Soul Learning School
In a letter of reply to an editorial in the 1897 Bookman, American poet Edward Arlington Robinson wrote, “The world is not a ‘prison house’ but a kind of spiritual kindergarten where millions of bewildered infants are trying to spell ‘God’ with the wrong blocks.” Trying to spell God is an old theme, still universal, concerning most of humanity, which has arrived at various spellings, though sometimes none at all. Some would try to give God a rest (another kind of spelling) and take over themselves. Some have even tried to cast a spell on God.
I pay attention to my dreams. The cover for my memoir, Baltho, the Dog Who Owned a Man was shown to me in a dream. After ruminating for weeks on possible designs I then knew what it should look like. It took some doing to locate the photo that I was shown when a hand appeared out of nowhere in the dream to hand me the book. Since it was taken before we had digitalized photos, I had to rummage around to find the physical artifact. When I finally located it, I realized that it would have to be reversed so that Baltho wearing his hat and beads could be on the left side of the cover as the original photo required, instead of the right, leaving room for the subtitle and my name on his right. Then I had to find fonts and colors that resembled, to the best of my knowledge, what I had been shown.
For years, I had wanted to teach university courses that center on spirituality and literature, my specialty. However, every effort was met with a dead end, often because of a lack of funding because of various economic crises, such as 9/11, which froze all educational plans to move forward. The fact that for decades my Chair from my first teaching position after gaining the Ph.D. in the English Department at the University of Colorado at Denver did his best to sabotage me out of the profession. Why? Because I ignored his sexual advances. That did not help. Several people warned me to do whatever he wanted or he would take it out on me. He was powerful and vindictive.
Last fall I dreamed that I saw a sign saying Soul Learning School above a hallway leading to a classroom. For some time. I’ve known that I needed to start doing podcasts and You Tubes, since I have decades of learning to share, not just in my writing but in other media. I had my direction. The podcasts, which I hope to make interactive, and once the pandemic is under control, in-person too, should center on the theme of soul learning. I have long held that when we leave this mortal plane all we take with us is what we have learned while incarnate in our earthly bodies. The soul is the center of our being. We must not forget that. My many paranormal experiences with the souls of both incarnate and disincarnate beings, human as well as other animals, underscore this truth.
The Greek philosopher Aristotle said that virtues are only potential until we successfully own them. We do so because we have passed the tests necessary to embody those virtues, becoming capable of bringing them into our lives, where they help to inform and create us as fully self- actualized human beings. To recognize those virtues and make them our own, societies have typically recognized the role of priests and shamans, men and women believed to be called and empowered by God, or the gods, to help others on their journey.
Genuine, human, exchanges among peoples of various races, creeds, religions, genders, orientations, ages, experiences, and socio-economic levels must be stressed. I hope our endeavors will empower us to discover our soul’s lessons, not just separately—but with others of like mind. All of us are part of the web of life—all of creation—and in some mysterious way move toward something greater, stronger, and better than ourselves alone.
My own journey has been informed by the rich philosophical traditions of the Western World, involving Platonism, Neo-Platonism, typology, and sign theory (semiotics). Traditional sign theory argues the necessity of good readings of signs, which are everywhere, so that we are not merely looking at reflections of reflections but discovering and turning inward and upwards toward essentials, toward truths that traditionally were held to be eternal, thus worthy of our time and attention. To do this we must combine Aristotelian methods of gathering evidence for deductive reasoning, which should be joined with intuitive (Platonic) insights. Because truth is truth, both methods of exploration are not exclusive. We find truth everywhere in time and space, though expressions of truth often become expressed in other vocabularies. So that we are not locked into specific dogma or doctrine, we must look instead to patterns and what they reveal.
In the classroom I typically use literature as a basis for such discussions. It’s a good way to discover truths embodied in good stories, poems, plays, movies, and so on. Rather like life itself. I will no doubt still use something I’ve read as a starting point for my podcasts and let them evolve organically from there.