down. This is an example of how one learns to increasingly grow through joy.

There is nothing wrong with anger or any other negative emotion. Anger is simply your life force arising in a concentrated way to push something away that you perceive as being harmful to you. You may be mistaken—it may not actually be harmful to you. But the anger itself is not a bad thing.

When it is stored from the past, it tends to go bad. Some of you probably have food in the back of your refrigerator that originally was a healthy good thing to have but now it is covered with mold. You might want to toss it out. Old anger can go bad, too. It can become toxic, but the energy inside of it can be recycled and used for something good.

Much of the positive thinking movement, although it is better than the alternative, can lead to suppression of negative emotions, which can lead to worse outcomes. People tend to repress emotions when they don’t know what else to do with them. When you were a child, you did not have the sophistication to deal with negative emotions. You probably either forced them down or let them out out in an inappropriate way. All of you are gaining skills to find other alternatives for dealing with negative emotions.

Fear is the most common negative emotion. Its purpose is to keep bodies alive. However, if you are a conscious being, you don’t need to be afraid of being hit by a car, for instance, to not step in front of one. You use your eyes and ears, you see and hear, and then choose not to step out. Little children have to learn that, so they may have fear.

Because the body is connected to the mind, and the mind can form abstractions, it creates fears about abstractions, events that are not directly related to the body’s immediate physical safety. For example, “I’m afraid I’ll get fired from my job.” The underlying assumption is that that might eventually lead to a physical event such as “I will starve to death.” Making it conscious obviates the need to have fear. If you look at it with clear eyes, you can develop a strategy. “This is what I’m going to do to see if I can preserve my job. And if I lose the job, this is what I will do.” When there is consciousness, you can relax. You can thank your fear for alerting you to the fact that there was a problem, and then dismiss it.

The growth of your capacity to live in love, truth, and beauty is a wonderful thing. When you experience the diamond, you naturally want more of that kind of experience. It is available. It does take work, but it need not be a struggle. The more skill you have in this, the more the skills build on each other: There is an acceleration. You get the hang of it. You get a sense of what it is like to grow through joy.

Living a joyful life is the greatest service anyone can give to humanity. If you feed the poor but are not joyful, you have limited your gift. If you change a political situation but you are not joyful, the impact is relatively minor. If you model what it’s like for love, truth, and beauty to manifest through you, you have beautifully completed your life task, whatever that may be. It would be impossible to align with essence and manifest your version of love, truth, and beauty and not complete your life task. So you don’t necessarily need to worry too much about it. This is the core of all spiritual practice. If you align with love, truth, and beauty, you will live in essence and you will gracefully do what you came on earth to do.

What’s so difficult about this planet? There’s so much abundance here.

The abundance of the planet means that there are more opportunities, and therefore more opportunities for things to go wrong. Also, the human life form is hardwired to be relatively aggressive compared to some other incarnational opportunities. Those two things combine to make a volatile situation.

That said, all is choice, and part of the reason there has been so much destruction in your history in relatively recent times is that people have chosen to grow through pain rather than joy. Even with this life form and all the complexities of life on Earth, it would have been possible to have a different history, one with more peace and reasonableness. However, it is all good, because if you really harvest the lessons of what you have been through, you will have achieved powerful insights, and your ability to be love, truth, and beauty will be all the greater.

The key is to embrace things as they are and as they have been, and see what can be learned from them—to embrace it all. A lot of you have had traumatic experiences in your past. On one level, you probably would have preferred not to have gone through them, but if you can embrace them and harvest all the insight out of them that you can, it will polish your diamond in great ways. And after all, you only have what you have. You have the history you have. You cannot do anything about what is. You can only do something about your choices regarding what will come down the line. So you may as well be in love with what is and what was, because it is what you’ve got—you don’t have anything else. You don’t have the idyllic childhood you may have fantasized about (probably no one else does either). So use what you’ve got.

You go to a hard university because you know you will learn more. You go to a party school if you are not interested in learning that much. Earth is like one of the top Ivy League schools. After going through a cycle here, you can come out of it with some real skills.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the planetary frequency of Earth having just moved into fourth density.

Planets move through different cosmic climates. Some climates are stormy. You have moved through some harsh weather, which is partly why humans have tended to choose to grow through pain although, again, it need not have been that way. Now the weather is clearing up, so it should be easier to grow through joy in this coming time, and to grow more quickly and efficiently. However, it will still always be your choice: you can still resist or you can embrace.

CLOSING MEDITATION:

Close your eyes.
Feel.
Breathe.
Love.

Together, we are broadcasting the pure energies of love, truth, and beauty. Let us each look for opportunities to allow these forces to manifest through us. Send these unifying energies into the Earth and to all humanity so that there is a greater awareness that one can, in fact, grow through joy. It has always been a choice, but let it now be more apparent.

***

This is from Being in the World, which will be available as an ebook shortly.

GOD

Channeled from Michael by Shepherd Hoodwin

[This chapter consists of excerpts from various channelings, mostly lectures. The first is one of the most memorable and hilarious experiences I've ever had with Michael.]

DEFINING GOD

Is there a God?

It depends on how you define this term. [Thunder was heard at this moment.] Thank you! You see, “He” does not like being defined! But if you perceive this word to represent the creative force of the universe, or the organizing principle of reality, or the consciousness of the whole, then yes, God exists. In saying that you love God, you are therefore saying that you feel yourself to be part of what is true, what organizes and binds things together. However, if you define this term as like an Old Testament patriarch who is wrathful when you cross him, then no, no such thing exists. We prefer the term “the Tao” because it brings up fewer preconceptions, although the Tao could be differentiated from God. The Tao could refer to the undimensional source beyond all universes from which universes spring. God would then refer to the highest consciousness of a particular universe.

UNIVERSAL CONSCIOUSNESS

Every part of the whole has consciousness. The consciousness of one of your fingers is not as large and complex as that of your entire body. Your consciousness is not as large and complex as that of the solar system, which is, in turn, not as large and complex as that of the universe. The consciousness of the universe is sometimes referred to as God. Since you are part of the universe, you are part of God, although the universe has a consciousness beyond the sum of its parts.

If you experience unification among your internal parts, you have a sense of connection with the larger whole that teaches you more about God than twenty philosophy books.

THE WAY

The Chinese word “Tao” means “the Way.” Why don’t you just call it that?

“The Way” sounds like there is only one way or path. In fact, all life is the Way.

THE EVER-CHANGING GOD

The churches foster the idea of an unchanging God. God is both unchanging and ever-changing. God does not have to be static to be wise. God flows, and if you are going to be with God, you need to flow, too. You can find stability and comfort in change.

IDENTITY IN GOD

There are different levels of God. The highest level of God is its overall consciousness. When you think of God, you are usually referring to this. We all contribute to that overall consciousness.

The individual cells of your body each have their own consciousness. All those cells together make up your body. Your body as a whole, however, has its own aggregate consciousness. It responds to the consciousness of all the cells in it, but it is also something more than just their sum. It acts upon them, bringing something new to them, just as they act upon the overall consciousness. What is commonly thought of as God is similar in its relationship with its parts. God includes everything, yet is more than everything.

A cell in your finger has its own sense of itself, but you could say that it also has larger identities. For example, it is part of your finger, your arm, your entire physical body, and you. Likewise, the totality of God is much greater and wider than what you individually experience, but God is your ultimate identity. Your way of experiencing Earth is like nobody else’s, so you bring a unique experience to God.

Is God a compassionate being?

Yes. It is true that God is love. God is compassionate and wise. It sees the reasons for everything being the way it is, and accepts and loves it, without judging it.

God is evolving, too; it is continually learning things, at levels we are not capable of comprehending. It does not have all the answers to begin with. Otherwise, why would it go to all the trouble of experiencing the universe? We are part of God existing in this realm to have experiences. It is a vast and grand affair of which we are part. It has tremendous design and order, yet great spontaneity and surprise as well.

You might say that the game is partly about aspects of God discovering or increasing their awareness that they are God and using their power as God to create. Possibilities are God’s playthings. The universe is made up of infinite possibilities, so God will never run out of playthings. God likes to see “what would happen if....” God does not know until it tries, just like any of us.

This is scary for me. How can I ask God to advise me and tell me His will if God doesn’t know it?

It is comforting to think that God knows everything. It is like a child thinking that his parents know everything. As he grows up, he finds that is not so, although they may know enough to be good parents, providing him with love and wisdom. God includes all the knowledge that exists, but there is an infinite amount of knowledge that has not yet been created. Creating new knowledge is part of your purpose.

God can guide you because it has a good idea of what your next step is. First of all, you planned your life before incarnating, and God knows your plan, as well as the larger picture. Also, God has obviously had an enormous amount of experience. It does not have to know all the answers; It has enough answers for your needs.

Your trust in God has not been misplaced. You can be delighted to be part of God and to participate in this great process of growth and evolution.

***

This is the final chapter, 31, "Parallel Universes," from the second edition of my book Journey of Your Soul, which is extensively rewritten from the first. Excerpts from Michael channeling are indented.


PARALLEL UNIVERSES

Just as there are seven vertical planes of existence layered on top of one another, there are many horizontal levels of existence side by side. These are called parallel universes. A parallel universe is an alternative reality similar to this one in which people make different critical choices and go in different directions as a result.

The concept of parallel universes sounds like science fiction. In fact, many science fiction authors have tapped into universal truths through the free play of their imagination. According to Michael, as well as Seth and other channeled teachers, ours is but one of many realities that our wholeness is experiencing. We know ourselves as having a particular identity, address, body, job, parents, friends, and so forth. However, we have many parallel selves whose experiences range from being very similar to almost unrecognizable as being us.

Theoretically, there is an infinite number of parallel universes, just as there is an infinite number of possible television stations. However, only a finite number are of interest to a particular essence, and they are not the same ones from essence to essence. The number varies greatly, from a few hundred to several thousand.

Parallel selves are different from reincarnational (past-life) selves, which are all within one parallel. The latter have different overleaves, life tasks, circumstances, and (usually) time frames. Each parallel has its own past-life selves.

Like our reincarnational selves, our various parallel selves have the same essence, including role and male/female energy ratio. Unlike them, our parallel selves have the same overleaves. Our basic life task is the same, although each parallel explores different aspects of it. They are in the same equivalent era, but minor variations in their time frames are inevitable, since free will exists in each. The year called 2013 in our parallel may be called 1985, 2024, or G47 in others. One parallel might have more primitive automobiles but more advanced (or different forms of) air transportation.

Other characteristics usually predominate, but not exclusively. For example, we are either male or female in most of our parallels. We are often working in the same general field, such as the arts or business, in several (but not all) of them. At least one of our parents (the one with whom we have a child agreement) is our parent in most of them, and both parents may be the same in many of them. However, if those essences aren't in some universes we wish to be in, don't have children in them, or it otherwise doesn't work out, we might make different arrangements in those parallels. Although we may look quite different in some of our parallels, our basic appearance is frequently similar. Events of our parallel lives, however, can vary a great deal.

Parallel universes provide the means for our essence to experience a range of its significant possibilities, and therefore more of its wholeness. To our essence, these various parallels are not separate, although they seem separate to our personality. On higher planes, essence continues to experience a range of possibilities without apparently separate parallel universes, since it is only the solid nature of the physical plane and the limitations of our brains that need to create the illusion of separate parallel realities. Being consciously aware of more than one parallel at a time would be disorienting.

You affect your other parallels, so if you have a particularly worthwhile growth experience in one parallel, you might increase the percentage of your parallel selves who avail themselves of a similar experience wherever that is convenient and possible. However, it will not become a very high percentage-no one specific activity dominates all your parallels, because your essence wants to explore many sides of your life. Someone who is, say, a superstar in this parallel universe may have such superstardom in perhaps a maximum of fifteen percent of her parallels.

Essence incarnates into several parallels at roughly the same time. In addition, new parallels sometimes spin off from existing ones. Whenever we reach a crossroads in life, where the choice we make will affect everything that follows, our essence may want to experience more than one path.

Which choices are pivotal may not be obvious to our personality. For example, the choice of a mate may be less significant than it seems because our path will end up at roughly the same place regardless. On the other hand, a choice that seems trivial, such as whether to go to a particular concert, may have a large impact because of whom we might meet there.

Suppose there are three major worthwhile alternatives. If we choose the first in the majority of our parallels in which this choice comes up, there will be added pressure on those aspects of us who have not yet chosen to go with the second or third. Let's say that at least one parallel self goes with the second alternative, but none choose the third. A new parallel where we choose the third may then spin off. That universe has the same past as the one that spun it off but moves in a different direction from that point forward. Since other people are also continually reaching crossroads, each individual doesn't have to spin off new ones just for his own use, which would not be possible anyway; new parallels are created in collaboration by many souls. The universe practices economy in all things.

Picture an incarnate essence as a sphere, and each parallel life as extending in a line from the center to the periphery. Just as an infinite number of lines can be contained in a sphere, we have an infinite number of possible parallel selves. A certain part of that sphere contains main trunk lives, those that are more central to the essence's purposes in incarnating. The rest of it contains fringe lives, more peripheral or experimental for the essence, as well as possibilities that essence isn't pursuing (which are the vast majority of the sphere).

As hard to believe as it may be, each of our parallel selves is as real to itself as we are to ourselves. It is not that this is the primary one and all others are parallel to it. There is no one parallel life that is primary, no one parallel self that is the real one-they are all real. The parallel universe you are in as you read these words is just one of a large number. All our parallel selves are part of the total reality of who we are. When we also take into account our reincarnational selves and the whole of our essence, our present experience of self accounts for perhaps only about one twelve-thousandth of our total self, according to my channeling. Many factors are shared in common among parallels, especially among those on the main trunk. That is why Michael didn't say that our present experience of self accounts for an infinitesimal fraction of our totality.

Not only do parallel universes spin off, but when two or more universes have become essentially the same, they can recombine, merging onto the same track. There is a continual expansion and contraction. We may feel it when that happens-it's an odd time when something seems different; things may look slightly rearranged or different-but usually we do not consciously identify the shift. When parallels merge, various features of little importance morph. An example is the arrangement of plants in your garden. It's not that your memory is tampered with, but that the actual reality has changed. Reality is not static, although the illusion of it being static is necessary for our sanity.

Each parallel universe keeps an integrity of movement. It is like Highway #212 that might merge into #487. It may remain there permanently, or just for a few miles and then again go off on a track of its own. It is more complex than this, but still, each parallel has its own history.
This universe shares a track with several others, not all of which were on this track, say, two hundred years ago and not all of which will share this track two hundred years hence. Even though they were essentially the same when they recombined, they do not have exactly the same history. That is partly why there are conflicting accounts of past events.

You have access to the pasts of all universes on your present track. If one of them moves onto a different track, it will take its past with it, and that past will fade from your awareness.

Let's say that four of your parallel selves currently share your native track. Because they are not currently on their native track, they are dormant and experience this parallel passively, but still with possibly different slants that would be activated if they again spun off. Our soul has unlimited potentials; the same ones aren't always activated at the same time. Although the circumstances of all five parallels are identical for now, merging isn't the same as dissolving into one thing; it's more a form of cosmic recycling, with different parallels using the same resources. When there is a need to spin off a new parallel, one of these dormant ones may be used if it interests those in it.

In drama, there is the concept of through lines, or unifying themes that push characters forward through the narrative. Parallels each have their own through lines. They have their own gestalts (coherent patterns) and maintain their basic consistency. However, individual essences can slightly shift which parallel selves are in which collective parallel. In other words, the parallel self reading this doesn't always stay on the same collective track. As we go through life, it is possible to share tracks with different parallels of other people.

Individual tracks are superimposed over collective tracks. Your essence determines which aspect of self can most benefit from and contribute to which parallels, and may rearrange itself accordingly, but its work is seamless and unapparent to you-this is not something of much relevance on the level of personality.

For example, there may be a time when our situation could lead to either devastating war or a breakthrough in world peace. At least one of our parallel selves will probably experience each outcome. Individual essences have a choice as to which aspect of self experiences them.

Sometimes a parallel self is at least subliminally aware of the possible outcomes and requests a particular one. She may feel that she doesn't need the experience of war, or she may volunteer for it to be of service. Essence takes such preferences into account. For one thing, it may find it useful for that parallel self to have the experience of "creating her own reality" if possible. Essence, however, decides based on what seems to be the highest good.

Some channeled literature suggests that we visualize the collective future we wish to live in, such as one of harmony and prosperity. It doesn't hurt to ask, but most parallel universes are highly imperfect. The spiritual path is about making the best of whatever happens. Ultimately, we can only control our own personality-level choices.

Sometimes lifetimes we remember in past-life regression are not from this universe, but one that now shares a track with it.

If you need to work on an issue that you also dealt with in a particular past life in a parallel universe now sharing your track, you might pull in that lifetime during past-life regression, just as you might pull in a past life from your own universe. This could help you gain more insight and bring to bear the healing power of your current level of consciousness on a greater part of your wholeness. Probably less than ten percent of the past lives you might remember in regression are from other parallel universes, and all presently occupy the same track as your own universe.

If the Earth is destroyed from nuclear war in another parallel universe, what does that do to us in this universe?

If you are affected, the effect would probably be subtle. You might find that your resolve to prevent nuclear war strengthens. Incidentally, you will probably not have a nuclear holocaust in this universe.

Each parallel universe has its own past, and therefore its own akashic records.

Déjà vu may be a memory of having met in a past life, or of an out-of-body "rehearsal" for the current event, such as a meeting. Often, however, it is an awareness that you just had the same meeting in a parallel universe that is slightly ahead of this one.

Would artisans, being so fluid, have more access to their parallel selves than the other roles do?

All have the same access. Artisans tend to take advantage of it more, which is important for them, being so creative.

This discussion may sound wholly theoretical. However, it can be useful as well as broadening to be aware of our parallel lives. Knowing what we are doing in some of them can give us added perspective. Also, we are probably doing in at least one parallel what we can't in this one, if it is important. Understanding that can help us relax and enjoy what we are doing, rather than worrying about the things we are not. That should not be used as an excuse, though, for not doing what we'd rather be doing now. If we'd rather be doing something, that may be an impulse from our essence to do it.

We can learn about our parallel selves from a channeled source or a psychic. We can also access them from within, through meditation, for example, or regression techniques.

We can draw upon the experience and knowledge of our parallel selves, just as we can with our reincarnational selves. The key is to hold the intention to access it and deliberately open to it.

I heard the story of a man who, upon retirement, wanted to be able to play the piano. He went into an altered state for several hours and downloaded the ability from another aspect of self. I don't know if that really happened-I've never gotten such dramatic results. However, I have communicated with both past-life and parallel selves who have different strengths and weaknesses from mine. I've found that insightful, and learning about their cultures and lives has been fascinating.

Robert Monroe wrote memorably about visits to parallels in books such as Journeys Out of the Body. I have validated parallel universes and learned about some of mine through vivid, unique dreams. I don't tend to remember my dreams, and when I do, they are usually lackluster. However, these have stayed with me.

We have many kinds of dreams. Those that are visits to parallel selves are realistic and detailed, not surreal and symbolic. A clue is a society ordered in different yet plausible ways.

In one I had, I knew while I was dreaming that I was observing myself in a parallel universe. I was in a version of New York City, on the lower level of the FDR (East River) Drive near where I used to live. In that universe, it was a double-decker highway with nine lanes going in each direction. The traffic was lighter and everything looked quite clean compared to the New York I know. The road was paved with a rough, shiny material. It didn't have crosswalks or overpasses; pedestrians were expected to just make a run for it, which I did, despite the cars' very high speeds. Drivers were alert to and careful of pedestrians.

On the other side, I met a pleasant policewoman whom I figured was a young or mature warrior in acceptance. She told her male partner to take the car (which had no siren) and go after a driver who had been going especially fast to tell him that he was speeding. They didn't issue tickets; they just asked people to slow down. Then we started talking.

I knew this soul. She told me that since she's not incarnate in my universe, I should tell a friend of mine that "Suzie says hi!"

The next day, I emailed my friend about the dream. Unbeknownst to me, her mother called her by the nickname "Suzie" although that's not her name. Not only was it charming to have the experience of relaying a message from another parallel, but it also seemed to be a validation that parallels are real.

I joke that I put this chapter last because by the time readers get to it, it is too late for them to bail. This book has a lot of far-out sounding material, but the concept of parallel universes is probably the farthest out. Still, what one person considers to be too far out may be acceptable to another, and vice versa. Simply communicating with a causal-plane entity will sound preposterous to most people. Many religious ideas seem similarly preposterous to non-believers. You've read this far, so I trust that you're at least enjoying considering the Michael teachings.

Some parts of the teachings are easier to validate than others. For example, once you learn the roles, you can easily see them at work in people's lives. The parts of the teachings we can validate are also the most useful. Parts we can't may still be expansive, but rejecting any idea you don't find plausible and constructive utilizes the most basic tenet of the teachings: conscious choice.

Some people feel diminished when they realize the vastness of the universe. The idea that we have many parallels might make this one seem less important. However, the opposite is true: every moment of every aspect of life is infused with the full import of all life. Each "now" is an expression of the Tao's exuberant urge to be and do.

***

This is a new subchapter of the second edition of my book Journey of Your Soul, written (not channeled) by me.


CONTROLLING PSYCHIC ABILITIES

Some psychics are gifted at seeing future probabilities. Occasionally they have unwanted negative prophetic visions that later prove accurate. They wonder what the point of them was since they had no power to prevent the events. Other people tend to think the psychics are crazy if they try to warn them. If there is a point, perhaps it's just to allow them to validate their gift and learn to make good choices about the information they receive, but it can be a heavy cross to bear. More likely, the psychic just stumbled upon the information and has no responsibility to do something with it.

Everyone has a capacity for psychic abilities, but they are largely dormant in most people. As these capabilities begin to awaken but before they are under the person's conscious control, they can bring in information he is not equipped to understand, especially in our materialistic society that does not much value intuitive information.

A significant number of people diagnosed with mental illness have psychic abilities not yet under control. They may have true mental illness as well, including faulty neurological wiring and chemical imbalances. However, some people have mental breaks because  of psychic abilities they don't know how to handle.

It would be brilliant to teach psychic development in mental hospitals. For example, that might help those who hear voices learn to discern what they are actually hearing, whether it is a denied part of self, a discarnate entity seeking attention, or a past-life personality bleeding through. There are such things as delusions, but not every unlikely vision that the mentally ill have is imaginary. Mental illness should not be romanticized, but there is something to the idea that the "crazy" can be saner in some ways than those who have not yet opened. Exploring their perceptions as malfunctioning or simply poorly understood psychic abilities could aid recovery in some.

Sometimes traumas that rip open a person's boundaries have the inadvertent effect of catalyzing psychic abilities. NDE (near-death experience) literature is full of examples.

We all experience traumas on the physical plane. They can break us apart, break us open, or both. This is a common way we grow as souls. Michael teaches that we can choose to grow through joy rather than pain, but most of us still do the majority of our growing the hard way. Pain can cause us to search in ways we might not otherwise. By being on a conscious spiritual path, we can learn to do more of our growing through joy, but every experience can deepen and expand us.

I have met several people who firmly closed down their psychic abilities in a past life because they had gotten them into trouble. An example is being killed by Christians for supposedly practicing witchcraft. Now they may be ready to use them again but are afraid of them. Opening them slowly with safe, intelligent guidance can be helpful. Psychic development classes are offered in many cities, often through New Age bookstores and centers, and there are several books on the subject. My friends John Friedlander and Gloria Hemsher have written a few. Their latest is Psychic Psychology: Energy Skills for Life and Relationships.

***

This is from Growing Through Joy, which will be available as an ebook shortly.

JOY

Channeled from Michael
By Shepherd Hoodwin

Each person is designed to be an embodiment of joy. If you are interested in knowing if someone is truly enlightened, notice the extent to which she embodies joy.

Joy is characterized by delight in the experience of the present. Joy is not driven by external influences. That is the primary difference between joy and pleasure. Pleasure is stimulated from without, and joy arises from within. There is nothing wrong with pleasure, but pleasure cannot be relied upon, because external influences are not always pleasurable. On the other hand, joy is reliable.

There are many varieties of joy. Not all are effulgent - some are low-key. One who has mastered joy has access to it in all circumstances, although the kind of joy you might experience walking through a garden on a spring morning is not the same as what you might when outer influences are not pleasurable.


Let's explore what the experience of one who has mastered joy might be when things externally are at their worst. What are the worst situations you could imagine being in?

Being physically harmed.

Losing your health.

Watching your child die.

Let's speak first about losing your child. How might there be some form of joy experienced in such a situation?

Knowing that the child is no longer in pain.


That could at least be a consolation if the child has been in pain.

Letting go of him, understanding that his essence has its own lessons to learn and that he is in complete control on that level.

If the child had completed what he had come to do in his life, you might be able to find joy in supporting his completion so that he could go on to what he needs to do next.

Also, if you have mastered joy, you have no doubt developed a strong bond of shared joy with your child, and when he is no longer encased in his body, you can share his elation in being released from it, if that is his experience. It is not always. If the soul departs through violence or an accident, there may not be elation, especially at first. But often, there can be an extraordinary intimacy shared that is profoundly meaningful and exquisite. This is true with anyone who is dying.

You also feel his loss; you would certainly prefer to have him remain with you in person. However, joy can coexist with grief or any other emotion. If you have mastered joy to some extent, you see beyond the external factors. You can have joy because joy arises from within.

What about being physically harmed? You obviously are not going to be happy about that. What possibility is there for joy in such a situation?

Maybe there's some karma being completed, or some lesson that your essence has created.

If you are repaying karma, you feel the karmic ribbon burning away, and that can indeed be joyful. It is also possible that the other person is forming new karma with you. But if you are mastering joy, you might see this as a challenge, using the situation's stress to help you come fully into the now and transcend what is occurring, connecting with higher energies and pouring great love into and through your body. This can have a remarkable impact on those around you, particularly those who are harming you, if others are involved. Most victims have not mastered joy and simply play out the mirror image of the victimizer. If someone has an experience of higher energy in the stress of that circumstance, he demonstrates the freedom of the realized soul. Jesus is an example of someone who mastered joy and had a transcendent experience when his body was harmed. He did not seek harm, but handled it with mastery when it occurred.

There were saints who sought to reach ecstasy through agony, and there are people who deliberately mutilate themselves in order to reach a higher experience. That is growing through pain, refusing to learn in an easier way. It is true that the stress of pain can help you open and come into the present moment, but you need not go through physical harm, let alone self-mutilation, to come into the present moment. You can choose to be in the present because you love to be.

In mastering joy, you do not deny pain. In fact, there can be no true joy if there is denial of pain or whatever is going on, because denial takes you out of the present moment. Denial numbs your experience. Joy heightens your experience.

Of the three worst-case situations suggested, ill health is probably the most difficult for the majority of people. When a stress is condensed into a short period of time, you can more easily marshal your fortitude than when it goes on and on, as with a chronic illness. There are those, nonetheless, who have a transcendent experience in illness, even when facing death and in much pain.

While you do not need intense stress in order to experience higher energies, if you are busy in your day-to-day life and focused on externals, you may not get around to connecting all that deeply with your inner world. The sometimes forced inactivity of illness can give you the time, and the pain can give you the motivation, to contemplate and open to higher energies, as well as develop greater compassion and understanding. Letting go of fear about the outcome and focusing on bringing forth the energy of healing is the key. The pain may be transmuted or even eliminated. For example, endorphins, the body's natural painkillers, may be triggered. Whether or not the body heals, the bringing forth of higher energies is a blessing and inspiration.

I had an opportunity in the last couple of years to create my worst fear, which wasn't as dramatic as these examples: financial ruin. It was accompanied by a spiritual crisis, wondering how this could happen. As I was working through some of it, it occurred to me that there's a freedom in coming face to face with your worst fear. I'm now feeling that there isn't anything to really be afraid of anymore, because I already got that over with, and there is joy in that. We don't know what resources we have to cope with those things until we actually do. I think that this probably applies to all the situations discussed.

Indeed. Fear is overblown for most people. If you encounter a rattlesnake, a certain amount of fear is an appropriate response. Fear is there to help you deal with danger, giving you extra adrenaline, but when it is chronic, it is harmful, and is usually unnecessary.

When someone has lived in the shadow of what is to them a tremendous threat, the experience of it is often a little anticlimactic. There is a realization that having invested so much energy into keeping this thing at bay, maybe it was not such a big deal. Certainly this realization of true perspective comes after the life, if not during it. One reason that you often attract to you the experiences that you most fear is that having them is sometimes the only way that you will release the fear.

Most fear is fear of death. Financial fear has fear of death underneath it, because what happens if you do not have any money? If you cannot buy food or acquire shelter, you can get sick and die. Fear of punishment is certainly fear of harm, and the ultimate harm is death.

Sometimes fears are based on past experiences you were not equipped to handle. When there is too much intensity at once, you are not able to expand your capabilities fast enough; you snap instead of bend. For example, if you had a past life in which you were tortured, unless you had a very high level of mastery, it was undoubtedly very traumatic. Perhaps today, your fears mobilize at the slightest provocation to protect you from going through that again. Recognizing the source of your fears, and that the danger of being tortured is no longer present, can help dissipate them.

The ultimate goal in mastering joy is to reach a point where you cannot be traumatized, because you can be joyful in any situation. That is a lofty goal, and though you may never meet it on the physical plane, it is worth working toward. In joyfully meeting challenges that stretch you but that are within your reach, you expand your capacity for joy. You do not master joy simply by being like a child who plays and has fun all the time in a stress-free environment. The ability to play and have fun is vital, but the joy capacity is not very large if external influences can easily take it away. The many stresses of the physical plane give you the opportunity to develop it. Paradoxically, the greater your mastery of joy, the fewer unpleasant stresses you are likely to attract.

For some people, outwardly happy experiences are harder to handle than painful ones. These must be mastered as well. Those who had abusive childhoods, especially, may feel at their best when under strain and pressure, because that is what they are used to. They are more likely, therefore, to create painful experiences through which to grow.

Some people insist on having mostly painful growth, because they are not willing to receive the necessary understanding any other way. You will probably have some painful experiences during your lifetimes, but you can keep them to a minimum if you choose to grow through joy. You do not need to be excessively concerned about painful experiences, because any of them, if utilized consciously, can be joyful for you. They may not be totally joyful, because of remaining areas of unconsciousness in you, but you can grow more conscious through working with them.

If joy is simply a function of being conscious, why does it have to be mastered?

Consciousness grows gradually and must be developed. Mastering joy involves learning how to be conscious and allow energy to flow freely in a variety of circumstances. This requires an adequate command of the necessary material as well as spiritual skills.

Suppose that you find it joyful to sing as you walk. You know how to handle that circumstance and be joyful in it. Then, all of a sudden, you are on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House with 5,000 people watching you, having had no rehearsal, and you do not know the music. You probably would not have a joyful experience because you do not have a command of the circumstance, and you have not yet learned to embody joy when singing for a very large group. That is something that would need to be practiced over time, starting with smaller groups. This illustrates the need to master joy in different types of circumstances.

Singers who obtain success too fast, who are not practiced enough in handling the energy of singing for a large group, may not have a joyful experience. Obviously, our example is outlandish - one would not suddenly materialize on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. But no doubt there are experiences into which you could be thrust that you would not be capable of handling with joy. If you are wise, you simply turn down those opportunities, if possible, until you are ready for them.

During your first lifetime, you are totally "raw"; you have no mastery of joy. You may experience joy because of your connection to the Tao, like an infant to his mother, but when you are in a situation that is beyond your ability to handle - and at this point, there are many that are - your joy is likely to evaporate. You may panic, like an infant frightened by something unfamiliar. That is why you usually seek simple, safe environments, such as in a tribe, during your earliest lives. Your spirit guides, who are more experienced, help you set up lives that are appropriate for your level of skill. In time, you learn and gain confidence. Situations that formerly caused panic in you begin to be joyful.

Everything you go through is at least a little bit new. We are not suggesting that when you master joy, you act on the basis of precedent. The opposite is true: when you master joy, you are freed from precedent. You do not have to do things the same way you did them before. You can perceive and understand situations as they are, and be creative and appropriate in addressing them. You do not go into panic or automatic pilot, or shut down, closing your eyes and hoping for the best. You consciously make choices rather than react to external influences.

One who has fully mastered joy has mastered the physical plane. No one masters every aspect of the physical plane, but if you have had an adequate number of lives in diverse settings, you have what might be called a well-rounded education, and you feel that you can handle the basics. We are not speaking of material skills, such as mastering the fingerings of a musical instrument; material skills generally have to be learned in each lifetime, although if you have learned them before, it goes faster. We are speaking of spiritual skills - for example, the development of a high level of musicality.

It is actually possible to be more joyful than children. For most people, children are the epitome of joy. There are not too many joyful adults around to indicate otherwise. But children have relatively limited capabilities. As an adult your capacity for joy is much greater.

MEDITATION

Take a moment to quietly be in the present. Feel joy coming forth from within. If you are ready to make the choice to grow through joy, whether outer experiences are pleasurable or painful, reach out to joy. Know that joy is always a possibility. If you have been carrying stress in your body, feel it release now. There is no longer a need for it. Joy to the world!

***

This is from Opening to Healing, which will be available as an ebook shortly.


MOVEMENT

Channeled from Michael by Shepherd Hoodwin

Energy is universal material that is charged, which causes it to move. The Tao is not energy; it has no charge--it simply is. From what is, energy emanates. The more you simply are, the more energy emanates from you. It emanates from a place that is not energy. To make an analogy, an electrical plant makes energy; the plant itself is not electricity.

Because energy is charged and moves substance (which is energy vibrating more slowly), it can heal. In most disease, there is a state of non-movement. Energy stimulates what is not moving, or what is not adequately moving, to move, if it is willing and ready to move. One in whom there are no blocks could theoretically handle an infinite amount of energy. In application, this is not practical because of the density of the human body. There are resistances built into it that are natural and necessary for its existence. However, most people are underenergized, and this is the source of many difficulties.

To be able to withstand high intensities of healing energy, the physical body must be strong. It was, for example, useful to Jesus that he walked so much; it made his body stronger and better able to withstand the intensity coming through it. Exercise itself is, of course, healing to the body. People who exercise a lot are often able to "get away with" more abuse to their bodies. It keeps toxins moving out, as does flushing the body with pure water, another example of movement bringing healing. Too much water or exercise can be detrimental, so there is a balance.

Every healing technique promotes movement in one way or another. The art of healing is knowing what needs to move. Sound waves are a form of energy in motion. Proper sounds can move blocks. Light is also energy in motion; many people meditate on light for this reason.

Movement is needed on all levels of self. The word "emotion" is mostly the word "motion." Expressing emotions appropriately allows them to move, promoting emotional healing. Thoughts also need to move. A thought going round and round in your head is like a bird that keeps flying into a window. If you express and clarify it, perhaps by writing it down and working with it, it is like opening the window.

Children can benefit from being taught to move on all levels. They can make healing sounds, such as through chant, and can learn to move in beautiful ways that allow their bodies' energies to be free. Children should not be forced into movement patterns that are contrary to the ways their bodies want to move. For example, those who are not suited to ballet will not benefit from lessons in it, and may even be harmed by them. Those who are suited to it will likely enjoy them. Singing for children is important in moving their energy. Children who sing a lot are likely to be healthier than those who do not. They should be encouraged to make up songs. Adults can also benefit from doing this.

Love is the highest form of energy; therefore, love is the greatest healer. Every other form of healing is a manifestation of love. Loving is the most significant contribution you can make to others' well-being. Most people have a quite limited experience of love. No matter how much love you have, you can always experience more. In fact, you are on earth to increase your experience of love, and to increase love itself. More than that: increasing love is the purpose of all existence.

***

This is from Being in the World, which will be available as an ebook soon.


CONTINUAL EVOLUTION

Channeled from Michael by Shepherd Hoodwin

Planets, in their evolution, can eventually raise their vibration to the point at which they become stars. Do you think, however, that planets have inferiority complexes comparing themselves to stars? You would probably prefer, in your present body, to be walking upon the face of a planet as opposed to a star. Each part of the whole is at its right stage in its process.

Not only is each part evolving, but the whole is evolving as well. Your individual movement cannot be separated from the movement of the whole. Your consciousness down the road will bear little resemblance to what it is now, partly because the consciousness of the whole itself will have progressed.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, so the progression of the whole is more than the evolution of each part within it. Nonetheless, you are an integral part of this process. The whole is obviously made up of its parts. Your achievements contribute to the whole. If you did not individually progress, the whole would not progress as much. Fortunately, while it is possible to slow things down and make them difficult, one cannot halt the process of individual or group ascension.

It is important to understand that your growth as an individual, while it is your responsibility, does not happen in a vacuum. You could not have the awareness you do outside the context of the whole in which you participate. Some people look back at a point in the past and say, "I was so ignorant then." However, relative to the present, others were as well, if they have been growing. Your awareness then was perfect for that time, and so was everyone else's. Of course, ten years from now, you may look back to today and think that you were in the Dark Ages, and relatively speaking, that would be true. But when does the progression end?

We are all alchemists, you might say, transforming lead into gold. This is why transforming leaden planetary substance into golden stars is interesting - that symbolizes what the game is about. Playing the game, however, is as delightful as reaching the goal.

Each person has a world. You might say that it is leaden to some degree. You are the alchemist in the midst of yours, playing the game, seeing to what extent you can change it into a star. Your world may be more leaden than you would like it to be, but you have to start with what you have.

Transformation does not occur overnight. Worlds could be said to be quite patient. Their evolution is very gradual, but nevertheless certain. Small, incremental movements get the job done.

It is the direct, skillful bringing to bear of the love vibration that is the magic in this alchemy. The more you experience agape, which is unconditional love, the more you can bring it to bear on your world. That is what will change it.

This is an accelerated time. There is a concentration of impetus behind the growth of the consciousness of the whole, at least relative to what is familiar. However, it is just one step in a process of continual evolution.

***

This is from Opening to Healing, which will be available as an ebook soon.

ENERGY MANAGEMENT

Channeled from Michael by Shepherd Hoodwin
 
Managing your personal energy is an important skill. When you arise in the morning "on the wrong side of the bed," you have an opportunity to practice energy management, especially if you felt well the preceding night. Why is your energy field now full of debris? You might say, "I didn't sleep well last night." Why didn't you sleep well last night? It likely relates to cleansing. Cleansing occurs on all levels, emotional, mental, and spiritual as well as physical. Of course, eating heavily before bed could result in your waking up feeling poorly. The reason is that digestive wastes are circulating in your blood--your body is trying to eliminate them. Once they are out of your system, you usually feel better.

What about emotional debris? Perhaps you had a nightmare. You tossed and turned, and woke up feeling terrible. Again, if you ate heavily before bed, that may have been a factor, since the body, mind, emotions, and spirit are all connected. However, a nightmare is usually your psyche trying to digest something emotionally heavy. It may have been in your emotional "stomach" in one piece for a long time. Now you are trying to break it up and move it out. You may temporarily feel worse than if you had just left it there. However, once it is fully out of your system, you feel lighter and emotionally freer.

Likewise, perhaps you have been intellectually unresolved about an issue that is bothering you. You slept poorly because you were working to digest or integrate an experience. When you complete that, you feel better.

What is most relevant to this discussion is the spiritual, or purely energetic, level. If you are carrying stuck or stagnant spiritual energy, you may have been trying to release that in your sleep. (Of course, you do not have to wait for sleep to release inner debris. You can let it happen consciously.) Again, each level of self influences the others, and each is important. However, the spiritual level, being the most subtle, is the most often overlooked. It is also the most influential, in a sense, because it is the atmosphere in which the three other levels operate.

Health on any level requires free, unblocked movement. The nature of energy is to move. As Einstein lucidly explained, matter is also energy, so the nature of matter is also to move. Your body needs to move to be healthy. If somebody is sick in bed, it is often helpful for him to regularly get up and walk if he can, going slightly beyond his comfort level, in order to expand his capacity for movement. Intellect and emotion are also forms of energy and require movement. Crying is a form of emotional movement--it is common knowledge that a good cry can be healing not only emotionally but physically. You can promote intellectual movement by freely exchanging ideas and being willing to let your understanding grow and change. You can also learn to discern and allow spiritual movement.

Being stuck cannot be sustained. Eventually, everything must move. The state of no movement at all is death, but at death, movement occurs on other levels. The essence is freed to do other things, and the body sooner or later breaks down and participates in other growth processes.

Just as too little movement can result in poor health, so can too much movement. Some people damage their bodies through excessive physical exercise or simply going all the time without adequate rest. Likewise, some burn out intellectually or emotionally by frenetic movement on those levels. There is a balance of rest and action that brings health. Energy seeks movement, but it moves from a place of rest. Rest and movement are a polarity to be balanced and unified. Either one in separation from the other is detrimental.

Managing your energies includes your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energies. Let's go back to the example of waking up on the wrong side of the bed in the morning. If you have not yet learned mastery of your energies, you may stay in a bad mood all day long. This means that the emotional debris that has been freed as a result of the movement initiated in a nightmare, for example, is in limbo in your emotional body. It has not yet moved all the way out, and it cannot go back where it was. It is just sitting there until your emotional body somehow processes it out and heals the part of itself that held it. Your emotional body will eventually heal itself--like the physical body, it tends to be self-healing. However, someone skilled in energy management knows how to finish the job quickly and comfortably so she can move on to something else.
 
Sometimes people unconsciously deal, at least partially, with what was stirred up emotionally overnight while taking a hot shower, or during a quasi-religious ritual, such as drinking a cup of coffee at the altar of the breakfast table. However, processing without conscious participation is generally slower and less effective. If you focus on what is releasing, identify it, and do what is necessary to complete the process, it can be over relatively quickly.

Likewise, if your spiritual body has been releasing toxins, a brief meditation could move out that debris. Perhaps overnight you also left your body and visited people who needed healing. You may have taken on some of their energies, and now you need to move them out so they can dissipate. If you identify with the energies you have taken on, you will bring them into your aura and fasten them there, creating a problem you did not have before.

Have you ever had the experience of suddenly feeling miserable, and assigning the source of that misery to someone in your vicinity who made an innocent remark? Maybe you picked a fight, and then had some additional debris to handle. If a feeling, thought, or sensation suddenly comes to you, stop for a moment and try to identify its true source--such feelings are not always your own; they can be messages. See if a picture comes to mind--you might think of someone you had not thought of in a while. You might want to call that person. Whether they are your feelings or not, the way to deal skillfully with them is the same: identify them, heal them as well as you can, and allow them to move. If you try to push them out before you heal them, they may come back as though connected to you on a retractable cord.
 
Is there a way to reduce the pain of emotional release without stopping it?
 
Release should be a mostly pleasing experience. You may simply need to find greater surrender to the process. It is important not to judge or edit what is occurring. Let yourself cry, rage, or whatever in a safe place. Choosing a safe place is part of loving yourself. You would only choose to release in an unsafe place as an act of self-hatred. If there is a safe place, let it happen.

You may be trying to release too much at once, or maybe you need help from your friends, either on or off the physical plane, or from a therapist of some kind.

There are parts of the food you eat that are useful as nutrition or energy, either stored in the body or used immediately. Other parts are waste insofar as you are concerned, although they are useful to the earth as fertilizer. Likewise, there are parts of your experiences that provide growth, and parts that are waste. Suppose that you have a good discussion with someone. He presents his point of view, and you present yours. As you digest what you have shared, you take from it what is useful to you and you get rid of the rest. However, if points of disagreement are stuck in your mind, going around and around and not getting out, you have mental waste that burdens you until it is released.

When you have trauma, by definition you have taken on an experience that you are not prepared to handle. Everyone has experienced traumas; they are part of life. There are lessons in all trauma, but at the time they occur, they are incompletely digested. When you are in a healing phase in your life, you go back and finish digesting them. Despite what you might believe when you are in the midst of it, the healing phase does not go on forever. You empty so you can refill with new "food." In other words, you make room for going on and having new, more productive experiences.
 
When trauma manifests physically, such as in chronic constipation, how do you go about healing it?
 
Working on all levels is helpful. Physically, dietary changes, colonic therapy, herbal and fiber cleansing programs, body work, and so on, may be useful. Also, explore what you are not eliminating emotionally from your gut. See if you have a thought that goes around in your mind like a subliminal mantra, such as "I'm stuck here," manifesting in your body. Moving spiritual energy can help get everything else moving, so you may want to look at practices such as meditation and visualization.
 
How can you recognize past-life emotions that are still weighing you down?
 
You could try a meditation in which you visualize a doorway leading to an emotion you are ready to release. When you walk through it, you may find yourself in a past lifetime in which that emotion began to form or was increased. You might also find yourself moving into the emotion directly, without past life recall. In either case, explore what arises.

***

This is from Being in the World, which will be available as an ebook soon.

IMAGINATION

Channeled from Michael by Shepherd Hoodwin

You are vast. This vastness has been achieved over eons. It is no small thing, even though you may take it for granted. The larger the imagination a consciousness possesses, the greater the indica­tion of vastness. In your consciousness, you can take the form of anything of which you are aware. You could imagine your­self taking the form of a snake, for example, although a snake could not imagine itself taking the form of a human. You might say that imagination is not real, yet what you imagine is real on a certain level. Inventors are those who imagine that something that does not exist in form actually does, and then pro­ceed to bring it into form. The larger the imagination, the greater the expansion of imagination that can occur. In other words, imagination begets still greater imagination.

Can you imagine a world that is loving and peaceful? Many people cannot. If you can, you can work to make that imagining increasingly specific. What would a loving and peaceful world be like? This is no different from Edison imagining what a phono­graph might be like. He had to have a specific idea about it; otherwise he would not have been able to invent it.

Those with the greatest imaginations have the most impact, ul­timately. Many artists who are not recognized in their day are eventually celebrated for their imagination. People were not able to accept it at the time, but eventually they did. The act of imagining pushes aside the boundaries of others.

If you have a vision of yourself as being small and worthless, yet someone else is wise enough to hold a vision of you as being large and worthy, eventually his vision will likely have an impact on you. If someone has believed in you when you have not be­lieved in yourself, you know how powerful that can be. How much better it is to imagine yourself as being what you want to be, with­out waiting for someone else to do it. If you hold to this vision, in time it will likely manifest.

The world is deeply in need of what are today called role models. No one is quite sure anymore whom they want to emu­late. Everyone's shortcomings are amplified under the scrutiny of the media. Many heroes of days gone by would not look so won­der­ful under such scrutiny. In the absence of external role models, the ability to imagine is especially vital: if you can imagine your­self to be vast and great, your own innate vastness and greatness can begin to manifest, although perhaps in different ways than you thought it would. You can revise the specifics of your im­age as you go along and learn more about it, just as Edison did while inventing.

The universe is an act of imagination on the part of the Tao. Each person is a microcosm of the Tao, creating a universe in imagination. Imagine that you live in a world of peace, love, and prosperity for all, or at least imagine that this is possible. We are not suggesting that you blind yourself to the present situation, but spend time seeing alternatives. Put your vision into prac­tice in whatever ways you can. Hold to it.

At first, your vision may spread only as a vision: others may, by the sheer force of your vision, also imagine that something dif­fer­ent is possible. They may share the details of their vision with you, in­creasing yours. When enough people share the vision, it may begin to manifest. This can occur much faster than you might think. An example of this is the political changes occurring in many places today that might have been thought impossible not very long ago.

Your image of a peaceful, loving world is less effective if it is merely philosophy. If you work with it, it will guide you to achieve peace in your own life. This is like refining a blueprint of a house as you build it. In practical application, you might dis­cover, for example, that peace does not require that everyone agree; you might discover ways to peacefully disagree. You might find, in practicing your vision of love, that love is not al­ways soft. In discovering the true nature of your own vision, your imagining becomes more specific and therefore more effective. Your growth leads to the growth of your vision, and finally to the growth of the whole, because you influence the whole.

***

CULTIVATING THE HABIT OF HAPPINESS

Channeled from Michael by Shepherd Hoodwin

Many people feel that happiness is unattainable for them, at least with the way things are now. It is often assumed that it will become more possible in the future when they have grown, healed, released, or learned more, or when they have changed their circumstances, such as by becoming rich, finding a mate, or dumping a mate, as the case may be. We would like to propose that, at least partly, being happy is a habit – a habit in the way you approach your life – that can be learned, now, just the way things are for you.

It is really not that difficult to be happy. When you were a young child, you probably had a fairly unencumbered capacity for happiness, but you lacked the conscious skills necessary to maintain it consistently; your happiness largely depended upon your needs being met by those around you. We are not suggesting that you go back to the state you were in as a child in order to be happy, but that you move forward into the expanded happiness possible to an adult that is not dependent on outer circumstances.

There are probably some activities that feel especially good to you, such as singing, making art, having sex, dancing, doing hard physical work, taking walks, and so on. Part of happiness is regularly including in your life as many of them as you can, making them priorities. If you do not particularly enjoy doing domestic chores, for example, you might pay someone else to do them who presumably does enjoy doing them. On the other hand, it is an interesting spiritual challenge to find a way to have fun while doing such chores. Happiness is more than doing the things that make it easy for you to feel good, because obviously, life is not made up only of those things; happiness is also finding ways to enjoy whatever you do, bringing forth joy from within. A hearty sense of humor can be very helpful in this.

The biggest obstacle to being happy is taking problems too seriously, however you define your problems. There are those who remain relatively happy in the midst of dire circumstances, such as serious illness; and others who can be caused to be unhappy over relatively minor things. If you or someone you love is dying of a painful disease, for example, obviously you are not going to be happy about that. But when you have the habit of being happy, your happiness is no longer so much about circumstances, but about the free expression of your spirit into your life.

Meeting challenges, such as handling a serious illness, can ultimately expand your capacity for happiness. It is not the case that your essence puts you through hellish experiences in order to expand your capacity for happiness. On the physical plane, you do sometimes go through hell, but not because your essence insists on it; sometimes you or someone close to you insists on it, and sometimes "stuff happens" – you encounter some of the hazards inherent in the physical plane. Sometimes you choose to be in a hellish circumstance to be of service to others, to reach out and bring joy where it is deeply needed. However, if, in the process, you forget your own joy, it is like being a carpenter who arrives at a building site having left his hammer and nails at home – there is some useful work he can do, but not as much as if he had all the necessary tools.

You can experience happiness even when you feel sadness, grief, anxiety, or fear. Happiness is not being in denial of what you feel, but being at peace with it. If you are in the habit of being happy, you do not need to be in denial of anything, partly because you do not take problems too seriously. You give them their due, taking care of what needs to be taken care of, loving and nurturing yourself and others. However, you do not succumb to the illusion that those things are the totality of reality; you have perspective on them. As you extend happiness into your "negative" feelings, they can heal, whereas if you dramatize or give excess weight to them, they tend to become stuck.

The point is not to sugarcoat your view of the world, but to truly see the world and yourself. If one "wrong" thing dominates your view, you are not seeing the whole; you are seeing a small piece of it, out of proportion. That piece may be important at the moment if it is what you are concentrating on resolving or healing. You would not belittle it, or whatever feelings are coming up in you in relationship to it. In happiness, you can appropriately express those feelings; they are energies seeking movement, so you can let them move safely without overemphasizing their importance. You can do what needs to be done in regard to them, and you can see the whole. You know that letting the energy of your feelings move appropriately increases your sense of well-being, and therefore, your happiness.

There are always problems in life – no human being is without them. If you were a mathematician and had no problems to solve, where would you be? You would have to take up a different profession; all the problems have been solved – no more work to do! Mathematicians generally think that solving problems is fun; otherwise, they would not take up that field. Perhaps you like to solve crossword puzzles; a crossword puzzle is a problem, full of unanswered questions. Why would anyone willingly take on another problem? "Oh, I have all these words to find; it’s such a burden!" No, people generally think it is fun to solve crossword puzzles, and solving life's problems can likewise be fun. You attempt to solve problems by making choices. As in a game of chess, you can consider the ramifications of your choices: "If I make this move, such-and-such might happen, but if I make that one, something else might happen."

If you think that your individual choices are more important than they are, you are likely to be too tense and will probably not play the game of life with as much fun or perspective. The game is important; otherwise you would not have taken the trouble to have started it. Every choice you make is, on the one hand, vital, but on the other, just one of an infinite number of choices you make. If the results of this present choice do not turn out to be to your liking, you have plenty more choices to make. You may as well make the best choices you can, the ones you will be happiest with. But if you are cultivating the happiness habit, you are pretty happy anyway. You can laugh about what occurs – maybe even as you are crying – and then move on.

Making skillful choices requires clear perspective on the situations with which you are dealing. Those in the habit of being happy can usually find that perspective. However, most people are not yet able to provide perspective for themselves in every situation. It can therefore be useful sometimes to work with someone else – perhaps a therapist or friend – who can see what you are experiencing with more perspective. This can help you develop your own ability to find perspective, so that you do not become dependent on others for it.

Some people think that it would be boring to be happy all the time. Happiness is not unrelenting cheerfulness – that would be boring. A variety of emotions is part of the spice of life. Sometimes it can make you happy to be forceful if that is the way your energy needs to move. Happiness is not so much a "positive attitude" as much as it is freedom: freedom of self-expression, freedom to be all you are, the knowledge that "I can." Often "I can" does not feel like the truth when it is, and thoughts such as "I shouldn’t," "I can’t," and "I don't" seem true when they are not. The truth sets you free; believing falsehoods confines you and can cause pain.

There are many ways in which people defeat their own natural urges to happiness. Urges to be more creative or to express yourself, urges to practice a new skill such as playing a musical instrument, and urges to go more deeply within or to reach out to others, are urges to happiness that are often suppressed out of fear – the fear of making a fool of yourself, the fear of what you might find within yourself, or the fear of the rejection of others. Obviously, being happy requires that you allow yourself to move with your urges to happiness, facing your fears with courage. If it is your urge to let loose and be spontaneous, you might do well to get some large sheets of paper and some finger paints, and make wild splashes of color with your hands, or even with your whole body. You might play some expressive music and dance, moving your whole body with freedom and abandon, If you accurately follow your urges to happiness, you will increasingly be happy.

Your path to happiness is your own. When happiness is discussed, those who are not particularly happy may feel left out or even resentful that that is not their experience. Whatever you experience in this or in any other moment is for a good reason, and you have to start where you are. By consciously and lovingly being with that experience, listening and opening to yourself in the midst of it, you will move toward greater happiness. Sometimes, to find happiness, it is necessary to fully experience your unhappiness first, especially if you have been out of touch with your unhappiness. Someone who has been pretending to be happy may feel keenly unhappy when she begins to consider the true nature of happiness. It is true that you can open to happiness right now, just as things are – you can be happy in the midst of unhappy feelings. However, that might be a relatively limited experience of happiness compared to what is possible. If that is the case, enjoy that limited experience, and the experience will grow.

A MEDITATION

Let your mind be still. Feel the natural movement of your energy and relax into it. Feel how it is bringing you to expanded openness, deeper feeling, larger perspective, and greater happiness. There is nothing to strive for or struggle with. There is only this moment, now, to be in, expressing the joy of your essence and the freedom of fully being who you are.

Notice around you a beautiful light protecting the open door to the fullness of yourself. Know that nothing can ever close that door for you. Know that you have all you need to learn more happiness skills and that you cannot fail.


You are allowed to be happy. Remember those wise words, "Don’t worry, be happy!"

***

RELEASING BLOCKS

Channeled from Michael by Shepherd Hoodwin

All energy comes from and returns to the Tao. It is like a river that forms at a great sea and passes through a beautiful terrain of mountains, valleys, and other landscapes. Sometimes it breaks up into several branches and then recombines, until it eventually reunites with the sea.

The river of energy flowing to and from the Tao enjoys the whole trip, you might say; it is not impatient about returning, yet it is its nature to move. It is not moving merely to return to the great sea; it is moving because it must.

All things seek unity. Bringing peace is not primarily a matter of convincing people to try to get along, but of removing blocks to the natural movement toward unity. There is a growing impetus toward unity now. The blocks that resist it feel increased pressure.

The natural state is one in which there is free movement of energy. Maturity is the ability to let energy move freely at a high level. It is a learned skill, one of the main skills you are learning on the physical plane. Every life experience teaches you something about letting energy move more freely or on a higher level. You may not interpret it that way, but you could.

The more freely your energy moves, the more joy you experience. Think of the joy in a young child. She does not yet have a mature capacity to let energy move, but she has few blocks, so she enjoys the energy she has. That is why children are often such a pleasure to be around. To recapture this feeling, it is not necessary to go back. The key is actually to go forward, releasing your adult blocks. If you do this, your joy will be far greater than what children experience because your capacity is greater. You may not be able to release all your blocks in this lifetime, but it is a worthy goal to work toward.

A block is like a piece of fruit: it comes off the tree easily when it is ripe. When it is not, you can pull hard on it and it still might not come off. Also, fruit might not ripen at all if the tree is not nurtured.

When you identify a block, you are really identifying a lesson. Lessons last as long as they need to. One aspect of self may be like a tree that needs much water, sunshine, fertilizer, and pruning before its fruit is ready to fall into your hand, but the fruit may be extraordinary when it does. It may enrich your life more from its lessons than another fruit that took less time to ripen.

Work on your blocks, but do not try to force them to release. Love the parts of yourself that need greater understanding and allow them to reveal themselves to you a step at a time.

It is not necessary to work on releasing blocks all the time; sometimes you need to go out and play. However, spending a little time with them on a continual basis can yield much benefit. Trying to do it all at once, or working on them sporadically, such as when you attend workshops, is less effective than constant care, even if it is only ten minutes a day.

***

TIME

Channeled from Michael by Shepherd Hoodwin

I understand that time doesn’t exist, that everything is simulta­ne­ous.

When it is said that everything is simultaneous, it does not mean that everything is happening at the same time; it means that your essence is beyond time, so to your essence, all your lifetimes are simultaneously present. Again, that is not equivalent to all your lifetimes being at the same time, because your essence is not in time. You might say that at a certain level of development, your essence attaches itself to a particular point in time, like a plant going to seed and planting a specific seed in a particular piece of ground. All its seeds exist simultaneously regardless of where they are planted.

Past, present, and future are simultaneous to your essence, but not to your personality, which exists in time. You have not experienced your future. Your future lifetimes exist, but as probabilities. If this is lifetime number 147 for you, from your vantage point you do not yet have the benefit of the experience of lifetime 148. However, lifetime 148 is starting to take form in your projections, and you can work with them, but you cannot draw from lifetime 148 in the way you can from 146.

Time does exist and is valid within the confines of the physi­cal plane, especially. On higher planes, an experience can be equiva­lent energetically to the passing of a thousand physical years, but be “squeezed” into five minutes of physical time. Physical time relates to physical phenomena: the rotation of the earth and its orbit around the sun. Astral time relates to astral phe­nomena, what you might call the emotional or atmospheric movements of the earth. Astrally, time is softer; it can be com­pressed and expanded. This is why when you dream it may seem as if you have been gone for hours when it has been only a few minutes in physical time. However, astral time is still connected to physical time; they are not divorced from each other. In general, time seems to travel faster on the astral plane than it does on the physical, although some souls experience it as being far slower.

Time is experienced differently on the lower, middle, and up­per astral planes; the higher you go, the more elastic time is. You are usually on the lower astral plane between lifetimes. Because you are planning to come back for another lifetime, physical time is more of a factor. If, for example, you want to incarnate again in a particular year, you might compress your remaining astral ac­tivi­ties into the amount of time you have.

Let’s say that you died in 1923 and reincarnated in 1960. There were thirty-seven years between 1923 and 1960. During those years, you had much work that you wished to do in process­ing the lifetime you had just completed. There were also studies that you wanted to undertake before attempting another lifetime. In addition, you in­tended to take a “vacation” for twelve Earth years on Venus (in your astral body). Finally, you needed to come up with a life plan for your next lifetime and make the nec­essary agreements to carry it out. Being somewhat connected to the physical plane, you paced yourself so that you could get all that done. It was a reasonable amount to accomplish in that num­ber of years if you were focused.

On the other hand, let’s say that you committed suicide in 1923 and reincarnated in 1924 because you wanted to complete certain lessons with people who were still together. Had you missed that opportunity, you might have had to wait another three hundred years. So you had one year instead of thirty-seven, but you still had much to do. You wanted to explore the reasons you committed suicide and what you would need to do in your next lifetime to handle those factors more successfully. In addition, you needed to do many of the things that you would have done had you had thirty-seven years. If you were going to do that in one year’s time, it would be an extremely compressed experience. Perhaps it was too much and you skipped some things. However, it is possible to have what would be many years of experience on the physical plane in the equivalent of one year on the astral.

For one thing, you are not limited on the astral plane by physical plane necessities: you do not have to stop to eat three meals a day. You do not need eight hours of sleep. There are pe­riods of rest and regeneration, but these are flexible. You do not have to earn a living. You can just play for twenty thousand years if you wish, and it may go by quickly if it is not a very com­pressed ex­perience. In fact, most people have taken lengthy breaks from the physical plane at times. You may have decided, for instance, to skip over the Stone Age completely and spend that period visiting other realities. You may have studied the akashic records (the universal “library”), for in­stance, or worked as a spirit guide for people who were on the physical plane. There are many other alternatives as well.

When you are finished with the physical plane and are no longer coming back to it, you move to the middle astral plane. Here, physical time becomes a more distant concern. You do not need to pace yourself according to it as much.

On the upper astral and causal planes, the influence of physi­cal plane time is more distant still. Causal time relates to causal phenomena, or the intellectual movements of the earth. Changing thought marks the passage of “time.”

We, being causal, can relate to the physical plane in a variety of time frames. A progression to us is not necessarily a progres­sion that you would think of as chronological, although it is logical to us—logical but not chronological. Our experience is not really linear; it is multidimensional. That is actually the case on the physical plane as well, but it is less obvious. You experience many things at the same time; you are simply not conscious of all of them at once.

The higher planes, the messianic, mental, and buddhaic, are timeless. They deal with the essence of things. They do not relate to any source of periodic divisions whatsoever. The messianic plane is the source of pure emotion. The buddhaic is the source of pure energy. And the mental is the source of pure thought. They differentiate the Tao’s expression of itself into the universe.

It is the very rigidity of the physical plane, including physical time, that provides its unique lessons. It also tires you after a while, and you might think that it is easier to be on the astral plane. However, many people cannot handle its fluidity very well; they need and even de­sire the rigidity of the physical. If you end your physical plane cycle prematurely, you may have trouble, because if you do not master the rigid structure, you will be at sea in a more flexible one. It is like the need to develop discipline within a set of rules be­fore you can bend or break them. A composer of music who knows the rules and then breaks them or invents new ones is more effective than someone who never knew the rules at all.

***

PERSONAL POWER

Channeled from Michael by Shepherd Hoodwin

What makes you individually powerful? You are powerful, you know. You are so powerful that you were able to materialize yourself where you are right now. You might think that is nothing; you do it all the time. Nonetheless, it is quite remarkable: you decide to go somewhere, and bingo, you are there! You have to travel to get there, perhaps in a vehicle of some kind, but you do usually get there. In fact, you materialized yourself in a physical body on this planet in this solar system in this universe. You did that! No one else did it for you. That is pretty remarkable, is it not? You also manage to create the experiences you are having in your life. That is no small task. If you are not using your personal power in the most deliberate and constructive manner possible, you can learn how.

Name an area in which you would like to manifest your power more constructively.

Physical healing.

How would you go about using your personal power to bring physical healing? Particularly if someone is of a new age orientation and believes that he is responsible for his health, he may feel frustrated if he cannot do something about it as quickly or easily as he would like. He may criticize himself because of this. "There must be something wrong with me. I must be spiritually defective. Otherwise I would not have this health condition." That is not necessarily the case; there are many possible reasons for a health condition. A strong soul may "handicap" his life game to give himself additional challenges. If you chose especially difficult ones, maybe you were a little cocky! Some people think that they were under the influence of alcohol when they set up their lives--we assure you that this was not the case!

In bringing your personal power to bear on a situation, detachment is important. It can be difficult to detach when you have pain, but it is helpful to objectively take stock of all the facts. You might start by listing all your symptoms. Include when they arise, and what you have tried doing about them as well as what you have not. Then, name your feelings: "I feel guilty for being sick." "I enjoy the attention I'm getting." "I feel frustrated by my lack of success in dealing with this." And so on.

Review the approaches you have tried: what helped? what did not? Maybe certain steps helped, but you stopped doing them. You may have just forgotten about them, such as a certain exercise--those can be easily forgotten! Consider what you have not tried. Do any of them speak to you? For example, if you have a sense that you are dealing with a past-life issue, have you tried past-life regression to see if you can get more knowledge about it?

There is much power in acceptance. Work to accept your condition as part of your game plan for this life rather than seeing it as an inconvenience preventing your doing what you want to do. If you had a past-life issue that you wanted to be sure to deal with, you may have put it into your body; by dealing with your physical symptoms, you are also dealing with the issue. The fact that you were able to manifest your condition shows how powerful you are. When you accept your condition, you are better able to bring your power directly to bear on it and perhaps be more effective in changing it.

Be aware of the parts of your body that are working well and give thanks for them. Notice them as you are walking down the street: "My knees are working well. Thank you." If they were not, you would certainly notice them! However, it seems unfair to notice your knees only when they do not work well. Celebrate your body and any enjoyment it gives you, even though parts of it are not functioning quite the way you would like.

Your body may be telling you about emotional blocks through a physical problem. By unblocking them, not only do you feel better physically and emotionally, but you are better able to join emotionally with others. You might not have had the motivation to deal with those emotional issues if you had not had the physical problem. Your ailment might also motivate you to explore your spiritual dimension more fully. If that brings an awareness of yourself as an ongoing, everlasting being, you might see your ailment as a small price to have paid. You might also find that in seeking help for your condition, you meet some wonderful people whom you would not have met otherwise.

You apply your personal power by saying, "I am the source of my life. Therefore, I can seek solutions. I can use my creativity to find ways of dealing with this." If you have a blind spot preventing you from thinking of the most effective solution, that is probably why you have the physical problem to begin with. Seeking to bring yourself out of that blind spot can be a catalyst for spiritual awakening.

The more confidence you have in your power, the more effectively you will use it. Sometimes people with physical ailments think of themselves as being victims of them. If nothing they have tried has worked, they could easily draw the conclusion that nothing will work. Usually, however, it is only an indication that they have not yet tried what will work. Sometimes it does take much patience.

There are cases in which, in a practical sense, nothing can be done. Usually these are repayments of karmic debts. Truly incurable diseases account for only perhaps a few percent of all cases of ill health. Most situations can be improved or completely changed.

In what other area would you like to more constructively apply your personal power?

Financial security.

The issues relating to financial security are similar to those relating to health. Many people are passive in their use of personal power to create financial security. They believe that they are victims and that there is not much they can do about it. "After all, the politicians control everything....It's who you know....It's easy for them--they were born with it." And so forth. Although some people are born into money, if you go back far enough in their families, somebody started with nothing except his own personal power. If those who inherit wealth do not have an adequate sense of personal power, they are likely to squander it.

As with health, when you allow your creativity to run its course in coming up with appropriate, workable ideas for generating money, and you fully realize them, usually financial success will follow. Manifesting personal power is largely a matter of moving forward. If you do not know what to do, pick the best idea you can think of and move forward with it. If you are in movement, a better idea will come to you, but if you are stuck, your "juices" are not flowing, and your power is not expressing through you.

This is what goal setting is about. Goals are merely a trick to get you to move forward. It is not really so important that you reach the specific goals you set for yourself. Very often they change before you reach them--that is all right. The point is not the target but your enjoyment of the constructive expression of your personal power.

Megalomaniacs, people who love the power to control other people, are usually lacking in self-esteem and a sense of their own personal power. If you think you need the power of money, authority, a loud, booming voice, or a big, imposing body to have power, you do not know your personal power. Personal power is the power of your love, acceptance, and passion. Even if you were locked in a prison, chained to a wall, if you discovered your personal power, you would be set free. Maybe you would not be set physically free, at least not immediately, but your soul would be set free. After exploring every possible way of dealing with that situation, if there was no external way out, your soul might find freedom through death. Still, that is a different experience than dying as a victim.

No external force has true power over a free person. In religion, figures such as Jesus are often thought of as having been victims, but that was not the case. They knew their personal power. Others could not truly harm them, in spite of whatever those others might have done to them physically--their creativity was great enough to handle it.

There is a saying that you are never given something you cannot handle. That is not always true. Sometimes you really are not equipped to handle what comes along. In that case, you can express your power by leaving the situation, if that is possible. In a sense, leaving is a way of handling it. In any case, you are free if you are fully exercising your personal power in whatever ways are available to you. That is something you are here on the physical plane to learn how to do.

What about abused children?

If you are incarnating into a potentially abusive circumstance, you usually know that beforehand. There are several possible reasons you might choose such a circumstance. Once in a while it is a karmic repayment. Often a person accepts abuse as part of the "package" because he needs that particular body and the people he will meet through it to complete his life plan. Sometimes people deliberately choose abusive circumstances for growth, or to give the gift of love and compassion to the abusers--children often have a remarkable way of continuing to love adults who do terrible things to them. This can have a radical impact on the abusers, even if they do not recognize it consciously at the time. Finally, sometimes the abuse is not chosen at all but is the result of unforeseen circumstances.

A child's personal power is limited, and usually cannot eliminate abuse. In fact, there are always limits on how much you can influence external events, but such limits are greater for a child. Nevertheless, he brings his personal power to bear in the choices he makes in handling abuse. Later in life, he can bring it to bear in the actions he may take to heal his wounds. A mature adult freely and fully manifesting his personal power, which is the power of love, can have tremendous impact on the world. This can be seen in people such as Jesus. However, the point is not your impact on the world, but the creative expression of your power. Even if that does not change circumstances, it changes your experience of them.

***

SOUL AGE II

Michael on the Overleaves, Part Seven

Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin
January 9, 2011 BlogTalkRadio chat
Transcribed by Ashvin Sawhney and Maggie Heinze


We have enjoyed these sessions of exploring the traits that are in groups of seven. It might surprise some that we also learn as we explore with you. Your present level of understanding and experience are, on average, greater than when we first brought forth this information; therefore, there is more to build upon. Your ability to receive enhances our ability to give.

Obviously, Shepherd is channeling us, but we are, in a sense, channeling from a larger source than ourselves as well. This illustrates a principle that you can verify: when you give freely, you benefit, and when others receive freely, all benefit; when there are walls to one another, all suffer. So we benefit from doing these sessions--we learn things that perhaps did not need to be known in the past, but do now.

There are seven soul ages that are experienced throughout the three ordinal planes of existence: physical, astral, and causal. Five of those are mainly experienced on the physical: infant, baby, young, mature, and old. One could make a case for the idea that they are also experienced to some extent on the lower astral plane when you are between lives, although, as we said last time, soul age is not so much a factor to souls who are between lives because there is not so much that would highlight them in your interactions.

We made the analogy of school. Children's grade in school is more meaningful in the classroom because they have in common with the rest of the class what they are studying at the moment. However, when they are playing during recess or in the lunchroom, what they are studying at the moment is not very relevant, although, of course, there are differences in physical age. There is no intrinsic reason that fourth and sixth graders cannot find much to share during recess or over lunch. Sometimes older children are more inclined to play with children their own age, but children off all ages can and often do play well together.

Soul age might also be more relevant between lives when you are reviewing, integrating, and sharing with others about lessons from a particular soul age, especially your most recent lifetime. Still, age is not your focus the same way it is when you are incarnate on the physical plane.

In general, souls experience more commonalities on the astral plane, and commonalities are not as defined by soul age. For example, members of your entity (your spiritual family) may share much among themselves even if the range of soul age is great.

There are two soul ages that are not usually experienced on the physical plane, but once in a while are, more for the benefit for humanity than the individual souls. These are called "transcendental" and "infinite" souls.

Normally, incarnating souls are based on the lower astral plane; they are still fragmented. By that, we mean that they plan their lives individually, for the most part, based on their point of view as an individual. Certainly many souls are altruistic and wish to benefit others; as we said earlier, benefiting others is also a good way to benefit yourself. However, you are not, at that point, particularly trying to represent the larger groups of which you are part, although, of course, you do represent them simply because you are a part of them.

Between lifetimes, many souls experience themselves on the middle astral plane. The lower astral plane is closest in vibration to the physical plane, and that is where you vibrate if you are concerned about it; for example, if you had just finished a lifetime, or were planning a new one, or were acting as a guide to humans who are physical. It is not difficult to change your focus to the middle or upper astral plane, especially if you are not particularly tied to the physical plane.

During incarnation, although your soul is anchored on the lower astral, you are focused in the mid-physical plane as a human personality. It is not easy for you to change your focus to other parts of the physical plane because it would not be comfortable for your physical body. However, when you are relaxed and are not focused on doing something, you may become more aware of the lower or upper physical--you can shift focus. You might, for example, sense a ghost, which is of the upper physical. A ghost is the soul of a human who died but who did not properly cross over to the lower astral. If you sense a ghost, you have shifted your focus a little higher (faster) than normal. Or, if you let your focus drop a little lower while, say, gardening, you might become aware of devas, who are nature spirits of the lower physical plane.

"Higher" here does not mean "better"; it simply refers to what is faster in vibration. The middle physical plane feels solid to you because you are focused at that level--your body vibrates there, so it is equipped to perceive what is also at that level. However, as a soul, you have the flexibility to be aware lower or higher than that.

People who channel from the astral or causal are able to shift focus with even more flexibility, but that is not something they would want to sustain for very long. When you are between lives, or when you have completed your cycle of lifetimes, shifting focus is easier because you do not have a physical body that is only designed to manifest in a particular way. However, as a soul, you still have a vibration that is most comfortable at a particular level of the astral, so although you might shift focus and could even visit higher planes, it takes effort.

Many souls, particularly those of a lighter density, are quite comfortable between lives on the middle astral. The upper astral is the soul's focus after completing the physical plane, especially when the soul's entity (spiritual family) is beginning to reunite. That is not a level from which human incarnation normally occurs. Because the vibration is faster, physical bodies are not comfortable holding it as a permanent source of incarnation; therefore, visiting it from the physical plane would be a "special occasion."

There are currently many human beings who tap in to the upper astral to bring in transcendental energy, but who are not incarnating from the upper astral. However, a true transcendental soul is an actual physical incarnation from the upper astral, carrying a vibration that is more rapid than normal for human beings. That particular vibration tends to shake up social institutions. Gandhi is the most recent famous example. What he taught and did was powerful, but it really was what he *was* that had impact, and what he did and taught reflected that; it was his presence more than anything else that shook things up.

There is a lesson here that is true for all people: being who you are is the most significant factor in your impact on others, and what you do, although it reflects who you are, is secondary. Even those who are incarnating normally from the lower astral vary in the vibration they bring in their lives. Those who have a more rapid vibration (you might say a more spiritual vibration) also stimulate change and growth for humanity. However, a transcendental soul is potent enough to affect change throughout a society.

An infinite soul is a representative from the upper causal plane, who is, in turn, channeling through a universal quality from one of the three high planes: love, truth, or beauty. It is such a rapid vibration that a physical body chosen to accommodate it must be quite sturdy. Usually, a transcendental or infinite soul incarnates toward the end of a person's life, displacing (or sometimes blending with) the soul who had been animating the body before. The original soul steps aside (or makes room) for this larger, faster vibration. Generally, a transcendental soul displaces a priest, and an infinite soul displaces a king. There are usually a number of incarnating souls who offer to be displaced and are considered to be "candidates." One of the determining factors is whether the body can handle the energy without burning out too quickly.

Prior to the entrance of a transcendental or infinite soul, if a person has already been channeling from that plane, his or her body is more accustomed to its energy. Bodies used for channeling are often designed from the ground up to be able to accommodate it, even though it is still not necessarily comfortable, although it is certainly an interesting experience for the body and personality. People do things all the time that are not comfortable or ideal for the physical body. Many athletic activities are unnatural, in a sense, but are interesting challenges.

From the soul's standpoint, there are things to recommend every physical and soul age, because they are all necessary to complete a full perspective. Any soul or physical age can be experienced in either a positive or negative manner. There are old people who are wise and old people who are crotchety. There are toddlers who are adorable and toddlers who are holy terrors. It is very hard for people in your competitive society to step outside a hierarchical view of everything. The positive aspect of competition is that it galvanizes people to do their best, but it also leads to false comparisons.

It is not better or worse to be young or old, as all are needed to cover the bases. How empty the life of any human being would be if he or she did not get to start out as an infant and experience that stage of being cared for and allowed to just be, getting used to the physical plane. Or who would want to miss out on being a toddler, youngster, teen, young adult, or old person? Old age is not very popular these days, but in many cultures, it has been revered, in part simply because it was so unusual to survive that long. There was often the feeling that there was something special about that, even though, of course, there are infirmities.

There are seven levels to just about everything. For example, there are seven levels to each plane, and then each level may be further broken down into seven parts, although it may not necessarily be useful to examine them carefully. This whole universe is built on the principle of seven, so it crops up a lot. As we explored, there are seven soul ages, and then each age itself has seven levels; this particular concept is useful because you spend at least one lifetime at every soul age level. Your soul age level tells you a lot about how your life feels to you.

In your first lifetime as a human being on earth, your soul age is first-level infant. Whether your second lifetime is at second-level infant depends on a few different factors. One is that you simply have to live long enough to be able to complete the seven internal monads: birth, "terrible twos," independence from family, midlife, retirement, final illness, and death. At your midlife monad, you have done enough to check in with essence and see whether the life you are living is in accordance to what you had planned; if not, you try to put yourself back on track. Today, that is typically done from about age thirty-five to thirty-seven, but when there are shorter life spans, this can be in the twenties. We don't think it could be successfully accomplished in any human being before the mid-twenties, but with a long life span, it could be accomplished late in life as lo ng as there is still time to rectify what needs to be. The fifth internal monad is taking stock of what was learned, the "senior citizen monad"; the sixth is the descent into death, which could be very quick, and the seventh is death itself.

You not only need to complete these but you need to do so in the positive poles, meaning you need to make realistic evaluations and take them to heart. There is no requirement of perfection, but there is a requirement of being authentic in your engagement in the process.

Of course, many lifetimes are cut short, particularly by war, disease, famine, and so forth, but those are also interesting experiences for the soul. You probably learn and grow more from the way you die than through any other experience. So the soul is not always that concerned about how long the life is, but is quite interested in the way it ends.

Also, the soul is in no hurry to move through the soul ages. It is theoretically possible to do one soul age level per lifetime and therefore complete the physical plane in thirty-five lifetimes, but virtually no one does that. That would be like taking a trip around the world but only staying one day in each destination. You would spend most of your time on airplanes, boats, trains, etc., and you wouldn't see that much.

In any case, you start out first-level infant, move to second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh-level infant. Then you start first-level baby, and so forth, until you complete seventh-level old, taking however many lifetimes you wish. When you feel complete and don't have any important outstanding karmas, you graduate, or "cycle off."

Each of the soul age levels one through seven is characterized by the vibration of that number. There are seven roles, or types of souls, and each one is also associated with a particular number, so the roles are a good way of acquainting you with the qualities of the numbers one through seven.

The number one role is server. It is the foundation. Server is the most ordinal role but in the most cardinal position because it comes first; servers, in a sense, lead the way through their service. You might say that they are the first ones to help, and show the way to others. Similarly, the first level of a soul age establishes the foundation.

At first levels, you stick your toe in the water of that soul age's perception. So, for example, if you are at first-level mature, you are moving into the point of view of the mature soul, but you are just starting, so you are not all the way into it; there is still quite a bit of the feeling of the young soul.

We are using the example of first-level mature because the movement from seventh young to first mature is the most radical change the soul experiences on the physical plane. If you stretch a rubber band as far as possible and then let go, there is a moment when it changes directions. Seventh-level young is going as far as you can in the mastery of the outer world; when you are done with it, you start to move in the direction of the inner world. It would be impossible to fruitfully explore the inner world before you had gotten a handle on the outer world; otherwise, you can be overwhelmed by it.

Mature souls focus on relationships with others, but not the outer forms of relationships, which are more a focus of baby souls. Mature souls focus on the content and feeling of relationships as they reflect their internal state, what relationships can teach them about themselves. There is a good reason that many of the greatest artistic works are done in the mature cycle: they are often an expression of the inner world, and the attempt to grapple with what it all means.

First levels are often uneventful. At first mature, it has not been very long since you finished sixth young. Sixth levels tend to require many lifetimes to complete because they involve wrapping up loose ends with other people relative to that soul age. The number six goal is growth, and that is also famously busy. Seventh, the king level, pulls it all together, making sense of it. In the case of seventh young, you are probably going to teach others about mastering the outer world while reflecting (maybe not consciously, but on some level) on all your young soul lifetimes. "What did I learn? Where do I want to go next? Have I left out something important?"

As you move into first mature, you could be forgiven if you thought you deserved to coast a bit. You are integrating what you have finished with, and acclimatizing to what you are moving into; you are regrouping.

The second level correlates with the role of artisan. It is half-in and half-out of the new soul age's sensibility, balancing old and new, attempting to reconcile and unite opposites. At second mature, you are integrating the best of what you learned as a young soul and creating what you are going to need for the rest of the mature cycle. It's about structure and design, so you are stabilizing in the mature perspective, getting your bearings.

The third level is the warrior level. Warriors are famous for working hard. When you are at third level, you are climbing the mountain of that soul age. At third mature, you work hard to understand yourself and the feelings of others, including how your choices affect them. You are beginning to feel what they feel as a means of learning about yourself. When you learn about yourself, you are learning about everyone because you are not so different from anyone else.

Fourth level is the middle, scholar level. At fourth level, you have the confidence of one who has climbed the mountain and who has planted a flag at the summit of the soul age. Now you are going to start back down the other side, seeing what you find. Because it is the scholar level, it is a time of both learning and teaching. It is not as hard-working as the third level; it is a time of enjoying the fruits of your previous labors.

Fifth is the sage level. It's now time to expand on and play with what you have learned. Sages are about play and the expansiveness of pushing beyond boundaries. Since you are going downhill, now you are propelled--you have momentum. Fifth mature souls like to play around with expectations about relationships and about how people should be.

Sixth level is the priest level. You are approaching base camp but you often encounter some obstacles before you can get there. You are stretched; you are dealing with things you have not previously handled. Let's say that when you had set out from camp, you had neglected to bring enough food or water. By the time you get to sixth, you are starting to feel where you did not prepare well. Sixth levels are typically the most difficult because you are starting to feel internal pressure to deal with any karmas you have not yet repaid. Souls are always handling karma; it is not just at sixth levels that you repay them. However, some are easier to check off your list than others; at sixth level, as you are moving downhill on the other side of the mountain, there is a momentum that says, "I can deal with these things and I need to."

When you were moving up the mountain at second and third levels, you were being propelled more by your own effort; you were climbing, and that is a more cardinal (influential) experience; you were setting the tone. Going down the mountain, you are propelled by the mountain itself, you might say, or by gravity. You feel compelled to handle, if not everything, whatever loose ends you can handle at that point. Although sixth levels can be a lot of work and leave one feeling shell-shocked at times, it can also be exhilarating. Imagine having climbed a tall mountain, and now you are moving back toward camp, picking up speed. Incidentally, the completion of karma includes the completion of positive or philanthropic karmas as well. Priests are all about inspiration, and sixth levels are about the exhilaration of connecting to what is higher. In this case, it is the momentum that the m ountain is providing for you. You realize that you do not control everything, that there is a higher good. Whether it's the law of karma or other things, you are carried along; ultimately, you see it as worthwhile.

At seventh, the king level, you are moving back toward base camp and pulling together all the pieces of your experience, perhaps organizing your gear and cleaning up a little bit. It is generally not as steep an incline. You might talk with your fellow travelers about the experience you just had climbing the mountain, what it meant to you, what you learned, and what you might want to do differently on your next climb. In this case, the next climb will be the old soul cycle.

Your true soul age is where you actually are as a soul, what is really happening with you. However, almost two-thirds of humans at any given time are not entirely, at least, manifesting their true soul age. It is operating within them but their lives may not look like that is what they are doing. There are three reasons this could be the case:

They might just be too young to manifest their true soul age. Newborns manifest as an infant. Teens generally manifest mature or younger. Those who are late-level old often do not manifest at their full soul age until their mid- to late-thirties, although there are many exceptions to that; we have seen teenagers who manifest old. This is not necessarily a desirable thing; an example is children who are forced to grow up too fast because circumstances are harsh--they had to take more responsibility than was natural for them, and it probably cost them, but it does happen.

Another reason people manifest younger is that the soul has decided that it needs some review or brush-up of an earlier age.

The third possible reason is that the person is stuck. Let's use an example of a sixth mature king manifesting late young who was never comfortable with messy human emotions, and continues to resist dealing with them in relationships. At this point, her growth demands facing them--it can no longer be put off. Kings tend to be strongest in external achievement, and she may have gotten away with not dealing much with difficult emotions by incarnating mostly as male in male-centric societies. However, there may be many useful things learned whether one is manifesting true soul age or not. Resisting the lessons may lead to increasing inner friction that will probably eventually break the person loose, leading to dramatic strides in the relationship department when it finally opens up. So simply manifesting younger is not necessarily a big problem.

Being stuck relative to manifesting your true soul age is not the same thing as being stuck in general. The main thing the soul objects to is being bored as a result of the person not engaging with life, leaving little for the soul to do. An example is when a person feels obligated to do something that is not in harmony with self; he could, with some courage, quit an unfulfilling job and do something more in essence, but instead just numbs himself, which prevents the soul from really having much access to the life, not a happy situation.

Are we required to finish all the soul ages?

It's not so much that it is a requirement as that it simply doesn't work not to. If you are twenty-five, you cannot skip over twenty-six to get to twenty-seven. It is not that it is prohibited; there's just no way to do it.

Let's say someone is second-level old, and at the moment is feeling, "I've had it with the physical plane! I want to finish this up and cycle off now. I don't want to have to go through third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh old." That would be like dropping out of school, which you are certainly welcome to do, but then you haven't finished school, and this whole thing is school. Eventually, in the school of life, you will jump back in.
There are periods when incarnating as a human is more difficult, and this is a very pressurized time. Almost everyone is feeling the heat; it's not easy. It may comfort you to think about not having to come back, but after you complete this lifetime and take as long a vacation on the astral plane as you want to, you will eventually feel called back if you are not done, and it will not always be this difficult.

Theoretically, if you still feel the way you feel now after you complete this lifetime (in other words, after you die), you could take a thousand earth years off. The reason you would probably not actually do that is because you've been working on things with other souls with whom you'd probably like to finish. If you have started a particular monad (a lesson, or compact unit of experience) with someone, you would probably want to do the other half of that with that same soul; if you wait a thousand years, that soul may not be available to do that with you. However, you certainly can take as much time as you need between lives to be ready to come back.

Do souls of some entities (spiritual families) tend to move slower through the soul ages than others?

We have not observed entity-wide patterns. We see a wide range within entities based on personal preference. Factors include how many lifetimes a soul has, their average length, and the average length of time between lifetimes. Souls take as few as forty and as many as a couple thousand lifetimes; if the latter, a lot of them would likely be very short.

Those who complete the physical plane in, say, forty to eighty lifetimes are probably more engaged behind the scenes on the astral plane, helping others a lot between lifetimes, while souls who are doing five hundred to a thousand lifetimes are working more actively on the physical plane (in cooperation with those who are not as externally active). Ultimately the experiences of all souls are pooled. Therefore, as an individual fragment, you do not feel that you have to experience everything, because you know that especially your entity mates will cover some of those bases and will share the stories with you. Basically, you live the lives that interest you to live. Sometimes, one thing leads to another, so it's not always planned out at the beginning; you may end up discovering something that you want to explore more, so you do.

Every soul is different. Some want to be sure to visit most of the main cultures while it is incarnating, while others are happy to stick with one or two they feel an affinity for.

Do the number of lives vary among soul ages and levels?

Yes. Sixth levels typically take the most lives, followed by third; first and seventh levels tend to be quicker; the others vary. Young and mature cycles tend to take more lifetimes.

Also, some souls naturally enjoy the focus of a particular age and therefore invest more lives there. So if you have a particular interest in the inner world, you may take more lifetimes in your mature cycle.

This is the opposite of what many students assume--that the soul would want to get through it all as quickly as possible. However, if the soul truly had that attitude, it might not bother to begin a cycle of incarnations at all. If you love travel, you are not motivated to get it over with as quickly as possible. You would probably budget your time to spend more time in the destinations you like, so it is not a race. As the saying goes, it's all good.

Are there predictable ways that soul age influences the expression of a role?

Yes. We went through the soul age levels one through seven and spoke about how they correspond with the seven roles; let's do that with the soul ages themselves:

The infant cycle is number one, the server soul age. Therefore, servers who are infant souls are in their element. They hit the ground running. You could say that servers are fully functional during the infant cycle. They grow the most easily throughout the physical plane because of being the number one role. They have the fewest requirements for fulfilling their essence; one can serve anywhere. They continue to blossom and expand their essence throughout all the soul ages, but in infant soul societies, servers are the bedrock.

When societies move from hunter/gatherer (infant) to agricultural (baby), they begin to build towns and create more complex societal forms. Artisans, the number two role, excel at creating new forms, so they are in their element in the baby (second) cycle.

The number three soul age is young, and the number three role is warrior. This is an easy correlation to see. Warriors are about productivity, competition, adrenalin, excitement, and challenges. Young warriors are often on top in a young soul society; they are best equipped to take full advantage of that cycle.

The number four soul age is scholar. That may at first seem counter-intuitive, because one thinks of mature souls as being highly emotional and dramatic, which is the opposite of the stereotype of the scholar. However, if you think of the mature cycle as an assimilative cycle, as a time when people are integrating the outer world with the inner world, then it makes more sense. And, contrary to the stereotype, mature souls are not necessarily overtly more dramatic than anyone else.

You might say that because of the focus on relationships, there's more potential for drama, because relationships can be volatile, but they are volatile at any soul age when people are confronting the issues of self versus others. At every soul age, there are abundant relationships, not just mate relationships, although most humans mate, but siblings, parent/child, friendships, community relationships, etc.--these are always operating. Humans are social animals. The only way you are not going to do relationships is if you are a hermit, which you are not going to do very often, because it would limit your growth.

However, if you are a young soul married couple, although your relationship may be very important to you, you may not have time to study the relationship itself in great depth. You might go to a marriage counselor, read some books, or whatever, but if you do that it would be more "in your spare time" because what is more interesting to you as a young soul is what you are achieving, maybe in career or maybe in other ways. And there is certainly much merit to focusing on what you are doing in the world; there's nothing wrong with that.

However, when you are a mature soul and you are in a relationship, it is easier to see it as a laboratory for learning about yourself, which all relationships are. So the mature cycle is really about learning. There is a deepening, a ripening, of self. The interest here in community is not so much that suddenly there are communities, because there were always communities, but in the mature cycle, communities, like relationships, become laboratories for learning about self. Therefore, they come under the scholarly microscope, whereas maybe they were taken for granted earlier.

Baby souls create solid communities. Young souls tend to challenge them in order to venture into new territories and start bigger cities. Mature souls may miss that warmth of feeling connected to the more intimate community, but want to do it in a new way; they don't want the rigid communities of the baby soul, where everyone knew what was expected, because that is no longer interesting. Like the scholar, the mature soul looks for what is most interesting.

The old soul age is fifth, and five is the sage number. Sages seek wisdom, insight, understanding, and perspective; they want to see how everything fits together. They ask why rather than what. "What?" is a scholar question. "Why?" is a sage question. Old souls are also philosophical. Having completed the mature cycle, the old soul feels it has a pretty good handle on self, and now there is curiosity about self related to the cosmos.

Six is the priest number, and that is the transcendental age; we mentioned that it is usually priest souls that are displaced by transcendental souls. The whole concept of being transcendent is a priest idea. Priests want to be in the body in a transcendent way, and transcendental souls want to harmonize societies, help the disenfranchised, and bring everyone on board.

The seventh soul age is the infinite, correlating with the role of king. Kings pull it all together. At the seventh level of a soul age, you pull it all together and look forward to what comes next. The infinite souls known in recorded history, Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, and Lao Tzu, brought to bear a comprehensive view of everything: they exalted the life force energy itself, endeavoring to make people ready for something completely new.

Since most souls do not experience the transcendental and infinite stages on the physical plane, in a way the physical plane doesn't quite have a place for priests and kings. They find their greatest manifestations off the physical plane. It is their job to bring the higher energies into the physical plane, but they are not in their element in any of the five soul ages commonly experienced.

If one reaches enlightenment now, how does this effect future lifetimes? In some traditions, enlightenment is sought to avoid future lifetimes.

That is a rich question. One would need to start by defining enlightenment. The simplest way would be the idea of light coming on in the human being. Every human being is a combination of essence and personality. Every essence is unique, and some naturally vibrate at a higher and stronger level than others, based on the cumulative work of their lifetimes. However, by definition, essence is light, or energy.

Also by definition, the personality is an activated lump of clay ("dust to dust, ashes to ashes"). With the help of biology and so forth, essence breathes the breath of life into the lump of clay, and it comes to be a person. However, in most people, the personality is still lumpish. There can be vibrant light coming through the personality, but it is often not consistent or mastered. Children are often radiant, but not necessarily in a way that is able to hold when confronted with the dense vibrations of the world.

So one way you could define enlightenment is that enough essence is downloaded into personality to light it up and keep it lit up, no matter what events transpire on the physical plane. This is a realistic expectation for someone on the spiritual path. Unfortunately, there are many legends around enlightenment that are not correct. The most persistent myth is that in one moment you will achieve enlightenment, and then you will know everything--you will never make a mistake again, you will have all knowledge, and be perfect. That is not a realistic hope or expectation for someone on the physical plane.

When enough essence is downloaded into the personality to keep it lit up, the human experience is certainly a lot more positive and effective than before. If the soul has some native psychic abilities, these may be brought to the front. Anything else that the soul already learned how to do in other lives is more available to the personality because there's not so much lumpishness in it, so it is more responsive to the incarnating essence. However, what the essence never learned will not manifest. Therefore, there's the opportunity to keep learning in all lifetimes, to give essence more experiences and capabilities. Learning can be accelerated when more essence is downloaded into personality--it becomes easier to learn, there is momentum, and learning builds on itself.

A good example is musical accomplishment. If the soul never studied music in any of its lifetimes and has little affinity for it, the enlightenment experience is not going to make that person able to pick up and play any instrument; there is simply not the facility developed. Yet, if there is an enlightenment experience, thereafter it would be easier to learn an instrument than if personality was only functioning on half its life potential. There would be more alertness and fluency. It is like integrating the brain, which makes it a better tool for everything that it might undertake, but you still have to have the experiences.

As we are defining enlightenment here, you could have an enlightenment experience as an infant soul. You could download enough essence into the personality to light it up and make it run on all cylinders. Then it might happen that you encounter something that you are not equipped to handle. Let's say a neighboring village invades and you are tortured; you have no frame of reference, you do not understand, and you don't know how to handle it. You temporarily lose your connection with essence. You had been running on all cylinders, and now you have a blow out.

Still, having previously had a good download from essence, you are better equipped to handle that experience that came out of left field than if you never had the enlightenment. You might be able to figure out how to heal yourself and integrate that traumatic experience relatively quickly. Furthermore, you can work your way back to enlightenment faster and more effectively because you know what essence feels like in your body. However, as an infant soul, you still have most of your lifetimes and a lot of new experiences ahead of you, and you would not want to miss out on them. You came for the experiences.

There are some people who have enlightenment experiences but whose physical plane mastery is pretty limited. They can download a relatively large amount of essence but do not know how to deal with their own emotions very well, or are not sensitive to others in relationships because they have not invested in those fields.

You are here to learn about being human, and if you are able to do so in an enlightened way, with more essence participation on a conscious level, all the better. However, if you skip over learning how to balance your checkbook, budget, cook a meal, clean a house, make a living, garden, or whatever, you are not going to feel that you really had the human experience when it's all over. Spiritual experience is part of the human experience, but it is not the whole thing.

The ideal is to merge all levels of experience in a happy, productive way. Many spiritual and religious paths urge their practitioners to avoid sexual expression. However, the ideal is to merge sexual expression with open, clear emotional expression, intellectual wisdom, and a full-bodied spiritual download. This is obviously much easier said than done, but if you started out eschewing sexual experience and just focused on the spiritual, you would never have the opportunity to have the full experience of enlightenment, which is bringing your whole body along into the spiritual experience.

If you can bring joy into everything you do, into every part of being human, that is the most complete and effective spiritual experience available, and is the goal of the soul. Whatever you do, bring your light into it to the best of your ability, and you will grow.

***

GOALS

Michael on the Overleaves, Part Six

Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin
November 10, 2010, BlogTalkRadio chat
Transcribed by Maggie Heinze

The seven goals may be the most influential of the overleaves, and are less understood than they might be. More than the other overleaves (personality traits chosen by essence prior to incarnating), goals determine how a lifetime tends to be shaped; it is your primary motivation--what attracts you to experiences--and therefore has a lot to do with the kinds of experiences you have. As with the other overleaves, there are three pairs and one that is single.

There is a pair on the inspiration (inner) axis: the ordinal (contracted) side is called "reevaluation"; the cardinal (expanded) side is called "growth." When your goal is on the inspiration axis, the overall gestalt of your life is inspirational; it is a lifetime focused on your inner world. When it is contracted, it is a lifetime focused on the details, the miniature aspects of inspiration.

We originally named this goal "retardation." A ritard in music slows it down, which is the opposite of the cardinal goal, growth, which is about speeding up the movement of the inner life. The slow movement in a symphony contrasts with the other movements; it is reflective. Many people, when they hear the word retardation, think of disability, but that was not what we intended. Someone who suffers from a physical or mental disability may or may not have reevaluation as his goal. This goal is the least common of the seven; its percentage among those with disabilities is higher, but it is still not all that high.

Typically, a soul chooses reevaluation in order to digest experiences from previous lifetimes that were much more active; it is a breather. It may involve outward rest, but it is active internally. Someone with a goal of reevaluation will often state her desire to lead a simple life, perhaps to get a small cottage by the shore or in the mountains. The person may be busy, but she looks forward to retirement, to not having so much to do outwardly. It's like having a big meal in your stomach waiting to be digested.

With this goal, there may be reevaluation occurring in the sense of pulling up old experiences and looking at them in a different way. However it might simply be evaluation; in other words, she may be parsing experiences for the first time because, before that, she was so busy that she was just having experiences, without an opportunity to assign meaning to them. The inspiration axis is a lot about the meaning of life. Priest and server souls particularly seek meaning in their experiences. That's not surprising, when you consider that the inspiration axis is about the inner world--what is felt and known, making sense of experience.

As with the other overleaves, each of the goals has a positive and negative pole (aspect). None of the traits we discuss are, of themselves, negative or positive, other than the chief obstacle, which is negative because it gets in your way if you let it. However, all the other traits are positive when used constructively and negative when they become a distorting influence because the ego has been blinded by fear in some way. Your overleaves are the building blocks of your life; what you build is up to you.

The positive pole of the goal of reevaluation is "atavism" or "simplicity." Generally, the word atavistic describes a primitive culture, but what we mean here is that the nonessentials have been pared away, back to basics. One is living life simply, keeping the externals as uncomplicated as possible so that the inner process can occur. However, if all the soul wanted to do was reflect on life experiences, it could have done that without incarnating. So, in the positive pole, there is enough interface with the human world to keep it real. If you reevaluate your experiences after passing over to the astral plane, without a body, you can understand a lot of things, but you don't have a chance to apply them. You can reflect on the big spiritual issues, but reevaluating in your body allows you to more readily test your conclusions. Interacting with other humans, especially, helps keep you real. With this goal, you don't need a lot of external involvement, but you do need some; otherwise, you can drift too much into your own world.

The negative pole is called "withdrawal"--the person refuses those reality checks and avoids life. This could manifest as being a hermit, or mentally ill in the sense of being in one's own world that does not bear much resemblance to consensus reality. We are not implying that everyone with mental illness has this goal; we are simply saying that an extreme manifestation of the negative pole could be mental illness, particularly the kind that is highly cut off from others.

You may be wondering if this goal is a factor in autism; generally it is not, although it is in some cases. Autism, like any other classification, can have a variety of causes. With autism, often people are dealing with a physical body that has compromises in its neurology. In such cases, the goal may not be so much to reevaluate as to overcome a difficult challenge so that they may be able to interact more with others. To validate the goal, look for the underlying motivation: what is the soul trying to get out of this experience?

Many people with autism are using the conditions of modern life as an opportunity to bring some issues forward from past lives that can now be worked on with more help. More physical bodies survive today, because of medical advancements, but also more are compromised. One factor is various forms of pollution. Vaccines can be an issue, although they are safe for the majority of children. However, if you overload any living organism with influences that it is not well equipped to handle, it can reach a tipping point. One of the reasons this is an interesting time to be alive on earth as a human is that you are experimenting with a lot of new things, including new toxins in food and the environment; for some, it is too much.

However, when the body is compromised, it is an opportunity for the soul to bring forward unresolved issues. Today, they can be handled in a more conscientious and caring way. Therefore, while a soul is dealing with an autistic body (which can actually be a number of things; there is not just one correct definition of it), it is also able to perhaps deal with a trauma from a past life. For example, if a person was badly beaten in a past life and had a compromised neurology as a result, now there's a chance to work it out further, in a more nurturing environment. In such a case, though, the goal would more likely be acceptance or even discrimination, because the issue is more about how one fits into society. The way to validate someone with a goal of reevaluation is to perceive whether she seeks simplicity. Not everyone who withdraws is seeking simplicity.

The opposite goal, growth, is the most common, just as reevaluation is the least common. It is about seeking new experiences that may expand your inner world. The positive pole is "comprehension." In growth, a person is attracted to challenges that cause him to react in new ways, thereby activating inner resources that may have been dormant. Learning something is more a by-product, but comprehension implies that the person expanded his repertoire and broadened his horizons, whereas in reevaluation, a person avoids new experiences so as to finish up processing old ones.

In a larger sense of the word, your whole cycle of growth includes both stimulation and reflection. At the beginning, you are stimulated, and then everything else is about dealing with the results of that stimulation. The last stage is reevaluation, when you put it all together before you move on to new stimulation. However, the goal of growth refers to that specific spurt of stimulation.

It is interesting that growth is so much more common than reevaluation. That reveals that you can process a lot of growth with a relatively short period of reevaluation. The natural balance is to spend a lot more time being stimulated, and a relatively short but potent time making sense of it all. Some people think that it's the other way around. An example is those who spend a lifetime in psychotherapy reevaluating their childhood for far longer than the childhood lasted. Most find diminishing returns with this because they may not be really living their life--they are just analyzing it, so there is not enough new data to keep things fresh. For some, the ritual of regular psychotherapy is useful, especially if they don't have friends to talk to. Everyone needs to be heard and be able to bounce things off friends. Sometimes the psychotherapist is a friend-substitute, and that's fine, but you get more bang for your reevaluation buck when you undertake it directly and honestly--glean the lessons, and than get moving again.

Of course, if you have reevaluation as your main goal, that doesn't apply to you. However, if you have chosen it as your goal, it probably indicates that you were not very willing in the past to reflect on your life; therefore, you needed to devote an entire lifetime to doing so. For that reason, many with this goal still manage to stay fairly busy, even if it is less busy than what would be normal for them as a soul.

The goal of growth does not refer only to what some might narrowly define as spiritual growth; it is growth as a physical person. It could involve learning about anything: foreign cultures, languages, cuisines; it could be delving into the psyche. People in growth almost all like to be busy. They are attracted to new experiences, and can handle being busy fairly well. A packed schedule does not faze them as much as it might others, all things being equal.

However, it is possible to overdo anything, and the negative pole, "confusion," results from overdoing it. More than any other pairing of goals, it is common to slide between growth and reevaluation, because they provide a necessary balance to one another. If you have a goal of growth and are in the negative pole of confusion, meaning that you have been overstimulated, you need time to reflect. Then, it is natural to slide to the positive pole of reevaluation and simplify for a while. Whether you are in growth or reevaluation, it is a good idea to avoid the extremes, because the extremes will put you in your negative poles.

However, it is an extreme only if it feels like an extreme to you. Your schedule might look extreme to someone else, but the proof of the pudding, as they say, is in whether you feel you're handling it with a reasonable amount of comfort. If you are in the negative pole, you will start to feel overwhelmed; it is more stimulation than you can take in. Some of those who suffer nervous breakdowns are people in growth who didn't know when to quit. What we call "true rest" and "true play" are necessary to some degree for everyone in order to live a balanced life, and especially useful when the pace of the life is accelerated.

The expression axis goals are "discrimination" and "acceptance." The original name for discrimination was "rejection," clearly the opposite of acceptance. It is another word that tends to bring negative things to mind; nobody likes to be rejected, particularly romantically, and that is often the feeling reaction to that word. However, in fact, all of life is a series of choices: many times a day, you are either accepting or rejecting. If you scan the cereal boxes for breakfast, you are probably not going to accept all of them; you are not going to eat them all. Therefore, you will reject most of them in favor of the one you accept.

The expression goals, like the expression axis itself, are about how you navigate the world and react to others. Discrimination emphasizes the "no" aspect of things and acceptance emphasizes the "yes," but no is meaningless without yes, and yes is meaningless without no. If you say yes to everything, eventually you nullify your choices because you cannot accept everything--it becomes a big no. If you say yes to every possible thing you could do with your time, you will end up missing most things, even if you try to do them all. If you say no to everything, you are not making a thoughtful choice, either. It is only what you end up accepting that shines light on your standards and what you are trying to do, why you are rejecting other things.

So, as with reevaluation and growth, one cannot have one without the other, but one’s lifetime is more skewed one way or the other. There is another parallel with reevaluation and growth: discrimination is also unusual, the second least common of the goals, and acceptance is the second most common, which illustrates that you need a whole lot more yes than no for an effective life, but sometimes you have to focus on no to clean up your yes.

The inspiration axis is about feeling, and the expression axis is about thinking. Thinking conveys your feelings into the world. Discrimination especially, reminds one of the intellectual center, because when the intellectual center is working well, it is discriminating. Your intellect can tell the difference between things. If you see two kinds of dogs, it is your knowledge that lets you know what kinds you are seeing.

People with a goal of discrimination are typically trying to repair the damage of too many lifetimes of not being able to say no. They may overdo it and say no too much. Depending on the soul, the goal may be done subtly or with a lot of rough edges. How a soul manifests a particular overleaf also has a lot to do with his imprinting and the rest of the overleaves.

In the positive pole, "sophistication," a person makes well-reasoned choices. A stereotype that is often used to illustrate the goal of discrimination is the wine connoisseur, someone who has a high ability to evaluate the merits of a particular wine, the pluses and minuses, and how it might go with a particular food. The end result is a more delicious meal. However, if you have a goal of discrimination, it is most brought to bear with things you care about, so if you don't care about wine, you may not be all that discerning in that department. If you don't care about clothes, you may dress carelessly, without bringing your discernment to bear on your wardrobe. If you do care about words, you will be discerning in your choice of them.

The opposite goal, acceptance, can, in the negative pole, "ingratiation," cause one to be a people pleaser--trying too hard to gain the acceptance of others. A person in discrimination cares less about the other people's opinions because there is such focus on her own opinions. It is easier in discrimination than in acceptance to handle being rejected from a club you want to join, for example. However, there is no escaping the fact that human beings are social animals. You know deep in your bones (or your genes) that if you are shunned by your community, you could die. Therefore, if someone makes a big show of not caring what others think, she probably does care a great deal.

Discrimination can be prickly because the need to make your own discernments and choices can pit you against the will of others; you can be caught between a rock and a hard place. Needless to say, there are many growth lessons in dealing with that.

The negative pole is "prejudice," which is not true discernment; it is going by some predetermined rules about what to reject. Using the example of the wine connoisseur, the sophisticated one would smell the wine and taste the food before making a final determination. In prejudice, a lazy shortcut would be used: "Oh, that wine could never go with that food."--no real work is done to discriminate; it is a knee-jerk reaction, and is judgmental. It is in the negative pole that the connoisseur is more likely to look like a snob--closed minded and rigid. In the positive pole, he would be thought of as a good person to ask for advice about his area of expertise. Positive poles are based in love, so someone in the positive pole would use that energy in a way that feels good to self and others.

About thirty percent of people have a goal of acceptance; growth accounts for forty percent. Therefore, seventy percent have lives shaped by either growth or acceptance. They are quite different from one another. The positive pole of acceptance is "agape," meaning unconditional love, or simply tolerance; it is about being open in a loving way. Someone in acceptance will likely say yes more often than someone in discrimination. However, in the positive pole, one says yes to those things where one can contribute. Again, it is physically impossible for one to say yes to everything and make it stick. If you say yes and don't mean it or can't follow through, you get into trouble.

The highest form of acceptance is accepting life on its own terms, particularly your own life. There is also a valid desire to fit in, to be accepted in your community. When you have this goal, you learn about how your society works and what it takes to contribute to it in a smooth way. You want to have a harmonious society, and you try to exemplify how to accomplish that in your own life.

The ordinal overleaves are contracted, so discrimination and reevaluation focus more on the self, whereas growth and acceptance focus more on society. Growth avails itself of all the world has to offer and participates in it. Acceptance is the grease of the wheels of society, helping everyone get along, trying not to be contentious. Therefore, people with this goal are often nice, pleasant people, relatively easy to get along with.

In ingratiation, this is taken to an extreme, being too worried about what others think of one. The yes is selfish, designed to avoid conflict, improve one's status, or make up for insecurity; it is not coming from the universal forces of love, truth, and beauty. It is not true acceptance, making peace with what is; it is a fear of rejection, which is not the same thing. It is brown-nosing, being too nice in a way that is not authentic.

In that situation, someone in acceptance can slide to discrimination and be more discerning. He can start thinking about what is worth accepting, what isn't, and why--sophistication. That can help get him back to agape, or simply being more at peace with himself in the world.

The opposite dynamic for someone in discrimination also works: if she is being narrow, prejudiced, and too much by the book, she can slide to acceptance and be more open-minded and tolerant--for example, being willing to try a new wine with a certain kind of food.

With all the overleaves, souls gravitate more to some than to others. The goal of acceptance is on the cardinal side of the expression axis, as is the role of sage. Since sages are about self-expression, they often like to perform or write, and need an audience for that, so they have a natural social interface with the community. This has an obvious correlation with the goal of acceptance. Sages not only crave acceptance, but need it, or they can't do their job. A sage with a goal of discrimination may handle it well, but it can also be a train wreck. The forces of wanting to be loved conflicting with wanting to reject can make for a difficult personality. You could also, to a lesser degree, imagine a sage, being so naturally socially oriented, feeling a push-pull with the goal reevaluation, although some could experience it as a much-needed respite. So it does depend on the individual.

The two action axis goals are "submission" and "dominance." Submission is the warrior-position goal, and dominance is the king-position goal. They are both lives concerned with doing; they are focused in the outer world. Submission is about doing what supports something larger: a leader, a cause, or an ideal. It shapes a life that often involves doing things for others. People sometimes confuse this with the role of server, which is inspirational. With servers, the emphasis is on caring for others. That may involve doing something like cooking a meal, but the feeling of it is caring for someone's mundane needs, the most basic things. Submission is about doing outer things in a way that a warrior might fight for a larger cause. The way it manifests depends a lot on the person and the circumstances. Submission and dominance, in a minority of circumstances, look the way that you might assume--the person in submission being submissive, the person in dominance being dominant. However, often the overleaves are more subtle than that, and do not adhere to obvious stereotypes.

Let's say a king soul has a goal of submission. The person will not stop being a formidable presence, but her life will be shaped around devotion to something outside her personality. In submission, it's not about your own agenda; it's about learning to let go of your agenda and work with, perhaps, a leader's agenda, a political party's agenda, or your boss's agenda. The positive pole, "devotion," gives you the sense that you are helpful and loyal; "loyalty" is a key warrior word. It also correlates with perseverance mode, so you persevere in that.

The negative pole, "subservience," is a loss of boundaries that causes you to violate your own personal needs; your devotion did not end up being a win-win, it was not both helpful to the cause and satisfying to you, but instead cost you something essential to your own sanctity.

The goal of dominance has a positive pole of "leadership." Because it is a goal, it is the outline of your life. It does not come on as strong as the role of king, which it resonates with, because it's more about what you are doing with your life rather than who you are. If you are also a king or warrior and have a goal of dominance, you will have a very strong action axis quality. However, if you are, by nature, more mild-mannered (a server or scholar, for example), and your goal is dominance, you may not look like an obvious leader, yet you tend to end up as a leader in spite of yourself, because that's what your life is about. The positive pole is "leadership," but it could be leadership in quiet ways. Let's say you're on a committee at your church; you may not say much, but if you have a goal of dominance, other people in the committee will tend to look to you to lead.

Leadership as a positive pole is not telling others what to do; it is working with all factions to try to get clear on what the right thing is. It is facilitating a solution that works well in the situation. The negative pole, "dictatorship," is more of top-down; it is being bossy and imposing a solution: "I win-you lose." The negative pole of submission, subservience, is "I lose-you win." In the positive poles, both win. In submission, a person has the satisfaction of knowing that he supported something that he feels good about; he supported it and helped it come to fruition. Leadership is not so different, really; in dominance, one is the more obvious force in working things out, but both are needed. You've heard the expression "too many chiefs and not enough Indians."

One way that these goals are complementary is that no one can be a good leader who has not first learned how to follow. If you cannot accurately take good directions, you cannot accurately give good directions. If you cannot put your ego aside and support others as leaders, you will tend to be an egomaniac when you lead. If you are too identified with your position, whether you are leader or follower, and are using it to reinforce your self-image, you cannot get the job done. Therefore, there is value in going back and forth between these two goals. The devoted person who has turned into a doormat needs to find a quality of leadership, the ability to take a stand. The person who has deteriorated into dictatorship needs to think about the larger cause that is being served and find the spirit of devotion to something outside the ego.

The neutral goal, on the assimilation axis, is called "flow." Its original name was "stagnation." Again, that sounds like a bad thing, but a still pond that has various things floating on it can be a beautiful example of stagnation: it's not going anywhere, it is just being. However, to be stagnant as a personality is generally understood as being stuck, which is the negative pole of this goal, "inertia," as opposed to simply resting or being held up by the water. Others have called this goal "relaxation" or "equilibrium." It is the neutral goal, but that may seem like an oxymoron: if you have a goal, you are not neutral. However, you could think of it as the goal of not having a goal, setting up your life without a directed one.

There are different ways this can affect a life. We have spoken of how growth can slide to reevaluation, and vice-versa, and so forth with the other goals. Flow, being on the assimilation axis, can slide to any of the other goals. Some people who have this neutral goal temporarily do various other goals throughout life, giving them flexibility in how their life is shaped. A soul who does not slide a great deal is having a rest life or is simply working on learning to flow.

In the positive pole, "suspension," people in flow let themselves be carried on the surface of the water, however it wants to move them, not passively, but not insisting on a particular outcome too rigidly. When they flow, things tend to work out. The highest form of this goal is surrendering to the universe, letting the highest good dictate how you move in your life. There is ease and relaxation

The negative pole, "inertia," is the opposite, being stuck. In inertia, one has too much weight; it is a rock that sinks to the bottom and stays in the mud rather than a leaf that is gently moved by the current; it is overly passive. In the positive pole, one is responsive to the subtle currents; one perceives how they are moving and can sense what the right thing is. Sometimes the flow is more active, and sometimes, quieter.

In flow, one seeks to find the natural order of things and feel part of the whole, trusting that it will find your right place for you. People with this goal tend to have a life with a little of this and a little of that. They may, for example, have several different careers that they meander in and out of.

In the positive pole, the person is a dance partner like Ginger Rogers following the lead of Fred Astaire, but in this case, Fred Astaire is life itself, she is responding to its movements. In the negative pole, instead of being Ginger Rogers, one is an inert blob, not responding.

How does the goal reflect the life task?

The goal reveals not so much what the task itself is, but how it is executed. If you have a goal of dominance, your life task will manifest in a more active, kingly way. If you have a goal of acceptance, you are likely to conduct your task in a more accommodating way. With a goal of flow, it is intended that you do your task in a more fluid way.

I've found that the negative pole of flow can manifest as a resistance to going with the flow, which leads to a lot of turbulence, as well as excessive passivity, which leads to stuck-in-a-rut stagnation.

They are the same thing.

All the assimilation axis traits can either be airborne or earthbound. This includes the scholar role, the chief obstacle of stubbornness (obviously), the attitude of pragmatist, and so forth. Its very neutrality dictates that possibility. If you have more than one trait on the assimilation axis, that tendency is increased. You want to avoid the stuck or plodding quality that the negative pole can impart, and seek the lightness and elevation of the positive.

A ballroom dancer who is swept off her feet in the flow of a dance is not passive, and it is not as easy as a good dancer makes it look. Effectively doing the goal of flow is not necessarily all that easy. There are many things in life that can trap you and make you stuck. To be life's dance partner, to be nimble and airborne, requires work, but it is not the same kind of work as with the other goals. Being neutral, it is active and passive at the same time; it is not just passive. Being just passive is being stuck, and being just active here leads to spinning your wheels, like a car stuck in the mud, exerting a lot of effort but not going anywhere. In inertia, your life feels sticky; you're in the mud. In the positive pole, it feels like you can breathe fresh air.

The right blend of active and passive is the perfect equilibrium of the assimilation axis, and it is not easy to achieve, but when you have achieved it, there is a sense of fluidity in your life. You are not making things happen, but are a part of something larger. You are turning, and as you turn, other things are turning as well. You fit into the whole.

What would the ballroom dancing type of analogy be for growth?

Growth is like dominance in that it looks more like Fred Astaire than Ginger Rogers. The lead dancer needs to make sure that he or she is doing the steps accurately and giving the right signals to the partner. If one is moving toward the negative pole of confusion, the best advice is to sit out the next dance--go have a glass of water and relax. In other words, slide to the opposite, reevaluation.

Understanding the goals can shed a great deal of light on the human drama. It is easy to judge people with other goals. A person in acceptance may be dismayed that other people are not as nice as she is. A person in growth may view others as lazy. A person in reevaluation may think that everyone else is on crack. A discriminator may be appalled by other people's lack of refinement. In submission, a person may wonder why others are not as willing as he is to put forth effort to help. In dominance, a person may scoff at others' inability to take the bull by the horns. In flow, others may seem too pushy or ambitious.

There is a good reason for the mix of goals. The negative poles create problems, but these differences are, together, what makes the world work. If everyone had the same goals, it would be lopsided.

***

ATTITUDES

Michael on the Overleaves, Part Three

Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin
May 10, 2010, BlogTalkRadio chat
Transcribed by Maggie Heinze


The seven attitudes are the ways personalities frame their experiences, placing them in a context. You must frame your experiences one way or another; otherwise they are random and have no meaning. The way you frame your experiences has a lot to do with how you experience them.

Each person has innumerable underlying beliefs that influence how he frames particular events. This is why no two people agree on everything. In addition, some people are generally inclined to see things in a more positive light or try to make the best of them, while others have a more negative way of framing them.

New experiences tend to be framed in terms of what you have already experienced, or what you think you have experienced, which can make it difficult to have truly new experiences. It is a big challenge to step outside limiting ways of framing your experiences. When people are not very spiritually conscious or self-aware, there's usually not even a lot of desire to step outside their foregone conclusions.

Frequently, the soul's intentions for what it wishes to accomplish and learn in a particular lifetime are thwarted because the person gets stuck in repeating loops. That is one reason for choosing different attitudes from lifetime to lifetime--so that there will be different fundamental ways of framing experiences. Some fit like a glove for a particular soul, and some are more foreign, even uncomfortable. The latter, especially, can force new experiences.

There are infinite slants one can have on anything that happens. For instance, bystanders often give contradictory versions of what happened in a car accident. Surely, there is an objective set of facts, yet many people are not able to see them clearly because of their false framing. No human being frames every experience with complete accuracy.

However, regarding the overleaf (personality trait) of attitude, one is not inherently more accurate than another, just different; there is not a hierarchy of attitudes. It is one of the seven possible ways a personality can be constructed to frame life in the most fundamental sense.

Each overleaf is on one of four axes: inspiration (inner), expression (bridging inner and outer), action (outer), and assimilative (neutral). The first three axes have pairs of ordinal/cardinal (concrete/abstract) traits. We will illustrate as we go along.

Furthermore, each overleaf has a positive and negative manifestation, or "pole." Negative poles distort perceptions. With any attitude, you might frame a particular experience accurately, inaccurately, or most likely, somewhere in the middle. Seven people, each possessing one of the attitudes, could witness a particular event and report it accurately, but giving it a slant based on the intrinsic way they tend to see things. A benefit of knowing about the overleaves is understanding that each person is wired a little differently, including having a different fundamental way of framing experiences. It can help you accept that the world does not look the same way to everyone. The view may be accurate or distorted, but having a different emphasis is not itself accurate or distorted.

To get the lay of the land, let's briefly go through each of the attitudes, comparing and contrasting, before we go into more detail:

"Stoic" is the ordinal inspiration attitude. Stoics stay within (the inspiration axis is the inner world, and the ordinal side is contracted). Stoics look at the world through a lens that says, "It doesn't matter so much what's out there; what matters is that I stay in a state of serenity and not let things bother me." This is the most ordinal way of looking at the world. It is a way of framing life based on what you experience internally.

The other inspiration axis attitude is "spiritualist." In one sense, it is opposite because it is cardinal, yet these two share an inspirational quality, which is characterized by warmth. Spiritualists look at the world in an expansive way that feels that anything is possible, emphasizing the inner potential of self and others, what one could become, more than current reality.

We previously discussed the centers:

http://www.michaelteachings.com/michael-on-centers.html

The emotional center is on inspiration axis; the intellectual center is on the expression axis. Expression brings the content of the inner world into the outer. For expression to occur, the more formless emotional experience has to be "packaged" intellectually, just as you can't mail an object without first putting it into some sort of container. Self-expression involves a combination of content and structure, whether in words or clay.

The ordinal expression-axis attitude is called "skeptic." Skeptics look at the world in a thoughtful way, and because it is ordinal (detail-oriented, contractive), they scrutinize (hone in on) what they see to try to make sense of it intellectually. They have a little doubt about what they see, which spurs them to dissect it.

"Idealists" look at the world in a cardinal, expansively intellectual way, applying great ideas to what they see, measuring reality against them.

"Cynic" is the ordinal action-axis attitude. Action is about the outer world, pure form (just as inspiration is pure content). Cynics, being ordinal, burn through appearances to try to hone in on what is real. The main difference between cynics and skeptics is that cynics test physical evidence and skeptics investigate intellectually.

"Realist," being cardinal on the action axis, is a big-picture way of looking at things. Realists try to collect all the relevant evidence and make sense of how it all fits together.

The neutral attitude, which is on the assimilation axis, is called "pragmatist." Having a neutral way of framing things means that you tend to default to what seems most useful; it is a utilitarian view of life.

Do skeptic or cynic tend to hold a soul back on occasion?

Any overleaf in its negative pole can hold someone back. However, skeptic and cynic tend to be the most quarrelsome of the attitudes. Whether this holds the soul back or not depends: if the person holding the quarrelsome attitude becomes stuck and therefore in the negative pole, these attitudes are probably more limiting than the others. There is usually some involvement on the part of the chief obstacle (http://www.michaelteachings.com/michael-on-chief-obstacles.html) that makes a person unable to move out of non-growthful mindsets.

On the other hand, if a person with one of these attitudes brings up reasonable objections and completes an entire process of self-validation--in other words, she gains a true picture of the facts--it can be valuable for moving forward.

A basic truth of the Michael teachings is that every trait is important and has its place in the whole. There are no good or bad overleaves, only negative and positive manifestations of each. Knowing your attitude gives you an idea of what you as a soul want to see in this lifetime, where your focus is.

In our talk about the modes (http://www.michaelteachings.com/michael-on-modes.html), we were saying that the ordinal ones tend to help you to get clearer on where you have been, and the cardinal ones tend to advance you into new experiences. That is true here as well. Getting clear on where you have been is an essential part of growth. It improves your foundation before you move on to new territory.

A stoic wants to know her inner world, her feelings, better. A skeptic wants to know his own thoughts better; he does not take them for granted as an idealist might, but carefully examines and clarifies them. A cynic wants to validate what's real, what holds water. No one wants to carry water in a leaky bucket; cynics find leaks.

If you are a spiritualist, you want to be a visionary and explore what is possible. If you are an idealist, you want to bring new ideas to the world that could make things better. If you are a realist, you want to help people gain a clearer view of what all the facts are.

If you are a pragmatist, you want to improve the utility of life, make things work better.

You may do all these things to some degree, but your chosen overleaf is your specialty.

There are seven roles, or types of souls: you are either a server, priest, artisan, sage, warrior, king, or scholar. Your soul type stays the same in all your lifetimes, whereas your overleaves can change from lifetime to lifetime.

Overleaves that are in line with your essence role (on the same side of the same axis) are called your "natural" overleaves. They are not defaults, but they are usually comfortable, easy choices. If you are a server, you have a natural comfort with the server-position attitude, which is stoic. Priests like to be spiritualists, artisans like to be skeptics, sages like to be idealists, warriors like to be cynics, kings like to be realists, and scholars like to be pragmatists. However, when you choose an overleaf that is in line with your role, it can exaggerate your pitfalls. That is a good reason not to go with it.

Besides their natural overleaves, individual souls may have other favorites: for example, those that highlight their casting (numerical position within the whole), essence twin (twin soul) influence, or simply their history--areas of experience they have grown to like. Therefore, your favorite attitude may not be the same as the one that resonates with your role, but if it's not, what resonates with your role probably comes in second for you.

Some overleaves are not done frequently because they're difficult, although they can have great value for the soul in small doses. Cynic and skeptic are the rarest attitudes, although some souls choose them more often than others do. Every soul will choose each of the overleaves in at least one lifetime.

All the overleaves are chosen after the soul has clarified what it wants the lifetime to be about. Often, the starting point to planning a lifetime is whatever is at the top of your to-do list. Frequently, that is outstanding karma. Planning a lifetime in which you handle some old karma not only relieves you of the burden of that debt, but can also help you grow in ways that might prevent you from making the same mistakes again. Karma is a big driver of growth. It is not the only way a soul can grow on the physical plane, but it is fairly foolproof, because eventually, if you experience the results of your actions often and directly enough, you get it. So karma is not a "bad thing," although it is what we refer to as "growing through pain" rather than "growing through joy."

In any case, before you incarnate, you probably have some reason you want to incarnate. It may be to repay a karmic debt, or it may be some issues you wish to explore, or it could just be a delight in having new experiences on the physical plane. A good analogy is being in college and choosing your courses for the next semester. You may take required courses to get them out of the way, which is like repaying karma, or you may take a lot of miscellaneous courses just for fun, or it could be a combination.

Once you know what you want to accomplish, you gravitate toward certain overleaves that will help you gain those experiences. Planning your upcoming lifetime implies selecting overleaves. When you, as a soul, are between lifetimes and are planning your next one, it is not that you sit down with a list of the seven attitudes and decide, on a conscious level, "I think I'll be an idealist in the next lifetime." You probably don't have that way of framing it. However, these energies are inherent in personality. Now that we've pointed them out to you, you can probably see them manifesting in others. When a soul is creating a new personality, these are the paints on the palette; they are unavoidable. It is like a novelist writing characters: every character has one of these seven attitudes. The novelist may not have chosen from a list of the seven, but a well-realized character in a novel will demonstrate on e of these seven attitudes.

You can slide, or temporarily move, between overleaves, to either the opposite, or from the neutral overleaf--in this case, pragmatist--to any of the others. People who often slide are harder to spot because there is more than one attitude manifesting. Sliding is a way to get yourself out of the negative pole of your native overleaf. Those on a path of self-awareness may have already figured that out intuitively.

Most people do a little bit of sliding. Since skeptic and cynic can be particularly problematic, those with these attitudes may want to deliberately slide occasionally to idealist and realist, respectively, to avoid becoming overly negative. Realists also slide to cynic once in a while for a reality check. Idealists slide to skeptic sometimes in order to refine their ideas. And so forth.

Let's discuss the positive and negative poles of the attitudes, starting with stoic.

The stoic attitude is great for people who are in difficult, perhaps service-oriented positions where it is hard to please people. Let's say you have the thankless task of waiting on people at the DMV. Your ability to weather their discontent for having to wait so long and still be courteous is an asset in that work. Stoics cultivate serenity by not being so concerned about the outer world. There is a buffer around them. The positive pole is "tranquility"; the negative pole is "resignation."

In the negative pole, stoics don't speak up about something that they do care about. Instead of being truly serene, they are disturbed but then deny it; they sigh and says, "Oh well, what can you do?" when perhaps there is something they could do. Even though they may want to live, say, seventy-five percent of their life unconcerned about the outer world, being human, there is always going to be some concern about the outer world. You cannot be one hundred percent buffered. Therefore, when they actually do care, let's say about a choice being made, it behooves them to speak up, preferably in a way that maintains their serenity but also makes their voice heard. Part of this is not saying yes when they are feeling no.

The attitude opposite stoic is spiritualist; spiritualists are visionary. So stoics who are resigned might look at the outer world in a visionary way, and say, "What would I like to see here? What would be possible?" It might be something as mundane as, "We could go to a different restaurant."

The positive pole of spiritualist, "verification," means verifying that that possibility could work, such as that their restaurant idea could work for everyone. Since this is the inspiration axis, there is a concern about the well-being of all. Therefore, both stoics and spiritualists want others to feel good about what is done. This correlates with the roles of server and priest, who tend to take care of others.

Spiritualist is well-suited for those who have careers in the religious and spiritual worlds, including healers. It is also found among writers who envision new worlds in science fiction, for example. The spirituality of the spiritualist is not just the stereotypical kind, but the whole realm of potential.

Spiritualist has a negative pole of "faith," as in blind faith. In the negative pole, the spiritualist is oblivious to reality, carried away with inspiration, not verifying what would work. You might see this in a person who lives in a fairytale vision of himself becoming a movie star or a billionaire, theoretically possible but maybe, in a particular situation, not likely. It is fine to strive for your dreams, but it's useful to verify that, first of all, that's what you really want--that it is your true spiritual path--and then to develop a plan for how you're going to get there. You might break it down into some attainable short-term goals, such as taking an acting or business class, thereby learning more about whether you have the talent for it and if it's what you truly want.

If you are stuck in blind faith, you might slide to stoic. In this example, you might find tranquility about your situation in life and realize that if you don't become a movie star or billionaire, it will be all right; you can still be happy.

Scientists and journalists often have the skeptic attitude, and it is ideal for them. Skeptic has a positive pole of "investigation." It is a good idea not to assume that what is presented is what it clams to be; often, it is not. Therefore, having skeptic as your basic framework for seeing the world is not at all a bad thing. In the positive pole, skeptics fact-check. If they have a good intellect and a well-developed ability to reason and discern fact from falsehood, a lot of understanding can come from the process. The negative pole is "suspicion." In suspicion, the skeptic never completes the process of fact checking, but stays stuck in unending doubt; he is not willing to accept the facts as they are because other facts or seeming facts are preferred.

There are those who promote themselves as being professional skeptics, but usually they are not open-mindedly investigating; they have their minds made up in advance in a rather conservative if not reactionary way, and seek to impose their decisions about what facts are on whatever they come across. This is not the same thing as the skeptic attitude, but it can illustrate the negative pole. Closed-mindedness is a negative pole experience, in general, and open-mindedness is a positive pole attribute--it allows more of essence in, because essence (the soul) is generally open-minded. The soul seeks new experiences, and does not want its path to be shut down or pushed to the side into a narrow corridor.

Idealist has a positive pole of "coalescence" and a negative pole of "abstraction." Like spiritualists, idealists are visionaries; idealists see the world in terms of what it "should" be, whereas spiritualists see the world in terms of what it "could" be. The spiritualist attitude is more open-ended about how things will all wind up looking, but simply wants to move forward feeling that anything is possible. With the idealist, it's not so much anything, but a specific thing or set of things. The idealist easily sees new ways of doing things.

Many people are allergic to the word "should," associating it with control freaks who are telling them what to do. In this context, however, seeing the world as it "should" be is not necessarily an imposition of limitation; in its positive side, it provides an insightful alternative.

Let's say you run for political office. If you are a spiritualist and you inspire people with just the idea that anything is possible, that's great, but eventually, people are going to want to know what you have in mind. The expression axis is more about the mind (intellect), so the idealist puts forth an idea: "We could do this, and look how much better things would be if we did." Idealists see how the world could be made better, and therefore, idealists change the world.

Both spiritualists and idealists, in their positive poles, have a warm cheeriness about them; you can see the correlation between them and the roles that share a position on the same axis. Spiritualist attitude is like the priest role applied to attitude, warm and inspirational. Idealists are cheerful and optimistic, full of ideas, like the role of sage. The classic idealist in literature is Don Quixote. He was considered to be a madman, but he kept following his ideals, and maybe they weren't so crazy after all; they just weren't what people were accustomed to. No matter how often he was knocked down, he got back up because his ideal gave him optimism.

"Abstraction," the negative pole of idealist, is impractical, pie in the sky, a little like the faith of the spiritualist. The idealist in abstraction has an abstract concept of how things could be changed, but is not enough in touch with the real world to know what would actually happen. In the positive pole, "coalescence," the idealist pulls everything together; things coalesce around this new idea and change actually occurs.

Idealists are often at the forefront of new thought movements. In the positive pole, idealists may propose something that looks impractical but, in fact, is actually doable; it's just that others have not had the vision to step out of the box and see it. Idealists may aim too high, but still manage to incite some progress because of their insistence that things could change. There was a movement in the nineteenth century and also in the 1960s toward utopian communities; these were often spearheaded by idealists who didn't see any reason why society couldn't be ordered in a better way. On the ground, they often did not work as planned, yet many of the people who participated in the experiments advanced as a result. Society was changed, at least incrementally, if not radically. Sometimes you have to actually build the thing and try it out before you move from abstraction to coalescence, and see what people will ac tually do. However, if you don't try at all, you never move forward. The willingness to experiment and take chances is the hallmark of the positive-pole idealist.

In order to put their ideas into action, is an action-axis trait required in the idealist?

It is required on the part of someone involved, but not necessarily the person who is the visionary. You often find idealists paired up with someone who likes the ideal but who also has a strength in practical matters.

Idealists are often attracted in relationships to realists or pragmatists, because they complement. Let's say an idealist is married to a realist; the idealist says, "This is what we should do," and the realist reminds him of what the real facts are, what they're actually dealing with, perhaps helping the idealist forge a vision that is more workable. Or, married to a pragmatist, the idealist might be the one who pushes them forward, and the pragmatist might be the one who makes it work, solving problems. Idealist and skeptic can also be a good pairing if the skeptic is not overly closed-minded. Since the idealist probably sometimes slides to skeptic and vice versa, there can be sympathy toward one another. They are both intellectual, and the idealist can appreciate the concerns of the skeptic, using them to make the ideal more workable.

Any combination of attitudes works fine when people are mostly in their positive poles. In the negative poles, there can be particular friction in certain combinations, such as spiritualist and cynic. We mentioned the quarrelsome nature of skeptics and cynics, but they generally do pretty well with those who share their axis--for example, cynic and realist is a good combination (cynic and pragmatist is also fine). However a skeptic who is heavily in of suspicion or a cynic strongly in denigration can be hard for just about anyone to deal with.

Cynic is the warrior attitude. The positive pole is "contradiction." Some might find it hard to conceptualize contradiction ever being positive, but in the positive pole of cynic, it isn't arbitrary. By contradiction, we don't mean that the cynic says that the sky isn't blue or that two plus two do not make four; that would be unreasonable and, therefore, the negative pole. Positive poles are based on love and are constructive.

Contradiction tests the soundness of things; it pushes against, kicks the tires. The cynic tends to assume something is a bad idea until he has a chance to work it over. The cynic tends to say no first. You may think of that as negative, but it isn't necessarily, because once something has passed the test, it's fine; it's "in." In the negative pole, "denigration," nothing ever passes the test. The negative pole of cynic is probably the harshest of all the overleaves, although some cynics do their negative pole with relative subtlety. How any overleaf manifests depends, in part, on everything else on the chart. Although cynic is itself harsh, it could be paired with a soft goal, such as acceptance or flow, and that would look different from a cynic with, say, a goal of discrimination.

A warrior cynic is a cynic to the extreme, because these two traits reinforce each other. Warriors have a strong instinctive drive and are very focused. If that focus is brought to the art of contradiction, this will generally come on very strongly.

It is hard for someone with a cynic attitude to think positively. However, this does not bother cynics as much as it would bother others. The negative pole can be quite bleak, but cynics are built to understand the world as a difficult place. They don't expect much, and therefore are not easily disappointed, whereas idealists and spiritualists, because they shoot so high, can be disappointed frequently. They may try not to look at it, but things don't often turn out as well as they hope. Cynics may see the world going to hell in a handbasket, but, in the positive pole, they can still have a good time along the way.

Cynic is not an easy attitude for either the person holding it or the people around her, but it may not be as bad as it looks for the person. The world is framed differently, and so there's a different "normal." Idealists probably won't be very happy until they have created some of their ideals in their life; cynics do not have this kind of requirement. So here we see different ways of framing life that can each be valid.

In the positive pole of cynic, cynics see the negativity in the world but don't judge it; they simply wants to label it accurately. In the negative pole, everything looks lousy, even when it is not, and this is the single biggest curse of this attitude--the inability to see and appreciate what is positive.

Being on the action axis, the cynic and realist are both about what is and what isn't, black and white. The cynic emphasizes what isn't--black--and the realist emphasizes what is--white. They both tend to be more black and white in their perceptions than the other attitudes. The action axis, in general, values simplicity and can be cut-and-dried.

Realists see facts perceptively in the positive pole, "perception." The negative pole is "supposition"; they see what they suppose to be the facts but which are not.

In the negative poles of the three cardinal attitudes--spiritualist, idealist and realist--there is fantasy. Realists always think that what they're seeing is realistic, but it only is in the positive pole. In the negative, they suppose things because of unrecognized biases, or jump to conclusions based on some of the facts; they haven't completed the process of surveying enough of them to get a clear picture. It is very easy to jump to conclusions based on insufficient facts. It is useful for everyone, but particularly realists, to recognize when they do not yet have enough facts to draw a conclusion. If there is supposition, they might wish to slide to cynic's positive pole of contradiction and test what they are seeing for soundness.

If cynics are denigrating, being negative about everything, they can take a page from realists and survey the whole picture, take in all the facts in fair proportion to one another, and come back to having a clearer picture of what is and what isn't.

There are many people who possess the overleaf of cynic who do it with grace, and you would not think of them as being cynical people. You might think of the cynic attitude as an acid that cuts through tarnish and rust; you want to use it sparingly. Let's say you are restoring an old car: you want to take off the tarnish without destroying the metal itself, so you would be careful not to overuse it. Again, it's a challenging overleaf, but one every soul will undertake in at least one lifetime.

The assimilation-axis attitude, pragmatist, has a positive pole of "practicality" and a negative pole of "dogmatism." Pragmatist is an overleaf that shows up pretty readily even though it is neutral. It is no-nonsense, like realist and cynic. Pragmatists feel unconcerned; they're not trying to live to a higher ideal; they're not trying to be visionary; they're not even concerned about what is and what isn't--they have a utilitarian feel about them. If you know a couple people who have been validated as being pragmatists, you can probably spot that quality.

Having this attitude does not mean that they are well organized or always spends money wisely; in other words, they are not necessarily practical in the way that you might define practical. It is simply that their way of framing things is not to frame them but just to try things and find what works.

In the negative pole, pragmatists find a few things that work and then stick with them ad nauseum; they don't try new things that might also work. They make rules about it: "This is practical; this is the way we have always done it, and this is the way we shall always do it, because it works." It might take an idealist to shake things up, introducing something that would work better.

Basically, pragmatists don't care. In the positive pole, they fluidly change gears, being open to what fits the situation; they are without bias. In the negative pole, they are stuck. This is the neutrality of the assimilation axis. Like the other neutral traits, pragmatists tend to get along with the other attitudes.

Pragmatists can slide to any of the other attitudes, and you often see them shapeshifting a bit. Let's say a pragmatist is in a relationship with a skeptic. He may slide to idealist to balance out the skeptic in some situations, maybe not often but once in a while, unless he is in the negative pole of dogmatism, which can look like the chief obstacle of stubbornness ("I'm not going to change!"), in which case he locks horns with the skeptic.

MEDITATION:

If you know your attitude, ask to feel its most positive manifestation. Observe when it has felt the best to you. Now ask to feel the most negative manifestation of it that you have known. Alert your consciousness to be aware of how your attitude is manifesting in your life, positively, negatively, or in between. See if you can steer away from the negative and more toward the positive. You may wish to slide to the opposite attitude to facilitate that.

***

SOUL AGE

Michael on the Overleaves, Part Five

Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin
September 12, 2010, BlogTalkRadio chat
Transcribed by Elisa Brock and Maggie Heinze

Soul age, in the Michael teachings, pinpoints the lessons a soul is focusing on in its developmental process throughout its lifetimes. It is similar and parallel to physical age during an individual lifetime, or you could compare it to one's "grade" in physical plane "school." Analogies are imperfect, but there are orderly, predictable stages: infant (newborns in day care), baby (toddlers in pre-school), young (youngsters in elementary school), mature (teens in high school), and old (young adults in college).

Soul age is an essence trait that functions as an overleaf (personality trait) on the physical plane. Like the other overleaves, it can change from lifetime to lifetime, although unlike them, it progresses in a linear fashion. It is the point of evolution of the outer layer of essence (one's eternal nature) as it currently interfaces with the physical plane.

All overleaves highlight one aspect or interest of essence, and mostly filter out the others. Soul age focuses the personality on the latest level of soul development, just as, for example, a goal of growth focuses the personality on seeking new experiences as opposed to, say, practicing leadership, although both are ultimately of interest to essence.

Between lifetimes, the energy of older souls may appear more refined to other nonphysical souls, but functionally, it is not a very significant issue in their interactions, and age is only one factor in a soul's energy. What manifests as soul age on the physical plane is evident on the astral, but more abstractly, with less specific ramifications than in physical plane interactions. It is like the difference between interacting with schoolmates in the classroom versus in extracurricular activities, where age differences are less significant. Another analogy is the way that adults of various ages socialize together; age per se doesn't necessarily draw them together unless they are seeking a mate.

Soul age is not the same as spiritual advancement, although the two may go hand in hand. Of course, it depends on how you think of spiritual advancement. Probably a good way to define it is the ability one has to stay consciously connected to the whole while dealing with the transience of the physical plane, especially when negative things happen. The more you are able to allow love, truth, and beauty to continue to flow through you when that is not easy to do, the more spiritually advanced you might be said to be.

Everyone is a mixed bag in this regard. Probably no person is able to stay completely centered in every circumstance, and what pulls you off course may be different from what pulls someone else off course. However, the more practice one has in staying centered, the easier it is. Some souls have practiced this diligently over many lifetimes. Others have not paid that much attention to what might be called spiritual practice even if they are older souls. The main correlation between soul age and spiritual advancement is that over time, souls tend to get better at staying centered under increasingly adverse circumstances *if* they have chosen to practice that.

Spiritual practice, as it is normally understood, is not a requirement in the curriculum of being human, although many are drawn to it at some point, because spiritual skills can make your path easier.

Spiritual advancement suggests the development of traits such as kindness, generosity, thoughtfulness, insight, integrity, and the desire to do the just and fair thing, even when it is personally "inconvenient." These are all potentially part of what we have called "true personality," qualities that allow essence to shine through personality. False personality consists of traits that block the manifestation of essence; they include egotism, selfishness, judgmentalness, and greed. True personality can manifest in the youngest soul, and there is no guarantee that it will manifest in the oldest, because people are always making choices.

Movement through the ages adds layers of sophistication to the soul, but it does not necessarily increase kindness, for example. If the soul has been practicing kindness, it will be better at continuing to be kind under adverse circumstances as an older soul. Having more experience, older souls are less likely to be surprised; there are fewer entirely new situations than for younger souls, who are thrown off balance and revert to automatic behaviors more easily because they are less experienced. However, there are radiant, kind, warm-hearted infant souls, and vindictive, hateful old souls (and, of course, vice versa).

To some degree, the same things are true of individuals as they age through one lifetime, no matter what soul age they are. Even a seventh-level old soul during its last lifetime must still manifest first-level infant at birth, because that personality has just been born and the body is helpless. It typically takes twenty-five to thirty-five years to have enough experience and for the body to mature enough to accommodate the old soul's potential sophistication, and it may never happen.

There is a range of behavior among infants--they are not the same--but commonalities predominate. Infants are exquisitely beautiful; when they smile, it is pure joy. However, the moment that a need is not met, they are likely to wail. Some infants have a sunnier temperament, overall, than others, but they're not able to make sophisticated choices about how they present themselves, and their ability to communicate is limited.

Through true personality, love is unimpeded. However, it is not fair to say that it is false personality when an infant is unhappy, because personality is not even formed enough to make that distinction. An infant's ability to love is great when his situation is comfortable; it is just not yet mastered, so a dirty diaper is enough to start him screaming. That, of course, is completely appropriate at this stage.

However, some adults are not much past that, either. The smallest thing can cause them to lose their inner peace. Since, in adults, personality has developed, there can be distortions in its expression. We have described some of these as the negative poles of each of the overleaves, and the chief obstacles (or chief features):

http://www.michaelteachings.com/michael-on-chief-obstacles.html.

False personality can be present even with the oldest souls, and younger souls may deliberately choose to stay in their positive poles and out of their chief obstacle. However, if you compare older souls in their positive poles with younger souls in their positive poles, there is more complexity in the older souls. That is neither good nor bad; again, they have simply had more experience, as with older people, whether or not they are currently taking advantage of it. Another way of saying this is that they have had more opportunities to make mistakes and have made a broader range of them, and have learned from at least some of those.

It is more common for older souls to seek spiritually, especially outside the mainstream of their culture. However, anyone may choose to seek, whether within their culture's accepted religion or outside it. Some may find it convenient to stick with, say, Christianity, if they are in a Christian culture, but may explore its more esoteric traditions.

Young souls have a lot of energy for exploring the outer world, just as young people may get antsy to leave their small town and see the big city. Therefore, many young souls are busy, but certainly some do choose to invest in their spiritual path. It becomes more common once the soul is firmly enmeshed in the mature cycle, usually around third-level.

There is a natural motivation to seek at this point because one is beginning to plumb the depths of self and confront knotty issues that spiritual insights can help one understand and deal with. The focus of the mature cycle is on other individuals and their connection to self: "How can I be myself and still honor you?" Having completed that, old souls are not so much concerned with one-on-one relationships, but with the self's relationship to the whole, three-dimensionally. At that point, the spiritual path becomes even more useful.

However, the majority of souls never become spiritual seekers the way most people think of it--for example, going to India or on a pilgrimage, chanting, meditating, and so forth. Most of these practices are part of somebody else's religion. We might define a spiritual path as a conscious exploration of the transcendent, eternal aspects of self. A religious path, if sincerely undertaken, may overlap with a spiritual path, but it is generally more concerned with dogma and ritual. What may make a person's path spiritual as opposed to merely religious is that she deliberately chooses it as an adult in order to further her conscious spiritual awareness. Whether or not she was born into it, she is not staying with it just for that reason. Some people leave the religion of their childhood but return to it, and it becomes their spiritual path because they have gained enough distance from it to approach it with fresh eyes, and they are now choosing it for spiritual reasons.

Religions are much more than just potential spiritual paths; they are human institutions, especially social institutions. They may be used as a spiritual path, but not necessarily. The vast majority find comfort in their religion because of the sense of community that it provides, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, it is not a spiritual path unless it supports the emergence of essence (the true self) in one's life. This is accompanied by willingness to confront and cast off false personality, and a desire for tools to stay centered in love, truth, and beauty no matter what.

Many seekers do that in a more freelance manner, outside mainstream religion, either in smaller organizations or by integrating a number of different paths; that is often the most useful approach, so that one does not become overly attached to limiting dogma. One benefits from comparing and contrasting.

Someone who is manifesting true personality radiates, to whatever degree possible, love, truth, and beauty. Another way of saying that is that in true personality, one steps outside time and space and reveals one's infinite nature, even if only for a moment. This is possible at any soul age. It is easier to become distracted by the outer world when one is a younger soul, but it is not a given that that will happen.

Everyone has had the experience of feeling disconnected from oneself during a busy, distracting day. It is especially common for young souls to exert a lot of effort to make it in the world, which can lead to forgetting the eternal. However, many young souls do not forget, or at least not to the degree you might think. Some reconnect with the eternal through religion, nature, or hobbies. The stereotype of the young soul is a driven materialist, but many young souls don't fit it. They may feel motivated to invest a relatively large portion of their time and energy into external achievement, but that doesn't mean that spiritual factors are unimportant to them.

At the height of the young cycle, souls are at their most individuated. The most negative manifestation of that is extreme isolation. However, a negative expression of any trait feels negative, so if someone doesn't feel good, she may take that as a signal to do something about it. Therefore, even the most success-oriented, busy young soul may pay attention to the sense that she is not living in balance, and try to spend some time doing things that will make her feel better. It is only those who ignore the signs, the feedback of their feelings, who become extremely out of balance.

We encourage those who study the Michael teachings to think about soul age flexibly rather than in stereotypes. All the ages are beautiful in their own way. Those who misunderstand soul age always want to be old, because it sounds better, whereas relative to physical age, most people want to be young. Enjoying and making the most of "what is" is a more sensible approach. Just as there are good things to be said for both being young and middle-aged, for example, there are different sets of pluses and minuses as you move through the cycles.

Life for infant and baby souls is usually pretty exciting: everything is new, just as it is for a child.

The early stages of the infant cycle are like the Garden of Eden. Generally, there is no karma yet. It's like a newborn infant with loving parents who doesn't have much to do except enjoy being cared for. In a typical earlier infant-soul village, there is no shame about bodily functions; there may be hardship, but life is not yet complicated.

The Garden of Eden story is an allegory about what happens in the middle of the infant cycle. As infants mature, they become more mobile and they start to get into trouble; they want to have experiences. They cannot stay in that blissful-but-uneventful state. They start to get to work learning the lessons of the physical plane, and, not knowing much, and also not being that particular about what the experiences are, they start to create karma. Often, this is instigated by older souls, just as older children can be possessive, grabbing things: "This is mine!" making infants cry. Thus, drama begins.

Later in the infant cycle, communities become more organized. There is a desire to form karma, but not so much locally. There is an attempt to keep the immediate world safe by regulating behavior, ensuring that karmic bonds are formed only outside the local area. A middle-infant village (parallel to the crawling stage) would not be organized enough to go into battle with another village, but a late-infant (walking stage) village might be, and society become still more organized as the baby cycle begins, which is comparable to when little ones go to pre-school, where they learn social skills and play games. The simple structure of a hunter-gatherer society in the infant cycle gives way to a more settled, complex agricultural society, but it is still on a small scale.

Mid-level baby communities can be quite successful socially in the sense of putting everybody to work and taking care of everyone. As they move toward late baby, some of it starts to fall apart, moving toward the instability of the young cycle, which is more "every man for himself." Late baby souls may strike out on their own, forming new communities; some seek power for themselves. This can be a time of building cities where there can be more achievement. Today, there are many places in China and India, for example, moving full steam ahead into young-soul success orientation.

Mid-level young is when communities can be least stable, because people are interested in discovering new ways of doing things; it can be experimental. It can also be a time of conquering new lands and uniting them under a larger banner, forcing on them the innovations of that period, which gives the conquered younger souls a taste of new things, stimulating their own growth.

The United States is a good example of late (sixth-level) young, where, in an outer sense, its glory days are behind it; there is more reaping than sowing. However, there is an opportunity to gather the lessons of the whole young cycle, learn from the excesses, and pull it all together in a more harmonious way. (The sixth level correlates with the role of priest; six has a positive pole of "harmony." Sixth levels often involve karmic repayment.)

As societies move into the mature cycle, there is a tendency to coast for a while on the work that was done earlier in terms of the outer forms of the society. There can be outward stagnation, while, on an inner level, people take stock. There is a desire to have more meaning. At the height of the young cycle, their accomplishment felt meaningful and worthwhile at the time. However, the pleasure of that, by early mature, has worn off, and they are seeking a new kind of satisfaction. There is a desire to feel more connected to others and, by extension, to the whole, which may slow down external motivation. However, that can bring a different kind of innovation in terms of how people order society and get along with each other; there is decreasing tolerance for one society marching in and vanquishing another. Mature souls seek to remedy young-soul isolation through intense, one-on-one relationships. They build community, which, for them, is a series of individual relationships of different kinds.

At early mature, there is not yet much sense of everyone being in it together, but there are inklings that others need to be taken into account more. By mid-mature, some outer innovation may return, but it is usually not the bright ideas that the few impose on many, but developed more through consensus. There is a respect for good ideas whose time has come, and a greater appreciation for everything that can bring more inner satisfaction, such as the arts.

Late-mature societies and individuals become quite focused on quality of life. It is felt that this is a chance to do things right. What has not been addressed in the past--for example, oppressed minorities--comes up as needing to be addressed, and long-standing feuds may be finally resolved.

Old souls are less concerned with building a specific community of one-on-one connections, and more with feeling generally connected to everyone and everything. There is a finer web of interactions, both physical and nonphysical, which can be seen in their auras.

Early-old societies may, like early-mature societies, stagnate for a while, resting after the tumult of late mature, integrating the changes. There is typically a greater philosophy formed, with an ability to be less attached to one's own culture and be more multicultural. Mid-old cultures become more fluid still. At late old, they become almost dissolved back to the simplicity of the infant age but with much more interconnectedness. Late-old relationships tend to be more plentiful but less formalized and defined. They may seem casual, but are important to them and are often remembered.

We have given a simplified outline here, because, in the real world, there are many pockets of soul ages coexisting.

What is the difference between manifested and true soul age?

Your true soul age is the highest age you have experienced in any lifetime and therefore, your potential now. It probably will not change during your lifetime. If it does, it would probably only change by one level. (Each soul age has seven levels.)

Manifested soul age is what your outer life is concerned with at the moment. As we mentioned, when you were born, you could do nothing but manifest at first-level infant. Then, you retrace the steps back up to your true soul age, if you choose to. Your current step is your manifested age. An analogy is that many people do not manifest the full maturity available to them by reason of their physical age, but that is their potential.

At any given time, about two-thirds of people are not fully manifesting their true soul age. They may manifest it in some aspects of life but not as a whole. There is nothing wrong with that, because there's nothing wrong with any soul age. However, you may feel more integrated if you manifest your true soul age, especially if you are ready to move up a level.

How does soul age rank in importance compared to the rest of the Michael teachings?

It is of equal importance to the other overleaves, and of less importance than role, essence twin, and primary and secondary casting.

All the categories in the teachings are useful, because they provide ways to understand the forces at work in human lives. The concept of soul age is certainly useful for students if one does not create a hierarchy of lesser and greater. With its vocabulary, you can more easily accept the differences among people rather than judging them. For example, a young soul may manifest more outward vitality and derive more pleasure from accomplishing things that are of less interest to you if you are mature or old. However, if you use the vocabulary to be dismissive, as if being young was, itself, a negative thing, then you are misusing the information.

Enlightenment, however you define it, does not necessarily accompany an increase in soul age. It springs from a desire in anyone to embody more light, to vanquish ignorance. An old-soul culture may not necessarily be more pleasant to live in than a young-soul culture. It all depends on the choices made by those who make up the culture.

Is there any noticeable difference between seventh-level young and first-level mature?

We would notice it, but you probably wouldn't very much. It's like the difference between a thirteen-year-old girl and one who is thirteen and a half. At first-level mature, there is more interest in orienting life around relationships. Of course, everyone has relationships. Young souls have relationships and can be very devoted partners. However, in the young cycle, life tends to focus more on the lessons of the outer world. At first mature, echoes of that continue, but one transitions to the possibility of life being more internally oriented.

How does art differ between older and younger souls?

Old souls tend to make very good artists, even the roles not associated as much with artistic expression. For example, old king and warriors who have accomplished a lot in more typical king and warrior realms may now turn to one of the arts as a new challenge, and can bring a powerful sensibility to it.

The nature of art is not truly different from one soul age to another. The older ages might add layers of subtlety or complexity, but not necessarily, although the whole perception of what art is becomes expanded for old souls, since everything is seen as being interrelated.

Usually, the biggest issue for old-soul artists is simply whether they finish their art. Certainly, they often do, but old souls may not feel so invested in the outcome, and may just enjoy the process, so finishing, although that may be quite fulfilling, may seem less pressing. Therefore, there tends to be less finished work in the old cycle.

The journey through the physical plane starts without structure. One is gradually built and comes to its height in the young cycle. Then, it gradually dissolves and the journey returns to the place it began, enriched. It is like the ocean starting placid in the infant cycle, forming a wave that crests in the young cycle, and then dissolves again at the shore in the old cycle.

Humanity as a whole has been in the young cycle for quite some time. It is gradually approaching mature-soul consciousness. However, for the foreseeable future, the focus of the world will be continue to be more on the late-young desire to get it right in outer form. Certainly, there is a growing sensitivity to those who are different, who are not part of the clan, and that is helped by the increasing number of mature souls. Still, the overall focus is late young, which might be stated as "We've accomplished a lot, but now we have to figure out how not to destroy everything." That should keep everyone busy for a while!

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CHIEF OBSTACLES

Michael on the Overleaves, Part Four

Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin
July 7, 2010, BlogTalkRadio chat
Transcribed by Ashvin Sawhney


INTRODUCTION

When you think about it, this is a remarkable time to be incarnate as a human. Just the fact that we can be channeled by one person and heard by all of you is remarkable. We are grateful for being able to join together with you.

We have been focusing on one of the overleaves during each of these sessions, not going in any particular order, but choosing one that seems to fit best what our listeners are working on at the moment.

Tonight we would like to explore the chief obstacles, also known as chief features. For those of you who are new to the Michael teachings, we will give a brief introduction:

"Michael" is an arbitrary name for an entity of souls, a group consciousness, that consists of many individuals who each had a series of lifetimes as humans on earth, completed them, and now teach as a team or unit, you might say. We continue our evolution by playing the role of teacher. We are a little further along in our process, but we teach not so much because of that per se, but because we are at a vantage point that allows us to see the whole more clearly. You might imagine all us as groups who are climbing a mountain. We are like those who are a thousand feet higher calling back to those who are going to be using the same trail to let them know some of what they may encounter. Obviously, this is not a substitute for actually hiking the trail, but it could make their way a little easier. We teach about how souls set up their educational experiences on the physical plane.

Before incarnating, souls have the opportunity to plan their upcoming lives. Some do it in more detail than others. Once the soul decides, perhaps with the help of other souls, what the life is to be about, various personality traits are selected that give the soul a set of tools. To make an analogy, when an artist decides what she wants to paint, she selects a palette of colors. Some paintings have a broad range of colors, while others use a narrower set. These personality traits are called overleaves because they overlay the soul. The soul (essence) has access to all colors. The overleaves give a human personality in a particular lifetime a subset to work with. As a rule, this is not a limitation--it is simply a focus. One can, if one wishes, be more of a generalist, doing a little of this and a little of that, but it is simply not possible to do everything in one lifetime. It is possible to do just about everything you, as a soul, want to do on the planet across the span of many lifetimes, and one of the ways you do that is to change your overleaves.

We have already discussed centers, modes, and attitudes. Modes and attitudes are set by the soul before birth. Centers are tentatively set then, too, but they are not solidified in the personality until about the age of two. If experience reveals that the tentative choice is not going to be appropriate for that person, essence can change it; that does not happen very often. About ninety percent of the time, the center proceeds as planned. When it is changed, it is often because of some damage to the body. Let's say the soul was planning to be moving centered, but it turns out that movement is going to be difficult for this body, perhaps due to an unforeseen injury; then, there might be a change to the emotional center. If the brain is not working as expected, maybe intellectual centering will be changed to moving centering.

The solidifying of the center happens at what we call the "second internal monad." The first internal monad is birth, and the second is the beginning of mobility and the establishment in the personality of being separate from the mother, the so-called "terrible twos."

CHIEF OBSTACLES

The chief obstacle is set at the time of the third internal monad, which is when a young person separates from family to some degree, often by leaving home, such as going to college. It can happen earlier than that if the personality is already experiencing the feeling of being independent from the family.

In about eighty percent of cases, people end up with the chief obstacle that they anticipated, on a soul level, before birth. However, those first sixteen to eighteen years or so of life can bring in new factors that cause them to settle on something different. Often, however, the likely chief obstacle is evident in childhood.

Your chief obstacle is the primary stumbling block you are overcoming, the focus of your fears and illusions. Being human involves confronting all sorts of fears. Some relate to your immediate physical survival, but most are predominantly psychological, and dealing with them constructively can bring much growth. The seven obstacles are seven general categories into which most personality-level fears could be included. To be human is to have, at one time or another, all these fears in some form. If something sets you off emotionally, there's probably activity in one of the obstacles. At the time the personality ventures into adulthood, the soul decides to tackle one category more directly, which is why it is called "chief"--it is the one that starts to come up most frequently. Other fears may be operating, but usually at a more unconscious level. The soul cannot work on everything at once; it cannot have every experience at the same time. The physical plane is a convenience that strings things out in a linear fashion so that souls can focus on particular types of experiences in bite-size pieces.

As one gets older, especially if there is some progress made on overcoming the chief obstacle, the personality may become more conscious of some of the others. If a person is consciously working on two of the seven with a lot of attention, the second might be referred to as the "secondary obstacle." One could validly rank them all in priority order from one to seven, although that could change over time for a person. However, in practical application, the one that is first is by far the most relevant, because again, on the physical plane, you need to focus. For that reason, through this channel we don't usually dictate the secondary obstacle unless it is playing a significant role in the person's life at that time.

We have spoken of a mechanism called "sliding," in which a person can easily move to the opposite overleaf when they share the same axis, or if your overleaf is on the assimilation axis, you can move to any of the others (although you will typically have favorites, depending on what you are trying to achieve in that lifetime). With chief obstacles, some people slide a great deal, and some do a form of sliding in which they combine both energies at the same time, which can be particularly challenging. So there are people, for example, with a chief obstacle of arrogance who, particularly if it goes too far, will then do the opposite, self-deprecation. There are others who combine arrogance and self-deprecation at the same time, which can be confusing to the personality.

It is not possible for a sentient soul (a soul who is incarnate in any kind of physical body) to be utterly without fear, because physical plane incarnation is, to some extent, a learning exercise based on the contrast of eternal qualities with the illusion of their absence. This is a way to learn consciously more about these eternal qualities: love, truth, and beauty. For physical organisms, these eternal qualities are sometimes partially removed from experience, so there is hate instead of love, lies instead of truth, and ugliness instead of beauty. The incarnate soul then navigates this terrain to find its way back to the eternal qualities, now knowing them more consciously. In the meantime, upon confronting the apparent loss of these qualities, there is fear.

Also, even though your true nature is eternal, when you are in a body that will die and are confronted with the possibility of losing life in that body, there must be some fear. If there was not, what would be the incentive to play the game and learn?

What you do with the fear depends on your experience and understanding. More advanced souls may stay more in control, although they don't always. Those with fewer resources are likely to snap. There is nothing inherently wrong with the fact that fear exists, and you will not likely achieve a state of total fearlessness. You can, however, develop a greater awareness of the eternal while in the body, and therefore, greater inner peace, so that when fears arise, they do not cause you to snap.

There are some human beings who do not have a chief obstacle, but it is not because all fear has left them; it is because they are not choosing to put one area of fear front and center to be confronted continually. This is usually because they worked hard on the previously chosen chief obstacle, erased it, and are now working on other things. There may not be much utility for them in taking on another one, so while there are still fears, they are more evenly distributed, and not intensely predominant in day-to-day life.

There are two reasons fears may arise. One is situational. That means that you may have the potential for a particular fear, but your life situations don't tend to provoke it. For example, if you generally have not had to worry too much about having enough food, the fear of the lack of food may not be on your radar, but if suddenly that became your situation, you may have some new fears arising for you. How skillfully you deal with that depends on your experience in past lives, and how well your current life has prepared you to deal with new problems arising.

The other reason is your basic nature, what your issues already are, where you have strengths and weaknesses. The areas you have done much work on in past lives, that feel like you have them solidly under your belt, will not tend to ignite as much obstacle activity. However, it is a matter of degree. As a human being, it is possible for any obstacle to be triggered, but if it comes up on your Michael chart as your chief obstacle, it is not because it comes up occasionally but because it is a big deal for you.

Once the chief obstacle has been mastered for that individual life, is it done and no longer an issue?

Yes, in the rare instance that a person has erased that chief obstacle, it is done, for the most part. Typically, the soul then decides to elevate another obstacle that had been under the surface to the position of the chief obstacle, usually (but not always) the one that had been the secondary obstacle. However, as mentioned, some may decide to conduct their growth in areas not directly related to a chief obstacle.

Incidentally, most of the Michael teachings literature has referred to this as the "chief feature," which was a holdover from the original group's studies of the teacher Gurdjieff. There is nothing wrong with that term. We do not care that much what terms people use, but perhaps referring to them as obstacles illuminates their nature more.

The path of evolution is to transcend your obstacles. Obstacles offer opportunities for growth. It is helpful to make peace with the fact obstacles exist, but if you become resigned or too comfortable with them, you will not meet their challenges.

As with the other overleaves, the obstacles come in three pairs and one single. The pair that is on the inspiration axis is self-deprecation and arrogance. When we speak of the inspiration axis, we refer to the inner world. It is the axis that is most about the self. The ordinal side of an axis contracts, and the cardinal side expands. In self-deprecation, which is ordinal, a person has a contracted sense of self, which translates as a fear of being inadequate, when objectively speaking, she is just fine. So it is the tendency to think that one's self, one's capabilities, are not up to snuff. As with the other overleaves, positive and negative poles have been ascribed to each obstacle. Self-deprecation has a positive pole of "humility"; the negative pole is "abasement."

The chief obstacle is already negative by nature. Fear is negative. We are not implying that fear shouldn't exist or it's "a bad thing." It is simply, by definition, negative, in that it negates (and distorts). So when we are talking about the positive and negative poles of something that is already negative, the positive is the lesser of evils, and the negative is the more destructive extreme; the positive pole of a chief obstacle is not constructive or helpful (except that one grows from surmounting obstacles).

With self-deprecation, humility is not the constructive kind. There is a love-based humility, which is simplicity of soul without false ego added, and that is a beautiful thing. However, the humility of self-deprecation comes from a lack of appreciation of one's true capabilities, so it is not beautiful or based in truth. The negative pole, abasement, is even more destructive; to abase yourself is to have no respect at all for your merits.

In self-deprecation, one deflates one's sense of self; in arrogance, one pumps it up: one has an exaggerated picture of one's own abilities. "Pride," the positive pole, is a positive trait when it is not based on the obstacle, when you are simply able to feel good about what you have accomplished. However, pride in this sense is puffed up. The negative pole, "vanity," is more extreme. It might bring to mind the vain characters in some comedies who are oblivious to their shortcomings. The ideal is to have a balanced assessment of both one's strengths and faults, and simply accept oneself as a good but fallible human being. From that vantage, one can see others as equals. In self-deprecation, one thinks of others as being inherently more capable, and in arrogance, one thinks of them as being less capable--both are false views.

Some people, as mentioned, go back and forth, and it is possible to temporarily use the opposite of your obstacle to get yourself out of both of them entirely: if you see both sides of the coin, it may dawn on you that both are arbitrary and untrue. If, for example, you have been used to puffing yourself up, and then you live for a while with kicking yourself down, you might get it that they are both false states. All the obstacles are profiles in ego (false personality). The goal of the spiritual path is to reduce false personality and increase true personality, which is an awareness of your eternal nature, as much as possible. However, no human being is totally free of false personality.

All the obstacles are defenses. They are, you might say, shortcuts to feeling safe in a fearful world. Arrogance is defined as a fear of vulnerability. Although it pumps itself up, it knows underneath that it is not so great. It protects itself from that bubble being pricked. On the other hand, in self-deprecation, defined as a fear of inadequacy, one doesn't really believe that one is that inadequate, but it is, likewise, self-protective--if you have already proclaimed your inadequacy, then end up doing better, it is a plus for your ego.

Moving on to the expression axis, the ordinal obstacle is self-destruction, which is fear of the loss of self-control. On the cardinal side is greed, a fear of want or loss. Whereas the two obstacles on the inspiration axis are opinions about your inner self, the two on the expression axis are opinions about your ability to express yourself in the world.

Self-destruction is the fear that you are unable to conduct yourself in a disciplined manner or have a basic control of your environment. There is a feeling that you cannot cope and are careening out of control, so there may be an attempt to set up arbitrary controls of your environment or yourself, perhaps obsessive-compulsive kinds of rules.

The positive pole, "sacrifice," is following these rules. For example, a person who is addicted to alcohol may view it as a sacrifice to be on the wagon. The negative pole, "immolation," is destroying oneself by simply letting the roller coaster go off the tracks into oblivion. The self-discipline of the positive pole, though, feels like little deaths that avoid the larger one. Someone who has erased this obstacle and found balance in this regard is simply satisfied with an amount of, say, alcohol, that is not destructive. Therefore, controlling or losing control is no longer an issue.

The opposite, greed, feels very capable of controlling self and the environment, to the point where it oversteps boundaries and becomes rampant. In greed, one has no problem with excess, and, in fact, values it. Its positive pole is "egotism." The negative pole, "voracity," devours what is in its path, like Pac-man; it can be ruthless. All obstacles are insecure, although the cardinal ones may appear self-confident. Someone in greed always feels empty no matter how much more is stuffed in. There is a fear of not having enough or losing what one has. Even if the obstacle does not manifest in obvious, stereotypical ways (in this case, the person does not act greedy), the feeling is there.

Buddhism speaks about the void or emptiness that a more enlightened person might be comfortable with. The present moment free of excess attachment to the past or future is a sort of void. It is a quiet place. It is empty of the past and future, but it is full of what is present now; it is the midpoint. In the present moment, you are enjoying what you have without being either greedy or self-destructive. You are not trying to add to what you have or subtract from it. You are not trying to overly control yourself, because you have control, and you are not trying to overly control others; you are letting things come to you naturally. Any moment you are fully present, your chief obstacle cannot be in control; its survival depends on keeping you focused on the past and/or future.

The two expression-axis obstacles are concerned a good deal with appetites. The human body has built-in, necessary appetites for food, water, sexual expression, and so forth. There's nothing wrong with appetites. However, with these two obstacles, appetites control one, and one lacks inner peace as a result.

We move on to the two obstacles on the action axis, which is about the outer world and doing things in it. Martyrdom, the ordinal action obstacle, is a fear of worthlessness, and impatience, the cardinal one, is a fear of missing out. The difference between martyrdom and self-deprecation is that self-deprecation, being on the inspiration axis, is your opinion about your own intrinsic capability, who you are. Martyrdom, being on the action axis, is about what you feel you have earned through your actions.

Being outwardly oriented, both action-axis obstacles are about your relationship to authority. In martyrdom, people believe everyone else has more power over them than they have in their own life. Chief obstacles are not objective; they are ego tricks. Martyrs define themselves as victims; things are done *to* them. Furthermore, they see victimization as earning them brownie points, and they get more points, it seems, by proclaiming their victimhood, making it obvious how they are suffering at the hands of others. They may create a self-fulfilling prophecy in which they leave themselves more open to being an actual victim, objectively speaking, because that is their view of themselves.

The positive pole, "selflessness," is not the beautiful spiritual selflessness of those who want to serve humanity, but a phony selflessness that looks like service to others but is really in the service of trying to prove their worth to themselves. The negative pole, "mortification," is an extreme denial of self to try to earn more worth.

While martyrdom feels it has to earn its entitlement, impatience has an inflated sense of entitlement. Its positive pole, "audacity," is the feeling of deserving to cut in front of the line, so to speak, and the negative pole, "intolerance," is particularly obnoxious about pushing others out of the way. It is not about accumulating, like greed, but having experiences now; again, the action axis is about doing. If someone combines impatience and martyrdom, he feels like an impatient martyr. Someone who leans more to the impatient side might view himself as suffering because of he is missing out, whereas one who tilts more toward martyrdom might suffer testily rather than silently; impatience is characterized by testiness.

Stubbornness is defined as a fear of change and new situations, particularly those that originate outside oneself. It is natural for people to like to feel that they are in charge of the changes in their life to some degree. You largely do choose at least the big things in your life, such as the job you take, the person you mate with, and so forth. However, because you are part of a social structure, you also are under the necessity of accepting certain things that may not be your personal choice. In stubbornness, there is excessive sensitivity to this.

Its positive pole is "determination." You might say it is the determination to make their own choices, but obstacles are based in fear, which distort perceptions. In stubbornness, people believe that they have less determination than they actually do, so they try to make up for that perceived lack by overdoing it. In the negative pole, "obstinacy," they are extremely bull-headed; they are simply not going to budge. It often manifests as "No one is going to tell me what to do!" There is a digging in of their heels.

Stubbornness is the most common obstacle. One of the reasons is that, being on the assimilation (neutral) axis, it allows easy sliding to any of the others. There are a lot of examples of people who combine stubbornness with others: stubborn greed and stubborn self-destruction are two popular combinations.

Every group, including families and businesses, benefits from members who are willing to share authority and choice-making, so that it feels fair to all. For example, if you got to choose the restaurant last time, you might want to let someone else decide this time.

Each person is somewhat subject to the political system of which he is part. There will probably be some taxes and a number of other things that have been decided collectively, fairly or not, wisely or not. If you live in a republic in which you have a vote, that is one place you can exercise your choice, but you may not be happy with the collective choices a fair amount of the time. This is a good area to recognize where you have power and where you do not. Exercising your rights and responsibilities as a citizen and then letting it go can free you to concentrate on the areas where you have more control.

Each of the obstacles has something in common with the role it shares its position with on the Michael chart. (You can see a sample chart at http://summerjoy.com/michaelreading.html.)

Impatience is on the cardinal side of the action axis. It is in the same position as the role of king. In the negative pole, "tyranny," kings carry a sense of entitlement similar to impatience. Kings have a commanding presence that might remind you of audacity--it is expansive in an action way. The cardinal (expansive) obstacles not only expand but violate; they trespass boundaries. Since the ordinal ones contract, they harm self rather than others. Neither is better or worse.

A correlation of martyrdom with the warrior role is that you might find warriors willing to give their lives for what they're fighting for--fighting to the death.

The voracity of greed correlates with the sage role; both have a certain fifth-chakra appetite. Sages can be orally fixated in various ways, including with words, tastes, and sensations.

Self-destruction correlates with the role of artisan. Artisans have five inputs (psychic receivers), so they naturally experience more chaos than the other roles; therefore, they often struggle with matters of discipline and self-control that come more easily to, say, warriors and kings, who have just one input.

Arrogance correlates with the role of priest. In zeal, the negative pole, priests may have a sense of spiritual superiority.

Perhaps the easiest correlation is self-deprecation with the role of server, the most ordinal role. Servers in the negative pole may take the attitude that they are nothing special, just a wall flower dissolving into the woodwork.

Stubbornness is in the same position as the neutral role of scholar. All assimilation axis traits are characterized by transparency and have a tendency to become stuck. Therefore, it is especially easy for people in stubbornness not to see it and to fool themselves, to stubbornly insist that they aren't being stubborn.

Everyone has some natural resonance to the obstacle that correlates with his role, even if that is not his chief obstacle.

In most cases, the chief obstacle originates from unresolved issues from past lives. However, when you incarnate with the intention of further dealing with them, you may choose a childhood situation that recreates their circumstances. In any case, one tends to interpret one's childhood experiences to confirm the view of the world formed earlier. For example, if you are working on issues of stubbornness, you may, early on, interpret parents or others around you as taking away your self-determination, which they may or may not actually be doing. Parents and teachers sometimes feel that it is their right to thrust changes on children that they have not been properly prepared for. However, if you are particularly sensitive on this point, you will use that to further your conviction that as soon as you are old enough, no one is going to tell you anything ever again. Ironically, that might turn you into the type of person who does to others what was done to you, because you are so stuck on determining the choices in your life that you don't let others have their own self-determination; it all has to center around your getting to decide.

All the obstacles work this way. If you are in impatience, you might be coming off a series of lifetimes in which you were frustrated by not being able to do the things you wanted to accomplish. Maybe your friends got to go to sea and you had to stay home and help out with the farm, so you started to think of yourself as always missing out. Therefore, in your childhood in this lifetime, what others might interpret as ordinary limitations might, to you, seem like deprivations. You chomped at the bit to do things you were held back from, whereas others might be more accepting of the fact that one cannot do everything.

A person in self-deprecation may interpret her past as being filled with failure, and believe, "I just don't have what it takes." Sometimes, people who fail more are actually learning more, and a lack of success may reflect more on poor teaching than their own abilities. However, someone with that belief might interpret every failure as proof of her inadequacy.

If a obstacle is involved, there is an emotional charge, an ax to grind, something wound up--it is not peaceful. Self-deprecation feels woebegone. Arrogance feels brittlely self-protective and perhaps shy; it avoids scrutiny and is wary of the opinion of others. Self-destruction feels chaotic. Greed feels overblown, like the uncomfortable sensation after a too-large meal. Martyrdom feels a loss of power, like a deflated balloon. Impatience is wound up, out of step with the moment, chasing the next thing rather than enjoying the present. Stubbornness feels isolating, like there is a glass wall around it.

There is not a direct correlation between chief obstacles and soul ages, although there are tendencies to more often have certain obstacles during certain soul ages. A stereotypical example is "the greedy young soul" but, in fact, greed operates equally "well" during all the soul ages. Because of the nature of the young soul cycle, greed may fixate then on material things, but the feeling of greed, which is an empty hole one is trying to fill, is the same at any age. All the obstacles tend to manifest more subtly, in less obvious ways, as the soul gets older.

The most important technique for tempering your chief obstacle is to simply recognize, or "photograph," it. Having names for these forces is very useful. As soon as you can say, "Oh, that's my chief obstacle," you are acknowledging that your reaction is out of balance, and immediately have more power to deal with it because you understand it better. The obstacles get away with their deceptions because of a lack of self-awareness. When you are more aware, you can make better choices about the fears that are arising. You do not have to react to other people's chief obstacles out of your own chief obstacle just because the script has been set in motion. You can reframe your experiences and make choices based on the highest wisdom available to you.

***

July 9, 2010

REMEMBERING YOUR POWER

Michael Channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin
August 10, 2008, Michigan City, Indiana
Transcribed by Megan Haddock

Much of human history could be summarized as a reaction to a profound feeling of powerlessness. Souls evolve through dealing with opposites. In a sense, the soul is infinitely powerful. How much power manifests depends on the development and skill of the individual soul, but on the nonphysical planes, there can be no experience of powerlessness, since power is all there is. Therefore, isn't it a clever game to come into human bodies where power and the lack thereof seem to loom so large? Souls temporarily forget that they are infinitely powerful and instead, you might say, set their clock by the mortality of the animal body in which they are living. All animal bodies have finite lifespans, but their survival instinct wants to keep them going as long as possible, at almost any cost, and other eternal souls who also are living in finite human bodies can jeopardize your human survival. For the purposes of the game you are playing, a game that helps you develop further as a soul, survival is handy. We're not implying that it's all an illusion and it doesn't matter. However, an object of the game is to recognize that those who seem to have power over you ultimately do not. On one level, other people do affect and influence you, just as you affect and influence others. However, it remains a fact that, in a spiritual sense, there is infinite power.

A good deal of what humans do that is destructive to self and others results from trying to compensate for the perception that they do not have enough power. Others then try to get more power to protect themselves against them. Sometimes a person is described as a "control freak." The desire to control others (or self) again springs from a belief that one doesn't have enough power.

The news is dominated by issues about power. For example, it is often said that there is a shortage of energy, which is a less personalized form of power. Most military undertakings are an expression of profound insecurity because there's not an awareness of or confidence in spiritual power. There are certainly intelligent things that need to be done to conserve fuel and find alternative energy sources. Likewise, there are perhaps times when, considering the state of consciousness in the world, military action might be required for the larger good. However, these problems exist in the first place because most people are out of balance and put too much emphasis on physical survival, which includes financial survival, and are less aware of the power inherent in all life. Consider the power of the atom, for instance.

Currently, people are increasingly panicked in their belief in powerlessness. If you are aware that this is out of proportion and can maintain your conscious realization of eternal power, you will be able to remain more comfortable and relaxed, and can broadcast a reassurance that things are really okay: the universe is not running out of power. There are some things that a human being will always be powerless over, yet your essential nature is power. The more you let go of struggling with the things that you do not have power over, such as the right of others to make their own choices, the more influence you are likely to have, at least in making your own life more pleasant in various ways. Paradoxically, relaxing into the innate power of who you are frees you to exert more positive influence on others.

MEDITATION:

Feel the power of your breath.

When you try to breathe, you breathe less well than when you are simply aware that the larger you already knows how to breathe; it does a better job of breathing than your intellectual surface self.

As you let your body breathe, be aware of the wonderful aliveness of nature. Consider, for example, the power in a rainstorm. It can be reassuring to your physical self to feel the power that is supporting it from nature. Let nature fill you with a comfortable experience of its power. Your body already knows how to receive this, just as you already know how to breathe in a way that feels good. In fact, your physical body is already part of nature. Everything is ultimately part of nature, but when you are incarnate in a human body, your body is your most direct link to it.

As you continue to let your body breathe in the most comfortable way, bring your consciousness to one part of your body that is most in need of healing. If there's more than one, just start with whichever first comes to mind. Focus your attention at this part of your body, and notice that at this exact point, you can connect to all of nature. Feel the power of nature filling this point with energy.

Maybe you have felt powerless up until now because of this challenging health situation. Perhaps doctors haven't been able to offer you a complete solution. Although it can be a good idea to take advantage of whatever the world has to offer to help with your health challenges, it is beautiful to remember now that there's also infinite power through nature available to support you. Thank nature for the infinite power it offers, and affirm that you are now opening yourself to receive it into your body through this point. Notice if you are feeling better.

When you are ready, pick a second place in your body where you would like to experience more power and healing. At every point in your body, you are connected to all of nature. As you practice, it becomes easier to open to its infinite power.

Choose a third place; perhaps you are now able to immediately feel a difference.

Now, let's use a "wide angle lens" and feel your whole body. Notice how appreciative you naturally feel as the healing power of nature brings a greater sense of well-being to your body as a whole.

It is normal for bodies occasionally not to operate as smoothly as one might like. You may feel powerless because what you have tried has not succeeded in correcting a problem. Feeling the power of nature filling you at that location can assist you in relaxing more, which might also help you find external solutions in addition to an increase of healing energy.

Bring to mind a problem in your life that is not directly related to your physical well-being. Maybe it's a financial or interpersonal challenge. Put your consciousness into the center of it in a calm way and ask that infinite power, beautiful life force, fill the space that has been holding this problem. Notice that the feeling around it starts to relax. You may have felt powerless. Although you cannot control other people, notice how your relationship to the situation becomes more comfortable as you remember the infinite power that you are in relationship to it. Let the whole space of that problem fill with a sense of your love and peace.

Use the wide angle lens to fill with power all your relationships, especially those in which you have felt powerless, as well as your finances, living environment, work, the animals and plants in your life, and your neighbors. Invite everyone you know and everyone in the world to remember their infinite power so that all can let go of excessive insecurity and the destructive actions that spring from that.

I have heart disease. I would like to heal it so that eventually I can get off of oxygen.

Each of you is connected directly to infinite power. Let's all focus our awareness, like shining a spotlight, on her heart and lungs area. You don't have to do anything; just be aware that there is infinite power there.

Being aware of the power that is already there is the most direct path to healing. So much of life on the physical plane is about forgetting and then remembering. Help your heart remember on a cellular level that there is more power available. It's like a battery running low and your remembering to plug in the charger. Is anything feeling different for you in that part of your body?

It feels less stressed; it's not working as hard.

Place the idea in your heart that you are remembering more and more the eternal energy source from which everything springs.

I had a sharp pain in my shoulder from driving and stress. As I put nature into it, it just left. It's not there anymore--it's really not there. I shall remember to do that often. Thank you.

In your culture, you are bombarded a great deal with stimulations of all kinds. Many of you are overloaded, especially intellectually. It is worthwhile to rebalance your connection with the world. Perhaps you have been on a spiritual or personal growth path for a long time and know that it is your choices that most create your life, including your attitude, thinking, and how you react to stresses, not just the stresses themselves. However, even knowing this, it is easy to lose a feeling sense of your power. It can begin to seem like you are running as fast as you can on a treadmill, and it is still pulling you back. It is useful to remember the simple truth that you are powerful no matter what other people do. It is rare on the physical plane to feel that everything is just the way you want it to be externally, but you can always connect with your power.

What about a situation where there's negativity in the atmosphere, and you need to find a way to help clear that out?

You could start with a meditation like the one we did here. Find a sense of calm and power in the situation, releasing your emotional charge about things not being as positive as you would like them to be. Otherwise, that will get in the way of your adding something positive. Then, strategize: evaluate what is available to you to do. You might have thought that your options were quite limited, but accessing your creativity, something new may occur to you; when you're not struggling, you have room to move.

Regardless of what approach you take, the main thing is to bring the highest quality of energy to it that you can. If it is an intransigent situation where people are stuck, and nothing you do has an impact, part of your strategy might be to withdraw from it, if that is an option for you. As you shine your light in an unconditionally loving way, problematic situations may also choose to go away from you. Otherwise, you might want to cocoon yourself and have as little to do with it as you can get away with. You cannot override the free will of other people; if they are stuck in a certain mindset and don't want to move forward, there's nothing you can do about it; hopefully, you have some space of your own so that you don't have to be rubbing up against the choices of others all the time. In any case, you can always become more aware of your personal power so that you don't feel that others have so much power over you.

You have greater leverage when you step back from your problems. If you are trying to move a rock with a stick, the longer the stick, the more leverage you have. Distance can give you more clarity about what your most effective actions might be. The key is not to be too attached to what others choose to do, because that that is not where your power is. Your power is not over other people. Power over other people is basically bullying. All you can do is make the best choices you can and shine a light; others may be positively influenced by that even if they don't immediately gain understanding or change their actions. Your shining a light is always there in their memory, so it is not wasted, even if it doesn't have the result you would have liked.

Human beings are at different stages of soul development. There are people who are younger in soul age who, like younger people, have not yet experienced conflicts that older souls are tired of. There are a surprising number of people who don't feel that life is very exciting unless they pick a fight or otherwise upset the cart in some way. It is possible that they need that experience because they don't yet have the understanding that perhaps you have already gained. However, their experience does not have to be with you; if they try to pick a fight long enough and you don't go for the bait, they may decide that you are boring and look for someone else to create excitement with. If people do get their hooks into you, you might ask yourself why you are reacting so much to them and how you can be more neutral. Ultimately, you can figure out your issues and heal them so that there is simply no way for others to get you to make drama with them.

Some people are persistent. However, if they can get a hook into you, it demonstrates that you have work to do. You might ask yourself, "How can I grow so that I become a person who is peaceful even when someone is doing something outrageous?" There is probably no human being who is one hundred percent there. In the human body, you have all sorts of real needs, such as for food, water, money, and various other things. The goal is not to become so aloof that you are like a robot, but to become more sophisticated about what games you want to play and who you want to play them with. As long as you are human, you are doing something with your time, and that will probably involve other people if you are not a hermit. However, you do have a certain amount of choice about what relationships you wish to invest in, and which you wish to pull away from.

There may be certain situations you are stuck with. Life on the physical plane is not perfect. However, you can shift the balance of power in your life by remembering that what really matters is your own experience of the infinite power that every being is part of.

***

April 28, 2010

MODES
Michael on the Overleaves, Part Two

Channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin
March 14, 2010, BlogTalkRadio chat
Transcribed by Gloria Constantin

A human being consists of "human," which is the personality (outer self), and "being," which is the soul (inner self). There are seven different types of souls; we call these the "roles." They are: server and priest, artisan and sage, warrior and king, and scholar. Overleaves are personality traits called that because they overlay the soul.

Each person has a distinctive soul nature that remains pretty much the same from lifetime to lifetime, but you have a different personality in each lifetime, with a different body (which can be either sex), name, parents, environment, culture, astrology, and more. Each factor contributes to giving you a wide range of experience over your series of lifetimes. Above and beyond these are your overleaves, which are the building blocks of your personality; they include centering, goal, attitude, chief obstacle, and mode. Different overleaves facilitate different kinds of lessons; overleaves suggestive of roles other than your own allow you to have a broader range of them.

Your mode is how your personality is constructed to operate mechanically, so to speak--how you run your energy. In any lifetime, your personality may be reserved or passionate, cautious or powerful, persevering or aggressive, or it may operate in a neutral manner, observantly.

Here are the seven modes, with their positive and negative poles, and the axis they are on:

Inspiration Axis:
[Ordinal] RESERVE: + Restraint, - Inhibition
[Cardinal] PASSION: + Self-Actualization, - Identification

Expression Axis
[Ordinal] CAUTION: + Deliberation, - Phobia
[Cardinal] POWER: + Authority, - Oppression

Action Axis
[Ordinal] PERSEVERANCE: + Persistence, - Immutability
[Cardinal] AGGRESSION: + Dynamism, - Belligerence

Assimilation Axis
[Neutral] OBSERVATION: + Clarity, - Surveillance

Let's first discuss the neutral mode, observation. At http://summerjoy.com/michaelreading.html, there's an example of a chart that lays out the roles and overleaves on the four axes (columns). On this one, observation mode is on the far right, more than halfway down, on the assimilation axis, which it shares with the role of scholar (near the top right). All the traits on the assimilation axis are neutral: they absorb and assimilate other qualities. It is analogous to your digestive system, which absorbs proteins, carbohydrates and fats.

If you have the neutral mode, you operate in a neutral way that absorbs other people's way of being through observing them. Those in observation mode take in the sights. The positive pole, or quality, is "clarity." A person functioning in a constructive manner relative to this mechanism observes the actions of others without bias, seeing things clearly, not necessarily understanding them but not distorting them, either--there is no agenda. In the negative pole, "surveillance," the person is not minding his own business, and there is an agenda--what is seen is judged, perhaps with suspicion or attributing nefarious motivations.

There is built into each overleaf a way to temporarily slide (move) to at least one other overleaf. As with the other overleaves, there are three pairs of modes that are opposites; for example, passion and reserve are opposites because they are on the same axis (in this case, the inspiration axis), so they are linked to one another directly. It is easy for someone in passion mode to sometimes slide to reserve mode, and vice versa.

Someone in observation mode, which is neutral (not part of a pair), can slide to any of the other six temporarily. Some people have sliding patterns, meaning that they slide to other overleaves in predictable ways. You might say of one individual, for example, that she is in observation mode frequently sliding to perseverance or caution. There are rare individuals who slide to all the other modes at times. Someone who slides frequently to other modes might be hard to read as to what her mode is. The sliding structure gives you a lot of flexibility in how you function.

Even without the sliding mechanism, you can temporarily use the energy of another mode, since you are a conscious being with the ability to choose. If you are in perseverance mode, in addition to sliding to aggression (which shares the action axis), you also might, on rare occasions, bring in the energy of power mode, even though there is no structure for you to use for sliding. If you do this, you most likely remember the feeling of it from other lifetimes in which you were in power mode. However, it is far easier to use the structure of sliding to give you variety and help you meet each situation appropriately. That is especially useful if you have a cardinal mode, aggression, power, or passion. By "cardinal," we mean that they are influential on others; they tend to stand out and be intense since they are expansive. The "ordinal" modes are responsive and contractive, so they tend to be quieter. Sliding to an ordinal mode occasionally could, for example, make someone in a cardinal mode less conspicuous.

There are no modes that are intrinsically positive or negative by themselves; they can all be used to further your life task. However, you can use sliding if your innate mode, the one you had at birth, is no longer ideal for what you are doing. For example, power mode might have allowed you to survive a difficult childhood; if it is no longer as useful, you might it find yourself living more in the opposite mode, caution.

Although almost half the population is in observation mode, that statistic is a little misleading because a lot of people are sliding some of the time. The fact that observation is equipped to slide to any other of the modes is the main reason so many souls choose it. Caution, incidentally, is the second most popular of the modes, after observation. Clearly, it is useful for a lot of human beings to learn through observing or being careful about their choices.

When a person is in observation mode, there is a bit of the quality of the scholar. As we mentioned, the role of scholar is also neutral, and can be seen observing, listening, taking notes, and so forth. A stereotypical scholar may seem dry, detached, or academic; you might think of a literal academic, a professor or researcher, who doesn't have a strong personality, but is more about absorbing knowledge and letting it be center stage rather than self. (Many scholars don't fit this stereotype; for one thing, their neutrality allows them to easily take on the colorings of other traits on their Michael chart.)

Scholars account for only about one-seventh of the world's population, but there are many more people who are in observation mode, doing a sort of imitation of scholar when they are not sliding. People in observation mode, like scholars, are sometimes thought of as aloof, as less involved in life, and that is valid to some degree. However, observing is actually a form of participation, albeit a more low-key form of it--modern physics has shown that you change things by observing them. People in observation mode tend to stare, sometimes without realizing that they are doing it. That is one way to validate this mode.

How can you discern surveillance?

In the positive pole of each of the modes, a person reveals herself transparently; in the negative pole, she hides herself. The negative pole of observation may not be easy to discern, depending on how subtle or overt it is, but surveillance is like a spy who tries to observe without being observed, maybe glancing over her shoulder to make sure that she wasn't being followed. The positive pole, clarity, shows up as a person being openly observant. His eyes are neutral, but they are not vacant; there is a sense of presence, of interest in what is going on. In the negative pole, there is furtiveness.

There are many reasons besides the negative pole of observation mode that someone may not mind his own business. Human beings are social animals and are interested in what is going on, both positive and negative, in the community. Partly, this is self-protective. To some degree, the actions of others in the community could affect you, and there can be a strong demand within a culture that everyone conform to certain norms, feeling that that is the best way to make people feel safe, whether or not this is objectively true. Where there is a strong demand for conformity, there are a lot of people surveying others to make sure that they are towing the line. Sometimes there is the attitude that "If I have to follow the (oppressive) rules, then you do, too. I have to give up things that I want to do in order to conform, and I will feel cheated if you get to do those things. I have missed out on so much already." That behavior does not relate directly to the modes, but it might be mistaken for the negative pole of observation. Surveillance shows up more in how a person carries his body, particularly his eyes.

Being unseen seems perfect to me, but nowadays, I feel I must slide into another mode that would allow me to involve myself with people a little more.

The desire for invisibility more often relates to what we call the chief feature (or obstacle) of arrogance, which is a fear of being judged and found wanting. It opposes the natural human need to be seen, in the sense of being acknowledged and appreciated. Everyone wants that to some degree, since humans are social animals. The desire to be permanently invisible suggests not feeling safe, whereas the negative pole of observation is more about not letting others see that you are surveying them. There can be guilt associated with not minding your own business, as if you were a peeping Tom. Being too interested in what others are doing often indicates that your own life is not full or interesting enough, in addition to a desire to enforce cultural norms.

If being invisible is now uncomfortable, the first step is to fully see and acknowledge yourself, and then gradually start risking letting others in.

How does observation mode work for an actor?

Actors who are neutral in personality are frequently cast as more neutral characters, although a well-trained actor probably uses the sliding mechanism often. Observation mode can be advantageous to an actor who has developed a feel for the other modes and can call upon them when the part demands it. However, the most memorable actors, particularly those who are known for particular kinds of personalities rather than the more versatile types who lose themselves in their roles, tend to have a cardinal mode. Power mode is particularly useful onstage, and not surprisingly, it is the sage-position mode. Power mode amplifies a person's self-expression, and this is useful onstage because it carries to the back row. Throughout most of history, there was no electronic amplification, so a person who had that personality-level amplification had an advantage. Aggression mode is an appropriate fit for actors in action movies. Passion mode is an obvious one for soap operas, dramas, and uninhibited comedies, as opposed to those more designed around cleverness.

All that said, mode is probably not the key ingredient for an actor. There is every possible configuration of Michael teachings chart traits among successful actors. There are many sages and artisans, but since actors portray the range of human experience, it is useful to have all the roles and overleaves represented among them.

The three cardinal modes are more "in your face." Aggression is the most cardinal of the three, being the king-position mode. Whereas observation mode, being neutral, is generally the least noticeable, aggression mode can be the most noticeable when it is activated, which puts the person in motion (not necessarily literally, but at least figuratively); otherwise, you may not notice it. Power mode, on the other hand, exudes from a person most of the time, so it is more consistently noticeable.

Aggression and perseverance are on the action axis, so rather than assimilating, they are about doing things. Anyone in aggression or perseverance mode is built, on a personality level, to handle his life by taking action. Aggression is on the cardinal, or exalted side, of the axis, so a person in aggression mode acts expansively, doing a lot of things, keeping many irons in the fire. Like a king soul, he is seen as someone who can handle a lot of responsibility. The negative pole is "belligerence," which brings to mind the king's negative pole of "tyranny." In the positive pole, "dynamism," the person in aggression mode juggles a lot of balls with balance, equilibrium, and control. In the negative pole, a person flies off the handle; there is a breakdown of the ability to master what is going on. Perhaps she loses her temper and yells.

Negative poles of anything suggest a distortion based on fear, which can manifest as ill will or any other kind of negativity. Kings, and also warriors, can have a hard time handling their temper simply because they are so focused; they are dealing with a lot of concentrated power in the outer world. Therefore, when it goes negative, it is pretty obvious for all to see; the same is true of aggression mode. The best way to validate aggression mode is that a person flies off the handle at times, especially when under stress, fatigued, or fearful.

After such an outburst, a person might feel guilty and ashamed, and it is true that acting from such powerful energy in a negative way can hurt others. However, if you understand the overleaves, you can make some allowance for the fact that it is not easy to manage. Someone in aggression mode has challenges that a person in observation mode may not. Therefore, if you are in observation mode, you cannot take a lot of credit for perhaps having greater control over your temper--you are built in a different way. In observation, you also are not likely to be as dynamic as someone in aggression mode. Of course, every trait is essential to the whole and has benefits to offer. If all people were the same, the range of experience would be much narrower.

Perseverance mode, the opposite of aggression, is also about doing, but it tends to hone in on doing one thing, as opposed to many things. It is a good choice for a soul who generally has trouble finishing things. The positive pole is "persistence"; the negative pole is "immutability," meaning that a person insists on finishing something that needs to be let go of, that does not need to be finished or that has already been finished--it is an inability to move on. It is like a cartoon bulldog not letting go of a mailman's leg. (Warriors share the same side of the same axis as perseverance, and a bulldog is not a bad analogy for a stereotypical warrior, either, although, with all things, there are many exceptions to stereotypes.)

If you are in immutability, slide to aggression and be dynamic; think of all the things you want to accomplish, and that will get you moving again. By the same token, if you are in the negative pole of aggression and you are having a meltdown, slide to perseverance: pick one thing to persist in, to complete all the way through; don't try to do so many things. That will help to get you back into the positive pole of being dynamic. We call this the "hands across" technique. In observation, you can slide to the positive pole of any of the other modes to get out of surveillance. This is called the "hands through" technique, since it can involve more than one place to which to slide.

I'm in aggression mode and I get very stressed. Could that be an example of belligerence?

Yes, depending on how it manifests. If it comes out with a lack of self-control, a tendency to go to pieces, then that is likely belligerence.

How does aggression's negative pole show up when not around others?

A person can have a meltdown without others around. An example is trying to fix something, and when it's not going well, kicking or smashing it out of frustration. There's a lot of concentrated power in all the king-position overleaves. It's not that any trait is inherently more powerful than any other in the long run, but with the action axis, the power tends to be out front, so it is more obvious, especially on the king side via dominance, moving center, impatience, and martial body type. The action axis is, by definition, about the outer world: what you can see and touch, the realm of manifestation--it is about doing things for results.

There is a simplicity in the straightforwardness of the action axis, which goes along with the famous tendency of warriors and kings to be blunt. Although there may be hidden elements or strategies for winning with kings and warriors, they tend to value being obvious and straightforward, without subtlety; they are suspicious of what is not displayed thoroughly. When the king mode, aggression, is working well, its effects are immediately obvious in dynamic productivity, and when it goes awry, when the wires get crossed, the results of that are also immediately obvious in the breakdown that results.

The inspiration axis is the opposite; it's about the inner world. The inner world is feminine; the outer world is masculine. Male genitals are mostly external--they can be seen. Female genitals are mostly internal--much happens within them before there is any result, such as the nine-month gestation of a baby.

The most internal mode is reserve. The original term for it is "repression mode," which was not meant negatively, although it is sometimes interpreted thus. It is simply the opposite of passion. The positive pole of passion is "self-actualization." Passion is about letting the inner world take its course without restraint. Reserve, on the other hand, has a positive pole of "restraint." Obviously, there is a place for restraint. In reserve mode, a person operates in such a way as to create an inner world of refinement and beauty. If you compare modes to dance, reserve would be ballet, in which there is, ideally, full control of every muscle in the body to express something graceful and lovely. Reserve is chosen when a person wants to wake up consciousness in the subtlest levels of his inner world. However, when this mode operates without consciousness, it simply shuts things down, and that is called "inhibition." Like the role of server that it correlates with, this is the most ordinal mode, so it can be very contractive. A person in the negative pole of reserve can be crippled by an inability to feel anything, so rather than being an elegant, gracious expression, it is blocked, unable to have enjoyment and a free flow.

Passion mode explores the other end of this polarity. It is about the positive and negative sides of not controlling the inner world. In the positive pole, there is great joy that comes from freedom, from letting the natural take its course. It is like free-form dance, such as in a nightclub, people moving however they feel. There is also potentially much beauty in it; it is not a refined expression, but it makes up for that in its joie de vivre and spontaneity, in which something new may come through as a result of not controlling anything.

The negative side of "letting it all hang out," of having few boundaries, is loss of self. In the positive pole of reserve mode, there is a clear sense of the sanctity of self. For example, someone who has studied ballet for many years likely carries himself with an awareness of the boundaries and shape of self, and there is an ability to move through space in a self-assured manner with fine posture and grace. In the negative side of passion mode, there is an inability to know who you are. The positive pole means that you find out who you are by pouring your whole self into what you are doing, and you gain an actualization through the thing that you are giving yourself to.

Let's say that you volunteer for a charity organization, you work hard, it gives you a lot of pleasure, and you learn things about yourself because you didn't hold back; your passion came from within you and filled this larger form, giving you a greater sense of self. In the negative pole, "identification," you take it too far, and your self is like a leaky boat that sinks to the bottom of the larger form, rather than being buoyed by it. There's not enough sense of who you are left apart from that outer thing to hold yourself together. For example, you get involved in a romantic relationship. At first, you are on cloud nine because you are running your energy freely. Your lovemaking is exuberant (it may not be refined; refinement would come from the opposite, reserve mode) but it brings much pleasure because it is free. Then, however, everything starts to become about the other person, and you lose touch with your own needs and feelings. If this happens, slide to the opposite mode, reserve, and use restraint. This means you start to make a lot of little choices about how you carry yourself in that situation, so that you can get back to self-actualizing. On the other hand, a person in inhibition would do the opposite, and throw himself into something freely in an effort to let go into a larger container rather than holding on to the small internal container. These two modes illustrate the need to balance form and content, boundaries and exuberance. Those who are in one of these modes play with those polarities.

A person in reserve mode is not usually too hard to spot. There's often a graciousness, but there can also be an uptightness from not being able to let go internally, to feel freely (whereas in the negative pole of perseverance, a person can't let go of what she's doing, and in the negative pole of caution, of his expression). Passion mode is easy to spot when a person manifests it in physical or emotional ways. Emotional passion, especially, often manifests in ways that stand out to others. However, if a person is, say, in the moving part of the intellectual center and is not very emotional, there would still be a sense of passion mode's not trying to control the inner world, but you would have to be able to see the person's intellectual passion at work in order to identify it.

I've been pouring through the work of Virginia Woolf, and she's been channeled as being in passion mode. In some of her letters, she's written about the personal challenge of having boundless, effusive emotions that she sometimes struggled to harness intellectually. She also mentions an eternal quest to find the self, and many of her characters are driven by this same quest.

It is a matter of true boundaries versus false. Passion mode seeks to minimize boundaries in order to discover a truer boundary, one that will emerge from within. In passion mode, you throw yourself into something new and see what shape it will take so that you can find out that you are something more than you realized you were earlier. Reserve mode, on the other hand, is about exploring the self that has already been created, and discovering that it is beautiful rather than a straitjacket. They are like the two goals on this axis, reevaluation and growth. Growth adds new experiences, and reevaluation processes the old ones, bringing them to their highest state.

You might compare this to the way progress occurs in music. In his day, Johannes Sebastian Bach was considered old school; he did not pioneer new techniques; he took old ones and did everything he could with them. That is like reevaluation and reserve on the ordinal inspiration axis, working with old forms and making them beautiful. Beethoven came along not much later, built on Bach's work, and pushed into new, more passionate and expansive experiences, which is like growth and passion.

Progress always has some of this back-and-forth. You need a lot more growth than reevaluation, but reevaluation balances the growth; it makes sure that it is really growth. Likewise, you need more lifetimes in passion mode than in reserve, but occasionally going into reserve helps you to make sure that the passion is real and under control. Another analogy is pruning a garden: most of the time, you want the plants to grow freely, but once in a while, you cut things back. Reevaluation, reserve, and the stoic attitude are like pruning shears, whereas the more common growth, spiritualist, and passion are expansive to the inner world.

Lastly, we come to the two modes on the expression axis, which links inspiration (the inner world) with action (the outer world) through communication and creativity--the expression axis scans and mines the inner world for something that can be used in the outer world. Power mode radiates outward what is in the inner world, amplifying it (since it's cardinal). It has a positive pole of "authority." Authority turns up the volume on what is in the inner world so that others, in the outer world, can see it. If you are in power mode, your soul is interested in making sure that people pay attention to you. It might be because you expected to be in circumstances where that might not have otherwise happened, or it could be that you tended to be invisible in other lives. If you are in power mode, it is hard not to be noticed. If you also have a chief obstacle of arrogance, these two forces can be in conflict in your personality because arrogance wants to hide from scrutiny, while power mode makes sure that you cannot "hide your light under a bushel." Everything is amplified, whether you are consciously choosing that or not.

If you are a sage in power mode, the mode is stronger because these two traits reinforce each other by reason of being on the same side of the same axis. A sage in power may seem more opinionated than he thinks himself to be. Sages are all about insights, understanding how things happen, and disseminating knowledge that could be useful; that includes the realm of opinion. When a sage in power expresses an opinion, it is expressed in an amplified way. The sage may feel that this is just his opinion, but to others, it may seem like a very strong opinion. This could be perceived in a positive or negative way, but it certainly gives the person a quality of authority, because people who express their opinions strongly tend to be taken more seriously. It is assumed that if you strongly believe in what you are saying, there must be something to it.

Caution mode, the opposite, is wary. In the positive pole, "deliberation," a person tends to be careful about how she expresses her opinions, perhaps being more precise and fair due to giving conscious thought to them (caution is on the same side of the same axis as the intellectual center). However, they may seem weaker to others for their lack of authority.

The negative pole of power mode is "oppression." That is simply an amplification of any negative mood that the person might have. A way you can validate people in power mode is that they are usually unable to hide a bad mood. If you are in oppression, slide to deliberation: be more careful about how you express yourself. The negative pole of caution mode is "phobia." Instead of simply being careful about how you express yourself, you don't express yourself at all out of fear of making a mistake, of expressing the wrong thing. This is not unlike the negative pole of reserve, inhibition, but being on the inspiration axis, is about the inner world--frozen by fear, it holds its emotions in. Perseverance, on the action axis, is frozen by fear into robotic, thoughtless repetition of the same action.

Knowing the axes--knowing that when you are talking about caution and power, you are talking about expression--serves to illuminate what these modes are about and how people who have them function. Simply having an expressive mode, whether caution or power, tells you that your life task has something to do with self-expression. Likewise, if your mode is reserve or passion, your life task is more involved with your inner world. Etc. So there's a lot of understanding to be gained by simply looking at which axis an overleaf is on and whether it's cardinal or ordinal (expanded or contracted), and what the overleaf itself is about. Mode is about mechanics, about how you as an essence interface with the world. Do you interface with the world cautiously or with power? Are you dynamically aggressive or particularly good at sticking with one thing until it's finished? Are you restrained or passionate? Or are you neutrally observant? Mode indicates the mechanics of everything else on your Michael teachings chart.

MEDITATION:

If you know what your mode is, feel how it operates in your life. If you don't, notice how your energy tends to operate in your life. If you are in observation mode, notice if you slide to any of the others. If your mode is ordinal or cardinal, notice if you sometime slide to the opposite. Whatever your mode is, ask that your inner self show you how to use it more consistently constructively. Feel yourself being attracted to its most positive expression.

***

March 28, 2010

TRANSCENDING FEAR OF DEATH

Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin
November 1, 2009, BlogTalkRadio chat
Transcribed by Maggie Heinze

One of the reasons that a series of human lifetimes on the physical plane can allow the soul to develop further, to become more subtle and aware, is that there's much on the physical plane that is unsubtle, coarse, and lacking in awareness. It is easy here to be distracted from what is real and fine. Often, you have to deliberately choose it in order not to be completely inundated by coarse distractions.

There's a famous song about New York City with a line that says "If you can make it there, you'll make it anywhere." That almost can be said about undertaking a series of human lifetimes on Earth. It is not the most difficult of all the planets you could have selected; however, it is among the most distracting, among the hardest to remember what is real and true. If you can manage to stay aware of what is real and true in the presence of the loud clamoring of what is not real and true, it indicates that you have evolved a useful capacity that you will always have, so that when it is once again easier, because the distractions are fewer or absent, you will not only be aware of what is real and true, but you will appreciate it more and you will more thoroughly engage with it.

One of the favorite stories told by humans is that of what happens to youthful optimism and idealism. The young are, by definition, more recently from the astral plane, where what is real and true is not so obscured. That is not to say that everyone who is nonphysical understands what is real and true; it is just that the physical plane is able to harbor more illusion. Those who are older, who have been immersed in it longer, may have to work at staying "young at heart," or not becoming too distracted by limiting illusions, while benefiting from the increased sophistication that age can bring.

The physical body itself, while a magnificent and complex creation, is hardwired for the purposes of the education that you are to receive, including many things that obscure what is real and true, giving you the opportunity to practice figuring that out.

There's nothing wrong with anything physical, including the body--the physical body is not dirty; it is simply what it is meant to be, which is a limited creation. Like every animal, it will eventually die, which is completely fitting.

It is really quite ingenious to put eternal souls into a finite body and give the soul the challenge of awakening within it. At first, one is bound to be confused by the body's built-in alarm system that is always warning about death. The alarm system is designed to help the body-person avoid dying prematurely. When the soul understands the purpose of it, it doesn't take it quite so seriously, although it respects it. However, before the soul awakens in the body, the person may be terrified when she realizes that there will be death. Obviously, that is not a surprise to the eternal soul, nor is that a problem. However, this terror about impending death, which may be blatant or subtle, can prompt the body-person to seek relief, and maybe the awakening that will allow for more peaceful presence in the body.

Your holiday of Halloween, with it's playful engagement with skeletons and other death symbols, is an attempt, especially in the young, to diffuse some of this underlying terror. Consciousness is often more clever than you give it credit for. In the American tradition, at least, there is an association between the symbols of death and such pleasurable things as candy and other forms of play, which is a way of saying to young people, especially, "You can lighten up a little here about this death thing."
There is also a rather clever pairing of celebrations in the Christian tradition, where, around the Winter Solstice, there is a celebration of birth (Christmas). Then, in the spring, soon enough that one still remembers the birth that was celebrated, there is an exploration of death, but immediately after that, rebirth is celebrated (Easter). What that really communicates to the subconscious is, "Yes, you were born on the physical plane and then you will die, but after that, you will probably reincarnate; in any case, you will also be reborn in the sense that death on the physical plane is a rebirth on the astral plane, so in either case it is good."

We have discussed false personality, which is commonly called ego, or more properly false ego, because there is also true ego--ego simply means self. However, most people know what you mean when you say ego, as in "So and so has a big ego." You mean that that person is false and inflated--not genuine.

False personality is an appropriate part of the physical plane learning experience. It is a source of pain that may motivate individuals to seek the awakening of the soul within the body. Things never work out for the ego; they may seem to temporarily, but whatever is inflated eventually deflates. The ego makes much of the fear of death because the ego will die. If the false ego dies before physical death because the soul awakens within the body, this is cause for celebration, although the ego doesn't think so. The ego is, you could say, a bundle of neuroses futilely trying to ward off death and make itself significant, when it is only a temporary learning tool at best.

Those who identify as being the false personality might, rather illogically, convince themselves that even though they will die, they will live on somehow. For example, the rich may hope that they will live on by having a building named after them, but when you examine that, it's rather flimsy. Most of the future users of that building will not be very interested in knowing about the person that the building was named after, so it's not really much in the way of immortality.

Of course, the soul already knows that it is eternal and that everything on the physical plane will eventually be recycled. "Recycled" is perhaps a more pleasing way to look at it. Humans are increasingly aware that recycling is a positive thing, whereas if you say "ashes to ashes, dust to dust," that sounds more depressing, although it is basically recycling, so that you or another soul can use the raw materials of the physical plane again in order to further refine your consciousness.

The soul does not awaken in the body all at once, and rarely does it occur fully. In most people, there is a mix: parts of self that are more awakened, and parts that are less awakened, so everyone still has some false ego, more or less--and that's fine.

It is the ego that comes into conflict with other egos; there's not much conflict between souls. Discarnate souls--those who are full time on the astral plane between lives or before or after the cycle of lifetimes--get along fine, not because they're evolved, necessarily, but because the soul, free of the human body, is not so confined. Therefore, there are not the stressors you have when you are in an animal body. Bodies have needs that, when they are unfulfilled, lead to suffering and, therefore, conflict. For example, one person is hungry and needs food, while another is hoarding food, careful about his own future needs: there you have a script for conflict. On the astral plane, there is no need for food, so this kind of conflict would simply not arise. That's why discarnate souls get along pretty well. If they are not of similar consciousness, they can simply choose not to be together. Certainly that is more pleasant, but it is not as growthful.

On the physical plane, where you are confronted with a scenario of "What do you do when there is not enough food and you are hungry?" it gives you all sorts of opportunities to awaken. Having to choose means having to engage. You are given the opportunity of having to sort out the real from the unreal, which you would not have if you were not in this false construct of living in a mortal animal body. Of course, non-human animals get hungry, too, and sometimes they compete or fight it out, but they are not designed to explore a wide range of choices concerning that. They will either survive or they won't, and generally their life spans aren't that long anyway. They do their best to survive, and if they don't, they'll just get another body in due course. It is not a charged emotional issue, because they're simply not built that way.

Sentient creatures, meaning those that also function more intellectually, complicate these issues, and it is the complexity that makes it interesting. Most people like stories, in books, movies, television, and so forth. Before the media existed, people had to memorize stories and pass them along, and this was deemed important: storytellers were a valued part of each society. You would not captivate an audience with a story about two people who were hungry and competing for the same food, in which one killed the other and ate the food, the end. The reason that is not an interesting story to humans, although that would be the way the story would unfold in the animal kingdom (or it could), is that you are attracted to the stories that shed light on the choices you are confronted with in your own life.

You naturally want to learn how to make more satisfying choices. As your consciousness becomes more complex, you might, for example, discover that winning a battle at the expense of someone else's survival does not, in the long run, end up being so satisfying anymore. Animals might also cooperate rather than simply compete, but because animals are not very analytical, if they do conflict and one triumphs over another, it will not likely think much later about the choices made; it's just what happened.

Humans are not, among themselves, equally analytical. Not all will reflect on past experiences or have remorse about choices that might not have been the most satisfying from a larger perspective. However, increasingly, the soul wants to have a richer experience by becoming more spiritually awake in the body. At first, it may be interesting, even fascinating, just to experience what the body does on an animal level, but that can become boring. Therefore, there develops in the body-person a sort of itch to understand more and become more aware.

Eventually, this will include developing more awareness about the death of the body. Simple religious beliefs can be placeholders in consciousness until more awareness is developed. An example is the idea that when the body dies, the person will encounter something marvelous that is the same for everyone in that religion (or, at least, for all the so-called good people). The body-person may not yet be capable of a full awakening of the soul, but it will function better if it has some understanding that there is something beyond the lifespan of the body. Without that, there could be carte blanche for the ego to run rampant, so this provides some checks and balances. It is communicated to people that if they let their ego run rampant and be as ruthless as it might be in the single-minded pursuit of survival, as it defines it, there could be a cost after death. The soul may be attracted to this kind of religious teaching to help it evolve past pure selfishness.

Infants are purely selfish, and that is not unappealing in an infant because it is appropriate. That same is true with infant souls. However, as the soul craves a more satisfying experience of the physical plane, it will grasp at something that will take it beyond pure selfishness, although, at first, not something very sophisticated.

There are, of course, fervent atheists who disavow these placeholders; they say, "Let's face it, this is nonsense." but then they usually have some other placeholders. There is usually implicit a code of ethics that states that it is worthwhile to be a good person, even if you are not going to be rewarded after death. The soul may be attracted to this kind of belief system if it had been previously too firmly entrenched in religious beliefs that were no longer providing a good environment for its evolution.

Some take this lack of a religious belief system as an excuse to return to greater selfishness, but as the soul goes along, that doesn't feel so great--it is not in keeping with where the soul is within its development. Pure selfishness might feel just fine to an infant soul, but the young soul has had more experience and knows from it that there are consequences. Some who take greed to an extreme at this time may then find themselves back in some kind of religious fervor to try to undo that.

At any point along the way, there can be an awakening of the soul within the body, when suddenly the person realizes that he is not his body; this can happen even at the infant soul level. When it is a profound and sustained experience, it is called "enlightenment." However, for most, it is a fleeting experience because the soul does not yet have the chops to hold to that awareness in the face of all the distractions and confusing choices being thrust at it.

Still, even a momentary glimpse of the viewpoint of the soul, which knows that it is eternal, can have a beneficial influence on the course of a lifetime and the soul's evolution in general. The simple reason is that it feels better to be awake in the body--there is peace--whereas the ego-self is never entirely peaceful: it is always vigilantly avoiding death. At a certain point, this gets old for everyone, but the point at which this occurs is not the same for each soul.

Few souls have sustained awakenings within the milieu of their religious institution. However, in the rituals, there are opportunities for those glimpses. The chanting that some do, for instance, may still the mind and cause a glimpse of the eternal. Any form of beautiful music can lift a person out of her distractions temporarily. Some of the world's most beautiful music has been written within religious institutions.

Religious institutions are also political and cultural--they have a lot of earthly power, particularly where they are predominant. Those who are in the hierarchy of religions have a lot of secular power, particularly among their members. They can intimidate through fear to hold their power. However, what most keeps people coming back are those fleeting glimpses into the eternal through ceremony, music, and prayer. Prayer is a momentary focusing of the mind on what it believes to be higher, which can be an opening for essence (the soul).

Many religious beliefs are erroneous, but it is a mistake to assume that if religions were eliminated, that that would eliminate childish and superstitious beliefs. If people are childish and superstitious, they will just create new childish and superstitious beliefs if the old ones are somehow obliterated. The communist governments of China and the Soviet Union, for example, did their best to obliterate religion, although they did not entirely succeed. They simply replaced it with a different kind of religion, a different collection of childish and irrational beliefs, because what other option is there if the soul has not been awakened in a substantial number of individuals? Unawakened people need some kind of beliefs to act as placeholders in consciousness.

Making peace with death is often a pivotal point in the soul's journey through the physical plane. Even more important is coming to an awareness that, as an eternal soul, you are, at this very moment, in eternity and infinity, and that life can be beautiful right now--there can be joy. Even while you are dealing with the copious distractions of the physical plane, there can be love and great beauty. When death is accepted, one can then truly live.

To many people, the idea of living life to the fullest means having wealth, fame, partying with abandon, or whatever; in other words, external doing. These things may be appropriate for those who are young or who have been overly circumscribed in their lives. However, the more advanced experience is living life fully in whatever is happening. If you are disabled and are living in one room, but you are awakened in your body, you will have a much different experience than someone who is only aware of the ego; everything becomes more alive, even with limitations. You notice details, visually and orally; a layer of suppression has been peeled off and everything becomes more vivid: taste, touch, smell, hearing, and colors. The beauty of a single object, natural or human-made, could thrill you: a single leaf, the texture of wood, a candle flame, or the smell of food.

This doesn't mean that you will no longer want to do things in the world, but as your soul awakens in your body, you will not approach your ambitions in the same way. You may still want to accomplish certain things, but you are not doing them to try to assure your immortality.
You instead have the incentive that doing them allows you to experience more of your own creativity or ability; that they flesh out your experience of being an eternal soul who is temporarily incarnate. If your accomplishments don't end up taking the form you had originally envisioned, you are content with whatever you are able to accomplish. The goal is important, but the experience along the way is the focus; the end product then takes care of itself.

We have given a simplified outline here. It is obviously not such an easy thing for humans to achieve. If it were easy, then more humans would have achieved it. However, understanding what this progression looks might aid you in being more awake in your life.

I'm used to being able to immerse my body in oceans, forests, lakes, etc. Now I live in a semi-arid desert with treeless mountains. How do I get my body to adjust, to find beauty in what seems to be emptiness?

Some people are quite responsive to the stark beauty of the desert, and some are not. It is a matter of personal preference that can develop over many lifetimes. There are two ways that you can work with this. One is to foster a greater appreciation for the majesty of the desert, meditating with it and asking it to reveal itself to you; work on noticing details that you might not have appreciated before. The other is to bring some of what you more easily resonate with into your current environment. You could install fountains in your home or yard, large plants, or even small ones. You could listen to recordings of the ocean, and so forth. If you approach it from both directions, you will probably have a good result.

When you awaken as a soul, you become a lot larger than your local body, so it actually becomes possible to tune in to the ocean even though it is thousands of miles away. Try relaxing and remembering the feeling of being at the ocean or in a forest. Some of that experience will probably come back to you.

I have a question about dealing with those who are not yet awakened but are very certain of their religious beliefs. They believe someone like me, who does not believe as they do, to be wrong. They seem to view my calm knowledge as somehow arrogant while they are quite rigid in the certainty of their one rightness.

Those who are as you describe are not yet hungering for a greater soul awakening; they find that their current beliefs are doing the job for them. Or, if that is not the case, they are not feeling at liberty to let on. The sensible approach is to let them be until a hunger for something different emerges for them.

Soul awakening is not primarily an intellectual experience, so you can't talk someone into it. However, those who are ready for it or are close to being ready for it can be engaged with in a way that might help them get there more quickly.

Don't overlook the power of listening. Sometimes talking to such people just engages their defenses, but listening with your whole soul presence may draw forth something new from them.

How can I make it less painful to be with them?

If you don't actually need to be with them, maybe you are better off with people more on your wavelength. However, if, for some reason, you need to be with them, try reading between the lines. By that, we mean meaning listening for any truth you can glean that they may not consciously see in their own thoughts. Otherwise, simply listening from your highest consciousness can be a love offering to them.

The effort to change others is often exhausting and futile, but being with people in the best energy that you have to offer can foster your own spiritual growth.

A friend suffers from depression. I've been able to help him in the past, but now I don't know what to do.

His experience is fairly common among those who have firmly gotten beyond selfishness but have not yet arrived at transcendence. Therefore, he feels deep responsibility for others, yet with a sense of powerlessness to make everything okay for those who carry heavy burdens. He is trying to take on their suffering, but he doesn't know what to do with it. Much of what he feels is not his own energies but those of other people. The frustration is his, but most of the heaviness is taken on from others.

The ancient image of the man trying to push a boulder up a mountain is in essence what is happening with your friend. His depression is a reaction to the denial of suffering by those who are still in the selfish phase; he feels he has to care more because they care less. He feels that if he did not carry this heavy weight, he would be like the selfish people who are adding to the suffering of others.

Two realizations will allow his soul to awaken more in his body at this time. One is accepting suffering as part of this world, as the Buddha taught. The other is realizing that, although he cannot change the choices of others, he can lighten their load, not by taking on their heaviness but by bringing his own light. He knows how to do this but he is held back by the belief that it would be selfish of him to be happy while others suffer.

He believes there to be a virtue to his suffering along with others. A more evolved viewpoint is to choose to let the joy of his soul lighting up this moment reach to those who carry heavy burdens. Each person can do a little bit externally to make the way of others easier, but no one can change the karma or the choices of others, including the choices of those who add to the burdens of others.

The world is as it is; it will change moment by moment because of the choices that each person makes. However, no one, no matter how well intentioned, can do very much to change the lives of others beyond shining the light of his own soul. That is the gift that each one has to offer.

A person may, at first, feel powerless because he cannot make all the suffering go away. However, as your soul awakens in you, you realize that it would not be appropriate to take away the free choice of others, even if you could. What is appropriate is to be as fully self-realized as you can possibly be. That is what may inspire others to do the same, at their level and pace.

How do you know if you're awakened or not?

A. When you are more awake than before, you are more engaged with the present. You feel more alive. There's more energy flowing in your life. You feel more thankful for what is now. Your senses are heightened. You find more beauty in everyday things.

There are certain thresholds of awakening that are quite marked, but we don't mean to imply that suddenly a light switch moves and everything is different. For most, awakening is in stages. It is likely that if you could somehow put how you are now side by side with how you were twenty years ago, you could see that you have awakened somewhat, that you have made progress. When progress is gradual, it is harder to validate. Sometimes, others can see a difference and help you validate.

It is a step-by-step process. All you really need to do right now is be as awake as you can. If you keep doing that, as you remember to do so, you will eventually be a lot more awake. Specific explorations into what is blocking your awakening may yield some big leaps forward. Looking at the bastions of your ego and being willing to give them up can result in great strides. Facing your fears head-on can often accelerate awakening.

What might be called "right action," meaning doing things that are a blessing to others and to the world, can accelerate awakening. The principle here is that you act as if you're already awake, and your awareness may start to mirror that. So when you model compassion for others, it may bring you into an experience that you didn't have as fully earlier.

If you have been feeling an inner urge to do something, maybe something creative that you have not acted on, doing so may open a flow in you that brings greater awakening because there's an aspect of yourself that now has a way to get out.

Life itself is a spiritual practice. For most human beings, simply, say, meditating all day would not actually bring the greatest awakening, because it would bring forth just one part of you. Living a full and varied life and seeking to bring as much awareness to everything you do can bring the most possible awakening.

However, being distracted by the ample distractions that this world has will keep you on automatic pilot. Taking the bull by the horns, as they say, slowing things down a little bit and working to be present in whatever you are doing will allow you as an eternal soul to catch up with your body and take things more in hand.

MEDITATION

We invite you to feel your own aliveness in this moment. Imagine yourself as the eternal soul that you are, having awakened more in your previously distracted body-self. Notice yourself radiating through your eyes so that your presence reaches out to everything you see. Notice how that feels. Feel your eternal presence reaching out through your hearing and embracing the sounds that you hear. Experience the sensuality of reaching out through your sense of touch into your physical world. Notice the pleasure of breathing.

Realize that you, right now, have eternal life; you don't need to die to get it. You are eternal right now, and you are alive right now; you always have been and you always will be. You may have forgotten, but now you remember. You are awakening in your body. Notice how good that feels.

***

March 12, 2010

THE CENTERS

Michael on the Overleaves, Part One

Channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin
January 10, 2010, BlogTalkRadio chat
Transcribed by Gloria Constantin

Our intention is to communicate with you not just through words but through what we sometimes call your higher centers. Every person has seven centers, or gateways of experience, that give you information. Three are higher, or cardinal; three are lower, or ordinal, and one is neutral. Of course, you have a body, an intellect, and emotions, which can be pointed at your necessary mundane experiences. These are the three lower, or concrete, centers, which are practical expressions of the universal forces of beauty, truth, and love. Your body or physical center is a gateway to all sorts of physical excitations; it lets you know when you are thirsty or hungry, for example. Your intellect frames your experiences in concepts; for instance, it lets you remember what time it is so that you can go where you need to. Your emotions provide the content (rather than form) of your daily experience; one of their functions is to let you know how you and others feel about what is happening, how it is affecting you.

The neutral center is the instinctive center. It is the gateway into what is, more or less, automatic in your life, such as your habits and breathing. For the most part, you may be aware of your instinctive center acting, but you don't often have much to do with it consciously.

Then there are the three higher, or abstract, centers. By higher, we do not mean superior in value--all the centers are intrinsic to the whole. However, they are gateways into your less earthbound experiences, even though they are part of your human makeup. They can provide more direct experiences of beauty, truth, and love, which are the building blocks of the universe.

The ordinal centers are sensory; they are on the front lines of the physical plane, sensing what is there to be experienced. The cardinal centers work to place experiences in a larger context, ultimately of the eternal. The whole purpose of human existence is to further the eternal through specific experiences.

The higher version of the physical center is often called the moving center. You have mundane experiences of physical movement in which, instead of having a more localized experience in the body, such as feeling hungry, you move your whole body. However, that is just the beginning of how the moving center can impact your life. For each of the centers, there is a spectrum from ordinary to extraordinary experiences, especially in the higher centers. (There is also a spectrum from muddy to clear, refined experiences.)

In the moving center, there are ordinary experiences of, say, walking, all the way to the exhilaration you might feel when you are dancing or moving athletically in "the zone." This is also the center where more profound sexual experiences can occur, although they normally start in the physical center through the stimulation of the body. The most refined experience in the moving center is one of exalted spiritual energy as you attune to a higher (faster) vibration.

Various terms have been used for the action-axis centers. The original pair was sexual (ordinal) and moving (cardinal). Since "sexual" was often understood in an overly narrow way, this channel substituted "physical" for it. Other channels use moving (ordinal) and higher moving in order to line up the terminology with those of the other pairs of centers. In addition, the original terms have, at times, been reversed, with moving referring to mundane actions, and sexual, to more exalted action experiences. Each term has its merits. The point is to know what is being referred to.

The words we speak are themselves of the intellectual center; they are ordinary. However, it is our intention in this series of lectures that the words help you activate experiences in your higher centers so that you more fully comprehend and know the true meanings of the overleaves. When you understand something only as words, words explained by other words, they are not very useful. When the words generate awareness in other centers, then you start to understand.

The higher or cardinal version of the intellectual center is called the higher intellectual center. This is where you form ideas, context, and philosophies. In the intellectual center, you might balance your checkbook; in the higher intellectual center, you might see the patterns, not only from this month's bank statement but from previous ones and your various other financial experiences, and formulate them into an overarching budget. That is an ordinary higher intellectual experience. As the energy of the center becomes more refined, there come more subtle philosophies about life. In the most thrilling experience of the higher intellectual center, you have revelations of truth in which you see new meanings and importance in your life.

An ordinary experience of the higher emotional center might be crying at a movie that portrays someone dying, helping you empathize with the suffering of others. This not necessarily revelatory, and could even result from being manipulated by the movie. It is a higher center experience because it is abstract; it is not directly related to something in your own, local life, although memories of your own grief, which are of the (ordinal) emotional center, might also be triggered. The most refined experiences of the higher emotional center uplift you out of the illusions of the physical plane and help you feel unconditional love, or agape, for all things.

A sense of the eternal and infinite is the hallmark of the most exalted experiences in all three higher centers. Your personality becomes subsumed by your essence, the part of you that knows that all is well. Your lower centers often have difficulty remembering that because they are on the front lines of what can be a harsh existence.

In the Michael Teachings, we speak about balancing the centers. If one were too much in the higher centers, there would be a lack of practicality. Such a person might be said to be a dreamer, unable to function in daily life. However, most people are imbalanced in the other direction--they are all too aware of their bodily appetites and their mundane thoughts and feelings. It can be hard for them to remember beauty, truth, and love.

"Overleaves" are a combination of personality traits that help shape your experience of the physical plane. Everyone has all seven centers, but in terms of the overleaves, one is your primary center, the main gateway to your personality, and another is your secondary, or "part" of center. As a soul, you choose them before you embark on your life task; they are part of your life plan.

Although the soul pretty much decides before incarnating what the primary and secondary centers will be, they don't solidify in the personality until the second year of life, giving the soul time to change its mind if it wishes to. For example, if it turns out that there is unexpected brain damage that will make intellectual centering problematic, there is still time for the soul to choose instead to be in the physical center.

Out of the seven centers, there are four that can be used as a primary or secondary centering: intellectual, emotional, physical, and moving. In the United States, a lot of people have intellectual centering, meaning that the most direct route into their personality is through their intellect, largely meaning words, although visual input can also be intellectual, such as symbols for traffic signs, lavatory facilities, and so forth. Pictures can stimulate emotions as well, but if the basic idea of a picture is to stimulate a concept, such as "Stop!" it's intellectual.

Intellectual centering is useful where there is a great deal of intellectual stimulation to keep track of. The media are predominantly focused in the intellectual center, other than music, which is more emotional, although it can also be predominantly intellectual. A person who is intellectually centered thinks first. Having a primary center means that you don't have to decide from which center you're going to react, which would slow you down too much; all centers are capable of reacting appropriately, so one is not better than another. If you are intellectually centered, your personality almost always processes incoming stimuli immediately through analysis, through parsing what it is. Your decision more involves *how* you analyze them; your personality can take charge of the process more consciously, or react on automatic pilot. Your primary center is your personality's control panel, quickly passing on your reaction to another center, usually your part of center, which may then pass it along to a third center, and so forth, as you process the experience. This may happen so quickly that you might not be aware that you had, in this case, a thought that set the ball rolling.

Having a primary intellectual center does not ensure that a person is actually intelligent--one cannot assume quality control. A person could be rather unintelligent, yet still react to things through analysis, thoughts, and so forth--they don't have to be perceptive or complex thoughts.

People with emotional centering predominantly experience their reactions first emotionally. In an intellectually centered culture, like the one in the United States, there are many people who look down on emotional centering. However, an intellectual reaction can be unreasonable, and an emotional reaction can be reasonable; again, all centers can be muddy or clear. Your emotions inform you of the content of incoming experience, as opposed to your intellect, which informs you of the form of that experience. Of course, you need both, and they need to work together.

Your emotional center tells you what is happening within you; your intellectual center may then verbalize it, accurately or not. If you, as a soul, set it up to have a lifetime working more with form, maybe words, you might (but might not) feel it most useful to be intellectually centered. On the other hand, if you are going to be focusing your life on the internal, the content of experience, you might choose emotional centering. For example, if you are going to be a musician or were planning to take care of children, emotional centering might be more useful because it makes emotions immediately accessible. However, we do not want to generalize too much; you do not have to have an emotional primary centering to be in touch with your emotions, and having primary emotional centering does not ensure that you will be accurate in discerning your emotions or those of others. Some souls are better at emotions than intellect, or vice versa, and some are better at action.

There are seven essence roles, or types of souls. In general, the inspiration axis roles, server and priest, have a natural affinity for emotion. Not surprisingly, the emotional and higher emotional centers are also on the inspiration axis. They all have to do with the internal. Artisans and sages, on the expression axis, resonate with the intellectual and higher intellectual centers, respectively, but as creators and communicators, they are accustomed to conveying outward what is within, so they also tend to have a good connection with emotions. (This also depends on the individual's history.)

Warriors, kings, and scholars are considered solid (as opposed to fluid) roles because they have one psychic input, making them more focused and down-to-earth. Warriors and kings, the action axis roles, can have particular trouble with emotions because they are farthest from them: they focus on the outer world, and emotions are about the inner. For example, a king who is emotionally centered might still be rather mystified by an unusual show of emotion, whereas a priest who is not emotionally centered may have an inherent understanding of it. Warriors and kings can be quite adaptive in their use of the intellect for sizing up a situation and planning their strategy; however, they can be suspicious when it is used in more subtle ways. The intellectual creativity of artisans and sages may seem dishonest or less-than-straightforward to them.

As you might imagine, scholars, the assimilation axis role, excel at the use of the intellectual center, particularly in a more neutral, computer-like way, but also in magnificent ways as they build upon their knowledge over time. Scholars are equidistant from all the centers; they could just as easily do their assimilating in the emotional center, but tend to choose the intellectual center more often; therefore, they also usually have less comfort with emotions.

There are no limitations here: any soul develops as it chooses to, so there are always exceptions to any sort of generalizations that one can make. If you are attuned to our communication through more than just your intellectual center, you can gain understanding in a more complete way, sensing the pictures we are painting rather than taking the words too literally.

It would not be practical to choose your higher emotional center as your primary gateway. It would not allow for living a normal human life, even though having that center well developed is a blessing. Similarly, you would not use your higher intellectual center as your gateway for day-to-day experience--you would be too cut off from the mundane things that you have to deal with. It would be redundant to have your instinctive center as your primary center because it is already working automatically; it does not need your conscious intention to function.

However, you can use either your physical or moving center as your gateway, although, with the moving center, the cardinal of the pair, you would not use its more exalted aspects for reacting to everyday life. If you are moving centered, you tend to react to things with a whole body response. That is useful for people who are going to be in motion a lot, such as athletes, dancers, and those who do physical labor. A moving-centered person would probably be particularly coordinated, or at least that is a gift that is especially available to her, whether or not it is developed. Such a person doesn't have continual day-to-day experiences of the most exalted moving-centered kind. Obviously, she would not, for example, be in constant orgasm or in a continual runner's high--that would be impractical. Such experiences might be more accessible, but that is not what is meant by being moving centered.

Someone who is primarily in the physical center reacts not with his whole body but from within his body, such as having a gut reaction to his environment. Someone physically centered may be turned on sexually more easily, and may exude sexuality more easily to others. However, it could be something as simple as reacting with heat or cold when something first happens.

The soul seeks a variety of experiences on the physical plane. If you are a warrior or king soul, you already have a natural affinity for physical experiences. If you have, in addition, a moving or physical center, you are underlining that tendency; you are focusing more on the physical. On the other hand, if you are a priest soul choosing one of those centers, you are seeking to round out your experience, to be less internal and more physical.

With all the overleaves, there is a mechanism called "sliding." Sliding means that there is a structure that allows for easily moving to another overleaf that is connected by reason of being on the same axis. In the case of the items on the far right-hand column of the Michael chart, the assimilation axis (which is not divided into ordinal and cardinal), one can slide to any of the others. That's not really applicable with the centers, since people are not centered full-time in the instinctive center. However, if you are emotionally centered, you can more easily slide to the higher emotional center. Therefore, your mundane emotions can more easily become more exalted, profound, and overarching. Crying because of an unresolved emotion might give way to a sense of loving connection to the divine for no other reason than that you happen to open to essence (your soul), so you are using that gateway to open yourself up more. Someone who is intellectually centered may fairly easily stumble upon a truth that delights and expands her. Someone in the physical center may start to move his whole body that leads to a profound gestalt that feels liberating, such as on the dance floor where his body seems to be moving itself; time seems to stop.

This can work in the other direction, too, such as when you have a great intellectual realization that your (lower) intellectual center starts making sense of, finding applications and examples.

Once your primary centering is set, it usually does not change throughout your life. It is not a problem that your first reaction is from the same center most of the time; it is useful for the soul to have a practiced reflex. It's only a problem if you get stuck and your reaction doesn't flow well to your other centers as is appropriate.

Your secondary center, or part of center, is also habitual, but less so. Let's say that you are in the emotional part of the intellectual center. You might primarily react intellectually 95% of the time, but go into the emotional part of the intellectual center only 60% of the time. The rest of the time, your thoughts might directly manifest in your body instead, or may simply stay in your intellectual center if an emotion or action is not called for. So there is more leeway in where you go after your primary reaction than in your primary reaction itself. Some people are very fluid in this regard.

If you are in the emotional part of the intellectual center, your emotions reflect your thoughts much of the time. You react intellectually, and then your thoughts, as soon as they are formed, manifest emotions. If you're having unpleasant emotions, deliberately changing to more positive thoughts (for example, through affirmations or visualizations) may help your emotions feel better. However, in a minority of instances, making your thoughts more positive might instead directly result in feeling better physically, if you're currently using the physical part of the intellectual center.

If you are in the physical part of the emotional center, your bodily symptoms tend to reflect your emotions; if you improve your emotions (perhaps by listening to beautiful music or communing with nature), you will probably feel better physically. However, sometimes, your emotions instead directly manifest in your thoughts, perhaps moving into your body after that, as a response to the thoughts that formed. When all your centers are open and well developed, your reactions will flow from your primary center to the others in whatever way is most appropriate.

If the part of the center becomes "trapped," it means that it tends to feed back into the primary center in a "tape loop"--you fall into a rut. It doesn't spread out into the other centers appropriately. This is a problem when a person is on automatic pilot. If you are in the intellectual part of the moving center, your thoughts form as a response to the way you are acting and moving. If you are in your trap, that leads to more movement rather than an appropriate emotional response. This is compulsive behavior--your body's unease leads to uneasy thoughts, which stimulates still greater unease in your body. The key to getting out of your trap is to do something different with your secondary center to calm it. In this case, instead of intellectualizing about your compulsive actions, you might distract your intellect with a crossword puzzle until you are calm, and then engage with your emotions, which is the weak link here.

Why are "reason" and "telepathy" considered negative poles (traits) of the intellectual centers?

The positive poles of the centers reflect what happens in them when a person is conscious and awake; negative pole experiences are automatic and less developed. The positive pole of the intellectual center is "thought"; real thought is organic, fresh, spontaneous, and alive. Reason, in this context, refers to something that is mechanical, like a computer. You can get a reasonable calculation from a calculator, for example, but a calculator is not alive. Of course, there's nothing wrong with reason, but being the negative pole suggests that it is limited.

The positive pole of the higher intellectual center is "integration"--in tapping into the truth force, you form a view of things that grasps how the whole fits together. In telepathy, you get part of the picture through subtle intellectual communication with others. One might use the higher intellectual center for verbal channeling and use telepathy to bring forth words from another place, but it does not yet suggest an overarching understanding, only the possibility of it.

The emotional center has a positive pole of "sensibility," which is a well-fleshed-out ability to feel. "Sentimentality," the negative pole, suggests the emotions being a little purple, aggravated but not enriched. The higher emotional center has a positive pole of "empathy," which again puts it all together: empathy is accurately knowing in yourself the whole of an experience outside yourself. Empathy, incidentally, is not the same thing as sympathy. Sympathy is more like the negative pole, "intuition." Sympathy resonates with just a part of an experience outside yourself--the pain--without necessarily understanding it, although caring. Similarly, intuition, as we are using it here, receives part of an experience without grokking the whole.

Words like "intuition" and "sympathy" are defined and used differently by different people. We are, obviously, under the necessity of using words, and words are limited, so we suggest that you receive these words with your whole being, with all your centers, so that you can understand them in this context, as we are defining them, rather than using the words to form limited concepts.

The positive pole of the physical center is "amoral"--not "immoral" but amoral. It doesn't sound very positive if you think of it as a person who doesn't have any morals, but what it means here is a full-bodied physical experience without censoring. You fully feel the aliveness of your body without constriction. The negative pole is "erotic," which tends to conjure just the sexual, but we mean it as more than that. Erotic simply suggests that the body has been stimulated, which is fine, but it isn't the complete experience of even just the body; it's like scratching an itch. Again, there's nothing wrong with it, but it is not what the fully alive person experiences in the body.

The positive pole of the moving center has been called "enduring"; it is "energetic" in the negative pole. These terms are a little problematic also, but perhaps you have a sense of the endurance of the moving center when you are in the zone and feel like you could go forever, whereas just being energetic might not last, mean anything, or go anywhere.

The instinctive center has a positive pole of "atomic." You might think of that as taking you all the way to the Source, to the place where physicality emerges from the Tao; the atom is source of all form. In its most healthy alignment, the instinctive center is in the flow of everything, whereas "anatomic," the negative pole, suggests more mechanical experiences of the anatomy that's trying to keep itself alive.

Balancing the centers is a different experience for different individuals. If you are intellectually centered, it is normal for you to be more oriented toward intellect, and this is also generally true if you are a sage or scholar, especially, even if you are not intellectually centered--you tend to use your mind a lot. So balancing your centers does not mean you have to have an equal experience of each. It does mean, however, that you have an equal availability of each so that you can use whichever center is appropriate in the moment. It is common for people to start relying too much on whatever comes easiest to them. An example is the stereotypical nerd who is great with numbers and other intellectual endeavors, but who is totally nonathletic; he may feel embarrassed by his inability to do things with his body, and retreat even further into his intellect to the point where he has very little physical capability.

When the centers are balanced, the person feels good; when the centers are unbalanced, the person doesn't feel good. A nerd doesn't have to become a great athlete to be balanced, but he might feel better if he has some comfort with doing physical things. Therefore, it might be a good choice for him to deliberately develop his body a little more, even if it's not easy, and that could actually improve his intellect further.

Your third area of centering is weakest, and that is what you most need to work on in order to be balanced. If you are in the intellectual part of the emotional center, your weakest area is your body; you might want to work on your sexuality or athleticism. Someone in the intellectual part of the moving center is likely to be strong with action, and not bad with her intellect; she may want to work on her emotions, which are her weak link. Since emotions are, by definition, formless, a large number of people, even some with an emotional center, misunderstand their emotions--they don't really know what they are feeling. Those whose weak link is the intellect don't tend to stop to think; they may not like analyzing, or don't want to let facts get in the way of their feelings or plans of action. If that's the case, that is what they most need to do in order to be balanced.

What does it take for you to be balanced? If you are highly intellectual and don't do physical exercise, you could benefit greatly from just, say, three hours a week of it; even though that is far less time than you spend focusing on intellectual things, it could go a long way toward balancing you. When you balance your centers, you are firing on all cylinders; everything works better in your life.

Developing your intellect is not just about improving your memory or your ability to do math problems; it also has more subtle manifestations. A well-honed intellect can help you see what is true, just as a well-honed emotional center can help you know what is loving and not just what you happen to be feeling at the moment. And well-honed physical and moving centers can help you have health and beauty; they can help you appreciate the aliveness that permeates all creation.

Let's say you have a brilliant intellect, but you are cut off from your body. Eventually, this impacts your ability to know truth because your direct experience of beauty is diminished. If you build up your body centers, your experience of truth can also increase. Truth cannot be separated from beauty or love, so this is a good reason for balancing the centers. Of course, the health of your body also affects your brain's function.

Do younger souls choose moving or physical centering more frequently?

Yes, but it also depends on the culture; for instance, younger souls in the United States choose intellectual centering more often. However, generally that is the case because when you are an incarnating soul, you have to know about the physical side of things before you can know about how the intellectual and emotional sides manifest in the physical.

There may not be much point to choosing intellectual centering if you are in a culture where there is little intellectual activity. If you are living in a survival-oriented tribe, for example, that focuses on the moving center, you will not fit in very well if you are intellectually centered, although that could be by design. You might choose to be intellectually centered in that situation so that you can become the tribe's herbalist, studying and teaching the medicine of the tribe. If you have a physical disability and cannot move very well, then perhaps the tribe will make an intellectual place for you. Emotional centering could work well in a moving-centered tribe, too, being useful for making music and dancing. Dance is a moving-centered activity, but when an emotionally centered person dances, it is an expression of his emotions; this can be powerful in building community.

MEDITATION:

Pay attention to your centers. See if they are balanced, or if you have an urge to balance them more. Maybe you are feeling drawn to listen to emotional music, or to work your mind. Maybe you are feeling that you want to express yourself physically, that you want to dance or otherwise move your body. Notice what sounds sweet to you; that is what will balance your centers.

I am a healer, and am in the emotional center, but would like to become more intellectual. Would I be able to do this?

You can do anything. You are not limited by anything on your Michael chart. You have an intellect and a body in addition to your emotions. As you exercise your intellect, its capacity grows. Your centering is how you react to stimuli first and second, but all your centers are available to be used and developed.

However, as a healer in the emotional center, your strong suit is your empathy as you slide into your higher emotional center. Often, grasping the emotions of a person's illness gives clues for healing. You would probably not take a purely intellectual approach, such as simply going down a list of herbs, but would feel into the whole situation; your intuition would guide you. However, increased knowledge, such as of herbs, could help you target your intuition better. All the centers can complement one another.

Lately, I've tried to stay balanced, but because of stress I've been feeling I cannot. I'm wondering how I can keep my balance in the midst of extreme stress.

One of the keys is to go into neutral gear, meaning to step out of your normal situation in any way that you can. A great way to do that is to get out in nature; for example, taking a walk.

Another technique, if you are struggling and are stuck in any of your centers, is to do something that you don't normally do. Let's say you're a person who is not using your intellectual center very much, but you enjoy museums and sense that visiting one would be satisfying. Just getting out of your routine, whatever that is, is useful. If you don't feel that you have time for that, then try to do what you are doing in a different way. It could be as simple as taking a different route to work or shopping. Wake yourself up out of the trance of habitual reactions.

This is a very challenging planet. You have, particularly in the current era, a great deal of stimulation continually being thrown at you. Most of you don't even get away from it much when you sleep. In part, this is because the airwaves, both physical and energetic, are filled with all sorts of stimuli. They can come at you without your even knowing that it's there.

You might particularly notice this after a collective trauma. 9/11 was an intense example of that, but there have been many others. If there is something negative in the news and a lot of people are reacting to it, it can generate an energy that you react to. If you are intellectually centered, you might find your mind racing, but that doesn't mean that you won't also feel emotions as a result of these energies, particularly if a lot of other people are feeling very emotionally stimulated. You have your own seven centers, but you are also part of collectives of increasing size, such as communities and cultural groups, that also have seven centers. So even if you are intellectually centered, you may be part of a nation that has a strong tendency toward the emotional center. In any case, you have emotions, and if there are strong emotions around, your emotions feel them.

If you go to a hospital, your body is likely to feel the compromised experiences that pervade the hospital. This is especially true if you are the more sensitive type. Some people tend to contract their auras tightly around them so that they don't pick up much from other people, although they still pick up some things without knowing it. If you are a highly sensitive type, you may pick up a lot of things. If you have a loved one who is ill, you might take on some of her symptoms out of an unconscious desire to help her. Some husbands even manifest their wife's symptoms of pregnancy.

A poet said that "No man is an island." You cannot entirely escape picking up on the energies of others, whether they manifest as emotions, thoughts, or sensations. What you can do is learn to discern when what you are feeling is not from your own personal life. That simple recognition may calm your reacting center(s).

"Mob mentality" refers to how quickly a group of people can come to share the same exaggerated emotions, and how the energies of the moving center can take over, such as a group of bigots who become riled up and start moving as one to lynch someone. If your centers are balanced and well-developed, you have a lot of the defenses against inappropriate group reactions: you can analyze whether something is reasonable, feel whether it's loving, and sense whether it has beauty and goodness in it. And you can cross-reference these reactions, so that if something doesn't seem intelligent, but your emotions are strong, you can use the balance of your centers to check one another. If there is not balance, one center is more able to go to an extreme. Your emotions can go off the deep end, or you can rationalize something that seems logical but is actually prejudiced, or you can act out your anger without checking it.

Many acts of violence are committed when a person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These substances suppress the intellect's ability to be a moderating influence. They let emotions or anger take over in ways that can create karma or be otherwise harmful. Anger is not so much an emotion as a reaction in the body to emotions; it is an uncomfortable energy in the physical center that wants to do something in an unrefined way in order to be released as quickly as possible. A more mature approach is to use it as a catalyst for growth, gaining greater understanding.

On the other hand, when intellect is too dominant, it can lead to ideologies that suppress compassion and fairness. Furthermore, when people know only the hungers of their body, it can cause them to run roughshod over both reason and feeling, their own and those of others. So it is easy to see why balancing the centers is so valuable. One cannot be truly kind, for example, if there is not both emotional compassion and intellectual clarity. One cannot be graceful if there is not both physical peace and emotional equilibrium.

In the centers, we see, perhaps more than anywhere else, how everything fits together, how you cannot have one thing without the other, how one quality of creation is not superior to any other, but each is an important part of the whole. In the children's story "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," perhaps Goldilocks represents the personality, and the three bears represent the body, emotions, and intellect. Goldilocks learns that the key to life is finding not too hot, not too cold, but just right; not too much, not too little, but a good balance. However, finding balance in life can be very challenging.

We mention that one tends to rely on one's strong suit. As you ignore the things that you are not good at, they become weaker and weaker. After a while, they may atrophy and be hard to get back. Perhaps you have made a New Year's resolution to exercise more. This is one of the first times in history when such resolutions would even have been needed, because most people used to get plenty of exercise in the course of surviving, unless they were unusually rich and privileged. It's an interesting time to be alive, when you have to actually make a choice to move your body. In the past, the problem was more often moving it so much that you exhausted yourself.

It is also unusual for so many to suffer from intellectual overstimulation. A few hundred years ago, there were hardly any books around. There might have been a little bit of intellectual stimulation at your house of worship, but that was about it.

The simple life tends to have a pretty well-developed emotional component, particularly for those who have families--there is usually emotional content by reason of having children around, if nothing else, and also when loved ones die. So the circle of life tends to offer some emotional stimulation, but now, with hyper-stimulation of all kinds, people are feeling overwhelmed and many try not to feel. So this is a good time to focus on what inspires you to feel love, as well as to appreciate beauty and to know truth. Simply having the intention to balance your centers will help you do so.

***

February 9, 2010

My recent big project has been editing the transcripts of two two-hour Michael Teachings workshops I conducted on BlogTalk Radio July 12 and September 13, 2009:

http://www.michaelteachings.com/masterclass_part_one.html

http://www.michaelteachings.com/masterclass_part_two.html

The audio recordings are also available for listening or downloading there.

Megan Haddock kindly transcribed them (34,000 words!--it's hard to believe that four hours of speaking can generate so many.) Thanks also to Dave Gregg for hosting both the chats and the files linked here. They both did a great deal of work to bring you this material.

In editing, I cut about a third and rewrote and rearranged much of the rest to make it read as clearly and concisely as possible. The workshops intersperse celebrity charts with those of Michael students who were on the air with us to discuss them.

They are accompanied by a PDF file you can download that includes Michael charts for forty-three people, in alphabetical order, along with their photos, so you can follow along with the commentary. I highly recommend that you use this, as it will bring the workshops to life for you.

On each page of the transcripts, there is a link near the top called "Masterclass Handout." If you just click on it, it will open it in your web browser, and you can scroll down to navigate. If you right-click or option-click (Mac) on it, you are given the option to download the file to your hard drive and read it in Adobe Reader, which might be more convenient, since you can jump ahead to any chart by putting in its number at the top. (It will download to whatever folder is the default for your browser.)

Not every chart was discussed in the workshop, and the charts discussed on the recording were not all done in the alphabetical order of the PDF. However, I restored them to alphabetical order for these transcripts, although I removed the students' last names so as to protect their identity on search engines.

Most of the students are members of the Michael teachings Yahoo group. Go to this link if you wish to join:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MichaelTeachings

These are the celebrities whose charts I discussed (at varying lengths):

Part One - http://www.michaelteachings.com/masterclass_part_one.html

Bella Abzug
Julie Andrews
Leonard Bernstein
Susan Boyle
Ellen Burstyn
Hillary Clinton
Patrick Dempsey
Johnny Depp
Clint Eastwood
Richard Gere
George Gershwin
Al Gore
Kathy Griffin
Oscar Hammerstein II

Part Two - http://www.michaelteachings.com/masterclass_part_two.html

Caroline Kennedy
Rush Limbaugh
Niccolo Machiavelli
Barack Obama
Michelle Obama
Aidan Quinn
Richard Rodgers
Karl Rove
Sam Shepard

Channeling celebrity overleaves is problematic, and no one can claim that what they get is 100% accurate. However, I chose these because I had channeled their full charts and am reasonably certain of them. More importantly, they make good springboards for exploring the teachings--whether they ultimately prove to be wholly correct or not, they provide food for thought. As Michael so often reminds us, the only way we can truly learn these teachings is to self-validate. In this workshop, I've offered a lot of tools for doing just that.

For this newsletter, I am reprinting from the transcripts my rather lengthy discussions of Barack and Michelle Obama, since they have obvious interest for many people:

* BARACK OBAMA (PDF Chart 30)

As with many well-known people, there have been a number of different channels who have gotten overleaves for Barack Obama. I've seen around ten different versions of his, but I've rarely seen so much agreement among the different channels.

My article "Channeling Michael Information More Than Once" is here:

http://www.michaelteachings.com/channeling-more-than-once.html

It's about why it's problematic, and different channels tend to get different information. However, with Obama, there are a lot of the same overleaves from many different channels. Out of the ten, nine got that he is a priest (the other got king--I got him as having king casting). I don't suggest that we start trying to determine charts by consensus, because sometimes, as in every field, the majority is wrong; it's good to be intelligent when looking at charts rather than just voting, but, clearly, Obama is a priest. For one thing, he's a very inspirational speaker; he sounds a little bit like a preacher.

I got that he does not have an essence twin. Although some channels did get an essence twin for him, the case I can make for him not having an essence twin is that he is so obviously a priest--hardly anyone is wondering whether he a priest or, say, a sage. So there's pure priest energy, which would either come from him having no essence twin or him having a priest essence twin. (If he had an essence twin of another role, but incarnate, there would be lesser bleedthrough, but it would still not be as clear-cut as he seems to be.)

I can't make comparisons about what I channeled on his casting because I haven't heard of any other channels getting casting information for him. I got king and then, secondarily, sage, with tertiary (minor) artisan casting. King casting means that he seeks mastery and excellence in his inspiration. Casting doesn't have the energy of the role directly, but it does have the actions (direction and flavor) of it. Obama doesn't come off with stereotypical king energy (we don't see tyranny), but we do see him being very careful and exacting in his choice of words, which could be a perfectionist king flavor. He doesn't let himself go with priestly inspiration, as a priest-cast priest might--he's more contained. So I think it's possible, at least, to make a case for king casting. I also channeled him as being in a king-position entity (some channels did get other entities for him). Both king casting and entity would leave others both near and far with a king-flavored impression of him. Incidentally, I got him as being in the same entity as Al Gore, which is intriguing.

His secondary casting of sage shows up in his very good sense of humor. Most people who become well known in politics start to become cautious about cracking jokes because it often backfires, but earlier in his campaign on some talk shows, he was quite funny.

I got him as being on the truth side of his entity (the other choices are love and beauty, or energy). That makes a soul more oriented in truth. The positive pole of priest is compassion, caring for others, so priests have an obvious natural affinity for the love force, but being on the truth side, there's a personal prioritizing of what is true. He is certainly insightful and thoughtful. His autobiography, "Dreams from My Father," reveals a search for truth and not just for an exalted feeling of inspiration (love).

He has higher male energy. We're going to be talking about Michelle's chart next; she's even higher in male energy. So there's a strong career orientation in both of them.

He's had thirteen previous grand cycles. Every grand cycle adds a layer of complexity, and he's fairly complex. The highest of anyone we know of on Earth is nineteen. The average person in the United States has had about five.

The goal of growth has more often come up among channels, but dominance has come up a couple of times. You could make a good case both ways, so I will explore that here:

Growth is the priest goal, so every priest has something of the quality of growth in him; therefore, it's easy to see it in a priest. People who have the actual goal of growth are characterized by being exceptionally busy; they tend to fill their time and their lives, with many irons in the fire, and enjoy that unless they overdo it, which puts them in the negative pole, "confusion." In growth, one seeks new challenges; in responding to new stimuli, one grows and learns things.

People with a goal of growth tend to be more self (inner)-involved, whereas dominance tends to make one more involved with the outer world. It would be too pat to see dominance as the goal for every leader, but as introspective as Obama can be (which especially showed up in his autobiography), he seems to spend far more time involved with others. In its positive pole, "leadership," dominance is about facilitating win-win solutions among others.

Another confounding factor in trying to validate Obama's goal is that I also got him as sixth-level mature (growth is the number six goal). The sixth level of a soul age also tends to be a quite full and busy time, rushing around trying to handle a lot of different things, so that can look a bit like growth. In fact, busyness might be thought of as a characteristic of the entire priest/number six axis, since it's cardinal (expanded) and inspirational (internal)--it's about expanding the inner world.

Dominance has a negative pole of dictatorship. I've not heard reports about him being a dictator. However, I have also not heard of him going into substantial confusion or overwhelm (growth), either, although some anecdotes suggest that there might have been some of that going on during his campaign, and being an internal experience, that might be hard for others to read unless he talked about it.

I have known a couple of people validated as being in dominance who also did not exhibit overt dictatorship, although it might have shown up more subtly to people close to them. (Obama spoke of butting heads with Michelle early in their marriage.) I had a scholar friend in dominance who had had an overbearing father, and he hated authority figures. He despised the idea that he might be one himself when his chart first came back with him being in dominance. However, you could see in his life that he was constantly being put in that position despite himself. If there was a committee, he was always asked to be in charge of it; he constantly ending up being the leader. He was basically a mild-mannered scholar, and the rest of his overleaves were gentle, too. His wife and co-workers probably saw some dictatorship, but, to me, it didn't show up strongly or obviously.

So, for me, the jury is out on Obama's goal, but I lean toward dominance. Being a sixth-mature priest in growth might pull him inward too much for him to do what he is doing.

Attitude has come up as either idealist or pragmatist. As with his goal, I can see both, but my vote is for idealist. The argument that's being made for him being a pragmatist is that he's a practical person--he's flexible about policy, taking into account what he's able to pass through Congress. He says, "Okay, let's just figure out something that works here." However, one suspects that many politicians have been shocked early on by how hard it is to get things done and have learned the hard way to be at least somewhat pragmatic. Also, Obama has a conciliatory personality, which may, in part, relate to him being a priest. Some priests are firebrands, but part of his priest "higher ideal" is trying to find common ground with those who identify as conservatives. This could also relate to the positive pole of dominance, forging win-win solutions. (Being averse to conflict can be a characteristic of the goal of acceptance, negative pole "ingratiation," but that has not been suggested by any channels I know of as being his goal.)

The pragmatists I have known and validated, in the sense of the overleaf, also had a bland quality about them. It's the neutral attitude, and it has a no-nonsense, grounded approach, not just practicality, but it has no set preference for how to look at the world. The idealist attitude says, "The world can be changed and I'm going to do my darndest to change it." Of course, change was the entire theme of his campaign. One could argue that it was just a political slogan, since a lot of politicians talk about change in a general way, but I think it was more than that for him. The idealist compares the world he sees now to his vision of how it should be, and with great optimism, positivity, and the ability to bounce back, he gets in there and tries to do that. His speeches and writings reflect idealism to me. Idealists smile more, too, as a rule, than pragmatists, and Obama smiles a lot.

The belief that idealists are not practical doesn't pan out in my experience. I am an idealist, which is on the same axis as my role, sage, so it's a very strong overleaf for me--the two traits reinforce each other. Sages are already naturally optimistic and verbal about how things could be made better; it's our nature. However, I also have, in some ways, a practical nature. I'm efficient and good at organizing things. I'm interested in matters of policy and how they can be made to work better. When I was younger, I was more in the negative pole of "abstraction"--I was naïve about a lot of things.

That's something that idealists in the negative pole share with the negative pole of spiritualist: a tendency to be out of touch with how things really are. However, the positive pole of idealist, "coalescence," pulls things together and makes them work, so there is an inherent practicality in the positive pole. Idealist is more inherently practical than spiritualist; spiritualists can have rose-colored glasses and their heads up in the clouds.

The majority of channels, including me, have gotten observation mode for Obama. Fifty percent of humanity is in observation, although some of us slide fairly often to other modes. Some people find Obama aloof, and the neutral mode can yield that impression, especially along with self-protective arrogance and dry intellectual centering. In observation mode, one neutrally observes, as opposed to passion mode, for example, which jumps into life with both feet.

One channel got caution mode for him; you could make the case for that from how he speaks--there's a lot of "um's" and pauses. He's trying to think and be careful about his word choices. Any of the neutral overleaves (those in the far right hand column) can slide to any of the other overleaves in that row, so his observation could easily slide to caution, and probably does from time to time. However, I think his basic default is more neutral. His caution about what he says may just come from the knowledge that he's going to be judged for every word (igniting self-conscious arrogance, which is the next item we'll discuss), and it's better to avoid misunderstandings before they start. Another factor, again, may be his king-casting perfectionism, seeking excellence in his word choices.

To me, Obama is clearly intellectually centered. I got that he's in the moving part, and there's a lot of agreement on that. A couple channels got him in the emotional center, which has a natural affinity for the inspiration-axis roles. However, when I want to validate emotional centering, I look for a watery quality in the eyes, whereas intellectual centering has a thoughtful quality, which I see in him.

Arrogance has come up for Obama's chief obstacle with most of the channelings, with one vote for impatience and another vote for stubbornness. I'm going with arrogance, but I think he's worked on it and it's mild at this point. I listened to the audiobook of "Dreams from My Father"; you can tell that he works hard on himself, trying to be conscious and self-aware. He knows that he has a tendency toward arrogance, and works against it, which a mark of self-awareness.

During the campaign, he was at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. A tradition is that you write down a prayer on a little piece of paper, roll it up, and stick it in a crack in the wall. This is a sacred act, and it's considered to be a serious breach to look at what someone wrote. However, of course, after he put his prayer in the wall, someone took it out and publicized it. Part of his prayer said, "…help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. Make me an instrument of your will." The latter part sounds like a priest prayer. "Help me guard against pride" sounds like a struggle against arrogance. "Pride" is the positive pole of arrogance; the negative pole is "vanity." (Even pride, in this case, is false pride, so it's not a good thing.) Michelle is force of nature, a strong and blunt person; according to Obama, she helps him stay grounded because she tells it like it is and won't let him get away with anything. That's helped him keep the "dragon" of arrogance in its cave.

I had first gotten saturnian/mercurial body type. When I studied his picture, I began to think that that should be reversed, mercurial first, since there's more of an oval quality to his face. I asked Michael about that, and they amended his chart to read 51% mercurial/49% saturnian, commenting, "Mercurial shows up more in his face, but saturnian, more in his body. He's balanced."

Every channel got him as being a mature soul except one. The one who said young soul was one of the Yarbro channels, who said that he was sixth-level young. I got sixth-level mature. I think that the Yarbro people are often accurate in their overleaves of celebrities, and I'm always interested in what they have to say. However, I think they have a bias about soul age that tends to make them skew younger than they are, especially with celebrities; they seem to have an assumption that if you're famous, you're probably young. Some other channels have acknowledged that they've had a bias skewing older, a similar but opposite problem: they tended to assume that if somebody seemed to be spiritual, they were probably old souls. To be an accurate channel, you have to put aside all bias, either deflating or inflating or any other distortion; you have to have no assumptions about the subject, or at least know that you have them and put them aside.

I have known young priests who are inspirational and wise people. I would not have a problem thinking of him as being young, and would think no less of him for that. However, the focus of the young soul age is success for its own sake; the focus of the mature soul age is relationships. Even though he got a degree from Harvard Law School, he never made a lot of money. Michelle, whom I got as being sixth-level young, made a higher salary when she worked.

The levels that he's been channeled as mature are fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh. with a lot of consensus around sixth. I probably wouldn't go with fourth, because it has a pure relationship orientation; I don't see that with him. I wouldn't go with fifth, either, because it's eccentric, doing things in an odd, expansive, sage-like way. I would go with either sixth or seventh. Seven is the mastery level; it's about teaching and he's clearly doing that. Sixth-level mature stereotypically is difficult and karmic. However, I know a lot of sixth level mature souls, and not all of them are having rough, "through the wringer" kind of lives. A lot of them are, but not all of them, which illustrates the limitations of generalizations with this material. Sixth levels of any soul age tend to take a lot of lifetimes to complete, because they're about tying up things with other people from the whole soul age that had been left undone. It matters whether you're at the early stage, the middle, or the end, because if you're just getting started or you're finishing it up, it may not be as karmic. It also matters how much leftover karma that the soul has at this point; every soul is going to have a different story to tell in that regard. If one has already cleaned up a lot of it, there isn't as much karma to deal with.

I asked Michael, and got that he is early in the sixth level--the second lifetime there. It doesn't look like Obama has had terrible hardship in his life to overcome so far, but if he is interested in paying off a lot of karma in a positive way, being President in this turbulent time is probably a great way for him to do that. Enduring flack, lies, etc., with grace can be part of repaying karma.

* MICHELLE OBAMA (PDF Chart 31)

When I channel charts, I try to guess the person's role beforehand by studying his or her photograph. I often get something different from what I guess, and that's been educational for me. (Studying the person's face also simply focuses my concentration, making it easier for Michael to tune in deeply to the person.)

Michelle Obama's chart is similar to Lisa's (Chart 23), another scholar/honorary warrior lawyer, and also to Kathy Griffin's (Chart 20). In each case, the strong warrior flavor against the neutral scholar quality can make it difficult to discern which role is correct if you don't know the person well. With both Obama and Griffin, I had originally assumed that they are warriors. Obama is particularly earthy and no-nonsense, with a penetrating, cool look in her eyes. She is also very intelligent; any role can be intelligent, but stereotypical intelligence, meaning the ability to retain and manipulate facts, is particularly common among scholars, who often spend many lifetimes assimilating knowledge and exercising their intellect.

Some other channels got that Obama is a warrior. I can certainly understand that, and it's up to you to decide, but what I got was scholar, warrior essence twin and then *double* warrior casting: third in her cadence that is also third in its greater cadence. Her greater cadence is fourth in its string of greater cadences; four is the scholar number, a weak influence, but it reinforces her scholar essence. So here we see a color scheme of scholar, warrior, warrior, warrior, scholar. It's a limited, two-color scheme. Whenever you put scholar and warrior energy together, the warrior energy is what you're going to notice. It's like a color scheme of white and red--your eye will go to the red because red is dominant. Furthermore, she has, by my reckoning, no scholar overleaves, but two more warrior influences: being a young soul, which is the third (warrior) soul age, and, significantly, the warrior-position attitude of cynic.

Cynic is the most noticeable trait on Obama's chart. Cynic attitude is even more challenging than the goal of discrimination; as a rule, it's the most difficult overleaf. Some people do it subtly, and you don't notice it that much; they've learned how to run that energy without it sticking out like a sore thumb, but it's a hard one to do well, and a warrior (or honorary warrior) cynic is a cynic in overdrive, since those traits reinforce each other.

The positive pole of cynic is "contradiction"--that's not the negative pole! It's sort of like warrior "persuasion." The negative pole is "denigration." Cynic has an acidic quality that cuts through the crap and gets to the heart of things. It's a tire-kicker attitude, a way of looking at the world that is fierce and doesn't take anything on face value.

I don't think that Barack Obama would reveal so much today, but in an early interview, someone asked about Michelle, and he said, "She's the love of my life, but she can be mean sometimes." She came under a lot of fire early on for not being soft and fuzzy, so she's tried to change the way she comes across in public. However, she is strongly no-nonsense. I think of the warrior motto as, "Don't mess with me!" She created an organic garden on the White House grounds; a reporter asked her if Barack and their daughters would be working in it. She said something like, "They're going to be out here shoveling whether they like it or not!"

Caution mode is the only chart element I see that tempers these qualities.

Arrogance is another strong overleaf.

I got her soul age as sixth-level young. Being young is about pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, and although sixth level resonates with priest rather than warrior, it does work you hard. Either way, she clearly has a lot of capacity for work.

To validate whether Obama is a scholar with a large amount of warrior influence, or a warrior in essence, your basic decision would be whether she's predominantly assimilative or active. Is her basic nature to digest things or to do? Is she a big reader, collecting a lot of books, or is being externally productive more central to who she is? I don't know enough about her to answer those questions.

However, almost everyone agrees that Barack Obama is a priest, and the priest/scholar coupling is very common. The priest/warrior coupling is not unheard of, either--it's an "opposites attract" thing, exciting because priests are up in the higher realms, and warriors are highly physical--they excite each other from that balancing quality. However, priests most often mate with either servers or scholars, so that could be a validation that Obama is a scholar.

***

October 30, 2009

ACCEPTANCE AND SOLVING PROBLEMS (excerpt)

Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin, from the upcoming book "Opening to Healing Energy"
(My upcoming books have been upcoming for a long time :). I don't have a publication date.--SGH)

It's one thing to say, "I am perfect as I am. I love myself." It's another to feel it. How do you get the feeling?

The thought usually comes first. Without it, you are not likely to have the feeling. Then you can bring your other thoughts in line with it. Suppose that you repeat the affirmation, "I am perfect as I am." Then five minutes later, you stub your toe and say, "I'm a stupid idiot for stubbing my toe." Your second affirmation is obviously in conflict with the first, and neutralizes it. As you bring all your thoughts in line with the positive affirmation, you can imprint it into your consciousness. This takes being awake and noticing your thoughts. For example, if you hear yourself calling yourself stupid, you can remind yourself that it is all right to stub your toe sometimes, and that you are perfect as you are. As you act toward yourself in a conscious, loving way, you become more aware of emotions not in agreement with your new thoughts, such as feelings of inadequacy, of not being lovable, and so forth, and you can begin to release them. New feelings of being worthy of love take hold.

Incidentally, positive feelings are already present in everyone. There is a part of you that already knows that you are perfect as you are and that you are worthy of love. If your whole self agreed that you are imperfect and not worthy of love, there would be no inner conflict, and therefore no impetus in you to change that belief; it would be an open-and-shut case. You would deem your unworthiness an absolute truth and would have no motivation to change your thoughts and feelings. The purpose of spiritual work is not to impose something new and foreign on yourself; it is simply to acknowledge the truth you already know in some part of yourself and allow it to expand. You might say that it is a seedling being choked by weeds; you are pulling out the weeds from around it so that it can grow into a beautiful plant.

A good way to reach nonjudgmental neutrality about yourself is to list facts about yourself. For example: "I sometimes interrupt people." "I'm very good at shopping." "I am angry at my mother." "I like watching reruns of 'I Love Lucy.'" "I wear size 8 shoes." And so forth. Loving yourself does not imply that you ignore the facts about yourself. However, when you love yourself, you are not making those facts wrong, although you may choose to change them if they can be changed. You certainly cannot change them if you do not know about them. In self-judgment, you try to change them because you think that you are a bad person and that you will become a good person if you change them. When you love yourself, you change them simply because doing so seems like the best choice.

You probably will not have much success changing your shoe size, but you can practice not interrupting others if you wish. You might find that not interrupting others makes your conversations more pleasant and helps you feel more peaceful. That is a good reason to change this habit.

However you feel is perfect as it is. You may feel happy; you may feel sad. You may feel sick; you may feel healthy. There is no right way to be a human being. By accepting the way something is for you at the moment, you are not necessarily putting much emphasis on it. If your body is sick, your acceptance of that fact does not glorify it—it is not making it more important than it is. It may be very important; it may not be. If you are neutral about it, you can see how important it really is and how much of your attention it requires. If you give unnecessary attention to a particular fact, you are taking energy away from other facts that might also benefit from your attention.

If you are not feeling very accepting, accept that you are not feeling accepting--you have to start where you are. If you are feeling unaccepting and then remember that you are "supposed" to be accepting, putting yourself down for not being accepting is missing the point. Whatever you experience is acceptable.

If you create karma by violating another person, you will pay the price for that. Of course, it is more pleasant if you do not create karma, but if you do, that, too, is acceptable--that is one way you learn on the physical plane. Virtually no one passes through the physical plane without creating and repaying karmas. Virtually no one passes through a single day without making mistakes, miscalculations, or whatever. Again, that is part of how you learn. That is acceptable. You are completely acceptable, exactly the way you are.

***

June 18, 2009

LIMITATIONS

Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin
May 3, 2009, BlogTalkRadio chat
Transcribed by Gloria Constantin

Whenever a sentient soul incarnates into any sort of physical form, it is choosing to experience significantly greater limitations than those that are the norm in the discarnate state on the astral plane. Many spiritual teachers emphasize overcoming limitations. There is much merit to this teaching; however, a certain amount of limitations comes with the territory. You are not entirely unlimited as a soul to begin with--the core of you, which is what we have called the spark of the Tao, is unlimited in one sense, in that it is entirely beyond time and space. However, you chose to experience time and space, which are limited, as a means to an end.

There is no experience without limitations. In an entirely unlimited state, you are simply being; you are part of All That Is. Limitations allow the Tao to expand by having more experience, so limitations themselves are not necessarily negative. When spiritual teachers speak about transcending limitations, perhaps it would be useful to more narrowly define limitations here as unnecessary, overly restrictive, largely self-imposed limitations. You cannot grow without some limitations, but too many or unnecessary limitations also thwart growth.

Many creative people say that they find that a certain amount of limitations spur their creativity. For example, writing a song for particular characters or circumstances gives you some grist for the mill, something to work with. It is actually easier than simply trying to address a general topic. If you just set off to write a song about love, for example, you might come up with something so general and trite that people can't relate to it; it may end up as just a series of platitudes. However, if you write about a specific situation, it can bring your writing to life, and paradoxically, help you create something that many people relate to.

In a similar way, you as a soul are exploring the energies of love, truth, and beauty. Were you to somehow just sit on a cloud and contemplate these grand energies, you would not get very far. Therefore, you take on limitations by becoming a specific person in specific situations, exploring how these great energies apply to your particular circumstances.

For instance, what does love look like when something is taken away? This is not something you are able to explore when your focus is entirely on the All That Is, because nothing can be taken away from that--you have to set up a controlled environment. If you are still able to embody the great energy of love in that limited environment, you learn more about how love behaves; love has a new experience. The same, of course, applies to truth and beauty.

There are many forms of limitation that you take for granted. The very fact of having a physical body is a limitation. If your skin did not provide a limitation, your insides would spill out. Therefore, as a rule, people do not complain about the limitation imposed by having skin. When the physical body is healthy, there are usually few complaints about having a body. Of course, people do judge the shape, color, and so forth of bodies, but the fact of having a body does not seem like a big problem to most people. However, when the body is functioning less than optimally, the idea of limitations comes into play.

There are many things that even a healthy body cannot do. In science fiction, people fantasize about having super powers, but most people do not expect their physical body to fly or walk through walls. However, you do expect your body to be able to walk, run, and otherwise move in the fashion that is considered normal for human beings. When limitations are increased from their usual levels, people understandably complain. Similarly, people usually complain when they do not have enough food, which also limits the body. Bodies are designed to register pain when their needs are not met; if this were not the case, many people would forget to eat.

However, the soul looks on all limitations in much the same way. Simply having a physical body is a challenge for the soul. If your body is hungry or ill, the difference, you could say, is only one of degree--now it is more limited, but it's not as if you were unlimited before the hunger or disease. The soul approaches all limitations with curiosity: What can I learn from this? How can I manifest the great concepts of truth, beauty, and love in increased situations of limitation?

The stories that people most love are those in which characters overcome unusual limitations. You probably haven't seen any good movies about how someone overcame the simple limitation of having a body. No one writes stories about a poor person who was saddled with having a human body, although, in fact, that might be quite interesting, even a bestseller, on the astral plane, especially among beings who haven't done it! For them, that could be radical. However, for you, the stories have to be more specific, and the more specific they are, the more interesting they are.

Once in a while, you find yourself in a situation that seems to be beyond your ability to overcome. Your growth can then come from simply enduring the situation and not suffering too much damage. If you do suffer damage--let's say emotional trauma from a limitation that is more than you can figure out what to do with; for example, being tortured--that experience will provide you with a lot of grist for the mill, in future lifetimes if not in this one.

This is why we so often state that no experience is ultimately wasted, although you can choose to waste an experience up to a point. You can resist and resist and try hard not to learn anything from a situation you don't want. However, that then turns out to be a lesson, ultimately, about resistance; perhaps it is not the most efficient way to have a lesson, but it is an experience, nevertheless, one that is more productive toward expanding the All That Is than no experience at all.

In some religions, there is the idea that the more you suffer on the physical plane, the greater your reward will be in heaven, so some people go out of their way to suffer a little more. The opposite of that is a belief held by many in the New Age movement that you should have all your rewards here and now, such as being rich, healthy and being in your dream love affair all at once. In both cases, the soul has a different point of view than the personality: As a soul, your strategy is to make the best of whatever you've got. If you can manage to create heaven on earth with what you've got, then that's terrific. However, you've probably noticed that most people haven't yet accomplished that, if they ever will, and that doesn't bother the soul; that is not your expectation in incarnating. The soul simply likes to see the personality making an effort to deal with whatever is on its plate in the most creative and constructive positive way possible. When people who have a severely limited body still find a way to create art or science, or just connect with the joy of being, that is very satisfying to the soul.

If every person in every lifetime were able to have everything be just the way he or she wants, that would be a little bit like staying in the All That Is, without experiencing differentiation. For example, if you always had a sexual partner who behaved according to your fantasies, you would not be confronted with conundrums that require you to make choices, and therefore seek new facets of love, truth, and beauty. When everything is going completely smoothly, there is not much growth to be had. If you are fortunate enough to have a sexual partner who comes pretty close to your ideal--most people do not--it probably reveals that your soul is getting its lessons elsewhere, and this love relationship provides a platform for having your challenges in different departments of your life.

Human beings have a tendency to compare their own situations to those of others, and to think that just about everyone else has it better than they do. Part of the problem here is that you may not know that much about other people's lives; the public version may be airbrushed. You may not know the problems that couples idealized in the media are really having. You know what your own challenges are, but you don't know theirs, so you assume they have it better than you do.

Most people feel that, no matter how much they have, they do not have enough, so almost everyone can compare themselves to someone richer and feel envy. Of course, it is wonderful to have enough resources so that you don't have to continually struggle to get your needs met. However, it is worth noting that those who are considered poor in one country may look rich in another.

Obviously, some people have much more money than others, but most human beings feel some financial stress; there is rarely so much money (or mastery of it) that people don't worry about it. Being ultra-rich once in a while might be a nice change of pace for the soul, but a lack of challenges in any facet of life can lead to boredom, which itself can then become the limitation to overcome.

In some Eastern religions, the differences in people's bank accounts are explained in terms of karma, that if you were "bad" in past lives, you will be poor in this one, and that if you are rich in this lifetime, you behaved yourself previously. That is not the way it works.

Whatever situation you find yourself in, whether you judge it to be good or bad, it is not an indication of your worth, and it is not necessarily a reflection of your past behavior. You had good reasons for choosing whatever circumstances you were born into, and karma is only one factor. Not everything that happens in your life is something that you chose--everyone has free will, and there are people making random choices all the time, some of which affect you. However, you most certainly chose your basic birth situation: your parents' circumstances at the time of your birth, the kind of body you were taking on, the social environment, and so on. You deemed it an appropriate combination of limitations for what you wanted to achieve.

As a soul, you do not generally seek "perfect" genes, rich and enlightened parents, an ideal soul mate, and so forth. For one thing, souls could wait a long time to find such circumstances! Instead, you seek what will help you develop, and sometimes you take on severe limitations in order to challenge yourself to overcome something that has been particularly difficult for you in past lives.

You are probably familiar with vinyl long playing records (LPs). Sometimes, they develop a skip, and you have to push the needle to make it get past it. Similarly, souls sometimes get into ruts where they keep repeating the same mistakes. With the advice of their guides, they may decide to take on a difficult situation that could help them break through to a higher level of experience.

It can be interesting to get specifics about why you chose the life circumstances that you did. You can obtain that information through channeling or through your own reflection, including in meditation. It can be a relief to more clearly understand that there were good reasons, that your circumstances do not reflect some intrinsic defect in you but are simply your curriculum. However, whether you know the specifics or not, know that whatever is on your plate right now is your opportunity to grow. By making the best of it, you are fulfilling your destiny. It is really that simple. And if you feel a strong impulse in a certain direction, that may be your curriculum calling you.

No matter how successful you are at making the best of the limitations in your life, it is unlikely that your life will ever conform to some idealized conception of how it should be; in other words, you probably won't get everything you want. If you did, there's a good chance you would become restless and start wanting new things; people need at least some challenges to feel alive. The problems of your life are the raw materials of your spirit. Achieving perfection in form is to become spiritually unemployed; that is why it does not happen.

If you are a card-carrying New Ager and have been beating yourself up for not yet having attained the perfect life, perhaps the more productive approach would be to see the perfection in your life as it is--it is a perfect opportunity to exercise your creativity and make the best of the raw material you have at hand.

Every person can find joy in life as it is. You may never have the waistline that you believe would be ideal for you, and certainly everything in the physical universe is aging. We were saying at the beginning that you, as a spark of the Tao, chose to experience time and space, and, as they say, time marches on. If you think that the perfect body is twenty years old, and if you are older than twenty, then you are out of luck--you will never have that illusion of perfection again. However, if you are making the best of what you have right now, to the best of your current ability, then that is perfect, in the sense that it is exactly what you are here to do.

Many people have less money now than they did a few years ago. By some definitions, the world has become farther away from perfection. Yet, from the soul's point of view, there are many new lessons available in what has been occurring. Much emphasis has been on blaming the government and Wall Street, yet people are also looking at their own illusions and unwise choices. And now there are whole new sets of choices to be made in light of changed circumstances. There can be joy even in this. There can be joy in all things, including in some places you would not expect to find it.

If finances are much in your consciousness, it may be your path to learn how to overcome financial limitations and see how truth, love, and beauty manifest in your financial circumstances. If you feel forlorn because you do not have the mate relationship you want, that may be your path of growth--solving your problem may entail becoming more creative, changing some of your energies, or putting yourself in situations that you otherwise wouldn't. What you lack can be a catalyst to awaken in new ways.

MEDITATION:

Ask your inner self to show you a challenge that you have in your life that you have seen as a problem you wish would just go away. Ask yourself to think of one new thing you could do to either make the best of this situation or overcome it, and thereby grow.

Every time I think of a creative solution to any problem I have, I am happy. It's all about that.

I can imagine many solutions to my problems; the problem is applying them.

That's a good point. For example, if you have some health challenges, you can probably imagine changes to your diet and an exercise regimen that may be a challenge to carry out because your habits pull you in different directions. Our suggestion is not to expect perfection of yourself, but to narrow your focus to perhaps one or two actions at a time that you feel you can maintain. If you try to change too many habits at once, you will not be successful, and then you will tend to beat yourself up for your failure. A good technique is to plan before you go to bed at night one thing, or one series of simple steps, you will do the next day to make the best of your situation or improve it. Then remind yourself of it when you wake up.

It is the effort you make to do your best that counts more than the absolute result. You are not going to get any kind of conceptual perfection on the physical plane. No matter what you do, your body is going to grow older and die at some point, even with the most ideal diet and exercise regimen. However, your focus on identifying your challenges and choosing a way to make the best of them will bring growth, and it will be satisfying--your soul is fed by such choices.

If one's talent is limited, is it still worthy of pursuit, or is that just stroking the ego?

There are many mediocre talents in all fields, and relatively few sterling ones. However, you can become more skilled through making the best of the talent you have.

It is a cliché but true that it is wise to follow your heart. The fact that you are drawn to something suggests that your soul is interested in pursuing it and it has some worth to you. If that's the case, you will probably have the motivation to become at least a little better at it; that will then likely show up as having more talent for it in future lifetimes. If you don't have the motivation, it may just be a fantasy.

In a person's Michael Reading chart, astrological chart, and so forth, you can see proclivities. For example, sage souls have a proclivity for the performing arts. That is not to say that every sage has great talent, but there is often a fundamental interest in the performing arts and probably a certain comfort level in them.

Doing something that you are not very talented or skillful at may still be providing useful experiences. The point may not actually be what you're doing, but, for example, the relationships you are having while doing it that you wouldn't otherwise have.

The soul is not as invested as the personality in the accolades of others. If you demonstrate great talent for something, you may impress other people, but it might be something you already accomplished in other lifetimes; therefore, it may become less interesting after a while. On the other hand, if you are not quite at the top in terms of skill and are struggling to get better, that might hold your interest to a greater extent.

We don't want to generalize too much about this because circumstances vary. However, the personality tends to think that being good at something is the most important thing, whereas, for the soul, being good itself is not as important as what it took to get you to that point; being good is more a result than a cause. Of course, you can always get better at something no matter how good you are at it, but the soul may feel at a certain point that it is treading water and needs to go get better at something entirely different before it can go further again in this field.

Isn't the intent to manifest the soul as fully as possible?

What you manifest of your soul through a body that, for example, is healthy and mentally acute is different from what you manifest in more limited circumstances. The effort to manifest as much as possible within whatever limitations you have will make the best of that circumstance and will take it further than it is. The effort to overcome greater limitations can be thrilling to the soul even if it does not result in as an impressive display of talent as might manifest through a more capable body and circumstance.

At the beginning of tonight's talk, we pointed out that every physical body is limited. Therefore, there is never a full display of the soul's capabilities in physical form. How limited is a matter of degree.

You seem to be implying a high degree of separation between the soul and personality.

Anyone can awaken to soul awareness, no matter the limitations of form. When one becomes more spiritually conscious, the goals of soul and personality become more aligned. However, although they are different aspects of the one self, their agendas are not identical. In true personality, you balance the needs of both.

There sometimes seems to be a disparity between what is intended in your life plan and what actually plays out.

Yes, the soul may envision a better result than what proves to be possible in the life, yet there can be surprising gifts in lifetimes that don't go according to plan when there is still an effort to make the best of the circumstances.

You said that if you feel a strong impulse in a certain direction, maybe that's your curriculum calling to you. What if you don't feel a strong pull--why don't you?

Not feeling a strong pull may suggest that it is not high on your soul's agenda. However, if it is something that you need to deal with--for example, making a living at a job that would not be your first choice but that is your best option for now--your making the best of that is also spiritual practice.

Let's make an analogy to meditation: Many people find meditation to be uncomfortable. Your mind wanders and your body aches. Basically, meditation is an artificial circumstance; however, in making the best of it, eventually you have more stillness and focus.

Similarly, if you are in a job that is not very much in essence for you--it doesn't display your strengths--yet it seems necessary, then by going to work every day with the most positive possible attitude and finding good things in it, that becomes your spiritual practice. It is like meditation in that is it a somewhat artificial construct for you--it is not up your alley, but by being in it with as much gratitude and joy as possible, by overcoming the challenges that make it less pleasant for you, you have turned it into a worthwhile spiritual practice. At the same time, you might also research some other options that, in the long term, might be more in alignment for you.

MEDITATION:

Experience yourself as an eternal soul delightedly taking on a limited body. Feel the contrast between you as a highly expansive soul and you as a physical person who is not as expansive but still somewhat so. Remember your delight in all the opportunities of coming here, of being a person. Whatever problems you have that you have not yet figured out how to make the best of, know that as long as you are alive, you will have more opportunities to figure that out. Feel the joy of being who you are, where you are, with the specific combination of challenges that you have taken on and that have come to you. As the saying goes, "It's all good."

***

May 2, 2009

SELF-UNDERSTANDING

Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin, deom the upcoming book Growing Through Joy

There is no substitute for conscious self-examination on a regular basis. There are many people in spiritual circles who intellectually are quite knowledgeable but who have not applied much of what they have learned to their own lives. To make an analogy, if you read every book there is on how to golf, but you never swing a club, you are not a golfer. To be truly spiritual, it is necessary to look in the mirror honestly and frequently to see what your actual experience is. This does not mean that you should be self-recriminatory--the essence of spirituality is unconditional love and acceptance, for yourself as well as others--but if you do not even know yourself, how can you love and accept yourself? You do not know what you are accepting. There is little conscious growth without self-examination and complete self-honesty, being humbly willing to acknowledge your shortcomings. If you do not do this, you will still grow, but you will grow the hard way; you will be knocked around. Eventually, you will understand the meaning of your experiences, but it may be several lifetimes down the road. It is much preferable to be awake and know what you are doing now.

***

February 22, 2009

VALUE

Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin
January 4, 2009, BlogTalkRadio chat
Transcribed by Kathryn Schwenger

Intellect corresponds with the universal force of truth; your intellect frames your experiences. There is currently a strong desire to frame what you are experiencing during these challenging times in a more sophisticated manner and find a greater depth of understanding. You are looking for new tools for dealing with stresses that are not perhaps the greatest in intensity but certainly the greatest in complexity that you have run into for quite some time.

Let's say that you had just one major source of stress; for example, hunger. Coping with hunger obviously taxes you. Your survival instincts are roused. Certainly it is, at best, quite unpleasant, but it is relatively simple. Modern life often consists of many lesser stresses that can challenge your ability to prioritize. If you are hungry you know what to do: look for food. However, when there are several stresses pulling at you at once, you may be frozen into inaction. Some take refuge in distractions, perhaps addictions that then create more stresses ultimately.

At the moment, there is less intensity of stress than there was prior to the U.S. Presidential election, but for a while, many people prioritized around the election. Now that that is completed, the complexity of all the background stresses, greater and lesser, emerges more evidently. Of course, the financial situation now is center stage in the media, but many other challenges also vie for attention, such as the environment, health care, and "security." On a personal level, you likely have still more concerns.

One thing that often helps when you are dealing with competing stresses is to define them, perhaps in writing. You might divide those you care about into ones that are affecting you directly and personally, and those that you are concerned about for others. The latter may include those who are close to you, and also the problems that you hear about through the media. For each, you could list ideas about what actions you might take. There's usually some action one can take, although when the stress concerns others or the problems in the news, the actions available are probably going to be in a supporting role--you cannot, of course, make choices for others; you can only make choices for yourself. Perhaps you are already taking some actions; making note of what you are already doing to address problems may comfort you.

In public affairs, you can participate in discussions, perhaps helping to inform others and suggesting solutions. For example, you can write to the media or your representatives. Part of the benefit of these kinds of actions is that they can help change the energy around a problem, more for you but also in the collective.

Where there is a lot of communal concern over certain issues of the moment, there is often relatively little clear thinking being done about them. It's true that thoughts are things; therefore, bringing some lucid thinking to bear can be disproportionately powerful. One clear set of thoughts on a communal problem may be more powerful than a hundred that are going around in circles. There is much to recommend involvement with a public discourse, even if your overt influence is not what you might like. Contributing something positive is never a waste.

The same approach can be valuable relative to your own personal challenges. Wherever you are able to step out of circular thinking about your own life and bring some fresh thought, this can be quite helpful.

People often make New Year's resolutions. One reason they are often quickly forgotten is that people don't tend to take them far enough. Breaking them down into more specific steps is often helpful. Even more helpful is gaining a deeper understanding of the patterns you are looking to change.

Most of you are probably familiar with the gear-shifting mechanism of manual transmission automobiles. If you are in first gear and wish to change into second, you must fully shift into neutral gear first. If you do not, your car will make a lot of noise and you will perhaps damage the gears. In order to change the patterns of your life, either personally or in the larger whole, there needs to be a moving into the neutral zone from time to time to get a clear look at what has been creating the problems and what some new solutions might be.

Relative to the collective financial crisis, there has not yet been much discussion or understanding of the underlying causes. Most would cite inadequate regulations or enforcement of rules in the larger sector, but "as above, so below," and "as below, so above." It would be very useful to consider the various beliefs that people are operating from that have helped bring these extremes.

One area of examination that would shine a lot of light here is that of value. When it comes to money, some people are more frugal and some are more spendthrift. Both extremes create imbalances and unpleasant side effects. Both tend to be thoughtless: the frugal person must always spend as little as possible, and the spendthrift gets a sort of high off of throwing money to the wind. Both approaches are unconscious and addictive. Sometimes, both are present in the same individual. Currently, your culture as a whole is swinging from spendthrift to frugal without much thought being given to either.

A more conscious approach is to consider both how much money you have and the value that could be received for how you might spend it. For one person, buying a house of a particular size and expense offers great value, yet for another, the same house would be more a burden than of value. The first might find much of use and joy, and even if it requires a lot of debt and hard work to pay for it, it might be worth it. The other person may actually have more means, yet find that it isn't worth it because it doesn't return something that she would make good use of.

Because of this inability to accurately judge value, there is much hoarding and waste. If the economy were more efficient, because each member of it were more aware of the value that things do and do not have for them personally, it would tend to free up resources to better provide for everyone. In the current crisis, it has come to light that many at the top of the pecking order have been particularly reckless, yet the same inability to recognize value is at work. Whether it is a company buying another company, or you shopping for clothing, it is the same principle. All the necessary elements are present to have prosperity for everyone, except the consciousness, including an accurate perception of value.

If, for example, everything that could be reused were reused, everything that could be recycled were recycled, food were not thrown away that could be enjoyed by someone, and so forth, there would be a finer balance of resources and less extremes.

There has been talk of irrational exuberance in markets. The opposite of that is depression, and, of course, when there is a very bad financial situation, you call that a depression. When people are depressed, they are certainly lacking in exuberance, irrational or rational.

People often do grow by going to extremes. However, the higher, more refined levels of growth involve harvesting the understanding gained from going to extremes so that you don't have to go to extremes anymore. If society had learned from both the Roaring Twenties and the Depression of the Thirties--if it had understood enough about those extremes so that it could avoid them, allowing the economy to be on a more even keel--it would not have to repeat them. This is also true in your own individual experiences. The goal is to get closer and closer to the center of the seesaw where the fluctuations are less.

You do not generally find the highest form of clear thinking in governmental representatives or the mainstream news media. Instead, the media tend to represent the average consciousness, and representatives tend to be below average in clarity, bringing up the rear. On the other hand, those who are interested in spirituality tend to be more on the leading edge; therefore, your giving deeper thought to these matters, although they may not show up immediately in politics or the mainstream media, can help lead the way.

Assessing value implies that you are conscious of what you are choosing. Your choices are important; individual choices add up to the whole. There are no right or wrong choices, but there are those that are more or less intelligent. What happens after you make a choice teaches you a lot about whether or not it was intelligent, although, of course, you can't always predict what will happen from a choice. When your choices accurately reflect what you truly value, there is congruity in your life.

Some of what has been happening in the economy would not have been too hard to predict if people had been paying more attention. Of course, some did predict. The good news is that it is never too late to start paying attention and to think creatively about the choices you are now making. The new Presidential administration is full of hope and idealism, and there are many who are capable of thinking at least a little differently about solving problems. However, when the collective consciousness is so weighed down with sludge, it can be hard for those in charge to find a place of buoyancy that allows clarity. It behooves them to create a space apart from the noise of the world. However, you help make that easier when you chose to remove yourself from thought patterns that go around in circles, and approach the problems about which you have choices with some inventiveness and freshness.

MEDITATION

Imagine that as you look out from your particular point of awareness, the murkiness of the world is receding, and others are influencing you less. Sunshine is streaming through, and you are able to see things in a new way. Find your old reactions relaxing. Release any struggling you have done from being too close to your problems. Notice that you can breathe more freely now that you are not caught up in the same kind of consciousness that was present at the creation of the problems.

When you exercise, your muscles need to both tense and relax; if a muscle stays tense, it will just wear out rather than growing stronger. The same is true of your mental muscles. Feel them relaxing, along with your physical brain.

Recall one problem that you would like to have a fresh thought about. It could be a personal problem or a collective one. Place it into this clear, relaxed space. Notice that there is distance, and you are able to allow the problem to reveal something new about itself. Feel yourself smiling inwardly as you gaze on it. Take a moment now and just see what happens.

The fresh thought may not come to you now--you may be setting it up so that it can occur to you tomorrow or the next day. Just notice what it is like to approach the solving of a problem in a friendlier way.

Feel the spaciousness to experience a different way of approaching problems. Notice that you are becoming more conscious, less automatic; engaging rather than reacting. Observe how strong the habit is to go along with the herd; however, solutions are generally not found in the herd. Feel your sense of ease and space growing.

If you frame the news more personally, it will be less discouraging. For instance, "I'm part of the economy; I am improving it by becoming more conscious of how I spend my money." To feel more empowered about the tensions between the Palestinians and Israelis, think about your own sometimes-challenging relationships with family, friends, or coworkers. You have your own foreign relations--people in your life who feel foreign to you and are difficult to get along with. The choices you make in dealing with a neighbor who seems like a terrorist, for example, can model a new thoughtfulness in approach that can help shift what countries do.

Is this economic downturn teaching us to reduce waste?

When the economy contracts, people are frightened and spend less, so there is automatically less waste. However, if they have not become more conscious, then when the economy expands again, it will just go back to what it was before. If there is more consciousness, there is a desire individually and collectively to make good use of all the gifts that the earth bestows. Reducing waste is seen as a positive, joyful thing, and there is a more organic reduction of waste that lasts.

The point isn't ultimately to reduce waste but to increase consciousness, which automatically reduces waste but also seeks a useful place for everything. Ultimately, spiritual growth is about finding a useful place for everything.

As an individual, you may have a lot of wasted thoughts and feelings--for instance, old discarded anger just sitting there, like electronics in landfills. As you evolve, you harvest the useful energy from your anger and fully release the form of it, analogous to properly recycling electronics that might otherwise be toxic. The world that humans create reflects their consciousness, including such things as landfills.

What attitudes should we take when managing our spending habits?

We know of no better attitude to bring to life than one of blessing: in this case, the intention that whatever you spend be the greatest possible blessing for all. For example, what you spend for food would ideally bring maximum benefit nutritionally to your body and others you are feeding, as well as blessing the farmers and those who made those goods available to you, and the earth itself.

If you are not able to buy organic food, an attitude of blessing is still appropriate. Thank the market for providing you with what it has thus far been able to. Ask that the food bring as much nutritional value as possible, even if it is not ideal. If you have been able to save money, that is another kind of value to be thankful for, helping you with your budget and rewarding the efficient delivery of goods. However, if you spend more for something that has more value to you, you can be grateful for the value and worth it provides. Bless it all.

Is there a more specific technique for clearing stress when looking for work and being under the gun financially?

We suggested making lists of specific problems and possible solutions and actions. This approach is highly useful when you are in particularly difficult straits, because the stress is compounded when you feel powerless. When you are taking concrete actions and have ideas for other actions to take, you can channel the stress into something more constructive.

Also, take breaks from things that concern you and immerse yourself into things that replenish you: the beauty of nature, music, entertainment, meditation, and so forth. It is especially important to go to sleep at night with a positive approach to your problems. Take a few minutes to let go of tension. If you are at a loss as to what to do next, ask your inner self to come up with something that you may then realize through a dream or after you wake up.

I'm a big George Carlin fan--could you tell me about him: his purpose in life and effect on society?

That is an inspired question for this topic because he was an excellent example of someone who routinely stepped outside of conventional thinking on all sorts of topics and shone light on them. He did not have much hope for the human race overtly. He had a rather dark point of view, yet his whole creativity of thought suggests an underlying hope that fueled him. He would not have been able to be so marvelously prolific and creative if he did not come from a foundation of belief that things could be improved.

He demonstrated hope because he was able to transcend the usual thinking himself and in that demonstration he showed that others could do it. That so many loved him and laughed with him suggests that humans can transcend the problems that come from the usual sorts of thinking that people do.

When you are highly stressed, there is often a perception that the problems of the world are bearing down upon you; that they are large and you are small. Coming into a clear space, you feel instead that you are one with everything, so all there is is you, and the stresses are simply opportunities for you to grow in your ability to create solutions. Feel your largeness, power, and creativity, and trust that you have the resources to make a positive impact on life.

Love and blessings to you.

***

February 5, 2009

EXPERIMENTING WITH COOPERATION

Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin
November 5, 2008, Tucson, Arizona
Transcribed by Gloria Constantin

MEDITATION:

Feel yourself merging into a larger sense of self: the you who feels connected with nature; beauty; all the stars in the sky, including those that cannot be seen with the eye; and the universal forces of truth, love, and beauty. Feel your physical body uniting with your soul as you awaken to the awareness that everything is connected.

MICHAEL:

You are, collectively, at the beginning of a new cycle. This has to do with the U.S. Presidential election, but it is not so much that the election is the cause, as much as it is a reflection of something happening at a deeper level.

There has been a lengthy cycle in human experience that has been, you might say, an experiment with the use of force over others. You might compare it to a phase that children often go through:

Babies are helpless--they cannot do too much to change their environment. They cry and hope that those who do have the power to do something will understand and act.

Then, as children are able to walk and have some basic manual dexterity, they are likely to experiment with using force over others. Of course, some children do this more than others. In any case, it is not subtle. This phase is, in part, a reaction to the previous feeling of helplessness. At some point, most children gain new skills allowing them to cooperate more.

Humanity as a whole has been weaving back and forth between the experiment with using force over others and the experiment with using cooperation more. World War II was the apex of using force over others, although there have been various aftershocks since then. In thinking about World War II, most people identify "good guys" and "bad guys." However, both sides were experimenting with using force over others--one was more on the offense, and the other was more on the defense.

The Bush administration banged that drum loudly, branding itself as good vs evil. Nothing happens in a vacuum: that government represented many people who were not yet done with the experiment with power over others; a part of humanity was trying to wring the last drops of experience out of that paradigm. The idea of cooperation had been gaining adherents, but there were still sizeable numbers of people exploring the previous paradigm of power over others. There still are, and there are also still people who feel helpless, like infants. However, the underlying change now is that enough people have decided that they are done with the experiment with power over others that your society as a whole feels ready to begin to leave that behind.

This will take a long time. There will be, no doubt, moments in which some backtrack, saying that this cooperation thing doesn't work. However, many more can look back on recent history, particularly since World War II, and realize that power over others has not been working out very well for anyone. When more people agreed on the experiment with power over others, wars were more straightforward matters. One army fought another: one side won and the other gave up--that was all agreed upon. That hasn't been happening much in recent years. Instead, there have been eruptions--wars have been far more localized, and it is becoming clear what has, in fact, always been the case: that not much is accomplished. Wars are about individual or nationalistic egos getting out of control, pitting self against others.

The early stages of the experiment with cooperation tend to be confusing. It takes a while to build up trust in the process. We suspect that each of you will be more overtly confronting the challenges of cooperation in the coming months and years.

You will particularly see this in the legal realm. It has been valuable, where there is a strong rule of law, that people have been able to experiment with force over others through a legal system rather than with lethal weapons. However, it has still largely been about wielding power over others. Lawsuits are mostly about power over others, whether your side is more selfish and destructive or whether it's more positive. It's not really about positive or negative--it's about the whole approach that is being used. You will increasingly see people trying to work things out more cooperatively, as well as a desire for the laws themselves to be more sensitive to the needs of individuals, less heavy-handed and less about imposing one's will or beliefs over others.

MEDITATION:

Ask your inner self to help you think of one situation in your life where there has been a paradigm of power over others, whether you've been on the giving or receiving end of that. Now ask your inner self to bring the spirit of trust, openness, compassion, and understanding into your heart around this situation.

Think about the other side of this conflict, and ask that it also be gently bathed in these qualities. Note you're not imposing them: if the other side does not want to experience them, it won't, since you are not using any sort of power over them; you are simply using your heart to create a more loving environment.

Now ask your inner self to suggest one thing you might do or say that might shift this conflict to a more cooperative approach. Perhaps it is simply indicating to the other side that you are listening, respectful, open to ideas, or willing to talk. Now ask that all the old feelings of helplessness that led to this polarization into power over others be healed in you. Just the fact of your having considered some options might make you feel more internally powerful and less helpless in the situation.

Ask yourself if you are ready to end your personal experiment in power over others, and to experiment more with the power of cooperation. If you are not ready to make that change, that is okay. Just see what is true for you.

Notice now what you feel in general. Would anyone like to share what you experienced?

When we did the meditation, what came to mind was the bad relations between me and my family. I feel that I can let go of this. In my case, it's about fear, lack of trust, and the need to protect myself. There's a lot of work to be done.

What this is finally about is your own healing. Infants are, in fact, helpless; they rely on others, and others don’t always do their best by the helpless ones, so if they feel victimized, it is not merely an attitude of victimhood at work--it's the reality. However, as you naturally mature and have more fully developed capabilities, you are no longer, in fact, helpless. However, you may not have updated your "software," your beliefs, about that and still feel that you are helpless, so you maintain you defenses.

It is widely understood that bullies are insecure people. They have found a coarse way of having power over others because they don't feel that they have other tools to use. As you heal, you take stock of the tools that are at your disposal, and you get better at using them. Therefore, you don't need coarser tools that don't feel as good to you as more sophisticated tools.

Healing your family issues does not necessarily imply that you will choose to have relationships with them. However, that is a choice you will now be better able to make, based on a realistic appraisal of the facts and intuition as to what's really possible there. In any case, you can now be freer of the energy drain of keeping them away. Instead, there can just be peace, and then a choice.

Considering the fact that there are still a lot of bullies in the world who are not able to be reached through more cooperative means, there is still a need for some occasional military shows of strength against those who would violate others. However, as there is more maturity, this will be used increasingly sparingly, only when it is absolutely necessary.

This could also be said to be true in your own life. We're not suggesting that you should never sue anyone, for example, but as you increasingly feel your toolbox being activated and don't have to prove anything, you have a lot more options, including letting go when that is your highest good.

The greatest fear in letting go of an excessive attachment to using power over others is the fear that others will use power over you. This is most obviously represented in the political consciousness today by fear about terrorists. It's similar to the days of fear of communism, where there was concern that there was a "red under every bed" and that anyone could be a communist. There were all sorts of accusations flying, mostly unfairly. Even in your recent political campaign, there were frightened, insecure people accusing the other side of being terrorists. This demonstrates what it is like to be a very vulnerable and young child who does not have a safe environment. Maybe you can think back to your earliest days in this lifetime when you had nightmares and a light had to be left on. You saw shadows, and thought maybe they were the boogeyman.

Sometimes there are, in fact, prowlers in the house--but not very often. That is the point. When you start to feel more secure, you can evaluate what the real situation is, and then you start to feel better. You're not on red alert all the time, just when you need to be.

We're not suggesting being naive to real dangers. Pretending that everything is always wonderful is just the flip side of the fear that everything is terrible; both are based on fear of confronting dangers. You have a survival instinct for a good reason. However, those who are still heavily experimenting with power over others figured out a long time ago that they could have it by pushing the buttons of people's fears when they are not warranted, so beware of having your fears manipulated.

When he was leaving office, President Eisenhower warned about the encroaching military-industrial complex. It has long been the case that there are people who profit from war and similar manifestations; they have a vested interest in increasing fear. That can be a self-fulfilling prophecy, because when two sides are polarized in fear, it's often just a matter of time before one of them does something that makes the other side feel justified in fighting back.

A cooperative approach can also be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Putting out to others kindness and openness makes it more possible that they will do the same. At Christmas every year, people say, "Peace on earth; good will toward men," but there have been many who really don't want peace on earth, because they believe they stand to profit from conflict, in one way or another. In addition, many people enjoy the drama and excitement of it.

The best way that you personally can contribute to peace on earth is to realize that you no longer feel much of a payoff from conflict, and that there are other means of resolving issues. This is where you are now, collectively: there is a slight, subtle, but meaningful shift in your society that says, in effect, "Okay, we don't really understand this cooperation thing very well, and we're not sure how to do it, but we're kind of sick and tired of the way that we've been trying to solve things for quite some time. So we will grudgingly stick our toe in the water of approaching others in a more respectful and open-hearted way when we find ourselves on opposite sides of an issue."

We do not know how long it will take to get from this grudging acceptance to the point where a lot of people are saying, "Hey this is really great; I like this a lot better. Let's get rid of this war business and its cousins, such as extreme litigiousness--all us-vs.-them framing of events." However, it *could* move from here to there pretty quickly. The reason we think that is that you've been lingering in the old experiment for a very long time. It need not have gone on so long, or have been so destructive. So you might say there is a pent-up demand for peace. Additionally, with the current financial situation, a lot of people might wake up to the fact that war is very expensive, so that could be a silver lining to what is happening in that regard.

What you do in your own heart can be contagious. As you feel that you would like to support this new experiment, that can help foster more widespread adoption. As you see that you are having a positive impact on others, you start to feel more powerful and less helpless even when bad things are happening. The more powerful you feel, the less need you feel to try to control others, and you help this new experiment pick up speed by modeling more cooperative actions.

What is inside people has to come out one way or another. What has been going on politically over the last years has been a regression, but it has also been useful, because it has allowed some old remaining fears to take center stage where everyone could get a good, hard look at them. These continue to be unresolved in some people; there's an opportunity to reach out to them and reassure them that things are okay. That is what people really want to know--that things are okay.

(An audience member shared about his house once having been broken into.)

There's nothing wrong with taking sensible precautions: good locks, an alarm system if you feel it's warranted where you live, that sort of thing, and you don't necessarily act out of fear to do that; it could just be common sense. On the other hand, sometimes things happening to you are an outpicturing of your psychic drama inside; making the connection between what you see and what you are is very useful. So someone breaking into your house may or may not represent some fear that you have. Sometimes you have to have that experience and then survive it in order to flush it out from your consciousness. It's always worth looking at, to see if maybe that is the case. However, sometimes things like that happen just by chance or bad luck, so you don't want to overgeneralize in that regard. The very fact that you are sensible enough to take responsible precautions is part of your toolkit so that you don't have to be in fear. You know that you are taking care of yourself the best that you can.

Everyone is growing, slowly or quickly, even those who appear to be backtracking: they are collecting experiences that will ultimately contribute to their growth. Today, people have far more access to knowledge than ever before. Of course, the internet is good for that, along with television and the other media. There's a lot of bad information being put out, but there's a lot of good stuff, too. People are starting to be attracted to the idea that growth does not have to be so tedious, that there are ways to become more conscious and have less wear and tear, and are finding knowledge that supports that.

In the Michael teachings, we delineate the five soul ages that are commonly experienced by humans and other ensouled species on the physical plane. We each start out as what we always are in our core: an eternal soul who comes to a particular planet to inhabit a particular species. In your case, that is obviously the human species. You have a series of lifetimes in order to evolve and expand your horizons. Your progress over many lifetimes is roughly equivalent to what you experience as an individual within each lifetime. That is, your soul starts out as an infant, where your experiences are quite simple. Then, you move to the baby or toddler soul stage where you are working with a basic structure, similar to the way that toddlers learn about "yes" and "no."

Then there is a young soul phase when you are gaining a lot of energy relative to acting in the world, like youngsters playing. Humanity in general and the United States in particular have been focused at the late end of the young soul cycle, so there's a lot of energy there. On the negative side, there can be bullying and fascination with things like building a big military because it's something that is easy to understand at that stage in development, just as a lot of kids play with action figures.

Next comes the mature soul cycle, which is equivalent in human development to the adolescent phase. Adolescents have a lot of confusing new impulses, wanting to relate to other people in a deeper way as well as wanting to get to know themselves and their own feelings more. This is what humanity is just beginning to move into.

Although this is a bit of an oversimplification, we would say that the Bush administration was, for the United States, the last hurrah of the young soul cycle, with a negative twist to it. It's not always negative; it can be quite wonderful and exhilarating in many ways. The Obama administration represents a turn to the mature cycle, which values emotions and connecting with others more intimately. Of course, young souls have relationships too, so it's not like suddenly there are relationships where there were none. However, there is a different emphasis: there is less taking of relationships for granted and more of a desire to explore them, to see what they are all about.

Cooperation is much more a hallmark of the mature cycle than the young cycle, although certainly, young souls can cooperate and can see that as a positive way of experiencing their vitality in the world. On the other hand, mature souls can use power over others and be manipulative, sometimes more psychologically, but there can still be an experiment with power over others in the mature cycle. So experimenting with cooperation is a specific decision being made, regardless of soul age: "We have experimented enough with more negative, destructive approaches to resolving issues with others. Maybe we don't have to do this the hard way anymore. We can find more positive ways of figuring this out together." Even people who are currently in the infant or baby soul cycle can have an experience that is more cooperative.

(Someone asked about election results restricting gay marriage.)

Individuals and collectives do not evolve at the same pace in every department. People have more fear around sex than just about anything else. We don't mean just what is classified as sex, but everything that would come under that overall classification, which is the power of your energy to impact and explode with others who are creating with you. That's truly what sex is. Even if you are not having physical sexual relations, you still have this potentially explosive energy in interacting with others, and with the cosmos as a whole. Although people are afraid of being powerless, they are also afraid of being powerful, because there is not a lot of experience of harnessing that. Therefore, a lot of baggage is dumped onto the idea of sex, and any form of it that is a little foreign reminds people of their generalized fear of the power within themselves.

Much in evolution is two steps forward and one step back. Eventually, things get there. There are always those who are out in front of everyone else trying to get everyone else to catch up. However, many people are not as eager to move forward because that means facing more things within themselves. It is not easy to grow. Both presidential candidates spoke about change--it’s a vague enough term that they could safely do that--but all change suggests overcoming a certain resistance in yourself because it's a certainty that change is going to bring up uncomfortable things in yourself.

No matter what they say, some people will not accept change until staying where they are becomes more uncomfortable than what they're going to have to face in the change. Furthermore, a lot of human beings are so stubbornly resistant to change that the only way that the societies they're in will change is for them to die. Then, they will reincarnate into a new set of assumptions that pushes them a little bit beyond where they were holding onto previously.

The pace of change today is much faster in than in most historical time periods, and having a longer life span helps with that, except for those who are stuck. They feel more pressure; they don't like it because they're living longer, and things are changing underneath them.

You really don't want things to change too fast because you become disoriented; but if they are too slow, you feel less alive. So there is a sweet spot to go for there.

Are we going to experience rapid progress relative to race relations because of the power of having the symbol of a black president?

It's going to take a while before people are widely completely neutral about race. Although there has been a lot of progress, some people will hold onto their racism to the grave. Again, society just has to wait for a certain part of the population to die off for this to change. However, younger people are impressively free of a lot of prejudices that their elders have, and a lot of that has to do with the media; when you grow up seeing media stars you identify with who are of different races, you tend not to take on so much of your parents' or grandparents' racism. You're probably not going to get rid of all blatant prejudice over the next 50 years, but it will gradually become less and less accepted.

With a more progressive President, it is more likely that some fear-based, stuck person is going to come out of the woodwork and try to assassinate him. Would Michael speak about the probability of Obama finishing his term in health and well-being?

One of the positives about the fact that many people have brought this up is that humanity, particularly in the United States, has had a chance to collectively mull it over. A lot of people on an unconscious level have been pondering, "Is this how we want to go? Do we need to have a beloved President be martyred in order to progress, or could we keep him around and have progress without people needing to be heartbroken?" There can be a lot of growth through being heartbroken, because many will not grow unless something gets broken first; otherwise, it's just too easy not to grow.

However, our sense is that the collective leaning is towards, "We've had enough drama. Maybe we could just see what this guy might do for us." We would not say that it is a firm collective decision, but as long as there's a strong leaning that way, there's a likelihood of safety. Of course, security is very strong around him, as it needs to be.

The way to approach this is to affirm your ability to grow through joy in your own life: that you are flexible and fluid, willing to solve problems creatively, and don’t have to be broken to grow; then, visualize the collective also being able to do that.

Would you speak about humanity cooperating with the planet's ecology in the next couple of decades?

The potential here is very good. Humanity's raping of the environment has been a perfect example of the power-over-others paradigm. As with war, many people are recognizing that that it is not working, so there is more widespread desire to figure out a way to cooperate with nature.

However, there are still a lot of people who believe that ecological harmony is a luxury, not a necessity. That needs to change, but also, as the technologies become better and less expensive, that also will become less of an issue. It's a tricky thing because people are afraid that they will lose their conveniences; however, if changes are not made, they may lose them anyway. Therefore, it behooves people to adopt changes by choice.

We have said, not that long ago, that because of the destruction of the environment, we had no certainty that humanity would survive what it has done to the earth. We thought it was, roughly, in the 50/50 range. It's looking better now. The best way to promote wider acceptance of ecological sensitivity is to demonstrate in graphic ways how it can actually save people money. One of the big fear areas for people is money, right up there with sex. Showing others how being "green" is to their advantage financially is a useful approach.

The industrialization of the world has been rapid and not very elegant or efficient; there's been a great deal of waste. You see this both in individuals and collectives who, when they have money, waste it on things that they need, and then suddenly they don't have enough money for the things that they do need. Among other things, the production of energy has not been very efficient, and it really hasn't needed to be, but now it does need to be. So even in countries with a relatively high amount of oil, they are finding that they need to be efficient, too, that they need to use their oil for things that they don't have substitutes for; this is emerging out of necessity for everyone.

I'm very concerned about species dying out. We're all interconnected; therefore, for every species (including insects) that dies out, a part of us also dies.

There has already been a substantial loss of plant and animal species on earth, and more are dying out every day. This is not optimal, but we think that in about 50 years that will stabilize, and some of the diversity will start to come back. There are some species that may have appeared to die out but didn't, and given the right circumstances, will re-emerge. We think that things will be okay in that regard, but it is not ideal. It is better to have more diversity.

CLOSING MEDITATION

Feel the goodness emerging from your heart. Notice all the resources that you already have. Feel all fear releasing from you.

Notice the power of self. It is independent of the choices that others make.


Being human will always be somewhat challenging. However, reminding yourself of the increased tools you have as you awaken spiritually for dealing with the world, it becomes easier. That is really why you take the spiritual path. It is in your enlightened self-interest to get better at playing this game so that it isn't quite so difficult. Human relationships will always offer challenges, and that is not a bad thing because they show you where you have opportunities to grow, but approaching them more cooperatively will make your way easier. So it is a worthwhile experiment.

Love and blessings to you all.

***

November 18, 2008

EXALTATION OF SELF IN SERVICE

Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin, November 2, 2008

Transcribed by Kathryn Schwenger

There has been a lot of stress in recent times. Stress is a form of energy. It is possible to use accumulated stress to advantage: for example, to focus it back on the blocks that are creating it in order to help release those very blocks. You are probably familiar with the idea in some martial arts that the proficient practitioner can redirect the attacking energy of an opponent to defeat the opponent. Another analogy is how a skilled sailor can make use of unfavorable winds that might be more problematic for a less-skilled sailor. In the political world, there are many lies spoken, but these too can be used to advantage--to shine a light on what is actually true. Those trained to be actors are instructed to use every experience they have had in order to make their characters more real. There is a saying that a rock can either be a stumbling block or a stepping stone. No experience is ultimately wasted.

Part of the spiritual path is becoming more adept at choosing the experiences you actually want to have, presumably more pleasing experiences. However, as the poet said, "no man is an island," and you will not be able to choose all of your experiences no matter how adept you become. There is a simultaneous set of truths: on the one hand, do your best to chose the most positive possible experiences; on the other hand, it makes sense to take advantage of whatever you end up with. You need not let stress simply act on you; instead you can let it, you might say, defeat itself.

Whenever one is dealing with powerful energies, it is helpful to step out of the way, just as the skilled martial artist lets the energy of opposition pass her by and then gently redirects it: become more translucent, more in your higher centers and less in the mundane personality, more open to universal forces.

It is like successfully performing in front of a large audience: there is a need to be fully present, but not so much in personality. If you are to perform well, whether you are the star or in the background, you release your more mundane concerns in the service of the music you are performing, the play you are acting, or the speech you are making, in a desire to be a vessel of benefit for all who are participating, both your fellow performers and the audience. Even some who are not particularly religious have suggested that performing can be a holy experience--in other words, one of essence (soul) contact.

To have this experience does not mean obliterating your personality. In fact, it takes someone with a secure personality to be able, at times, to put it aside a bit for the greater good. It is those who are more insecure, who have a weaker experience of self, who are most afraid to set it aside for a larger experience. The ultimate experience of being an awakened human is to live continually balancing the apparent opposites of a strong, secure self-awareness with a devotion to a larger good. These are not contradictory elements, because collective good is also the individual good; they are not at odds. If one is self-sacrificing, this sweet spot of balance has not been yet found.

Opening yourself to the larger universal forces is not in any way a denial of self, but, in fact, an exaltation of self. However, it does necessitate putting aside chief features and negative poles, because if one insists on bringing them into the larger energy, there will be discomfort. A rule of thumb is that the higher the consciousness, the less work it is.

What is the relationship between Krishna and Jesus?

Of course, both were vessels for the Infinite Soul, and were, therefore, subject to a lot of mythology. The reason this inevitably occurs is that people tend to become bogged down in the lower centers; throughout history, most people have been sufficiently worried about their own survival that there hasn't seemed to be a lot of space left over for contemplating higher realities. Suddenly, then, it seems that the Infinite Soul, the Transcendental Soul, or, indeed, any relatively enlightened teacher, comes along and brings part of the puzzle that the human psyche has made little room for. People generally don't know what to make of it, so they impose explanations to try to make sense of what they are witnessing. Often, people are a little lazy in just grabbing whatever explanation seems to be convenient. Some of these legends are the ancient equivalent of sound bites.

The souls who turn over their well-honed personalities to the Infinite Soul, the Transcendental Soul, or other high teachers all know one another. Of course, we are speaking here of astral (nonphysical) connection. They all work together with many others. This is not a secret society, but a loose, informal association of souls who have dedicated themselves for quite a long time to the larger evolutionary issues of human souls. Your view of them as humans may be worshipful, but their view of one another, and the general view of them on the astral plane, might be more comparable to how people view respected diplomats. Being a diplomat requires a certain set of skills. In their professional capacity, they have to set aside much of their own personality--their personal desires become subsumed by the larger good for which they are working. We are not here speaking of diplomats who are more self-centered and concerned only about their own country and the advantages they can win for it, but those who are widely acknowledged as wanting to help.

If you were to sit in on a gathering of some of these souls on the astral plane (which you are able to do--they are not closed gatherings--just as you can turn on your television and watch Congress convening, although it may not be very interesting all the time), you would see souls who are similar in their dedication to helping provide an optimal environment for the growth of all humans. Another analogy for them would be the faculty of a fine university and how they might come together for panels across their disciplines, and be respected for their knowledge and teaching abilities. We don't think that any of these great souls are all that impressed with themselves. It really is true that the more you know, the more you know that you don't know. They do not see themselves as objects of worship but simply as dedicated public servants.

There are not that many souls who are cut out for that sort of thing. Part of the reason that the host for the Infinite and Transcendental Souls are late-level old is that it is not until then that it is even appropriate to subsume the personality. It is a little bit like an elderly person who is able to say "I have lived my life, it has been full and good, and I don't need to focus so much on my own personal relationships now; therefore, I could run for the school board." That is a different point of view than of someone who has his own children in the school system. In the real world, of course, you can have both on school boards, but for the purposes of this analogy, the point is that it is not appropriate for most souls to divert their attention to the non-personal prematurely. It is also a truism that teaching is one of the most educational experiences one can have. Therefore, those who devote themselves in this way benefit themselves. It is like those who channel--there are not a lot of people for whom such a vocation is appropriate; it is similarly a subsumation of the personality, yet the channel is privileged to be part of an educational process, so when it is appropriate, it is not a sacrifice.

The soul who was known as Krishna had a long history on the physical plane of helping people get along with each other. Because human beings are a relatively aggressive species, it is helpful when there are some persuasive diplomats around who are good at convincing people to pause before going to war, and this soul was superb at convincing people to put the brakes on in that regard. He was an expert in understanding how groups behave. There are some souls who are expert in the reverse of this–of exciting people to war; it is a similar skill, but turned inside out.

The soul who was Jesus has been more interested in individual transformations. Performing healings on people is really about showing them the power that they have within them. These are complementary skills, one more focused on the individual as it relates to the group, the other more on the group as it relates to the individual.

Is it true that the Infinite Soul always displaces a 7th-level old king, and the Transcendental Soul displaces a 7th-level old priest, or is that too absolute? Were Krishna and Jesus both kings?

Yes, both were kings. We do not think it would always have to be in this configuration, but it does make a lot of sense to do it that way. Considering the demands of the Infinite Soul, a personality conditioned by the presence of a powerful king would be the least likely to fall apart with the demands of the Infinite Soul.

***

November 1, 2008

A NEW WORLDVIEW

As voters in the United States are on the cusp of many points of decision, so are all humans making many larger choices about the future. You share a reality. Many things you share, such as movies and television entertainment, have long been based on certain premises. People are so used to them that it might be hard to imagine them being different. However, on many fronts, premises are being called into question. People are tired of the status quo. The change being spoken of so much is usually assumed to be one of policy, but the real change that is possible now is one of premises, of the foundational beliefs about what life looks like.

For example, much entertainment is based on the belief in good guys vs. bad guys. Over the years, the depiction of this has become less simplistic, with more shades of gray, but the basic premise has remained. You, collectively, could now choose to shift to a worldview more based on cooperation.

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin, November 1, 2008

***

October 2, 2008

VIEWING POLITICS FROM QUIETUDE

MEDITATION:

Feel the weariness of all the world tensions and those in your own life dissolving away as you reawaken to the eternal.

MICHAEL:

Greetings. There is a particular concentration of intellectual energy among human beings right now. This has been increasing over the last several days, and is probably coming to a climax about now. It is not an unpleasant energy particularly, but it is a little out of balance. When you think of intellect you do not usually associate that with faith, and yet there is in this current moment of consciousness a good deal of faith that intellect can, all by itself pretty much, get clear on what is true. Therefore, you have, for example, a good deal of back-and-forth surface intellectual noise, almost, relative to politics. Most of that is not real thinking; it is reaction added to previous reactions. It is a bit like scratching an itch, and then it becomes more irritated, so you scratch it some more.

This is not as big an issue among those who have worked on observing their thoughts and not identifying with them, which is an important lesson for those who wish to grow in a more conscious way. You see thoughts cross your mind, but you do not automatically assume they are correct just because you thought them. It is equally beneficial to observe your emotions and choose not to assume that they represent a greater truth other than what you happen to be feeling at the moment, which could derive from all sorts of sources. For example, if you aren't feeling well physically, you might be more prone to negative emotions, yet they do not necessarily represent a personal truth beyond the fact that you are not feeling well physically.

Most people attach great importance to the thoughts and feelings that waft across their consciousness. This is one reason it is impossible to accurately and consistently predict future events--something does not have to make any sense whatsoever for large numbers of people to identify with it. For that reason, there is a great deal of chaos in human affairs, and this is true among people who consider themselves to be intellectuals as well as those who identify as being more emotional.

Intellectual stimulation, even when it looks dry and reasonable to the beholder, is not necessarily any more reasonable than emotions. Deeper emotions are more reasonable than surface thought, and deeper thought is more reasonable than surface emotion. The deeper the thought, the more it is aligned with genuine emotion. Therefore, as you go deeper into self, there is less and less conflict between thoughts and feelings. When you reach the core of self, there is no conflict between them whatsoever. For that reason, the amount of static, either emotionally or intellectually, and the amount of conflict between thought and emotion, are indications of how far one is from being at the core of self.

It is not really so difficult to live from the core of yourself at any given moment. All it takes is awakening to the quietude of the moment, and there you are--at self. It is challenging to *maintain* that knowledge of quietude, because both emotions and intellect tend to be habitually lacking in grace.

In any moment, such as now, when you are aware of the stillness of who you are, you begin to exert some calming influence on both your intellect and your emotions, and you can see more clearly. It is not the case that you suddenly know everything or feel great; but this stillness is the best foundation for moving forward both to clearer thought and more comfortable, loving emotions. When you are caught up in the noise of either, you are giving energy to the irritation of the surface.

A person can have a powerful, skilled intellect and/or emotional capability, yet live entirely from the surface. The more a person lives from the surface, the more self-righteous the person tends to be, and the more polarized the person will tend to be either towards emotion or intellect. In some people who are gifted in both departments there may be a veering back and forth, but seldom is there integration between the two. More often, people pride themselves on their shiny intellect or emotional fervency. Many others have fairly dormant emotional and intellectual faculties and live from the surface of bodily excitation; their hungers and other sensations tend to be where they live. In the last few days, more people have been living from the surface of intellect; with that, there tends to be a certain pride: "Look how smart I am." "Look how right I am, intellectually."

One cannot know the universal force called truth from the surface of intellect, emotion, or body. Truth may manifest through intellectual form, but truth is not fundamentally an intellectual form; it is an emanation of the Tao. It is simply what is. When it manifests through intellectual form with reasonable accuracy (which will always have its limitations), it is uncluttered; it is not confusing. To anyone who understands the language of the form and is living more from the quietude of self, the truth seen in an intellectual form will appear to be self-evident.

In the founding of the United States, these words were written: "We hold these truths to be self-evident" because truths are, more or less, self-evident. That is not to say that they will always be understood intellectually. People have obviously varying intellectual capabilities, and language can be an issue--do you speak the language of that particular thought form? However, when you live with authenticity from your self, you can recognize when others are doing likewise.

There are those who pride themselves on having a good "bullshit detector." Sometimes this comes with the overleaf (attitude) of skeptic or cynic--a person who tends not to take things at face value, and so more often tests or questions things. Yet, as with any overleaf, this can be experienced either more on the surface in a knee-jerk fashion or from a deeper knowing. If it is more from the surface, the perceptions will often be tinged with an excess of anger or mistrust, just as a more surface experience of the attitude of idealist or spiritualist might be tinged with naiveté.

We have said that, with spiritual awakening, there can be an obsolescence of the overleaves, but only in the sense that they lose their distorting factors when the real person uses them. An idealist will not be naïve; a cynic will not be caustic. They will still have different personalities and different strengths, but these traits will not be running amok on their own, on automatic pilot; they will be used as part of the toolset of the ensouled essence.

Some fear that if you have to step back and objectively examine every thought and feeling, you will become paralyzed--you won't be able to do anything. It is true that human beings and all ensouled species have to rely a certain amount on habit. You obviously would not wish to halt constantly to analyze the way that you're walking or breathing. A lot of your mundane thinking and feeling is better left to habit, because you are not capable of being aware of every thought, emotion, or sensation all at once--it would be too much. A good place to start, however, is to observe particular thoughts, emotions or sensations that stand out as not feeling quite right. An example is those make you feel self-righteous but don't make you feel good.

As you get in the habit of observing those particular aspects of your personality, you run them by your deeper sense of what love, truth, and beauty are like. Perhaps you reflect on prior moments when you were in your higher centers--when you felt exalted by beautiful music or great art, or were moved by an act of great selflessness and compassion. Or you saw or experienced a movement that was exquisite, or you felt related to nature. These experiences become the high water mark that you use to measure your mundane feelings, thoughts, and sensations.

You probably have a sense of what great kindness is like from your own experience or from those you have observed. If so, you can ask yourself, "Is my attitude here kind, according to my best understanding of it?" If it isn't, then you can observe where it is coming from. The simple act of observing it, of comparing the high water mark to the lower water mark of the moment, sets up a creative tension that can help you release whatever has been holding you in the lesser experience of self. It may or may not help you to parse it; it may or may not help you to explore factors in your past that contributed. Sometimes doing so helps you get more objective and release your grip on it. Other times, it may make you more stuck in the past. Simply holding your higher vision in the presence of what doesn't feel as good to you will move you towards a higher consciousness, one way or another. There are all sorts of useful techniques and tools for releasing specific imprints in your personality. It does not have to be all that difficult, although at first it is often terrifying because you are asking yourself to let go of some habits that your ego is quite certain have saved you.

So there is a leap of faith to say to yourself, "Okay, I'm ready to try something different." It is admitting that, although what you have been doing has gotten you to this point, it is not all that satisfying. However, as you move away from the old defense mechanisms, at first you may feel that you are going from the frying pan into the fire. You don't have the same sense of solid ground that self-righteousness gave you. You have to find a new footing, and that takes time. Whether you do this consciously and deliberately, or whether you come to this because the events of your life have undermined the old seemingly solid foundation, there will likely be a dark night of the soul if self-awareness is new.

The personality is clearly not fond of any sort of upheaval, even when essence knows that it is ultimately leading towards joy. Personality can get quite vicious towards anything or anyone that upsets its apple cart. It might co-opt the language of self-awareness. It might say, "Oh, this doesn't feel good to me," and the fact that it doesn't feel good might seem to imply some truth. However, personality on its own--on the surface, in other words--is not a very perceptive judge of anything. All it knows is its limited idea of self-preservation.

This brings us back to our initial comments about politics: that in the political world right now, there is intellectual activity on the surface. A lot of it is self-referential, meaning that one surface thought refers to other surface thoughts that have been bouncing around out there, whether or not they have roots in something real. So it gets to be like an echo chamber. Any leader, political or otherwise, who bluntly calls people to go beyond their own surfaces is sure to be hated by many personalities. There aren't too many of those who were later thought to be prophets who were popular in their day. Of course, they had their followers, but there has also been a tendency to shoot them down, literally or figuratively. The truth is not very popular in any of its forms.

On the other hand, those who are sure they have the truth and that others don't are generally operating at the surface. When there is self-righteousness, there is not the integration of love and truth. On the surface, you may have a piece of one or the other, but generally not both. If a leader of any kind is living from a deeper place in him- or herself, he or she will lead first by example and will carefully say and do things that might gently lead people towards living from a greater depth. True leaders know better than to try to take a sledgehammer to false personality; that only provokes severe reactions. Anyone that you see using a sledgehammer is likely living on the surface.

In the United States, you have a political election coming up. You could not possibly have a leader who truly and consistently tells it like it is from depth; such a person would not win any elections. However, you can elect leaders who have a good idea of what's what and, at the same time, a sense of what people are able to hear at this time, what changes they might be able to accommodate. They cannot say everything that they know and understand, but if you are living from more of your own depth, you are able to recognize when someone else is as well. Maybe his or her politics do not immediately go for what you feel would be ideal. Although these better candidates might not be able to wave a magic wand and radically change government overnight, the best that anyone could hope for would be someone with vision and heart who will not get in the way of changes, and who will facilitate those that people are at least close to being ready for.

Some of you are familiar with chiropractic adjustments. The goal is to align the spine. There are those who do this in a rougher manner, perhaps leaving muscles sore. There are others who have more skill, who can coax the body into alignment, arousing fewer of its resistances. A similar analogy is massage: some therapists find a tight muscle and just pound on it, while others know how to more gently get it to let go.

Throughout history there have been many violent revolutions, and they seldom really changed anything. They may have gone from one extreme to the other, and then the state of affairs ended up looking very much like it did in the first place. There's no substitute for evolution. People have to grow into the kind of world that they want to live in.

In the United States, it appears that many aspects of public policy have gone backwards; at a certain level, that is the case. Overall, however, consciousness has not really gone backwards. It's that consciousness never really grew enough to be able to hold some of the more progressive ideas, so the remaining blind spots inevitably came to the surface, with politicians ready to champion them.

Another factor here is that educational standards have dipped, though we don't mean to oversimplify the problem here. However, even if educational standards had grown, a well-educated populace is not the same as an evolved populace. There have been some well-educated societies that brought forth rampant brutality. Once again, there is no shortcut for evolution.

Furthermore, most things cannot be fixed politically first. Political leaders are valuable because they represent something to people, and they can set an example--people see them all the time. However, the most enlightened political leaders cannot make the bad things of the world go away when leading a population that is not done with them. People get carried away with excitement over political candidates without stopping to reflect on the last time they did that and the time before, and the time before that--they don't see the discrepancies between their naïve excitement and the results.

However, one cannot be too hard on the politicians, either, because it takes a great deal of depth and mastery to lead people forward without losing them, or the politicians losing their jobs.

If you want to help bring about a more conscious and compassionate government and world, the very best thing you can do is be willing yourself to live from a deeper place and endure the discomfort of aligning your surface with that deeper place. The fact is that after some rough patches, life feels a lot better. And being genuine yourself, you add to the collective consciousness the possibility of greater change. What you do in your own life is not divorced from elections.

There is nothing at all "wrong" with any kind of political activism that you feel drawn to do. In fact, as citizens, it makes a lot of sense to exercise your citizenry; it is part of choice. You live in a representative democracy, so why not exercise your right to make your preferences heard? We're not suggesting that it's futile and that you should, instead of voting, stay home and meditate--you could do both.

However, know that you are also voting in every moment of your life as you choose whether or not to live from the quietude of self or from the surface. Your vote and the votes of all your fellow citizens add together, and that is the real election. Choosing to live more from your depth is voting for evolving in a more joyful manner--not that it will ever be easy, but it is an *easier* way of evolving. Reacting to surfaces with your own surface is voting for the old, slow painful way of evolving.

This particular election has importance; we do not minimize it. The best way that you can participate in it, in addition to the obvious steps you could take, is to live from the quietude of self as much as you know how. As you practice this day by day, you will get better at it.

Q. How does soul age relate to the Republican/Democratic divide?

A. Both the major political parties include a wide range of soul ages. Party affiliation has more to do with imprinting than with any factor on the Michael chart--both family and cultural imprinting.

There is a slight tendency for those who are politically conservative to be, or have strong influence from, the solid roles of warrior, king and scholar. There is a slight tendency for the more liberal, progressive people to be the fluid roles--server, priest, artisan, and sage.

There is a slight tendency, though we don't want to make too much of this, for the Republican Party to be a bit younger in soul age, but again, there is a wide range. There are some extremes there; there are both some very old and very young souls who like the idea of minimal government. So probably the mean soul age is younger with the Republicans, but there is a wider range. The philosophy of the Democratic Party has more of a mature soul flavor to it, yet people's party affiliation has a lot more to do with their cultural and familial imprinting than what they really believe. There are a lot of Democrats who are, in fact, quite conservative, although it might not be immediately evident.

The proclaimed divide between Republicans and Democrats is really calculated to build brand loyalty. It's like the difference between Pepsi and Coke; they are far more similar than they are different. However, it's hard to get people excited about brands if they don't differentiate themselves. There is a lot of maya that reinforces the cultural and familial imprinting, when the parties are not really so different from each other in a mundane way.

Of course, the politicians of one party tend to vote differently than the politicians of the other because of how they perceive their brand and what they think the voters want from them. However, it's different on the level of individuals who habitually vote for one party or the other. When they talk theory, as people mostly do during election cycles, they sound like the politicians. However, what they really think and would like to see--when you get down to the sort of world that people want to have--many times there is more ambiguity between the parties.

It is good work to release the charged energy around political parties and to instead get down to cases, meaning discussing issues in a more specific, grounded way, looking for common ground. There is more of it than the brand loyalties of the two major political American parties would suggest. We are not saying that there are no differences between them--there are different emphases, but a lot of it is more in the philosophy than in the day-to-day workings. Also, over history there has been flip-flopping between them on certain issues despite their current identification with particular stances.

Q. Can a baby soul live from a deeper place and be conscious? If so, what would that look like?

A. Emphatically, yes. Any soul age can find quietude and live from a deeper place. There is no limitation on this whatsoever. If you are a baby soul, being conscious looks a little different than if you are young, mature, or old, just as a child who is highly self-aware looks different from a self-aware teen or someone in his twenties, thirties, and so on. However, what is shared in common among those who are self-aware, living from depth, is much more significant than what is shared in common by those of the same soul age who are not. So if you are old and living more from depth, you have more in common with someone who is young living from depth than you have with someone who is old but living from the surface.

Q. What roles are the most popular politicians?

A. Clearly Barack Obama is a priest; John McCain is sage with a lot of warrior secondary influence. Sarah Palin is also a priest, and here you see the importance of cultural imprinting, which she has absorbed without much examination. In soul age, she is actually a little older than Barack Obama, yet in consciousness, she is much more on automatic pilot. This points out some maya (illusion) among Michael students about soul age: age is age, but it is not consciousness. We would say that she is using her overleaves in a much more knee-jerk manner, whereas Barack Obama has put forth a lot more effort towards knowing himself.

Q. Are there more folks in the Democratic leadership living from a deeper place at this time than in the Republican leadership?

A. There's a little more depth in the higher levels of the Democratic Party than in the higher levels of the Republican Party, but there is a little more depth among the lower ranks, the more local levels, in the Republican Party than in the Democratic. However, the difference is slight and we would recommend that people not make too much of that. The lower ranks of the Democratic Party tend to consist more of people who are active because of what they personally want to get out of it. The lower ranks of the Republican Party tend to be more people who are more philosophically motivated. A problem there is that they often don’t recognize the difference between the philosophy or, as we’ve been saying tonight, the branding, and the reality. However, the lower ranks of the Democratic Party are not so concerned with that, one way or another; they are generally more narrowly focused in what their desires are.

Neither party is very elevated in consciousness. A great deal of what goes on universally in politics is at the knee-jerk surface level. There is not much vision or self-awareness anywhere in the political world. Having said this, we would add that Barack Obama is perhaps the most self-aware presidential candidate since Abraham Lincoln. This is not meant as an endorsement, to say that he’s "better"--it is the choice of those who are voting that counts.

We might add that John Kennedy was quite self-aware, and he was a young soul, illustrating that soul age is not the issue here.

Q. Would my being a liberal today mean that I was a conservative in an earlier life?

A. Not necessarily. What it is to be a liberal today is different from what it meant in other generations, and is different in different locations. However, some souls tend to be more attracted to whatever is the more progressive brand of the day, and some tend to be more attracted to the more conservative brand of the day. We spoke about the more solid roles tending to be more conservative in a certain respect; with one input, they are slower to change.

One could be a warrior or king and be a firebrand of progressive politics, so the generalizations are a little weak here. Most souls are agnostic in this regard, so the familial and cultural imprinting can have a large impact, at least at first. Later, a lot of people are strongly influenced, starting in their teenage years, by their peers. The people whom they admire who are their own age or a little older can become very significant here. Therefore, even if your family and culture are very conservative, if you go to school with someone who makes a big impact on you who is more progressive, then you might move towards that (or vice-versa). Friendship is more influential in politics than advertising. Today, there’s more segregation, so those who are more progressive tend to stick with their own, and those who are more conservative stick with theirs. However, in the schools, there is still a fairly good mix, and there is more of a chance to get people to question their imprinting at that age than there will be later.

Q. What does Michael think of the fact that at the same time, both the United States and Canada are in a political process of elections--is there any national karma present here?

A. There’s no karma. However, these two countries look to one another, and have for quite some time, to try to learn from each other. There is much to be gained from greater communication between the peoples of these two countries.

Q. How would Michael characterize the masses of young people who have galvanized behind Obama in terms of soul age and consciousness--are they a new and different class of souls?

A. There is no such thing as a new and different class of souls; there does not need to be--the garden variety of human souls is quite adequate. What you have here is a lot of youthful idealism. This is a generation that grew up knowing about things many of their elders either learned about later, or still don’t know about, such as the dangers to the environment. Therefore, at least the better educated of this generation are more aware of what is at stake. Also, they recognize the cynicism of most politics, so to have a candidate who is not cynical is hopeful to them. Although this generation is idealistic, we do not think it is naïve. It knows that there is a lot of hard work ahead. We would say also that Obama’s opposition to the war in Iraq is a large factor in his popularity with this generation.

Q. Can Michael say what they feel are the real issues in this election: for example, the war, health care, education, jobs, and so forth?

A. The unspoken, overriding issue is self-centeredness vs. altruism. That is what the election is about, fundamentally.

Q. I understand that soul age and consciousness are not synonymous, but how do you measure consciousness--what are the signs, for instance, of an advanced consciousness?

A. We do not claim that consciousness can be objectively measured. As one particular individual grows in consciousness, the emanation of light from that individual grows both in quality and quantity. However, two individuals can be conscious in different ways, and their illumination may be of different qualities. You can obviously tell the difference in the aura of one person who is highly unconscious and one who is highly conscious. However, with two people in the middle range, who are both struggling to awaken, we could not say that person A is at 67 on a scale and person B is at 68. It’s a little like comparing apples and oranges. Some people are very conscious in some areas and still asleep in others.

However, if someone is on the spiritual path, in the process of awakening, you can see that the energy is not stuck or badly blocked. There are changes happening, and the person is responsive to higher input; those who are firmly asleep are not--they do not take in light that shines from more conscious people or from spiritual guidance, at least not very much.

We would underline here what might be thought of as our mantra: all is choice. We are not encouraging you to think of unconscious and conscious as another form of "better" and "worse." In fact, the more conscious you are, the more unity you see in all things and the less you tend to judge others, even if they are at the moment stuck in unconsciousness. You recognize that they are sparks of the Tao just as you are, and that they are following their own path. So this is not a competition. It’s just that most of you are interested in being more consciously on your path, so we speak to that. Others who are not choosing that at this time are on their path, and it is their right to choose that. All you can do is choose for yourself--choose the path that you want to be on right now. Obviously, there are many people still choosing to live from the surface. That is neither good nor bad, but choosing to live from your quietude will ultimately bring you much more real joy. It is not easy at first, but it pays off in that regard.

We will conclude here with love and blessings to each of you. Good night.

--Michael Channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin for the BlogTalk Radio Michael Chat, September 7, 2008

Transcribed by Gloria Constantin

***

July 23, 2008

SEEING

The drama of human existence can be so absorbing that people stop seeing the real world around them. It's like being so caught up in a television program that one loses awareness of the room.

In order to make happier choices, it is helpful to detach from the drama so as to better place it in a true context. One way to do this is to challenge yourself to really see what is in your physical environment. A pleasurable exercise is to look for details in nature that you might tend to gloss over, such as the shape and color of leaves, the texture of bark, and so forth.

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin, July 23, 2008

***

June 13, 2008

REGENERATION

This is a period of much expansion in consciousness, and many are experiencing growing pains as a result. At the same time, there is a clear underlying sense that this is productive.

We suggest that you be particularly careful to allot time for quiet relaxation, minimizing stimulation.

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin, June 12, 2008

***

May 16, 2008

LEVELS OF SELF

By Shepherd Hoodwin, Excerpted from Journey of Your Soul, Chapter 28

Various metaphysical and spiritual teachings describe the levels of self differently, and even when different teachings describe them in fundamentally the same way, there is no standard terminology. Words such as "soul" can mean different things.

In discussions when the distinction between them is not significant, Michael generally uses the words "soul" and "essence" interchangeably. However, technically, they are not identical. In one of the Michael books by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Michael said that the essence is the intrinsic *core* of the soul. Michael through me has stated that when speaking of essence, they mainly mean the abstract aspects of self resonating with the three cardinal planes of creation. These could be called our buddhaic, messianic, and mental selves. Although the essence, as defined here, is in the dimensional universe rather than the Tao, which is undimensional, it is beyond time and space. It could be contrasted with the concrete aspects of self, those that resonate with the ordinal planes and are influenced by time. These could be called our physical, astral, and causal selves.

Our ordinal levels of self could be viewed as clothing or expressing our cardinal levels, just as our essence itself clothes our spark, and our personality and body clothe our astral self. Our astral self, which has direct contact with our body and leaves our body at death and sometimes during sleep and out-of-body experiences, could be specifically designated as our soul. It contains our reincarnational selves, including past-life memories.

This delineation is supported by the following passage from Yarbro's "Messages from Michael": "What makes the agreements is your astral self…which is mostly in essence, and the vestiges of personalities. Agreements are not made by the essence." The "vestiges of personalities" are what remain of our past-life selves after death, in their current level of reintegration with essence. Any issues not yet resolved from any lifetime remain as vestiges for upcoming incarnations to work on.

Don Kollmar, the founder of Complete Self Attunement, an approach to meditation, differentiates the words "soul" and "essence" similarly. He defines essence as the underlying truth of our being, or our pure presence, and the soul, which is created from essence, as its vehicle into the physical body. He says that the emergence of the essence transforms the personal self.

So perhaps the levels of self can be summarized and correlated with the planes with which they resonate:

LEVEL OF SELF / PLANE

Body and Personality / Physical

Soul (Astral Self) / Astral

Causal Self / Causal

Personal Akashic Records / Akashic

Essence / Mental

Essence / Messianic

Essence / Buddhaic

Spark / The Tao

The reason the terms "soul" and "essence" can usually be used interchangeably is that the soul is the part of essence (in its more general meaning as "everything that isn't personality") with which our personality has direct contact. We cannot experience the abstract levels of our essence except through our soul. It reminds me of the quote attributed to Jesus, "No one comes to the Father but by me."

From our point of view as a personality, our higher levels of self are potential rather than realized, since we have not yet lived them during this grand cycle, in the sense of focusing our consciousness in them. That will come after we cycle off the physical plane. For example, our causal self is the part of us that will be fully activated when our consciousness is focused on the causal plane. However, our progression through the planes is not a progression through physical time per se. It is linear in one sense, but it is also true that all levels of self exist simultaneously. It is the focus of our awareness that progresses.

According to my channeling of Michael, "You are now present on the other planes simultaneously with your current existence. However, they are not activated in relationship to you right now. They are just 'there.' These higher-plane aspects of self give you resonance and relationship with what is coming in your experience. To you right now, they are the unformed or potential parts of you, just as probabilities provide this function within the physical plane."

Although we experience our nonphysical levels of self as potential, they are also functional in our lives. An acorn is a potential oak tree, but the oak tree could be seen as the essence of the acorn, guiding its development into the oak tree. When a baby is born, it is a potential adult. It has all the parts that it will have as an adult. In a sense, the adult is its essence, guiding its development so that it realizes its potential. When an essence is cast from the Tao, it is unrealized potential seeking realization. It guides its realization at every step, like the potential oak tree and adult. Although it has a basic design, it doesn't know exactly what it will look like until that realization is complete.

In our normal waking state, our sense of self is usually centered in our personality. When we're asleep, our sense of self reverts to being centered in our soul. Our soul can be quite active at night and often leaves our physical body. Sometimes our dreams are the personality's memories of those excursions, but we generally only remember a fraction of what we actually do in the dream state. A technique called "lucid dreaming" allows us to be "awake" in our dreams and deliberately guide them, effectively merging our personality and soul even as our body sleeps. People often wake up tired after lucid dreaming, since the personality isn't at rest, as well as after extensive unconscious out-of-body excursions, because the body isn't receiving the soul's undivided attention; energy is being expended rather than regenerated.

A client I don't know well but who is in my entity related an intense dream she had in which she told me that she felt sad. In her dream, I thought about this a little and then asked her to follow me. We walked up a hill in her hometown (in Germany). I showed her a beautiful new little house with red shingles. It immediately made her feel happy. A few months after having the dream, she was back in her hometown. A friend offered to let her stay in her house over the summer. It turned out to be the house in the dream. She had a happy, creative summer there.

I assume that, although I don't remember the experience, her dream was a record of something that actually happened: I left my body to show her where she would be staying so as to help alleviate her sadness. Perhaps part of the reason I chose a body that requires a lot of sleep was to leave time for all this astral activity. (Sleep also facilitates creativity and mental/emotional processing.)

AURAS The aura is a band of etheric substance surrounding our physical body that reflects our seven levels of self. It consists of seven layers of mid-physical plane substance vibrating a little more quickly than the physical body itself. It is at the fringes of human perception--some people can see it, although most people have lost the capability, if they ever had it. Young children can be especially adept at seeing auras, as well as nonphysical spirit guides, until they become more anchored in the physical plane around the age of seven (or adults convince them that such visions are imaginary and should be disregarded). Our essence "shining through" our personality is like a "light bulb" lighting up the various colors and shapes of our aura. When false personality obscures essence, the aura reflects this with grayer colors; heavy blocks can show up as patches of black. The aura is constantly changing, reflecting the person's internal "climate," although its basic framework remains constant. Artisan souls tend to have large, diffuse auras, for example, whereas warriors tend to have compact, concentrated auras. An individual's aura also tends to have its own "look," in spite of being fluid.

Barbara Brennan, author of "Hands of Light," a book about spiritual healing, names the aura's seven levels as shown in the following chart, in which I correlate her terms with Michael's terms for the centers and planes. She psychically sees the first level as being closest to the physical body, and the seventh as the farthest.

LEVEL OF AURA / CENTER / PLANE

One ETHERIC BODY Physical Physical

Two EMOTIONAL BODY Emotional Astral

Three MENTAL BODY Intellectual Causal

Four ASTRAL BODY Instinctive Akashic

Five ETHERIC TEMPLATE Moving Buddhaic

Six CELESTIAL BODY Higher Emotional Messianic

Seven KETHERIC TEMPLATE Higher Intellectual Mental

The levels of the aura have straightforward correlations with the planes and centers, except that Ms. Brennan orders them differently than the Michael teachings order the planes. In the Michael teachings, the lower planes mirror the higher. It is as though the middle, assimilation-axis plane, the akashic, were a mirror: the first plane corresponds with the seventh--both are kinetic, action-axis planes; the second corresponds with the sixth--both are emotional, inspiration-axis planes; and the third corresponds with the fifth--both are intellectual, expression-axis planes. In the aura, Brennan sees the lower levels of the aura as paralleling the higher. The first corresponds with the fifth, the second corresponds with the sixth, and the third corresponds with the seventh.

The universe is complex and practical, and does not always follow neat, consistent patterns. Even though the theme of seven is common, its application is "variations on a theme"--the order of kinetic, emotional, intellectual, and neutral qualities is not always the same. The aura itself is physical and relates specifically to how the seven levels of self impact the body. Naturally, the order in which these manifest is appropriate to the body's needs. The seventh level of the aura, which Ms. Brennan calls the ketheric template, correlates with the higher intellectual center, or what she calls the "divine mind." This is symbolic of the fact that the consciousness of the whole provides the "container" for our individual experience. We all share a structure made up of fundamental beliefs, such as in gravity and time, so that we can play the same game; as essences, we each agree to at least mostly abide within this structure.

According to Michael, "In the aura, the outermost layer corresponds with the foundational structure of consciousness that creates one's reality."

The three interior levels of the aura could be seen as representing the personality; the exterior three, the essence; and the middle (fourth) level, the astral self, which connects the personality and the essence.

***

April 1, 2008

BEING A HEALER

We regard each of you as a healer. What heals, ultimately, is consciousness.

When you start to offer healing, you might feel, at first, an increase in discomfort. As a healer, you are vulnerable--you must be in order to heal--when you expose yourself to less-evolved energies. An inexperienced healer can sometimes feel overwhelmed by them, as if you were hit by something. The way to handle this is to focus strongly your attention on the qualities you wish to bring. The three basic universal forces are love, which aligns with inspiration; truth, intellect; and beauty, energy (or manifestation). In any situation in which you feel something destructive or ugly, you can call upon these qualities.

For instance, let’s say that somebody says something nasty or unfair to you. He is likely dealing with some difficult issues that may not be all that much about you personally. Sometimes, a person has just built up a lot of frustration and is letting off steam, and you are there, so it is dumped on you. What most people do is engage, because it triggers their own frustrations. Many actually see this as a good opportunity to dump, too: "He is dumping on me, so I will dump on him." It's sort of like mud wrestling, getting down and dirty, both letting off steam even if they are muddied and bloodied as a result.

This comes under the heading of "growing through pain." When you consciously become a spiritual student (everyone is an unconscious spiritual student) and take charge of your own evolution, you begin to understand that there are alternative ways of dealing with such a situation.

Unfortunately, most who have aspired to this have thought the only alternative was to stuff down their frustrations, slap on a phony smile, and try to get through it. That does keep a lid on things, which is sometimes the best that can be hoped for. However, for more advanced students, you can deal with your frustrations in a number of other ways.

There are therapeutic techniques that have been pioneered in alternative psychology in recent generations. For example, if you feel angry, you might hit a punching bag imagining it's the person who is bothering you, but with the intention of getting it out of your system but not doing psychic harm to the person (we are not speaking here of the equivalent of sticking pins in a voodoo doll). In other words, you hold a loving intent to release the old pent-up energy, which may also have little to do with the person who is triggering you. It could, in fact, go back to your childhood or even past lives. The person’s offense may only be the most recent and relatively small layer of frustration.

Even more advanced, still, is to handle it in a kind of meditation where you relax and invite all your pent-up frustrations to come up in the environment of love that you are creating in your personal space. You may invite that frustration to tell you its stories as if you were a loving therapist, parent, or friend listening to someone who needs to unload. As you witness your own unpleasant experiences in a way that says, "It's all right now. I love you. Go ahead and let this out,” you may not need to act out the aggression physically.

However, sitting with it in meditation may make your body want to move in some way if these old energies are stuck in it. Even if they are from a past life, they may be in your body now. So if your body wants to move, go ahead and move it in a safe way so that you don’t hurt yourself or your environment. You may want to hit something but you might just want to move in strange ways; it might look like you are having a mild seizure or something similar, since your body is releasing old, crippling energies. Sometimes, you might cry. Tears can be quite healing--they often accompany the realization of truth; they allow you to let go of something.

Now that you are aware that there are ways you can release your frustrations, you may have less of a need to engage with the person who is being inappropriate and who is triggering your desire to be inappropriate, as well. This is an excellent foundation for later forgiveness, not only of this person but of all those who have contributed to your many layers of frustration.

Life on the physical plane is designed to be frustrating. If everything were smooth sailing all the time, if nothing got in your way, there would be no learning. You could say that there is more frustration than there needs to be, but the level of collective frustration is a collective choice. For most of you, your society has chosen a high level of stress and complexity in order to accelerate learning, but that has also accelerated wounding. This gives you more opportunities to practice your healing skills, so, ultimately, it can be useful.

Still, you can individually choose to remove yourself from some of the frustrations of your situation; for one thing, you can chose to interact with fewer challenging people. You may not be able to eliminate them entirely, but you can probably reduce them. When you are no longer looking for people with whom you can get into a fight so that you can express some of your stored frustrations, you will certainly have fewer combative people in your life.

With practice, you can more successfully deal with your desire to react negatively by enfolding your reactions in love, truth, and beauty. If you are not able to fully release your frustrations in the moment, you can be increasingly confident that you will be able to do so when you get the chance to spend some time with them. However, sometimes a personal attack seems to come out of the blue, and you are not ready for it; you might feel viscerally like it punched you in the gut. You hadn't established a space of light that could repel it, so it takes you by surprise.

This is actually easy to deal with if you have your wits about you. That is that key, because when you are taken by surprise, you sometimes lose your wits. However, if you hold onto them, the first thing to do as a healer is to establish a strong intention that your own pain is connecting with those universal forces and is dissipating rapidly. Mothers instinctively knows how to do this when they comfort a squalling baby--just "be" with the hurt part of yourself, and it will quickly recover, especially if you have been practicing this. Then, as a healer, you can look at the other person in the same way: with compassion.

This is not to say that you should be in denial of the fact that this person upset you, but you could also remind yourself that she is probably hurting, too, perhaps having a "bad day," or would not have acted that way. You can afford to be generous in this regard when you already know that you can take care of yourself, that you don’t have to be her victim. Even if there is some momentary sting and things are coming up for you, you know that she can’t really hurt you long-term. However, if you try to be generous when you do not have this confidence, it will be harder; the generosity will not be so unconditional. It might come out as something to the effect of "I forgive you, but I still hate your guts."

That kind of statement is common in how people approach relationships. It is an improvement over "I am going to get revenge," but it is not as satisfying as being able to truly forgive, which, in this instance, involves disconnecting from the personal issues and not making them your own, not carrying their attack with you, nursing grudges and so forth.

If you think that you are not a skilled healer, all you need to do is use your ability to imagine things, such as a calm, peaceful, grounded state of being. If you are more visual, envision what that would look like; if you are more sensual, conjure what it would feel like. In both cases, hold the idea that you are creating this. If you stay with it long enough, you can arrive at a place where you feel as calm as you wish to feel--your result will reflect how much time and energy you invest in this intention.

What is holding you back from total relaxation? There may be a block in your body that draws your attention when you ask this question. If so, go to that spot and bring your loving presence to it. That alone might be enough to dissolve it. Also, when you are in the flow and are connecting with higher universal forces, you have access to information you might not otherwise, which can help you find out what is stopping you from feeling good, and help you release it.

Noticing your breathing and letting it be relaxed can help. Also, you might recall a time when you were out in nature and felt great, as if you didn’t have a care in the world: All you hear are the sounds of the birds singing and the breeze in the trees. Your body naturally feels that it is part of that environment; this is how it wants to feel. Let your breathing come into alignment with nature.

People often breathe and otherwise resonate in alignment with their human environment--for example, their workplace, where perhaps people are agitated. Sensitive people tend to feel that right away, and your heart rate and breathing may speed up as a result. Instead, you can take charge and stay in alignment with the heartbeat of nature, and then you might be able to calm down people around you rather than you taking on their wound-up state.

This sort of thing becomes easer and easier with practice. If it is not something you have worked with before, it will be foreign, of course, but after a while, you can learn to do it almost automatically, and you will feel better in your life as a result.

In healing work, you often become aware of things that were there all the time, but you were not in touch with earlier. When it is your intention to heal something, the unhealed factors need to come up in order to come out, so you may feel worse before you feel better, but you will feel better if you see it through. One benefit of becoming more spiritually conscious is that it can help you feel better more of the time.

Q. My stomach is lighter and warmer. I've never experienced such a thing before; I had visited healers but never felt anything--this is the first experience I can actually feel.

A. Perhaps the effectiveness of this is that we are not merely trying to heal you, but are approaching you as a fellow healer and are involving you in the process. In general, we would recommend this approach. Even if you are doing healing work on a child, you can involve her, inviting her to notice feelings and tell you about them. You might ask her, "If this feeling were an animal, what kind of animal would it be?"

Whenever you engage a person you are working with, you will usually get better results, because they are taking responsibility for their own healing. You are working with them and not on them.

There are stories of Jesus doing remarkable healings. People tend to assume that he just somehow automatically knew how to do them, but, in fact, he practiced. He had natural talent for it, but did not start out early in life being as good at it as he became after practice and study. He was a particularly powerful soul, but each of you are powerful in your own way. The record says that he told his students that they could do what he did.

The Bible stories might be thought of as a “best of” compilation. Most healing work is not instantaneous or otherwise overtly impressive, because it always, in part, depends on the recipient's willingness and ability to receive healing. In addition, each of you can improve your skills--it just takes practice. Working with children and animals are great ways to practice.

Everything is energy: E=mc2. There are people who don’t know anything about healing techniques, but their presence is healing because they are full of love, their thoughts are positive, and they have a lot of vitality. When you come into their presence, you feel better. That is being a healer. However, when you have some technique, as well (which does not need to be complicated), you can be more precise and powerful in your work.

--Michael Channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin, January 13, 2008

***

March 7, 2008

CHANGING YOUR LIFE

Many at this time are feeling uncomfortably restricted by old forms of consciousness, like a child who is wearing clothes that are a size too small. To make a different analogy, it is the stress of giving birth--the pressure building to a sometimes painful level--which is necessary in order to give birth to the new. You are betwixt and between: you are no longer in the old, but not yet in the new. Once a baby is moving through the birth canal, it cannot go backwards into the womb. Once you have moved towards a new consciousness, you cannot return to the old. In a real sense, it is not there anymore. There is not much one can do except keep moving ahead. Otherwise, you risk being stillborn. Your goal on a soul level is to move past this highly uncomfortable intermediary state and experience yourselves to be more solidly in the new.

There is a natural resistance to change, especially on the physical plane. Our experience of that resistance on the causal plane is more subtle. It is based on the fact that the thought forms that we "inhabit" are established. There is no resistance to these changes in an emotional sense; it's just that new ones naturally build on what has been before, so it would not be useful if these were so fluid that they were suddenly obliterated and we were starting with something new. Eventually, they will be quite different, but what is established presents a natural resistance to there being a great deal of change at once. This is the nature of intellect. On the physical plane, if your intellect completely morphed from one thing to another, you would have no way of dealing with it, and you would go insane. So there is nothing wrong with this resistance; the universe is structured this way for a good reason.

The medium of the astral plane is emotion. Emotions are like water--they are fluid. They are designed to change more readily, yet the ocean, for example, while it is always changing, also has a precise ecosystem that needs to be maintained as there are changes. Shorelines may erode or expand, and the bottom of the ocean may shift under water--mountains may become smaller or larger, for example; the currents move things around. However, the basic equilibrium must also be maintained.

Oceans are now becoming quite polluted. If humans stop polluting immediately, it will not eliminate all the pollution that is already there, but gradually the oceans will heal themselves. So emotions, even though volatile, are not as truly changeable as they might appear. Your surface emotions may change on a dime like wave patterns, but they all spring from the overall "ocean ecology" that you live with emotionally day in and day out. So the overall body of emotions also organically resists too much change all at once. Occasionally, there are tidal waves, but they are the exception rather than the rule. Similarly, with the intellectual body, there may be earthquakes that break up some of the structures of consciousness, but they too, are exceptional.

The physical plane also has a built-in resistance to change, and because it is the densest plane of all, the resistance to change is greater. Although your fluid emotions and evolving intellect may be willing for there to be great changes, by necessity they cannot manifest in physical reality as quickly. The intellect is the container for experience. They say that you form your reality to some degree based on your beliefs. These are not just the beliefs that you know about, but all your beliefs, which are the containers, first, for your emotions, and then, for your physical reality. Someone whose beliefs are calcified, who refuses to change his or her intellectual framework, assumptions, and habits, will find it very hard to shift emotionally and then physically.

A person with a fluidly evolving intellect may then get stuck at the emotional level. If there are defenses against emotions changing (again, these are not always consciously recognized), that will prevent evolution on an emotional level, and therefore in physical experience. Let's say a person is angry or resentful. If he is determined to hold on to that, even though the mind understands in a more exalted way, change is restricted. If, however, your thoughts are evolving and your emotions are fluid without defenses, then you can focus on what can bring change on a physical level. There is the saying about the spirit being willing but the flesh being weak. Perhaps we could think of that as your intellect being flexible and your emotions being fluid, but you still can't seem to move things in your physical plane, day-to-day life experience. This is the level where many of you are working now: You want what is new, but you can't get there yet. It is like being in a car that is stuck in in mud: you're putting the gas on but the wheels are spinning; you can't move forward.

If this is your challenge, the first place to look is in the various energy fields of your life. Your most personal energy field is your aura. Auras can expand and shrink in size, but for practical purposes, let's think of it as being about a meter around your skin in all directions, and, of course, including your physical body as well. As a general rule, your aura reflects your thoughts and your feelings. However, it also is influenced by your environment. It's like your home, which collects dust just from the air moving through it, as well as from the natural biological processes of your body, and those of others who inhabit the space. In addition, insects may come into your home even if you keep all the windows and doors closed, because your home is, after all, part of the larger ecology, no matter how well sealed it is.

So you clean your home from time to time. You remove excess dust and perhaps you eliminate insects. Many of them are harmless, butx some of them can destroy your food supply. Termites can eat away at the very foundation of your home if you don't do something about them. It is like that with your aura. It is the larger home of your body on the physical plane. Your aura is physical, like the body, but it is at faster vibration in the physical plane, which is why it is only physically seen in rare circumstances. Nonetheless, you feel its effect. If your aura is clean and full of light, it feels very different to be in than if it is dirty and crawling with metaphorical insects. Just the same as with your home. Even a confirmed slob feels better in a home once it is cleaned up, even if he or she does not have the wherewithal to personally make that happen. You may not know how to clean your aura, but you feel it if someone else does it for you, for example a healer, or during these channelings. We are working with each of you now to help you clean your aura if that is your wish, if you are willing to let go of what it contains that doesn't really belong.

Sometimes people become attached to their clutter and debris and even though part of them wants it cleaned up, if someone else tries to help the person may object; there may be mixed feelings about letting go…not wanting something to be disturbed. This is extreme inertia, or resistance to change. When even the dust and garbage must not be touched.

The most direct way to clean your aura is to spend a few minutes and simply focus your consciousness on this happening. Why don't you, if you wish, do that now. Some people are visual. If that is the case, you can visuaize a space of about a meter all around you, and ask that it start to look clearer and lighter. Notice what it looks like now, and hold a vision of what you want it to look like. Or ask it, what it would ideally be, and hold the space for that to happen. If you are approaching this visually you may not know if it should look clear or be full of brilliant colors. The goal here is that it look and feel clean, and anything else is fine, except that it should reflect who you really are, just like you would like your home to reflect who you really are, with your tastes and colors you like. You want it to be homey and hospitable, first of all, to you. If you are not so visual, you can take feeling picture of what it would ideally feel like to be in your space and hold your focus on that for a few minutes. There are other ways to do this, but these are two that will work for most people.

Feel your aura becoming sparklingly clean. Feel it being a true, comfortable home for you. Ask now that any energies in your aura that are not a part of who you are in this moment be released. You may have picked up energies, negative or not, from all the people you have interacted with recently, and even in the distant past. You may have deliberately, albeit unconsciously, saved some energy fragments because you wanted to help the person that they belonged to or because there was something that interested you and you wanted to try to figure it out. It can get to be like the shut-ins who have stacks of hundreds of newspapers that they never get around to reading, and yet the stacks make it impossible to really live in the home. It blocks movement within in it. So if you are willing, let everything that is not you in this moment be cleared out. You will not lose anything that is valuable to you. If you need to still deal with something, it will come back to you. Of course, it is the negative or destructive energies, characterized by resentment, bitterness or sadness that causes the greatest problems. But even the more neutral or even positive bits of energy that are not yours get in the way of the changes that you hunger for. So it is good to clear your personal space of everything. It is not a bad idea to do it a couple times a day, say, in the morning and in the evening. This does not have to take a long time. It is more the fact that you are taking ownership of your personal space, and are issuing your own parameters. It is like taking charge of your home and saying, all right, in the past I have let things fall where they may, but now I am making a choice, and this is now how it is to be.

As with cleaning your physical home, if you keep up with aura cleansing, it doesn't get too bad. However, if you are just now dealing with it after a long period, it will take some time to put it all in order. Still, if you hold the intention, it will be accomplished.

We made the analogy of insects infiltrating your physical home, in addition to dust and clutter. Let's say that some food starts to spoil in your cupboard. After a while, it will attract insects that wish to feed on it. If you don't tend to it quickly, it can turn into quite an ordeal. The vibrational equivalent of spoiling food in your cupboard is your harbored negative, destructive emotions as they begin to fester.

In the larger scheme of things, there is nothing wrong with the negative--it is a necessary part of the whole, just as there is nothing wrong with the fact that food spoils: when it is not used, the destructive force breaks it down so that it can go back to the earth. This is perfectly acceptable for the compost pile; it is less convenient in your kitchen cabinets.

There is a place for anger, for example. It is an energy designed to create a boundary, and push things away. However, when anger festers in you, it starts to get rotten and sends an odorous "dinner bell" out to the vibrational insects or "entities" that feed off anger.

Let's say you left some spoiling food in a kitchen cabinet and went on vacation. You would likely come back to find much of your house full of insects. They would have become such a strong presence that they might have forced their way into other food stores. Similarly, if you let your anger, bitterness, judgments, or other destructive emotions fester for a long time, you will have a hard time cleaning out your aura to the point where it is sparkling. It can be done, but you will have your work cut out for you.

This comes back to the fluid ocean of the emotional body: are you willing to let go of these festering emotions that are attracting these insects? This is not say that you have resolved them all. The only question here is, Are you willing? If you are, you will find a way to heal them. Willingness is more intellectual; it is the thought form, the intent.

Let's say that humanity makes a collective decision to clean up the oceans, that it will do what it can to stop polluting them. Eventually, the ocean would right itself, and you would stop having nasty debris washing up on the shore.

Some people want it both ways; they want to hang on to their bitterness, but they want to stop feeling the bad feelings that result from being bitter. You can't have it both ways. Many people turn to substance abuse of various kinds because they are seeking to run away from feeling bad, but they aren't willing yet to let go of what is making them feel bad.

We don't mean to generalize too much, because everyone's story is unique. Sometimes people wish to escape not their own negative emotions, but things they are picking up from their own environment. In any case, if there is a solid intent, the change will come.

If you discover a bad infestation of insects in your house, and you begin to clean it out, you may be battling this for some time, but if you keep it up, eventually you will gain the upper hand. You may discover other food sources that have gone rotten that you didn't think to examine before. Similarly, with your evolution as a person, you may think you have thrown away all your rotting anger only to later unearth some more in a different cupboard, so you clean that out, disinfect it, and just keep working at it.

Eventually, you will have gotten things under control. You've done a thorough cleaning of your home; there are still a few stray insects, but you are staying on top of it. Now your effort is directed toward making it a more homey and pleasant environment. Maybe you add some houseplants, or you redecorate a little; perhaps, you paint.

The equivalent of this in your aura is working to radiate love in your day-to-day interactions, choosing to be a little more cheerful, for example. We're not speaking of something artificial here, but you are always making choices, and you can deliberately find what is already within you that is more cheerful. Most people would like their homes to be cheerful. You would not take that to an extreme--you would not put pictures of clowns in orange and red on every wall. However, you would probably enjoy having some bright touches in your environment. If your house were all black and white, you might find that having some dashes of color here and there could be quite a relief. The same with your personality. People do vary in their natural capacity for cheer; some prefer it more than others. If you would prefer more than you have, then it is up to you to provide it. Maybe you can influence others around to add to your efforts.

One of the great spiritual principles is cultivating gratitude. Like cheerfulness, this is a choice that is available for anyone to make. The reason gratitude is so useful is that it is the natural state of all things. If you, for example, commune with nature, standing alone in a dense, rich forest, the reason that feels so good is that each tree, plant, and animal naturally exists in a state of gratitude, "breathing" it in and out. Gratitude doesn't always come so easily to human beings because the more advanced intellect, triggered by fear, comes up with a litany of reasons not to feel grateful. Probably the majority of human beings do not breathe in and out with freedom, whereas most plants and animals have no choice in the matter; they are constantly experiencing their oneness with all things. A plant cannot stop photosynthesis even if it somehow wanted to.

Some spiritual practices focus on the breath. When you liberate your breath, when your body is breathing as it naturally wants to, it experiences gratitude. It is fully receptive to the oxygen in the air that would feed it, and then contributes back into the air what the air needs from it.

Gratitude is not talking yourself into thinking you are happy with things that you are not happy about; it is viscerally feeling the goodness of life because you are connected with it. Notice your breathing now. If it is not as free as you would like it to be, ask your body to show you how it would like to breathe. When you are not breathing freely, some part of you is hanging on too hard. If you notice that you are not breathing easily, you might ask yourself, What am I holding on to? And then, Am I willing to let it go? It doesn't mean that you will let it go immediately, but if you are willing, you will eventually.

Those of you who have animal companions have probably benefited from observing their relative lack of neurosis. They can pick up some from the humans around them, but they have less of an ability to get in their own way. However, being sentient does bring with it a higher consciousness, potentially, and a wider range of choices. If you choose to be in harmony with the universe in the way that particularly wild animals and everything else in nature are, while still developing your uniquely human intellect and emotions, you will demonstrate a magnificence greater than what is possible to those beings with a narrower range of choice. It is not easily accomplished, which is why you have so many lifetimes and such difficult challenges. However, that is the point of coming as you do to the physical plane, and as we once did: to learn how to be natural *and* more conscious. By confronting all of the things that hamper evolution while in the body, you are challenged to draw from your deepest resources.

The body itself is designed to resist too much physical change because its number one need is to feel safe. As a conscious soul incarnate in a human animal body, you can alleviate your own body's resistance to change and move your life forward by providing for your body and reassuring its safety. The better you take care of your physical body, the more willing it will be to allow change in your life.

All of these steps come before you are able to do anything about the larger world. If you clean house for yourself, and start to practice cheerfulness and thankfulness, then you may be able to be a positive force for change with other people, and with society in general. When you get good at cleaning your own aura, you can start to clean the auras of those with whom you are connected: your family members, your friends, and your co-workers. If they don't want it clean, your work will not stick, but you can at least do your part in your bond with them. It may give them options, too; they may move from stasis by your reminding them that they could feel better.

People have commented on the irony of people fighting for peace. Obviously, there is no peace when you are fighting. We don't want to be nit-picky about semantics. Perhaps you could say that a lot of these people were "campaigning" for peace, but if a peace demonstration erupts in violence, you certainly do not have peace.

Like anger, there is a place for violence--violence breaks things down. Sometimes nature is violent; we mentioned tidal waves and earthquakes. However, violence in nature is relatively rare. If you want peace in the world, you have to be peaceful. If you are waiting for everyone else to become peaceful first, you will no doubt die before that happens. You cannot do a great deal about the rest of the world. However, you can be an example and inspiration.

No positive act is ever wasted. There are people in your life who may harvest the understanding and benefit from an act of generosity on your part lifetimes from now. Most of you are doing a lot more good in the world than you have any way of knowing. You will not often get a letter, say, from someone who was difficult in your life saying that she appreciates your example, and that it has helped her. Obviously, you will not get a letter from her to that effect if your good work was in another lifetime. However, you can rest assured that when you bring light, it has some positive effect somewhere, somehow. And even if it didn't, it is of benefit to you, for your own growth, because that is precisely what you are practicing by being a physical human being. You don't have anything better to do on the physical plane or anywhere else than to shine your light to the best of your ability. As you practice that, your ability grows.

The manifestations of the Infinite Soul through Lao Tzu, Jesus, Buddha, and Krishna are striking examples of how an impact of light continues to reverberate through time. This is true of negative acts also, but positive ones reverberate much more.

Q: How does one work with others who have messy auras without accepting the mess for oneself in the process of trying to work with them?

A. That is a great question, and there is no one simple answer. When other people join your aura, you can work with the combined aura much the same way that you work with your own personal aura, because now there is, you could say, an extension of yourself: you combined with that other person. So if you notice that your combined aura is not what you would like it to be, then you can do the same type of work starting with your intention to clean out the aura that you share with that other person.

As you raise your personal vibration, you will either attract people who want to be at that higher place, maybe with less anger, for example, or you will repel them because they don’t want to change. If the latter is the case, you are wise to let them go.

If it is someone you are required to interact with, a co-worker, perhaps, you can allow there to be more distance between you. Let’s say there is someone you used to bond with in mutual negativity (you both hated the same people, for example), and now you no longer wish to harbor those kinds of energies that weigh you down; the other person will either choose to change or not to change. If the other person chooses to stay in his heavier, stickier energies of hating this other person, you may need to let go of that relationship. So when you raise your vibration, it reconfigures everything in your life, and it will bring up issues for you that will, if you use them to your advantage, accelerate your own growth. It may not be easy, but it is infinitely worthwhile.

Perhaps all this sounds like a great deal of work. The physical plane itself is a lot of work, but the work of raising your vibration is rewarding, to say the least. It gives you immediate benefits and long term benefits. It is well worth the trouble.

Q: I live in a dense city. Would you address how to deal with that?

A. When you live in a big city, it is more challenging to maintain your personal clarity that you may have worked hard to attain within your own apartment once you go out in public. We recommend that you practice, before you go out the door, compacting your aura. Bring it in say within six inches of your skin rather than three feet. If you just visualize and feel that a few times you can quickly get a feel for how to do it with just the intention. For some people this is a little uncomfortable, but it is temporary until you reach a destination, where you can bring it out a little bit, and then we would suggest that you clear yourself of anything you have picked up along the way. After a while, this gets to be second nature. You will probably not completely eliminate the influence of the city; it is simply not as easy as living in the wide open spaces. However, you can at least manage it better with techniques like this. Also, as you go out and about, ask for your guides to offer some added protection to your energy. A golden color can be especially useful to visualize protection when you go out into a crowded place.

Q. I have a major project of cleaning, sorting and compacting belongings in my own apartment that cannot be done in a day or a week. I am trying to work with balancing my energy so to that I don’t get dragged down and stuck. How can I not be overwhelmed with the task at hand, especially when I wake up in the midst of it every day?

A. We would suggest you start with your own aura because if your own aura is not clear, you won’t be able to accomplish anything in your space, and that only needs to take a couple of minutes. A good discipline would be to limit yourself to one corner at a time; don’t try to do it all at once. If you can make a small area the way you want it to be, it will give you the confidence and the momentum to move on to the next. You might also see if you have a friend who can help you who has good skills with that.

CLOSING MEDITATION

Surround yourself with the most beautiful energy you can imagine, as if you were in bliss, full of gratitude and peace. If you can imagine this, you can start to create that in your life.

Love and blessings to each of you. We are available to help you on your path. Good night.

--Michael Channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin, March 2, 2008

***

January 2, 2008

FLUIDITY OF CONSCIOUSNESS

Everything is consciousness. You are consciousness. We are consciousness. All forms are consciousness. All energy is consciousness. Consciousness is a point in the universe that is aware. It carries a particular imprint from the Tao. All consciousness is evolving. Why? It's not that there's anything wrong with the consciousness of a particular moment; on the contrary, each one is a perfect expression of the Tao. Evolution is simply change that builds on what went before, to keep things interesting for the Tao, you could say.

Sometimes human consciousness becomes calcified. There's a saying that you can't teach old dogs new tricks. That's not actually true, but it does become harder, because inertia can set in. This is the main reason for short human lifetimes: consciousness becomes calcified, and the soul (and, therefore, the Tao) gets bored, so it seems best to toss out the old form and start over. It is good work to examine where you have become calcified and challenge yourself to shake things up a bit.

The human animal isn't fond of change; it likes to set up social structures and then doesn't like to change them. This is an interesting self-karma for souls, since souls (consciousness) require change. The natural movement of the soul "butts heads" with the inertia of the human animal. If the personality is too resistant to change, the soul may have no choice but to disrupt the routine. When the personality learns to be fluid, change is generally gradual and pleasant.

The biggest "earthquakes" in one's life tend to come after a long period of calcification. You might think that those with a chief feature (obstacle) of stubbornness have the biggest problem with this, but, in fact, it's a universal problem/challenge among most, if not all, ensouled species. Some creatures of reason are designed with less structure, but most still resist what is truly new in consciousness. This resistance isn't actually a "bad" thing--it's a necessary part of growth, because if growth could happen with no resistance, it wouldn't go very deep. It's rather like a road that's too smooth--cars would go skidding off it. Resistance in both the tires and the road allow there to be forward movement. However, too much resistance leads to calcification, which is unpleasant. So, as in all things, there needs to be a balance.

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin, November 4, 2007, in an online chat

***

December 14, 2007

TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES
 
Speaking the truth has consequences. However, not speaking or otherwise living your truth also has consequences, usually far more destructive. So, in a way, life is a game of "Truth or Consequences."
 
Much drama, such as in movies and television, is about how people go to great lengths to avoid telling the truth, convoluting themselves and their lives. Usually, the truth comes out in the end, and things resolve. Had people been truthful in the beginning, it would have spared everyone a lot of fuss, but that would make for less dramatic viewing.
 
In real life, it is similar: people are often terrified of the consequences of telling the truth, first of all to themselves. Yet when they finally do, it is a great relief, and it usually turns out better than all their denials and avoidance did.

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin


***

November 4, 2007

FLUIDITY OF CONSCIOUSNESS

Everything is consciousness. You are consciousness. We are consciousness. All forms are consciousness. All energy is consciousness. Consciousness is a point in the universe that is aware. It carries a particular imprint from the Tao. All consciousness is evolving. Why? It's not that there's anything wrong with the consciousness of a particular moment; on the contrary, each one is a perfect expression of the Tao. Evolution is simply change that builds on what went before, to keep things interesting for the Tao, you could say.

Sometimes human consciousness becomes calcified. There's a saying that you can't teach old dogs new tricks. That's not actually true, but it does become harder, because inertia can set in. This is the main reason for short human lifetimes: consciousness becomes calcified, and the soul (and, therefore, the Tao) gets bored, so it seems best to toss out the old form and start over. It is good work to examine where you have become calcified and challenge yourself to shake things up a bit.

The human animal isn't fond of change; it likes to set up social structures and then doesn't like to change them. This is an interesting self-karma for souls, since souls (consciousness) require change. The natural movement of the soul "butts heads" with the inertia of the human animal. If the personality is too resistant to change, the soul may have no choice but to disrupt the routine. When the personality learns to be fluid, change is generally gradual and pleasant.

The biggest "earthquakes" in one's life tend to come after a long period of calcification. You might think that those with a chief feature (obstacle) of stubbornness have the biggest problem with this, but, in fact, it's a universal problem/challenge among most, if not all, ensouled species. Some creatures of reason are designed with less structure, but most still resist what is truly new in consciousness. This resistance isn't actually a "bad" thing--it's a necessary part of growth, because if growth could happen with no resistance, it wouldn't go very deep. It's rather like a road that's too smooth--cars would go skidding off it. Resistance in both the tires and the road allow there to be forward movement. However, too much resistance leads to calcification, which is unpleasant. So, as in all things, there needs to be a balance.

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin

***

October 22, 2007

HONORING ALL QUALITIES

To be in full relationship to yourself, each aspect of yourself needs to be honored. Sometimes people feel disturbed to discover that not all aspects of themselves conform to the image they have carried. These "shadows" are not necessarily negative. For example, a person who sees herself as tough may not like hearing from her vulnerable side, just as someone who sees himself as vulnerable may not like hearing from his tough side. The key here is balance: finding the place where "tough" and "vulnerable" share honor. This requires an openness to discover the contributions that both sides of the proverbial coin have to make. Old judgments against certain qualities may need to go, in the understanding that every quality has potential beauty when it is in its right place.
 
There are even right places for old bugaboos such as fear and hate. For instance, they may be appropriate energies in the presence of a malicious threat. However, for them to find their right place, your consciousness needs to be aligned to the present moment, to what is infinite. When the immediate and the infinite are in the same place in you, you can have mastery over transitory energies such as fear and hate; they are simply information that guides you to effective action. Fear may enhance your alertness to danger; hate may mobilize you to expel intrusive energies. When the need for them is gone, you can simply release them and return to equilibrium.
 
Every feeling and energy has a reason for existing. In their present forms, some of them may no longer be harmonious with where you are. By honoring all of them, you can allow them to fall out of their old frames and find a new shape that fits with your current awareness.

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin

***

Sept. 2, 2007

(NOTE: In a departure from the normally brief Perspectives mailings, this is a channeled lecture by Michael given over a teleconference and online chat. Thank you to Kathryn Schwenger for doing the transcription.)

HEALING SHAME
 
The human physical body has been mistreated throughout much of history. For example, many religious and spiritual teachings have misunderstood the body, and have taught that most pleasures are wicked, or certainly less preferable than higher pursuits. The idea has often been to find spiritual upliftment by ignoring or even persecuting the body. Many, even in this day, believe that the point is to get the body part over with as quickly as possible.
 
The old story in Genesis in the Bible tells that, at one point, human beings were naked and unashamed, but then they learned to be ashamed. In this allegory, being naked does not only refer to nudity physically; it refers to all the ways in which a human being is naked. For example, intellectual nakedness might be all the things you do not yet know or understand. If you were not ashamed of that, you would not cover up this nakedness and pretend to know what you do not. Emotional nakedness would include being vulnerable, that you do, in fact, have feelings that can hurt. Very few people want to allow others to know that. If you look at the inculcation that goes on in children on the schoolyard, for example, you can see how much most societies are ashamed of emotional nakedness. And spiritual nakedness is covered over with sanctimony--"holier than thou"--the show of goodness rather than the actuality of it.
 
Where people do not wear much in the way of clothing, their bodies become stronger because they are interacting with their environment more and they have to adapt. We're not suggesting that you should all start going naked from now on, but this is symbolic of what happens when human beings are ashamed and cover up their nakedness.
 
Everything on the physical plane is symbolic. The soul, you could say, grows through working with symbols. This is the reason allegory is used so much in scriptures. In their spiritual nakedness, human beings often mistake the symbolic for the literal. The body is the central symbol for human beings. The physical body symbolizes the emotional, intellectual and spiritual bodies, as well as cultural values and beliefs. The attitudes people hold towards the body ultimately tell you how they feel about themselves. It is a paradox that while it is absolutely true that each of us is an eternal being, that no one is his or her body, at the same time, when you are incarnate in a body, your treatment of it speaks volumes about who you are. This has nothing to do with whether your body conforms to societal ideals: whether your body is thin, medium or fat; whether your body is muscular or flabby; whether it is young, old or middle-aged. However, it has everything to do with your relationship with your body--how you talk to it, for example.
 
The body, as the central symbol, is also the favorite scapegoat of those who do not wish to take responsibility for their thoughts, feelings and actions--in other words, for their choices. Most people expect to be able to mistreat their body, but then become angry when it fails to live up to their expectations. We are not implying here that you should become a purist and never eat anything, for example, that is not 100% raw and organic, or whatever your belief system is about what is healthy. You cannot escape some harm to your physical body; there is no such thing as a completely healthy physical body at this time on earth. You all breathe polluted air; the water isn't so natural or alive as it used to be; even organic food can be compromised in its mineral content, and you do not live a natural lifestyle. However, there is much that is within your control, and you continually make choices that affect your body's function. To blame your body for choices you made that affected your body is like someone in an abusive relationship blaming the victim; having treated someone poorly, then being angry at that person for not conforming to his or her expectations.
 
What would it be like to unconditionally love your body? Very few people have any inkling of this. Many like their body fairly well when they can ignore it, but if it starts to have some issues, often people get angry. "How dare you do this to me! You've inconvenienced me!" Then, there is the element of the new age movement that believes that everything that happens in the body is the fault of the occupant's thoughts, so instead of blaming the body, one blames the person and that can be as abusive as the other way around.
 
One of the great lessons of love is that although it can be useful to identify elements of cause, there is no usefulness in blaming anyone or anything. Blame has two elements: it says, "You caused this." and also, "You are bad because you caused this." Blame distorts perceptions, so the understanding is usually quite skewed to begin with as to the true multiple causes of any condition. Blame is a direct by-product of shame. Shame is pervasive in the world, and no one likes feeling shame, so blame is an attempt to put the shame onto something or someone else.
 
So how can people get back to what is sometimes religiously thought of as innocence? Innocence is where you are naked and you're okay with that because you are going to be naked whether you're okay with it or not, so you may as well be okay with it and not judge the nakedness. You will only experience a complete lack of nakedness when you have fully rejoined the Tao. Until that point, you are naked. When you are ashamed of your nakedness, you judge it, and whatever you judge, you step aside from: you split in two. There is you who is naked, and then there is a part of your mind that tries to disassociate--it looks down on the nakedness, and forms a judgment against it. So, as soon as you judge, you have separated from yourself and you are no longer fully being who you are. Innocence is simply fully being who you are. It was said in Genesis that, originally, people were naked, but they didn't know that that was the case. The implication was that as soon as you find out that you're naked, you're bound to feel bad about it.
 
What is really being outlined here is that when a soul is newly born into a universe, it doesn't know anything; it is like a new computer with a blank hard drive, other than maybe the most basic operating system. Then it starts to have experiences, and it finds out that there is a lot it doesn't know. Within an individual lifetime, in a healthy society, young children handle the fact of not knowing much just fine; an infant is not capable of intellectualizing that she should not be pooping in her diapers, or whatever, unless someone older tells her. A small child doesn't think that it should not be touching his genitals until some misguided older person introduces shame. With shame, some part of the very young mind separates from itself; it looks back on that thing that is natural and therefore feels fine, and tries to rationalize why someone seems to think that it is bad.
 
Eventually, most people absorb the imprinting because children need to be accepted by their elders or they will not survive. So the young mind finally decides that, yes, this is a shameful thing, whatever it is, and, ultimately, that belief becomes "My body is shameful." During adolescence, with this judgment against the body deep in the subconscious, it is hard for sexuality, which is most necessary on many levels, to develop in a healthy way. Most people manage to at least overcome the negative imprinting when in the throes of sexual oestrus. You might say that Mother Earth takes over to do something that is essential for the survival of the species. And some people do learn to enjoy it quite a bit, but many do not. Even those who seem to be quite sexual often remain disassociated from self, so it becomes the body doing it and not the whole person. Part of the tantric yoga tradition is meant to help people to bring intellect, emotion and spirit into physicality. It is a useful practice but it has limited success because usually the issue of shame stored at such a deep level is not fully addressed.
 
Most people, at some level, feel ashamed just for being alive, because, after all, they are naked, and all they have ever heard is that that is not a good thing. The more someone tries to put on some spiffy coverings, whether religious righteousness or even being sexually alluring or politically powerful, it doesn't matter. Much of the gyrations of the false personality are designed to try to present itself as not being naked.
 
Children remind adults, especially those who are relatively as-yet unsullied, that it is possible to be naked but not be ashamed. It is very difficult for children to grow up in this world and hold their innocence. The spiritual path involves taking on the shame, becoming conscious of it, and beginning to make new choices. That includes releasing the old imprinting, recognizing the nakedness, and finding peace about it. The ultimate statement of that is, "I am perfect in my imperfections; I love myself unconditionally; at the same time, yes, I am naked in a great number of ways, and that includes having numerous faults."
 
Again, a paradox: when a person totally accepts his faults, he has much more leverage to change. Those who are in the throes of shame are terrified that if there was love, acceptance and tolerance, then everyone would just be terribly sinful--there would be no motivation to change anything, and, oh, the terrible things people would do then when their so-called animal nature took over! However, when you are naked, unashamed, but also know it, then instead of splitting off from yourself to make a judgment about it, which is quite draining, you can simply see, "Well, this habit here is not adding to my happiness; I think I will work on changing that." Since you are not divided in half, you have more wherewithal to make a change. If you are innocent and conscious at the same time and, let's say, you spoke out of pique--you were irritated or angry in the moment--and you are present with yourself, you get instant feedback that "that didn't feel good."
 
It's not moral in the sense that there is a judgment of what is appropriate or inappropriate behavior; it doesn't come from the intellect or from a judgment. It is simply a direct experience, because when you are one with yourself, you are one with others, and your thoughtless words, in hurting others, hurt yourself. So you instantly realize that that is not something you want. You may be aware, "Oh, I overreacted because I was tired, or I was sad about this other thing," but you immediately know that you no longer want to take it out on another person, because that does not feel good. So there is a direct feedback system and, therefore, no need for shame.
 
Shame is a way for keeping people in line when they are not conscious. Shame is not a very effective means of creating a loving society, but, at one point, it was actually a step up. There is a certain point early in the development of both the soul and the individual person in which one is unconscious, naked, unashamed, and out of control. An example is when the dominant male throws his weight around in ways that hurt others, but there's not awareness of it because the body's hardwiring is in control and there is nothing to balance it. A little bit of shame might focus attention on an area where there needs to be more consciousness, so that there can be greater fairness. However, what has happened on earth to a large degree is that the shame itself has gotten so out of control that it has become the oppressor of all
 
Why are we moved to speak on this tonight? It is because you, those students who are listening now, are ready to move beyond this; to recognize and heal your shame, and return consciously to greater innocence. Some of you are feeling quite emotional on this subject, and that is because your inner self is already changing the imprints. There is a lot of talk in pop psychology about loving yourself, and that is useful, but it is impossible to love yourself when the hold of shame is unrecognized. Therefore, we suggest to all of you who wish to become free of this that you start to photograph shame as it hides in the background of your life, because, until you can see it, you cannot heal it. Then, you can begin to replace it with a kinder attitude towards self.
 
Be aware that the way you view and treat your body is your biggest clue to these deep beliefs. Can you be kind to your body? Can you stop criticizing it for its shape, size, features and so forth? Yes, maybe, once you find greater acceptance for yourself, you may choose to exercise your body more, give it a different diet, and so forth, out of kindness and love, not because you're ashamed but because you love your body. It is your home on the physical plane. The body is the quintessential slave in that it has little choice, and if its master--which is you--is unkind, it must endure. As the master, as the cardinal one in the relationship with your ordinal body, it is your responsibility to be kind and thoughtful of your body, and if you make choices that help it to feel better, you, of course, reap the benefits of that; you feel better in your body. In a more enlightened relationship, you and your body are a team working together for the same thing, so you do not blame or judge your body. Instead, you ask your body, "How can I work with you?" Each body has its own set of challenges, its own weaknesses and strengths. Some bodies simply have a stronger constitution than others; some are quite durable, while others are delicate by nature, but all bodies respond well to love: a loving attitude and energy, and a kind approach to caring for your body. Sometimes, you may ask your body to endure a stress because you deem it necessary; for example, maybe there is an emergency and you need to stay up all night; your body will be willing to do what needs to be done if you are as thoughtful of it as possible. However, if you ask a lot from your body, consider the self-karma and what you might do to balance the books--for example, give it more rest later or feed it extra high nutrition foods.
 
The standard American diet is not so much a problem of bad nutrition, although it is, but the culture's hatred of the body. The shadow of that is the worship of young bodies that look "perfect" because those bodies seem to say that you can abuse the body but it can still look nice and that is all that counts, because if it looks nice you will still be able to reproduce. So people routinely don't give their body enough sleep, and then they whip it with caffeine or other stimulants, like sugar. They don't eat foods that provide energy, so they stock up on simple carbs that can seem to make up for that.
 
The way that animals raised for food are treated is also symbolic of the views toward the body in general: that they don't count. For example, the way that cattle are raised as cheaply as possible, crowded and fed unnatural food just for the appearance of more fat in the meat. All these things speak of the shame that is carried so heavily in this culture, but really, in virtually every culture on earth to some degree.
 
Part of the abuses in the American culture is simply the opportunity to get away with it; it is ironic that poorer cultures, of necessity, do tend to be more connected to the earth, and a little more honoring of the body. They still tend to dissociate but they can't get away with dissociating as far.
 
You could also relate the whole global warming issue to shame. The same attitude that seeks the cheapest and easiest way to fuel things so that people can do whatever they want to regardless of the body shows up in the spewing of toxins into the air, water and earth that hurts your own bodies, and then people are surprised that there are ramifications.
 
You go from naked, unashamed but unconscious, to naked, ashamed and unconscious. You cannot go backwards, so you cannot remove the shame and yet stay unconscious. The only way out of this is to become conscious. And how do you do that?
 
The first step is to learn to dissociate less, not to step outside of yourself, not to comment so much in a judgmental way, but instead be at the core of your own experience. Feel your feelings; animate your own life rather than simply judge it, and try to see what is without an overlay of judgmentalness. If you sometimes act like a jerk, then just observe that as a fact, and look for what's behind it without wasting energy on saying what a terrible person you are. The shame can be healed. You will probably not heal all of it in this lifetime, but you can make a lot of progress in a short period. Simply realizing that you no longer need to be stuck in shame is an excellent place to begin.
 
Let's do a little meditation here:
 
Just be with yourself and invite all the old held shame to be present with you as you reside in love. Try not to intellectualize it too much, just ask for the energy of the shame to be with you, and observe it; feel kindly toward it, and if nothing else, just be aware of your breathing.
 
Would anyone like to share your experience? (Some people typed their responses in the Michael teachings chat room.)
 
Q. This topic has been so completely what I have been struggling with deeply these days/weeks/months. I have been feeling so in pain and hopeless lately. WOW. Thank you Michael.
 
Q. It feels that by inviting shame, creating room for it, it's like inviting it into an open field full of sunshine, which feels very different from looking at it inside a damp cellar, trapped with it alongside you.
 
That is a very useful image. You could say that all spiritual growth is a movement from darkness into light. Not that there is anything wrong with darkness, but in the dark is the raw material that, in interacting with it, perhaps struggling with it, one can generate the light of understanding.
 
We certainly would not wish to cause anyone to feel ashamed of having shame. The shame has been part of human growth for millennia. If it were not necessary, it would not exist. However, in any growth pattern, one begins to become aware that something that may have been useful at one point has outlived its value, and it is time to let it go. That is where you are now. Shame is really only useful for those who are not yet capable of being conscious, who cannot see, hear and feel what is right there in front of them--for example, the pain they are causing others. All of you are well beyond that, so you do not need shame for your growth.
 
There are many people, still, who will take any words of love and wisdom and filter them through their shame. They would hear tonight's words as, "I am a bad person and I need to be fixed." Someone who is completely enmeshed in shame does not currently have any other way that he or she could hear, and so there may be shame about the shame. Then, there may be a blaming of others: "Well, it's not my fault--my parents did it to me." Of course, someone did it to your parents, too--probably their parents--so you can keep blaming, or you can just wake up and say, "Look at all that shame! I don't need that anymore."
 
Someone on the chat mentioned a book about how cults manipulate and control members through shame. Offhand, we cannot think of any societal structures on earth that do not manipulate and control members through shame, including most governmental, corporate, and religious bodies. The United States was originally formed by some visionary people who thought that, maybe, other human beings did not need to be manipulated and controlled quite so much. They did not entirely trust freedom, but they themselves felt ready for more of it.
 
There are big arguments over whether human beings are basically good and learn to be evil, or are they fundamentally evil and need to be taught to be good. However, that discussion only has relevance to those who are unconscious, whether unashamed or ashamed. If you are referring to conscious people, or at least people who are becoming conscious (because no one is fully conscious yet), that whole discussion is left behind. When you become conscious of the results of your choices, so that you have that immediate feedback, you will not try to be good or even try to be evil. You simply understand the connections between your choices and their results, and those results affect you. If you are conscious and you are running a corporation, for example, you experience that what your corporation does to the environment is something that you are doing to yourself. It is not an intellectual process--it is visceral. Therefore, for your own well-being, which is the ultimate well-being of everyone, you try to stop causing harm. Of course, getting a whole corporation to change is not so easy, but you understand the point here: that you transcend good and evil when you begin to be conscious, and shame is all about good and evil, relevant only to those who are unconscious.
 
All of you are becoming conscious, and to become more conscious, you need to become conscious of the shame that is holding you in unconsciousness. If you are ever defensive, that is shame saying, "I am NOT naked; how dare you imply I am naked!" The opposite, though, is also shame. If you put yourself down, you are saying, "Oh, I am so very naked; isn't that awful?!" You try to cover yourself, cover your nakedness with an image of your nakedness instead of just being what you are. It is an attempt to get the stronger animals to not beat you up.
 
Perhaps it seems a little simple-minded to say the words "just be." Most don't have the slightest idea of what "just being" would be. However, if you want to find out, feel your shame and, increasingly, live in the direct feedback loop of the here and now: be aware of your surroundings, and what the results of your choices are in real time.
 
Q. While you were talking, I was very emotional; tears just kept coming out. I saw images of some of my past lives and the karma I have done, and the harm I have done to others. I kept saying sorry to them and saying to myself, I am ready to release that....How can we distinguish between being naked in a healthy, innocent way, and our nakedness being harmful?
 
At this point in human history, people are probably not capable of being fully naked, unashamed, and unconscious. Those of you who have entered into shame would find it very difficult to stop being ashamed without becoming conscious.
 
Lets say that there's a person who uses other people, who is a manipulator; maybe he even knows it, and he's not apologetic for it, either. Perhaps he's being the top baboon, the alpha male full of testosterone, marking his territory. And let's say that he hears these words. Maybe he's had just a little bit of shame that kept him in line a bit; maybe someone convinced him that he better put the brakes on because he was going to go to Hell or something like that. He may hear these words and think, "Oh, good, I am not going to Hell." and go back to doing what he wants. Such a person has not entered very far into the shame phase of his growth, and there is no way to reach him; he is just going to have to do it through karma, which is growing the hard way--through pain, in which the results of his actions come back upon him.
 
On the other hand, someone who hears these words who is in the depths of shame may also not be ready to make any real changes. Such a person may not have exhausted that growth path, may not be yet tired of it. Maybe there still feels like there's some benefit to beating himself up, that there is some juice left in the conflict, something still to be learned. For such a person, the shame may still serve. Those are the people who are likely to hear the words tonight as, "I am so ashamed of all my shame. Isn't it great I have another reason to beat myself up?" You will not reach such a person, either, because he is not done with where he is.
 
The words tonight are addressed to those who are about ready to pop out of that, who can honestly say, "I'm really tired of that learning game; I think I would like to try a new one, the one called 'growing through joy.' I've beaten myself up about five million times; I think that is enough. I've lived divided, part of me having experience and part of me standing off to the side judging it, and you know what? That doesn't feel so good any more." Those who are ready to leave that behind will understand.
 
You are looking back on past lives in which you were not a perfect human being. That is useful. Own it. "Hey, I was really naked back then and I didn't even know, and now I know I am naked. That's progress. I was really no different from other people."
 
Those who are ashamed just hate being lumped together with other people because, remember, "The body is inherently shameful. The body wants to have sex, and sometimes smells bad, and it's really disgusting!" So, if you are ashamed, you don't want to associate yourself with other people; you want to be associated with God and the Angels and those who aren't soiled by the body.
 
We are not talking only about religions here, either--a lot of governments have the same approach. Communism is equal to religion in its attempts to dissociate from the body. It has a rigid structure that says, "If you obey, if you fit in, you will transcend the shame you feel. If you just stop being bourgeois, then you will be clean."
 
If you are ready to transcend shame, you must pass the point where you say, "You know what? I am just like all of the other imperfect human beings who have bodies, and who don't always do nice things." Once you accept that, you can get past it and say, "Okay, now I am more conscious, so I am going to make different choices." There may be some things that you choose to make amends for, or karma takes care of that for you, and you accept that graciously. However, you don't get stuck there, either; you just keep making a choice about what you wish to create in this moment, and you can feel whether what you are creating in this moment is lovely or ugly. That's all you need. Mourn your past as much as you need to, but just feel it--don't indulge in self-judgment, because that is not helpful at your stage. Feel it as a fire burning off your bonds of shame.
 
To conclude, we invite you to feel emerging within your heart the healing of all shame. Feel your own loving nature bringing an end to the whole lengthy cycle of inner conflict that the "growing through shame" brought. Make a statement in your heart that you are now ready to grow through conscious awareness with joy. See yourself in the coming days, weeks, and months as learning a whole new way of being that does not involve shame. Feel that any heavy emotions that have been stirred up tonight are now burning off in the sunlight, and you are feeling increasing inner beauty and well-being. As you release shame in yourself, you are teaching others by your example and your energy that there is another way.
 
We have long spoken about the importance of choice. When you are unconscious and ashamed, shame makes a lot of your choices for you. When you release shame and become more conscious, you become aware of how much choice you really have, and this is quite liberating. If you need some support, we encourage you to ask for it.

***

July 25, 2007

GROWTH AND RELAXATION
 
Often, there is a rush for growth in people when the going gets tough. The attitude may be, “Let me just figure all this out and handle it as soon as possible so that I can get rid of the discomfort.” Many of you have been in an intensive growth phase.
 
Now, you are coming to a time of relaxation, of settling back into your own skin, so to speak. You can release your hold on the accelerator, the internal push, and regroup. Take a moment to feel where you are now and how far you have come. Let go of any residual sense of needing to handle anything. Just be.

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin

***

May 27, 2007

HOPE
 
There are two kinds of hope, one positive and one negative.
 
In the negative kind, you put off living now, in hope that the future will be different; it is a way of avoiding acceptance.
 
In the positive kind, you are at peace with what is, at the same time inviting and expecting love, truth, and beauty to work in your life and manifest its fruits.
 
If you are feeling hopeless, it may be that you can no longer sustain living only for the future. This may be a gateway into acceptance and the generation of true hope, positive hope, for only when you are at peace can you experience the knowledge that you are creating a more joyous future. True hope springs from the empowered heart, one that knows that you are part of the infinite and that as you are in alignment with Self, you are the source of hope for your life.
 
--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin

***

April 26, 2007

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
 
People often dream of meeting someone "across a crowded room" who is destined to be their soul mate forever. This legend has seemed to have happened often enough to have gained some traction. Most often, it is what we would refer to as a soul recognition.
 
Most people have had a number of past lives on earth and have also played the planetary game on other planets as well. Over time, you have developed relationships with a large number of souls. The average person has a substantial connection of some kind with around 300-500 human souls, some of whom you are likely to meet in any given lifetime. Some of these have a romantic feeling because the shared past lives were of that nature. However, the majority have been familial (family) relationships or friendships.
 
Whenever you meet another person you already know on a soul level, there can be a recognition. Sometimes, there is a feeling of instant comfort and familiarity. Sometimes, unresolved issues come up—there can be an instant dislike. Sometimes, your essence (soul) preplanned these meetings; sometimes, you just happened to "run into" those people.
 
If you are in the market for a romantic relationship and meet another person in the right "package" with whom you have a soul bond, you might assume that this is the soul mate you've been waiting for. That is not always the case. You may or may not have a mate agreement with this person; his or her path may or may not be compatible with the one you're on.
 
However, it's always lovely to reconnect with an old friend on the physical plane. Sometimes, the nature of the connection is clear and obvious from the start, but sometimes it takes time to determine the form for which your relationship is most suitable. It is good just to enjoy what can be shared with a kindred soul, and see where it leads.
 
--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin

***

March 27, 2007

LOVE AND TRUTH
 
Sometimes, love and truth seem to be at odds. You want to speak your truth to someone, for example, but you love him and don't want to hurt his feelings.
 
At their lower levels of manifestation, love and truth can, in fact, collide, but in their accurate renderings, they are in perfect harmony. In the example above, if there is a need to discuss an issue with someone, it can be done in a way that is truthful without being hurtful. The key is working through the various beliefs that might distort your truth and make it partial and unfair. When you arrive at a pure statement of your truth, it will not have an attacking or otherwise pain-inflicting energy.
 
At the same time, an expression of love truly rendered is not at the expense of your truth or well-being. Working through unresolved feelings that might distort love with guilt, misplaced obligation, and so forth, allows an experience of crystal-clear love that only exalts all concerned, including yourself.
 
--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin

***

January 12, 2007

BEING THE WHOLE
 
Awareness of one's relative size in the cosmos can make one feel insignificant. After all, how important is a grain of sand compared to an entire beach, let alone all the beaches of the world? How important could one planet be in a universe of billions of stars, let alone one person on that planet out of billions of people?
 
If you take that reasoning to its logical conclusion, the only way a person could be significant is if everything else shrunk, if there was only one planet with relatively few people--say, a thousand. However, a person could still say, "I'm only one out of a thousand--that's hardly significant." He might then set out to become king of those thousand, with absolute control over them, in order to feel significant, but he would still know that he's only one person out of that thousand, even with disproportionate influence.
 
In an infinite, eternal universe, each part, no matter how large, is ultimately miniscule. However, a part of any size is a part of the whole, and is therefore, the whole. Your finger is part of your body, and it would not continue to exist as a finger if it were not part of it. It has an identity as a finger, but in touching it, one touches the body. In touching you, one touches the entire universe.
 
False personality defines itself by its separation from the whole, and therefore must always compare itself to other apparently separate parts. True personality defines itself by its oneness with the whole, including all other parts. Its significance is known by its right relationship to the whole, playing its natural role, whatever that is. Just as a finger is not more or less significant than an elbow, every part contributing its specific gifts enhances the whole, and is therefore significant.

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin

***

December 2, 2006

HEALING THE MASS CONSCIOUSNESS
 
Sometimes, you are mostly in your own sphere, feeling your own feelings. However, a large part of the time, the feelings and energies of other people wash into your sphere to some degree.
 
The amount varies from person to person. Some are designed to attract the energies of others so as to offer healing to them. This is often true of those who are highly sensitive--the sensitivity is part of that design. It can be overwhelming before it is mastered.

The spiritual path is about discovering your own power to transform whatever is in your space, whether it is just your own energies or those of humanity as a whole--the mass consciousness--or, most frequently, something in between. Regardless, since you are an inseparable part of the whole, the work you do within your own sphere has an impact on the whole. Not only do other energies wash in, but yours wash out. As you impact those energies with love, truth, and beauty, you offer healing to the whole.

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin

***

October 11, 2006

ADVERSITY
 
It is impossible to live a life without any adversity. Adversity is one of the characteristics of the physical plane; without it, there would be no movement. Much effort is spent trying to eliminate or avoid adversity, which often creates more of it. Instead, it is wise to use adversity to propel yourself forward. One way of doing this is to galvanize yourself in its presence to think more clearly and make more conscious choices. It is like the way that sailing a boat in difficult waters can galvanize you to be more alert and careful of your steering, making you a better sailor.
 
A certain amount of adversity is self-created. If you make it a practice to steer carefully even when waters are calm, being aware that you are constantly making choices that create your future, you can minimize unnecessary adversity in your life. However, when it comes, if you embrace rather than resist it and see the lessons it brings, you can use it move you forward.

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin   

***

August 28, 2006

BEYOND POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE

It is well known that positive thinking can improve one's life. However, this is just a step toward what might be referred to as "clear seeing." When you see clearly what is, without bias, there is automatically what might be thought of as positivity, because the big picture of what is includes the context of universal love, truth, and beauty. There is an awareness that all is well, that lessons are unfolding with the ultimate aim of a greater experience of agape for all.

However, this does not sugarcoat current events. In clear seeing, you do not need to convince yourself that some particular situation will resolve the way you would like it to. There is non-attachment in the sense that you know it could go either way, and although you might have a preference, you also realize that there are many factors behind the scenes, so to speak, that are beyond your awareness. Perhaps the outcome that you would prefer less would actually lead to a more valuable result. Perhaps, given the current awareness of the various players, it simply isn't possible for the easier path to be taken.

Whatever happens, you can be sure that it will be the result of the collective choices being made and that, ultimately, it will lead to growth. You may be aware that choices are being made in ignorance that will bring pain. While this is sad, clear seeing also keeps you aware of the bigger picture, including the basic goodness of the context of all things.

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin

***

July 24,2006

NEW THINKING

Life on the physical plane has rarely been easy for human beings. Being so challenging has made it a "good school" for souls. However, people have tended to make it harder than it needed to be. The theme of the upcoming era is to awaken consciousness so as to see how to navigate the rapids, so to speak, with the least possible resistance. This requires both alertness and developing a greater ability to think. Many solutions to difficult problems are available but unseen because of a lack of creative, resourceful thinking. This is true both individually and collectively.

Often, those with the most useful intellects for this would not receive the highest test scores or be thought of as being the most intelligent--they may not be the ones with the greatest command of information. However, they have the ability to penetrate the surface and see into the heart of a matter. They are willing to see truths that many will always circumnavigate because they are deemed unacceptable. And they are willing to consider solutions that have not been considered by many. This quality is emerging more and more in human beings and will be essential if humanity is to survive these rough waters.

--Michael Channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin

***

May 26, 2006

FINDING LOVE

There is a wellspring of love in every person as well as in every point in the space/time continuum. In other words, love is present everywhere. It is rather like a radio signal waiting only for a radio to reveal its presence.

You do not lack for love. You may lack for others who are receptive to the love you wish to give. But your own wellspring is ready in any moment to bubble up and fill your personal space. Letting this occur requires only focusing on love.

--Michael Channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin

***

April 10, 2006

HUMAN SUFFERING AND UNIVERSAL JOY

Part of the awakening of humanity is becoming aware of all sorts of ugly facts that have heretofore been hidden from view. The average person is now more aware than in the past of the myriad injustices and abuses that have long been a part of the human landscape. These things need to be faced so that they can change.

However, another part of awakening is becoming aware of the universal joy that has always been part of the cosmic landscape. At first, it seems hard for the awakening person to reconcile these two extremes. One can become quite depressed by listening to the news, or simply from the news of one's own life. It seems necessary to withdraw from the world to touch the joy. Then, the joy tends to be lost when returning to the world.

In time, one learns to hold, simultaneously, an awareness of universal joy and the painful blindness that exists in humankind. The ability to do this brings both compassion for the human condition and the seeds of its change.

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin

***

February 3, 2006

MICHAEL CHANNELING FROM BEING IN THE WORLD, AN UPCOMING BOOK


YOUR OWN PURPOSES

You are here for your own purposes. What are those purposes? How can you find out? You are usually most interested in those things that further your purposes, at least if you are reasonably in touch with your own desires, which many people are not. Perhaps you have always wanted to help others, but you do not even articulate that thought to yourself because you take it so much for granted. You assume that everyone else feels the same way if he is decent: "Of course, who would not want to devote his life to helping others?" Then, when you see someone who appears to be quite selfish, you shake your finger at him. If helping others is your passion, that is probably an indication that your life's work is connected with service, one way or another. Anyone who is doing his life work will, in effect, be serving others, because he will be increasing the influence of universal love, at least indirectly. But some people focus more on aiding others directly and some on aiding themselves. Those in the latter group may also be helping others and those in the former may also be helping themselves. But the predominant thrust may be one or the other.

Those who have always felt a great urge to create something of beauty through the arts probably have that as part of their reason for coming. Likewise with those with an insatiable desire to learn. Learning may be through what you might call on-the-job training, as well as through books. Perhaps they felt frustrated after a number of lifetimes in which there were not many opportunities to learn, and wanted to make up for lost time.

What if there is not any particular thrust at all, in terms of service, creativity, or study? Those are, after all, pretty highbrow. Many people are not attracted to them. There are many, especially those with less experience on the physical plane, who are eager for any type of experience. They throw themselves into the drama of life and see what happens. Others wish to pay back karmas; this may be a lifelong preoccupation. They may find themselves in one crisis after another. Apparently, their lives are a mess. There are certainly ways that the negative impacts of karma can be softened through increased awareness, but karmic repayment may be their life purpose. Others may come with many agreements&emdash;for example, to bear children&emdash;and that is the main focus of their lives. For others, the point of their lives may be to explore in depth a basic physical plane relationship, such as that of husband and wife.

It may seem as if their worlds are pretty small, and perhaps they are, compared with yours. But they may not like your world, or it may simply hold no interest. Let's say that you are in fifth grade and you are already reading adult books--you are precocious--and you have a sister in second grade. Would you tell your sister that she should be reading what you are reading? She probably could not even read books at the fifth grade level. The point of this analogy is to gain acceptance for other people's paths. If you are a fifth grader who is reading War and Peace, you are not "better" than a second grader who is reading Fun With Dick and Jane The second grader may actually be growing more by mastering that simple book than you are by reading War and Peace.

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin

***

December 2, 2005

EMPTINESS

Many at this time of year come face-to-face with a sense of emptiness. For those who are celebrating holidays, there may be a feeling that their experience doesn't measure up to what it's "supposed" to be. Perhaps they remember their childhood wonder and excitement, or are influenced by the songs played everywhere; they think they ought to be feeling "jolly," but don't. Perhaps they feel obligated to "put on a show" and are so busy that they don't have time to enjoy it. Perhaps they are reminded that they don't have the kind of support from family and friends that they would like.

Although this is normally attributed to the stress of the holidays, there is another factor: As those in the Northern Hemisphere move toward the shortest day and longest night of the year, the beginning of winter, there is rightly a growing sense of emptiness, not as in "my life has no meaning" but due to the inexorable movement of the seasons. The height of summer is a time of fullness when trees are rich with fruit and foliage, and the skies are at their lightest. It is natural that there should be a balance; thus, the height of winter is a time of emptiness when trees are generally without fruit and leaves, and the skies are at their darkest.

Vibrationally, the summer is the time of maximum outward focus, and the winter, inward focus. One needs maximum outer light to focus on the outer world, and maximum outer darkness to focus on the inner world.

Emptiness is not a bad thing; it is part of the natural ebb and flow of life. If you were always full, how would you receive something new? However, when one tries to ignore the emptiness or fill it with things that don't fit in it, it doesn't fill properly according to the seasons of life. When summer comes, the outer blossoming consumes one's attention without it reflecting a commensurate inner blossoming. When winter returns and it is time to focus on divine emptiness, instead there is an unnatural emptiness that has become more barren and rough over the seasons.

Inner fullness can only come from within. There is a place for externals, of course--they can be enjoyed and offer many blessings--but inner space can only be filled by inner beingness. When outer needs are met without a commensurate rising up of selfhood, they do not fully satisfy.

Whatever the state of your inner emptiness, embracing it as it is is the beginning of filling it and, if necessary, healing it. Feel it, accept it, be at peace with it to the best of your ability. If it aches, comfort it. Allow the love of your essence to come forth and begin to fill the emptiness in whatever way is appropriate. As you release blocks to its right fulfillment, what you truly seek will emerge. 'Tis the season.

--Michael Channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin

***

October 16, 2005

CONSCIOUSNESS OF THE WHOLE

The world is becoming more aware of itself, in the sense of there being an increasing consciousness both in human beings and in all of nature of other parts of the whole. Wholeness has always been a fact, but until recently, most parts have been aware only of themselves as parts. Now, identity with "partness" is giving way to a sense of being part of something larger.

In human affairs, more awareness of the whole has been facilitated by the increased pervasiveness of the mass media. Its influence has not always been beneficial, but it has made it easier for people to be aware of other people and cultures beyond their local world.

This awareness has not yet led to changes in behavior that reflect such awareness, but the awareness comes first. We think that soon, you will begin to see some changes that take into account that your local choices affect others on a larger scale.

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin

***

September 9, 2005

HURRICANE KATRINA

Human beings are part of the self-regulating ecology of the earth, and that ecology is not merely physical; the physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual are interconnected both individually and collectively. Something not shifting on the intellectual or emotional level may emerge physically, sparking a shift intellectually or emotionally. A spiritual change may then occur.

This is a time of great moment, a coming together of many factors both earthly and cosmic that can bring a breakthrough for humanity. Although there is not necessarily a direct correlation, it is often the case that external turbulence reflects difficult shifts in consciousness. Weather patterns tend to reflect human consciousness to some degree. This is not to say that human consciousness causes the weather; it is one factor of many. The fact that this disaster struck where it did does not necessarily particularly reflect on the consciousness of those who live there. Humanity is a whole; the pressure wells up, and then it is released where there is the most convenient opening, such as through a naturally occurring storm.

When there is more resistance to growth, there is often more disruptive weather. The more human beings move with internal changes with grace, the calmer the experience tends to be on all levels, including weather-wise. In any case, the stress of these and any other circumstances can be used to open further to essence and allow greater love and understanding to emerge.

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin

***

July 22, 2005

IMMERSION IN BEAUTY

Taking time to immerse oneself in beauty, as one defines it, is essential to remaining healthy on all levels. For some, that is achieved through meditation, music, nature, or companion animals. You live on a challenging planet during an especially difficult time. It is easy to become overwhelmed with images of ugliness and negativity. However, when seen from a large perspective, these things are a small part of the whole. Those who work nonstop or otherwise deal only with the problems of survival, without taking in beauty, suffer from a lack of "oxygen" and burn out unnecessarily. True recreation allows for the re-creation of one's life force.

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin

***

May 26, 2005

IMPACTING COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS

Those who govern or represent their people cannot go far beyond where those people are. Too often, they are behind them, but generally not very far. Of course, a group can contain people of a wide range of consciousness, but for every entity, be it a nation, a corporation, a school, or a planet, there is a collective consciousness that is formed by its members. That consciousness is not necessarily an average or mean, because each member does not invest the same energy into it. Generally, those who invest the most into the entity determine its consciousness. Using the United States as an example, perhaps the majority are apathetic in relation to its consciousness; therefore, they do not determine its consciousness as long as there are substantial minorities who are passionately investing their energies into it. This is not to say that the majority don't care at all--they do. However, they don't invest a critical mass of energy into it to imprint it with their values. Investing in the collective entity does not necessarily manifest in obvious ways, although it might, and those who seem quite invested may not, in fact, be having much impact on it. Those investing much into the collective consciousness of the U.S. may be activists, or they may not be. They may be well-read, or they may not be. The main determining factor is how their caring is directed. It is important to know what you don't want when forming a vision of what you do want, but if it stops there, your caring becomes invested in what you don't want. If you focus it, instead, on your vision of what you do want--in this case, how you ideally see the U.S.--you are more likely to have an impact on its collective consciousness.

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin

***

March 29, 2005

LIVING IN ACCORDANCE WITH SELF

There is nothing more fulfilling than living in accordance with one's life plan and purpose. However, many assume that doing so would necessarily look grandiose, that it would be clear to all the world that one was contributing something significant. Usually, the repercussions of living in accordance with one's life plan are not obvious to the "naked eye." Ironically, sometimes people are already living in accordance with Self but they expect it to look different than it does, so they do not validate their experience. They feel unnecessarily restless because they do not accept their life as it is. Whether you are already living in accordance with Self or are still finding your way, live this day as if it were your calling. Choose those activities that seem most right or important, and then do them as if they were your life plan and purpose. If you have been off course, doing so will get you on course.

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin

***

November 24, 2004

THANKSGIVING

Thanksgiving is part of acceptance. Sometimes people wonder for what do they have to be thankful. The highest form of thanksgiving is not merely being thankful for those things we judge to be good, but being thankful for the opportunities for growth in all things.

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin

***

July 7, 2004

THE NATURAL STATE OF LOVE

It has been said that it is easy to love those who agree with you. Loving those whose views you strongly disagree with is a greater challenge. Yet it is the nature of love to connect from your soul to the soul of all others,without judgment. When you allow love to be in its natural state within you, it transcends differences in opinion.

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin

***

May 31, 2004

THE CURRENT OF JOY

There is a current of joy moving in each person, at the core of one's life force. Sometimes, it is obscured by the challenges of living on the physical plane. However, it is always accessible. Take a moment now to sense it. Ask it to emerge fully into your awareness. Let it carry you on your path.

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin

***

March 29, 2004

SPRING

In the northern hemisphere, spring is beginning. Spring, of course, carries the spirit of renewal, of life force reborn. This spring, more than most, there is a renewed passion in humanity just beneath the surface, ready to push through the still-cold earth. Just as trees without leaves appear dead in the winter, many people whose spirit has been dormant are beginning to reawaken. This will bring with it an increase of creativity and self-expression, helping counter the forces of suppression.

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin

***

February 15, 2004

THE WILL TO ACT

There is an upsurge of energy in the United States. After 9/11, many people were in shock and did not have the will to act. However, the will to act is returning, along with hope that it is possible for individuals to affect a change in direction on a large scale.

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin

***

December 15, 2003

Love is the natural state of all beings. Most babies effortlessly radiate it until their needs aren't being met, distracting them from this state. As people mature, they strengthen their ability to remain undistracted, to handle the demands of their needs while maintaining their natural state. One need not learn how to love; the learning is concerned with how to deal with the world in such as way as to not be consumed with it. This is why spiritual paths emphasize centering (in love) and non-attachment (to the world).

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin

***

September 26, 2003

Dear friends,

I intuitively received an exercise I found to be simple and powerful, and thought others might benefit from it, especially now, when many are dealing with issues about boundaries and anger.

Whether male or female, we each have a masculine and feminine side, and these both have higher and lower aspects. The higher ones aren't "better"; they are just the universal, abstract, or essence-level aspects. The lower ones are how those energies manifest in our body and day-to-day life. We could call the higher ones "sacred," "spiritual," or "Father God/Mother Goddess," and the lower ones "human."

I call upon Father God/Mother Goddess when I need a quality of energy that I didn't receive from my father or mother (rather than trying to get it from other people, which is usually futile). It's quite healing. For me the sacred feminine is the ultimate in nurturing, and the sacred masculine, in guidance and clarity. Integrating the sacred masculine is a key to healing the anger carried in our human masculine.

Here's the exercise:

1. In a relaxed, meditative state, invite the spiritual masculine to blend, align, and integrate with your human feminine.

Simply allow this to occur and observe what happens. When they came together in me, I experienced an explosion of light.

Now repeat this process with:

2. The spiritual feminine and your human masculine.

3. The spiritual masculine and your human masculine.

4. The spiritual feminine and your human feminine.

5. The spiritual feminine and masculine.

6. Your human feminine and masculine.

7. Finally, all four.

I'd be interested in hearing what results for you.

***

August 6, 2003

RETURNING TO GREATER CLARITY

There is a trend toward a settling down in humanity after a couple of years of living in heightened agitation since 9/11/2001. This should allow for clearer thinking among many and a scrutiny of what has occurred during this period. For some, it will be like awakening from a stupor. It is likely that this will lead to individuals claiming their power in their governance.

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin

***

July 20, 2003

WORKING WITH SPIRIT GUIDES

A Chapter from the Upcoming Book Growing Through Joy

Channeled from Michael by Shepherd Hoodwin

See http://summerjoy.com/GrowingChapter8.html for the full text.

Each person is the leader of a team assembled to achieve tasks. You organize your team prior to each lifetime. Some of your teammates are also currently inhabiting human life forms--other people. The rest are not. These discarnate essences are sometimes referred to as spirit guides or helpers. Most of your guides are not working exclusively with you. However, everyone has at least one primary guide.

There is much misunderstanding about spirit guides. A spirit guide is like a personal trainer. If you decide to hire a personal trainer to help you work out, you do so partly because of the objectivity that he can bring. You may know as much or almost as much about proper exercise technique, but you cannot see yourself. Of course, the exercise facility may be mirrored, and there are times when looking in the mirror is useful--this is why they are on the walls. However, if you spend all your time looking in the mirror, you will not be effective in working out. Your trainer may also hand you the equipment you need, and when you do not feel like doing another set, he may remind you of the task you chose. Spirit guides perform similar functions.

When you were between lives, you may have been a spirit guide for others, including those who are guiding you now, on a number of occasions. Those who are fairly new at being a spirit guide undertake an apprenticeship. One does not become a primary spirit guide before one is ready. Guides are learning as much through their partnering of you as you are.

Spirit guides are not perfect, and some guides do better work than others. Some are more experienced than others. You generally get the caliber of guidance you need and can handle. Those on the spiritual path often have exceptionally good guidance because they can make use of it.

Your guides are usually in roughly the same point in their development as you are, although being non-physical, they are not subject to the illusions of physical existence, giving them greater clarity and objectivity. When you were in elementary school and had just learned how to divide, you may have been better at teaching it to your classmates than your teacher, who probably had long before forgotten what he went through to learn division. For the same reason, it is useful to have guides who are not too far ahead of you.

It is the natural design of things to help one another out along the way. As the poet said, no one is an island. Some people are prone to say, "No, don't help me. I'd rather do it myself." That is all right--there are times when you seek to meet a challenge alone, but you do not have to do it all alone. Coming to the physical plane is too rigorous to attempt without assistance. In fact, you never do it all alone. There is really no such thing as doing it all alone, although you can refuse to receive the help you are offered.

***

May 21, 2003

THE QUICKENING

As humanity moves increasingly towards destruction, there will be many who question assumptions that were heretofore taken for granted. Many more people will join the ranks of the seekers. Those who are already consciously on the path of greater consciousness will be their teachers. Teaching can take many forms. The greatest is by example, but providing information and perspective is invaluable. The internet will increasingly be a source for those who are awakening to self. You who disseminate good information of any kind, but especially that which fosters the opening of heart and mind, are assisting in planetary transformation.

It is helpful to look beyond the events that the media calls news and observe the quickening of consciousness occurring everywhere. The negative side of that is that those who react to it rather than internalize it are more frenetic and anxious. Those who identify with the quickening find it more and more easy to see the world in large terms, beyond apparent self-interest to the greater good.

The more frenetic the world becomes, the greater the importance of staying in the position of pure consciousness, the quiet place that observes the big picture. This offers a place of refuge for those who are awakening.

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin

***

April 22, 2003

THE EMERGING BUTTERFLY

Spiritual growth continues to accelerate during these trying times. Many people are examining beliefs they previously didn't know they had, and are freeing themselves of them. Hence, there is a widespread sense of nakedness, similar to how a butterfly might feel upon first emerging from its cocoon. There can be awkwardness and a desire to retreat back into the broken cocoon, but that's not possible.

Rather than pushing yourself to fly or crawling back, letting yourself be where you are will bring greater comfort and confidence.

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin

***

MICHAEL ON KNOWLEDGE

From the upcoming book Growing Through Joy

Knowledge is not gleaned from a book. What you know is what you have experienced, what you have made your own through your life. When an idea is truly your own, it is beyond mere intellectual understanding.

The truth is of the present. If you are willing to see the truth, especially the truth about yourself, it is easier to be in the present. You might say the truth sets you free to be in the present.

The spiritual path is not primarily about accumulating information. It is about continually expanding your ability to open, give and receive, see, and handle greater challenges with grace. All of this leads to agape, which is the ultimate transcendent experience. *** Creating a Climate of Peace 3/25/2003 You are engaged in a remarkable period of evolution. Large shifts are occurring under the surface of human consciousness. Although many hoped that this war could be prevented, there continues to be progress toward establishing the understanding necessary to bring an end to this sort of unfortunate warring.

It is not possible to control the actions of other human beings, but you can work to change the mental/emotional climate so that others will be more likely to make more constructive choices. This starts with your internal climate; as you make choices from a climate of peace, you teach peacemaking to others.

There are many charged feelings and thoughts in the air right now. Just as the weather can affect how you feel, so can this mental/emotional climate. However, you can influence that climate by deliberately engaging with what you feel with love and wisdom. Doing so is the key to shifting humanity to a wiser course.

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin

***

January 19, 2003

A TIME OF CHOICE

This is a time of choice for humanity. It is the main reason people feel ill at ease. The possibility of war is not so much the cause of the unease as it is the means of making the choice. What kind of future do you wish to create? More importantly, will you hold onto old ways of being, based on attempting to control effects? Or will you move on to new ways of being, based on love?

You cannot make this choice for others, including your leaders. However, making a clear, conscious choice for yourself encourages others to make one, too.

Choosing love is choosing to live in peace and respect for all life, including leaders you consider misguided or even evil. Once the choice is fully made, events, political or otherwise, do not control your inner life, even though you feel their effects. You no longer need to try to control those effects (which is the old paradigm of being) because those effects no longer control you; love controls you. You may take action to express your views and otherwise participate as a citizen, but without fear. Your peace makes your voice more powerful, your actions more effective. You are not trying to change effects; you are helping establish a new cause. What you do might look similar to the actions of those who are reacting out of fear and anger, but the underlying content of your actions is different: it carries the spiritual authority of one who knows how to create that for which everyone longs: true security.

The voice of one who knows is strong and forceful if necessary, but it is calm at the same time. It may channel anger but it is not consumed by it, like a burning bush. It is also compassionate for all the players in this learning game, including those whose fear and anger cause them to do great harm. The new paradigm for humanity is one of spiritual and emotional maturity. Today is an era of adults rising up out of a sea of children and adolescents.

Those who have not yet made a firm choice experience increasing turmoil until they make one. Those who choose to remain in the old paradigm may also find a measure of calm, if not actual peace. You who read these words are mostly in the process of choosing love. However, many question if a total alignment with love is safe: doesn't one need to keep at least a small arsenal of anger/fear in order to be safe while there are still great dangers?

It is conceivable that love might act with physical force if it is required; love does not necessarily remain passive. However, when love is accurately expressed, physical force is rarely needed. So choosing a way of being based fully in love does not tie your hands; it, in fact, unties them, giving you all the options that could actually work to create the results everyone truly desires.

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin

***

January 27, 2003

People who might be considered to have great minds--geniuses and creators such as Einstein and Picasso--are more keenly attuned to multidimensional realities. They are, first and foremost, sensitive to spirit, more aware of the inspiration of their guides and teachers. Often, they are guided in their dreams, and they are able to integrate that guidance into their waking life. They also tap into their parallel realities, the far distant past, and their probable futures, sensing the potential that's there and what they want to create. People who would be considered to have small minds, small imaginations, have blinders on and they are mostly just paying attention to what they can see with their two eyes in this reality--they are not visionary. Great minds start with what they want to create and find a way to do it. Small minds assume what is possible from what is seen and do not venture much beyond that.

ANOTHER EXCERPT:

(Many channeled sources teach that we live in a multidimensional reality, that the self we're conscious of is only a small part of the totality of our experience as a soul. The Seth books by Jane Roberts go into the subject of alternate realities in great detail.--Shepherd)

One of the things that can be confusing when you are in the body is that your essence will drop into your consciousness a lot of ideas of what it would like to accomplish, knowing that it is going to need to do this in several different realities to get one or two of them to pick up on it. If you think you have to do all of them, and there is no real way that you can, you are likely to become stressed about this. The solution is to focus on priorities. Ask yourself, "What do I most want to be doing right now? What is the best possible use of my time? What fits for me the most here?" If you keep doing that, you will serve your essence the most. You do not have to make yourself crazy about the things that you do not get to--they will probably be picked up by a part of you in another reality. Furthermore, it is not the end of the world if it all does not get done, because you are still having experiences. Even if you are wasting your time, you are having the experience of wasting your time, and that is a lesson, too.

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin in "Parallel Universes & Other Realities," Laguna Beach, CA, October 3, 2000

***

January 13, 2003

Loving is a unified experience that does not cut off any portion of your reality. When you are loving yourself, you are loving others. When you are loving others, you are loving yourself. When you are having joy in what you are doing, you are giving joy to the world--there is no separation between you and the world.

ANOTHER EXCERPT:

Any act of love is a step in the evolution of life....If you do what you truly love to do, you are in harmony with the whole.

--Michael channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin, from Loving from Your Soul


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