Title: Working with your Soul
Description: A book by Ruth White
Harvey - July 23, 2008 08:46 AM (GMT)
Working with your Soul
by Ruth White
Having read Alice Bailey’s The Soul and its Mechanism ~ and found it wanting ~ I have started on Ruth White’s Working with your Soul. Ruth doesn’t claim to be a theosophist, but her teachings, based on reincarnation and karma, fit easily with theosophy. She is also a psychotherapist and a channel for a discarnate guide.
This book is not so much concerned with the mechanism of the soul, more about soul work. Ruth suggests that before incarnating in your physical body your soul had a pretty good idea of the kinds of experiences that would help it evolve in this lifetime. There is a discussion thread elsewhere on this forum on what is it that reincarnates, so I won’t go down that path here. Suffice it to say that the bits of ‘you’ that incarnate agree with the bits of ‘you’ that don’t incarnate what this life is going to be about. Ruth calls this agreement the soul contract.
The problem is that following the trauma of birth, and no doubt a bit of early indoctrination, we don’t remember much about the soul contract by the time we are adults. Ruth suggests that knowledge of your soul contract would help to give direction and purpose to your life, and gives exercises and meditations at the end of each chapter.
A couple of points: a soul contract does not preclude any element of free will; we are free to choose at every step along the way. And the exercises are so sound from a psychological perspective that they could be helpful for people who do not accept reincarnation ~ or even the existence of a soul.
I am only on the early chapters, but two questions for forum readers:
1. Does theosophy refer anywhere to soul contracts?
2. Should a student endeavour to discover the purpose of this incarnation?
Nick the Pilot - July 23, 2008 05:48 PM (GMT)
You reminded me of a reading that I received from a psychic many years ago. She said that I had sat down with my 'karmic counselors' before I was born, and we decided the specific lessons that I would try to learn in this life. That idea made a lot of sense to me.
Another idea that was covered in one Theosphical writer's books was how much bad karma a person takes on in any one particular life. Obviously, if we were to take on all of our remaining bad karma in one life, we would never survive. The question is, then, how do we decide which bad karma, and how much bad karma, to burn off in each individual lifetime?
That's a scary thought....
jon_k - July 23, 2008 06:19 PM (GMT)
|QUOTE (Nick the Pilot @ Jul 23 2008, 11:48 AM)|
|Another idea that was covered in one Theosphical writer's books was how much bad karma a person takes on in any one particular life. Obviously, if we were to take on all of our remaining bad karma in one life, we would never survive.|
There is a bunch of stuff in WQJs Suggestions and Aids (Echoes Vol III) regarding "Pledge Fever". In this material he states that once one has taken the (ES) pledge, Karma is 'quickened', and Karma that would not normally come into play in this lifetime is suddenly brought to bear. He makes it clear that this refers to both 'bad' Karma and 'good' Karma.
Nick the Pilot - July 24, 2008 08:49 PM (GMT)
Thank you for sharing the references to Mr. Judge's writings on the 'quickening' of karma. Here is a quote from Annie Besant on the same subject.
The “Quickening” of Bad Karma
“The Whole World is Against Me.”
[When the aspirant] “... enters on the probationary path, when deliberately of his own set will he puts his feet on that path, the very putting of his feet there is a cry to the great Lords of Karma that They will balance up the account that there is against him, and present him with the karmic debt he is obliged to discharge. Is it then any wonder that difficulties grow round his path? The Karma that would have spread over hundreds of lives will have to be passed through in a few, perhaps in one, and so naturally the path is difficult to tread. Family troubles come round the man, business troubles press upon him, troubles of mind and of body assail him; do you wonder then that I said he needs steadfastness, in order to proceed along the probationary path and not turn back, in order not to be discouraged. It may seem that everything is against him. It may seem to him that his Master has forsaken him. Why, when he is trying his best should the worst befall him? Why, when he is living better than he ever lived before, should all these difficulties and pains assail him? It seems so unjust, it seems so hard, it seems so cruel, that when he is living more nobly than he has ever tried to live before, he finds himself more hardly treated than ever before by Destiny. He must stand the test, he must refuse to allow any sense of injustice to penetrate into his inner life. He must say to himself: ‘It was my own doing, I challenged my Karma; what wonder then that I am asked to pay it’. And at least he has the encouragement of remembering that the debt once paid is paid for ever, once lived through no more of it can come to disturb him. Every karmic debt he pays is struck from off life’s ledger for evermore. That debt at least is done with. So that if illness strikes him down, he thinks it is well that that much trouble should be gotten rid of; if pain and anxiety assail him, he thinks it is well; he answers: ‘It will be behind me in the past and not before me in the future’. And so it is that in the midst of sorrow he is joyful, in the midst of discouragement he is hopeful, in the midst of pain he is at ease, for the inner man is content with the Law, he is satisfied with the answer which has come to his demand. If there were no answer, it would mean that his voice had not reached the ears of the Great Ones, it would mean his prayer had fallen back to earth; for this trouble is the answer to his petition.”
Annie Besant, The Path of Discipleship
, paragraph 63 onlinehttp://www.anandgholap.net/Path_Of_Discipleship-AB.htm
or pages 85-86 hardcopyhttp://www.questbooks.net/title.cfm?bookid=82
Harvey - July 25, 2008 08:40 AM (GMT)
Thank you, Nick & Jon, for these thoughts on karma. There is no doubt that karma is one of the cornerstones of theosophy, but whilst there might be some who are attempting the discipleship path in this life, I suspect that most of us are simply trying to take a few more steps in the right direction.
Which leaves the second question unanswered. Is it enough that on balance I do more good stuff than bad, or do I have a more specific life to lead?
Nick the Pilot - July 25, 2008 04:35 PM (GMT)
A very good (non-Theosophical) psychic once told me that we have several factors that effect which trials and tibulations we go through in life. First, we choose to have a normal, easy, or mega-karma-burning-off difficult life. Next, we choose specific lessons we need to learn in this life. Last, we sometimes just 'mess up' sometimes, and we have to deal with it.
So, to answer your question, I think it is both. We need to work on burning off our general collection of bad karma, and we also need to work on specific lessons that we ourselves set up prenatally for us to work on.
jon_k - July 25, 2008 04:41 PM (GMT)
|QUOTE (Nick the Pilot @ Jul 25 2008, 10:35 AM)|
|So, to answer your question, I think it is both. We need to work on burning off our general collection of bad karma, and we also need to work on specific lessons that we ourselves set up prenatally for us to work on.|
I agree, but I think the script changes constantly according to how well we follow it.. It's like we planned for all the possibilities.
Harvey - July 29, 2008 07:55 AM (GMT)
I agree, Jon. We plan for possibilities. My personal feeling is that we choose to be born into a particular family to provide a general range of opportunities. I find it hard to imagine anything too specific, but that might say more about my lack of imagination than it does about the workings of karma.
Whatever, Ruth White suggests (among other things) that we look at the circumstances of our birth, and try to see the impact of each circumstance on the unfolding of our lives. For instance, being born into a particular social class in a particular geographical location shapes you in a particular way. What lessons/opportunities/challenges has that provided? Being born in a genetically-inherited body shape in a particular gender would provide another range of opportunities. Childhood spent with parents (and siblings) possessing particular skills/limitations provides yet another.
There is a natural tendency to rail against these circumstances that we might perceive as having blocked our progress (to be rich, famous, happy) but Ruth suggests that if we chose these circumstances we did so for a reason, so why not try to make sense of the patterns of our early life? This book helps you to look at these patterns. Good psychological sense, and I reckon it makes good spiritual sense as well.
Nick the Pilot - July 29, 2008 08:09 PM (GMT)
"My personal feeling is that we choose to be born into a particular family to provide a general range of opportunities."
--> I think the biggest reason we choose a particular family is that we have karma with those people that we need to work out.
"There is a natural tendency to rail against these circumstances that we might perceive as having blocked our progress (to be rich, famous, happy) but Ruth suggests that if we chose these circumstances we did so for a reason, so why not try to make sense of the patterns of our early life?"
--> That is very wise.
Harvey - September 13, 2008 09:22 AM (GMT)
I have now finished this book. I took my time, because that is what the exercises at the end of each chapter seemed to warrant.
As theosophists we are encouraged to study religion and science. Does that include psychology? If not, it should!. There are many psychological frameworks, but transpersonal psychology takes account of the soul and the workings of karma, so it is a good starting point for theosophists.
As human beings we are capable of intuition and/or rational thinking, but these innate abilities are affected by our genetic make-up and the influence of our environment, the ‘nature/nurture’ mix. Underlying all this is a basic animal ‘flight or fight’ response to difficulties, resulting in quite a complex picture. Toss in karma and astrology and you have moved beyond most psychological models.
Ruth White manages to make sense of all of this, teaching that the circumstances of our birth have been chosen to provide the opportunities we need to experience what our souls need us to experience. Thus, we are not constricted by our birth charts, weak bodies or simple minds; restricted by ignorant parents; neglected in our formative years. We have chosen this incarnation for these very reasons. Now we must work out old karma and create new karma using the tools we have at our disposal.
Once we have accepted this premise we are still faced with a particular difficulty. Should we face each problem head on and deal with it, or should we learn to walk away? For example, should we accept the natural decline in numbers of the TS, or should we fight to increase membership? Should we reject the material world to concentrate on spiritual practice, or should we try to bring spiritual values into our material lives?
Ruth White thinks the key to resolving these fundamental issues is to tune into what your soul wants you to do, and in Working with your Soul she gives practical advice on how to find out. I’m not sure it’s as simple as that, but this book gives you something to think about.
Nick the Pilot - September 14, 2008 06:26 PM (GMT)
I definitely think Theosophy and psychology go hand in hand. The more I learn of one, the more it reinforces my understanding of the other.
When you say transpersonal psychology, are you referring to paranormal experiences?
I think you are right to add karma to nature and nurture. In my opinion, karma is more important than nature or nurture.
Harvey - September 15, 2008 08:22 AM (GMT)
I’m not qualified to define transpersonal psychology, I am only familiar with it is a field of study that my wife embraced when she trained to be a counsellor. I don't think it is about the paranormal as such, but it would not dismiss such experiences as delusional.
I think it is based on the principle of entelechy. In each of us there is a seed of potential, and unless we realise that potential we will be unfulfilled. Other branches of psychology that fail to acknowledge our spiritual aspect would seem ill-equipped to help us achieve our potential. In addressing issues such as karma and reincarnation Ruth provides a psychological package suitable (in my opinion) for a theosophist.
Nick the Pilot - September 15, 2008 09:26 AM (GMT)
I am reminded of a piece of research that shows that the vast majority of psychologists and psychotherapists do not believe in the astral world, near-death experiences, out-of-body experiences, etc. (This research was presented at a ULT Theosophical convention near San Francisco last summer.) However, I find it very inspiring that psychologists and psychotherapists will embrace such ideas someday. To me, it is only a matter of time.