Hard Beliefs to Swallow

By Emma Pearson

May 25, 2024

Main image from me.me

23 February 2021

One of the myriad books that’s been on my list forever is Gary Zukav’s 1989 book “The Seat of the Soul”. It’s been recommended to me by many people over the years, not least Oprah and Maya Angelou, as well as my “Grief Therapist” Tom Zuba. It finally made it into my Audible library and I am listening to it now.

It’s dense. It’s rich. I listen to a chapter and then invariably go back and listen to it again. And perhaps even again. And then perhaps make Medjool listen to it. Which he does, rewinding it too as we go. Clearly it’s not just me who finds it richer than chocolate truffles.

And it’s brutal. Chapter two, Karma, has stopped me in my tracks, horrified and eased in equal measure at what this man proposes – which I admit, I buy.

That humans (and for sure other species) have souls

That our souls evolve, learn, over time, over lifetimes

That our souls need to learn lessons that have not thus far been learned and need to be learned

That our souls are assisted by the greatest support and love imaginable

That our souls contract with other souls for lessons and experiences, character and personality, that they will experience in order to seek to enable the lessons to come

Ugh. The consequences, the implications of this are quite mind-blowing. And mind-easing. There is of course a fatalistic consequence possible – a “Why bother? This has all been pre-planned”, but I don’t fancy living my life like a beetle flipped over on its back. And I know enough of the book by now to know that Gary advocates Intention, Agency and Inner, Authentic Power, as ingredients for living coherently, responsibly. Which is all good by me.

But the Karma chapter. Ouch. The basic principle is that we have lessons to learn, Karma to balance, in our lifetime, based on previous lifetimes’ happenings, previous experiences. If behaviour is non-revering, hurtful, it causes an imbalance in the system. This imbalance needs to be rebalanced, and we get the opportunity to learn again. And again. And if the balance is not managed in this lifetime, then we come back the next to try to recompense.

If someone is homeless and living off charity, while we can be compassionate and help that person, we should not judge that it’s unfair or wrong because “we don’t know what lesson that person’s soul needs to learn from earlier stages. Perhaps they had a lifetime stealing from others, and now need to learn not to take but to receive”.

So on to Julia. And Mike. And Edward. And Don.

But especially Julia and Mike. Oh, and Edward. And why not Don?

I have regularly wondered what Mike and Julia (and why not Edward and Don?) might have been in cahoots about, both towards one another’s souls’, and as regards my own soul’s, development. I don’t “go there much” because it’s mind-blowing and difficult, incomprehensible and shocking. But if I really stay there for a while –

The idea that Mike had lessons to learn, that Julia had lessons to learn, that Ed and Don had lessons to learn, that could only come with getting ill way too young and dying way too young….

The idea that I have lessons to learn that can only be learned with all of these losses happening around me…

The idea that Julia and Mike’s souls are teaching me something (as well as teaching them something)…

The idea that everything is divinely planned and perfect and that Julia had done everything she needed to do, and just “graduated early”, in the words of Frank Ostaseski.

Ugh. And more Ugh.

These are hard notions.

And they are soothing too.

After all, it is what it is and I do realise by now that none of them is coming back. Not even Julia. Though I wish for it every day. There is energy available for me when I can look at it all and say, “Okay – and now how do I want to be, how do I want to live, what do I intend for whatever time I have?” It’s more freeing than “fuck this and fuck that and fuck the lot of them”, that’s for sure.

And even though I am noodling these thoughts, and have been for a while, at least since Mike died, woe betide anyone who callously says, “they must have planned this”, “this must be necessary for your development”… because that’s not your place to say that. (And various people have tried to say this to me).

Please keep those thoughts to yourself if it’s some kind of platitudinous spiritual bypass, some kind of shrugging of the shoulders, some kind of “you get what you deserve” comment.

Please only bring these thoughts if you’ve done some of this hard questioning yourself and are prepared to be faced with horrendous tragedies and losses in your life, and then noodle difficult thoughts that “perhaps this was all necessary, for me, for him, for her, for us”.

Because in the end, it takes us to a place of gratitude. It takes me to a place of Gratitude. It has to.

It has to make me grateful to live into these lessons, and that’s a tough gratitude, a tough space to be in.

It has to make me grateful that I had Julia and Mike in my life for as long as I did. And of course I do. On a good day I really feel that gratitude.

And on a bad day it just turns my tummy and I get a bitter taste in my mouth.

Some of this is hard to swallow without regurgitating. I need to chew for a while longer.  

About Emma Pearson

3 thoughts on “Hard Beliefs to Swallow

  1. Emma your post today resonated with me deeply, more so than any other post you’ve made. I’ve been on my own journey of dealing with tragic, gut wrenching, ‘how do I make any sense of this’ kind of loss. I’m 21 years in since I lost both of my parents (a murder/suicide) and still doing my work on the gradual folding-in, silt-settling process that has accompanied me through almost a third of my life. I’ve used many different lenses to help me along the way, and the soul’s karmic one was the most difficult to embrace, and yet the most illuminating.
    I know I wouldn’t be able to do the work I do, in the way that I do it without having experienced this tragedy, for I cannot walk alongside people into places I haven’t travelled myself. I love the writing of Kahlil Gibran who talks about sorrow/joy (posted at the end of this comment) and this brings me comfort when I need it.

    Your final sentence, wonderfully gestalt in nature, made me smile……I’ve been chewing for a long time, spitting it out, and coming back for another small mouthful to swallow and digest.
    Go well x

    Then a woman said, “Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.”

    And he answered:

    Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
    And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
    And how else can it be?
    The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
    Is not the cup that hold your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
    And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
    When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
    When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
    Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
    But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
    Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
    Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
    Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
    When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

    1. I love Gibran as well. One of my favorite quotes is
      “Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.” So very true. His writings touch my soul, much like Emma’s.

  2. Emma your post really resonated with me as well I have been studying the souls journey since I lost my daughter to murder back in 2001 and more recently with the sudden passing of my husband 11 weeks ago. I have questioned why we would sign up to experience so much pain in this life and what lessons we were meant to learn. I don’t have the answers yet and will keep on trying to find them. Thank you for sharing this I think I needed to hear that others are on the same journey,

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