Friday, July 13, 2007

I Have Met the Soul In Passing

© Barbara Kaufmann 2007
I am in awe of the human body. It more than fascinates me. I can’t fathom the intelligence required for a biological mechanism to work in perfect synchronicity with multiple thousands, even millions of microscopic, cellular, hormonal, electrical, chemical, organic, and systemic decisions. How does a single organism make selections and movements in its best interest and on its life enhancing behalf continuously with dynamic accuracy and precision for twenty four hours per day 365 days per year over the average life span of about 77 years or more?

My fascination led me to study the brain and mind, to delve into psychology and to a practice in neurological, neuro-rehab, addiction and eventually psych nursing. I found the mind and psyche as fascinating if not more fascinating than studying the body.

But through the years, I intuited that there was more to the human than the body-mind and human intelligence, there was some kind of spirit or life force that inhabited the body. And I was convinced of its intelligence and suspected there were multiple levels to this human spirit.

One day while on duty, I met the human soul. My elderly patient required a bed bath and as I turned her over for the last time while bathing her, I noticed her skin had begun to mottle. Mottling looks like splotchy blue areas under the skin and indicates poor circulation. Her breathing had become very quiet, barely audible. She no longer responded to stimulation of voice or touch. I knew intuitively she was in the preliminary stages of departing life. Her family was notified and they gathered at bedside to support her transition. They literally cheered her on and told her it was OK to go; they released her to leave this earth and be with God.

That remarkable family tenderly kissed their loved one and said their goodbyes. I am convinced that her death was so easy and beautiful because of how her family handled her passing. Her breathing changed once again and they called me to the bedside. I took out my stethoscope and placed it over her heart. There was a faint heartbeat still audible and as I listened to count the beats, there was a strange glow visible from her solar plexus. Her heartbeat slowed and I watched in silence as a globe of light looking very much like a dandelion seed coalesced and exited her solar plexus and floated upward toward the ceiling. I watched it curiously until I blinked at which point it disappeared. I looked beseechingly at the faces surrounding the bed searching for any sign to confirm that they had also seen what I had just seen. There was no look of recognition. I listened to the cavity of her heart that was now completely still. I managed to keep my professional composure long enough to confirm her passing to them mumbling that I was so sorry for their loss whereupon they hugged me and thanked me for everything. As I embraced each person, I looked into their eyes. There was no indication on anyone’s face that they had witnessed the same thing I had. I kept silent about it and I left the room shaken and barely under my own power.

I know there is a human soul. I have met it. I have seen its brilliance. At the moment of death something exits the body. It looks very much like a Dandelion flower gone to seed with all the radiating spokes and connections only it is made of light, not fluff. I have only seen it at the instant of death that one time and I am convinced I was privileged to see it then only because the woman was so loved and celebrated by her family that they were able to encourage her to make her transition gracefully and gratefully from this earth. I have been present at many deaths, but none like that one. There is something transcendental about the human being. The human body is a container that contains something, many things. Theologians and anthropologists would concur that there is a transcendental piece of something residing in the human and that it transmigrates, transfigures or undergoes some kind of metamorphosis at death. All cultures of the earth have evidenced similar beliefs of life beyond this “mortal coil.”

My experience with death in the hospital, while it confirmed the existence of a soul for me, raised more questions than answers… How is it that a biological entity on a lonely planet in a particular galaxy in the vast Universe evolved to self consciousness and determinism? How is it that some people display an unusual kind of innate compassion, empathy or seem to live from their hearts? How is it that some don’t? Where does generosity of spirit come from? Why do some people seem to lack soul or a soul?

What distinguishes the human from other mammals and primates? How is it that the human mind is self-reflective when other animals live in the moment and cannot determine their futures or fates? What is at work in the human that is not duplicated in any other intelligent life? Does the soul inhabit the body? Or does the body live within a soul that surrounds it invisibly? When someone has no light in their eyes or they seem deadened in spirit does that indicate a damaged soul? A missing soul? Does the soul come back to inhabit a new body? Three fourths of the world believes in reincarnation; why? And the one fourth that doesn’t, why not?

Who were the soul experts? They were not in the field of science obviously but historically speaking, scientific method was a relatively new concept. Who were the soul keepers of the past? What did they know of the soul? Did the soul get sick the same way a body can get sick? If so, then who doctored to the soul?

Where exactly does one find a soul doctor? In the church? The Vatican? In a cave in the Himalayas? In the mountains of Siberia? In an Ashram in India? If you meet the Soul Doctor along the road, kill him?

Questions and Questing in capital letters. This is what led to an exploration, a journey, an excursion through time and space, to the pick-mining of gems from sparkling minds, a leap into the abyss and a climb up to higher dimensions. And out of darkness comes light? Maybe out of light comes light. It was a long time ago that I met the soul for the first time. Lifetimes ago. Now a minister, shaman and wordsmith, I know a place where “the doctor is in.” A theologian studies the celestial realms; a shaman makes regular visits.

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A few Thoughts...

When I think about it, my own life is no less rich and the living no less inspiring than my pioneering ancestors and I come from a long line of Indians and outlaws so don't ever turn your back on me!

Life is, after all, a slice of human consciousness lived from its place in human evolution. "From here to eternity" as it were-- from earth to the stars, from personal space to cyberspace, from a small local footprint to the world reduced to the size of a notebook and sitting on your lap!

As a child I lived with the perpetual and immenent threat of annihilation. That's child abuse! It wasn't a kid-friendly world and I couldn't understand why the grown-ups who were in charge weren't doing something?

So at age seven with my face in the window eyes turned up into the night sky and staring at the stars I made a vow: "When I am a grown-up, I will do something."

My writing is that something and I write to "simply change the world." If that sounds like a lack of humility it isn't because I know that one person absolutely can change the world and I've met some who have.

Kay Kennedy put together an anthology that puts the reader in the midst of history to view it from the inside out.

When I was in high school and even college, history classes were stale and boring featuring memorization and regurgitation of dates that coincided with events that had no human face, certainly no magic, and no life!

Anthologies are great fun and stores are rich remembrances. History books chronicle; stories are little narrative slices of living. History comes alive through story. I often think of my grandmother and her story, her life-- the history she lived. In her lifetime she saw humankind evolve from horse and buggy to man on the moon.

I was a sixties kid and for the youth of the sixties, turmoil, disillusionment, and revolution were everyday 'business as usual'. Like a radio perpetually on low volume, fear and death dronned on in the background. The superpowers threatened to extinguish all life on the planet, the Vietnam War was escalating and peers were being escorted home under American Flag blankets. The civil rights and equal rights movements were testing human civility, and faster than one could recover from one shock another real life hero would fall to yet another assassin. Despair was commonplace. Contrast that with a man on the moon... we could conquer space travel but couldn't make nukes or war obsolete! It was a time when youth needed hope because hope was scarce. When it was finally resurrected, it came in the form of idealism and a philosophy of brotherly and universal love. Perfect principles; imperfect execution.

For others who contributed to "Looking Back," the history is different for each because the "times" were different as well as the perspective of the individuals. The stories of human societal evolution are enlightening, heartwarming, poignant and spellbinding. They put a human face on the past.

And there are people now who are putting a face on the future...