Guest Post by Celeste White: To read more of Celeste’s writings click here for her Facebook page.
Some people are perfectly content not to ponder the “Why are we here?” question. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not spiritual. Some fortunate individuals simply “get it” in their bones or their cells, and they lead a life that brings them and those around them happiness and satisfaction without really thinking about it.
But for others of us, for various reasons—e.g., temperament, upbringing, psychic encounters, traumatic experiences or profoundly blissful ones—the “why” question seems always to be there, underneath the mental chatter and the focus we maintain in order to function in our three-dimensional time-space reality and within human society, whatever or wherever that society may be.
Some people take comfort in believing that we exist for no particular reason, that we’re a random development deriving from biological evolution. In this conceptual framework, we give meaning to our lives by how we choose to lead them, and generally, it’s believed that this life is all that there is. We live this one life and then return our molecules to the earth, while our consciousness, which is the side-effect of having such a big brain and complex neurological system, vanishes. Others like to adopt the beliefs of an established religion. Some like to join cults. Some of us, like yours truly here, have a compelling need to figure it out for ourselves. If you’re raised by a Scientologist father, a Methodist mother, and terrorized by some grim Fundamentalists up the street—not to mention having a number of psychic and clairvoyant experiences, many of which occurred while studying molecular biology—you are going to be left with a burning desire to figure something out and nothing pre-existing is going to fit the bill. And when you have experiences that totally defy the consciousness-exists-only-within-our-brains model, you’re not going to be able to adopt that one for empirical reasons.
So, as it happens, I have spent most of my life pondering this question. I don’t presume to be any kind of expert or authority. The following discussion is nothing more than my own personal, eccentric conclusions (that are subject to change whenever I receive new data that might alter my previous conclusions). But I have found inspiration, hope, and insight from so many different sources, many of them unlikely, that I thought I would post my observations for other interested fellow travelers and seekers, in the hope that they might stimulate some of your own insights, perhaps help you fit some puzzle pieces together that have been eluding you, or provide you some solace and comfort if you’re struggling.
Some questions that are often embedded in the basic question, “Why are we here?” include: “Why is there suffering?” “If there’s a God, why is there war?” “And for that matter, genocide, murder, rape, poverty and disease?” “Why do humans act like such assholes so much of the time?” And, “Why is everything so fucked up?”
I will start with the basic question, “Why are we here?”
I’ve come to believe that our consciousness precedes and survives our physical existence, and that we are reincarnated as many times as it takes for us to complete our overarching spiritual task, which is to learn how to use free will with wisdom and compassion. Also, to have our ego successfully seated in its proper role and strongly connected to our soul. I’ve come to view the human ego as an experimental psychic/psychological organ that helps our soul (an entity whose existence lies in the realm of probabilities, a nonphysical dimension) to experience three-dimensional time-space reality. The ego takes data that it receives from the five senses as well as more subtle senses, thoughts generated by the brain, and the feelings that derive from experiences and thoughts, and sends those to the soul. The soul, which in this context occupies the position of a completely nonjudgmental magician, selects probabilities from the infinite pool that our ego indicates we wish to experience (from our thoughts, feelings, experiences, etc.), and brings those probabilities into being in the three-dimensional time-space world.
Egos, unfortunately, which possess free will, tend to get really full of themselves. When they become disconnected from the soul—only sending output to the soul without receiving input (aka guidance, which leads us toward compassion and wisdom), they become sort of like a toddler stuck perennially in the Terrible Twos, one who has the power to start a nuclear war or trash the planet.
Two things are important here, IMO: One, the soul makes no value judgments in selecting our experiences from the realm of infinite probabilities. When, say, Steve or Emily is single-mindedly focused on a particular position within their profession that will ironically prove their undoing, their soul doesn’t go, “Hmm, that looks like that would cause Steve or Emily trouble down the road. I think I’ll pick something else nicer for them to experience.” When some crazed madman who gets outrageous amounts of power by manipulating the mass ego decides to exterminate some portion of the population that he, in his ego-induced madness, sees as demonically “other,” the soul doesn’t go, “That’s outrageous! No way am I going to let that happen!” The soul simply takes the data and then sends back to us a deeply visceral, 3-D reflection of what our thoughts, actions, and feelings are selecting from the probability pool.
Two, we can’t fake it. We can’t pretend to want something as lofty, as, say, world peace, but secretly want to make billions of dollars by any means possible, and end up with world peace.
I don’t see reincarnation as a linear process. Instead, I envision it as something that takes place simultaneously. Every advance that is made in each lifetime is experienced by all reincarnating selves. Each self expresses one aspect of the larger gestalt entity, which is far too rich and complex to be expressed in one lifetime, and pursues different challenges. On one level, these selves are all born at the same time, in terms of universal “time” —or the spacious present as some like to refer to it—and they all “die” at the same time. Once all the efforts that all of the selves have made culminate in the continual wise and compassionate use of free will and the ego is firmly positioned in optimal balance with the soul, that gestalt entity is free to proceed to the next stage of spiritual challenge and development.
I believe that most of us who are “here,” “now,” are disconnected from our souls to some degree. (Some are here to serve as guides and teachers; but we should be extremely wary as to whom we trust to fulfill these roles). And we are here to find our way “home.” I believe that some of us are here because we have become lost in the search to perfect our type of consciousness; others may be here voluntarily, with no map and no compass, and with an induced amnesia that envelops us as soon as our consciousness is born into human form. In either case, our task is the same: to find our way, even under the most inauspicious of circumstances. Then we will have those skills to stand us in good stead always.
One of the ways to do this is to experiment. We look around and observe others’ behavior and try to emulate those whom we admire, reject the ones we don’t, and come up with our own ideas of what to do. The most potent experience seems to be our own. In order to truly learn, it seems to be essential that we taste—vividly—the sweet or bitter fruits of our decisions; but we can sometimes learn from example. Making mistakes is going to be a part of the process and is not something that should be punished either through some sort of divine or karmic retribution, or through self-castigation. But if we hurt someone else or ourselves, genuine regret is absolutely called for, along with relevant apologies and efforts to make things as right as we can. Making the same mistake again and again will definitely cause pain, for others and ourselves. Suffering, in my view, is a sign that we’re doing something wrong. It’s meant to alert us to that fact. Sometimes, it’s true, we suffer from things that seem to come at us for no conceivable reason and from far left field. In such cases, I think it’s possible that our soul, or true self, is presenting us with a challenge that will ultimately, depending upon how we handle it, lead to greater wisdom and compassion.
If we let the ego take over and we never receive the quiet messages that our soul is trying to send us, we can become very unhappy, eternally unsatisfied, and sometimes monstrous. We remain lost and we chase after mirages—fame, money, success, popularity, etc. If we get them, they give us a high like a sugar rush; we feel terrific for a short period, and then we crash. And we think that what we need is more sugar, when, in fact, we really need chicken stew and biscuits. I’m not one who believes that the ego needs to be killed or jettisoned; but my definition of the ego might differ from others’. In my conceptual framework, it’s part of our personality structure, and trying to get rid of the ego would be like the body trying to get rid of the stomach or pancreas. But we don’t want our stomach or pancreas thinking that they’re the brain. Egos, in our current reality, seem to have overstepped their bounds in their disconnection and lost state. They need taming and downsizing and perhaps a make-over.
In the case of murderers, sociopaths, malignant narcissists, hedge fund traders, and arms dealers, etc., my feeling is that these individuals have become completely and utterly lost, that the disconnection from their soul is so deep and cavernous that here we see the extreme of what can happen when an ego operates completely on its own. Because many of these individuals don’t believe that they are unhappy or they are so adept at feeding their ego, they are less likely to seek redemption or growth than the rest of us, at least in their “current” lifetime. Many of these people will seem to thrive and triumph throughout their lives. I don’t believe that, in karmic or divine punishment, they will be forced to lead lives as victims of hurtful and predatory people like themselves in other existences, but the larger self, the oversoul—which is engaged in the same pursuit as the soul, to bring about wisdom, empathy, and compassion—may choose one or more lifetimes as a victim. Sometimes the human personality, with its currently clueless ego, can gain compassion and empathy only by personally undergoing an experience.
Besides experimenting, the other thing that we can do in our quest to become wise and compassionate wielders of free will and worthy scouts for our souls, is to ask for help from the cosmic helpers. We actually, no matter how we might feel—compassless, mapless, and suffering from amnesia—are never alone. We all have helpers. Most of us can’t see them, but we can hear them if we’re able to ignore the loud braying of the ego, and we can observe them in action. Nothing is too big nor too small for the helpers; they will always respond to a sincere and humble request for help (not that we always recognize help for what it is). Not only that, we have an infinite amount of help that is available to us. The helpers help because that is what they do, just like carpenters build houses and health care providers tend to the sick. They don’t say, hey, you just asked for help two weeks ago! Forget it! But they won’t intervene on their own. It’s up to us to ask.
But when we do, we should always remember that our soul magicians aren’t going to protect us when we ask for something that might come back to bite us in the ass. If they did that, we’d never develop our own instincts. And developing our own instincts so that we can find our way without a map, compass, or memory, is a major part of the answer to the question, “Why are we here?”
I believe that, in my discussion above, I addressed most of the secondary questions associated with this primary question. Except, perhaps, “Why are things so fucked up?”
This is my current understanding: At this time in human history, vast numbers of us are lost. And actually, not only do we not have a map, compass, or memory, all of the disconnected, lost egos have combined to form a vast collective ego. That collective ego wants to be as powerful as possible and therefore, it is leading us astray and feeding our egos with sugary junk food, if you will, when we’re trying to contend with diabetes. Anything that doesn’t increase our compassion or deepen our wisdom—instead, fuels acquisitiveness, say, or cravings for status or power, or feeds our snarky and most superficial (not to be confused with playful) aspects, or makes us want to destroy our perceived enemies—is probably not something we should encourage. It will not take us where we need to go. It will not help us in our quest.
As amnesiac cartographers, we’ve given ourselves a deeply challenging task, it’s true. One that might not meet with success. But others have found their way as they learn to hear the voices of their true guides and differentiate between the seductive urgings of the ego and the sweet song of the soul. And all of us have a fighting chance.
*Many thanks to Max Brewer for not only coining the wonderful phrase, “The Amnesiac Cartographer,” but for his permission to use it in my post.