A Dialogue

Winston takes you to a vegetarian restaurant. The owner is a robust woman clad in an apron who is all smiles and leads you to a table in the front window. You gather Winston is a regular. In less than a minute she sets a basket of herb and onion bread on the table. You take a piece and are surprised to feel that it is still warm from the oven.
"I've just finished a book that you might be interested in, Rod." Winston looks up from buttering his bread. "It's written by a physician who had a near death experience herself when she was in her late twenties interning in Elliot Lake. What she described was almost exactly what I experienced. That was no surprise. What was the surprise was that she goes on to theorize that a near death experience is essentially an accelerated kundalini awakening."
You nod. "That makes sense from the little I know."
"Yes, it made a great deal of sense to me as well. She, of course, substantiates her claim with a great deal of research so it is most convincing. But what she said about the typical after-effects of kundalini awakening and near death experiences was hauntingly similar to what I mentioned to you last week about what happened to me after my experience. I think she's onto something."
The waitress brings you menus and you stare at it in despair. You recognize very few of the dishes. Ramequins? Tiropites? Ratatouille? And Gulab Jamun and Zabaglione for dessert? You're lost. Winston looks at you with amusement. "Would you like me to order for you?"
"Sure." You shrug.
The waitress comes and Winston rhymes off a list of foreign sounding delights. The only one you recognize is enchiladas.
"Okay," you lean across the table, "let's entertain for a moment the possibility that there is a soul."
Winston shrugs.
"What good is it?"
"It is the reason you are alive."
"But I am alive and I'm not aware of a soul. I'm aware of my heart. I'm aware of my lungs. They keep me alive. It seems to me you can live quite adequately without a soul."
"You can live, yes. But not adequately."
"Why not?"
"Because you are shirking your responsibility. The responsibility to enrich and perfect your soul."
He smiles indulgently. "Because that is your purpose on Earth."
"I don't feel any purpose."
"Yes you do."
"Are there not some things that you would not do? Things like cheating on your income tax, stealing your neighbour's lawn mower," he winks, "raping a child in your class, or murdering your boss?"
"Of course."
"Why not?"
"Because they are wrong."
"Why? If you exist to merely pursue your pleasures while you are on this Earth, then would you not measure the success of your life on the amount of pleasure you are having?"
"No. What pleasure can I gain from harming another?"
"The pleasure of power, the pleasure of what you have taken. Something inside you knows that it is wrong. Even the most hardened criminal knows that he is doing wrong. But he does wrong because he cannot help it. Or so he says. I say of course he can help it. He has free will. He can choose to do it or not. It's that simple."
"But what if he was abused as a child? What if he fell in with the wrong crowd?"
"He chose to react to his abuse in that way. He chose to hang out with those people."
"So your soul is like a gyroscope inside you that tells you when you are balanced or not?"
"In some ways. Look the best way to explain is to cite Edgar Cayce. We have already discussed him. He makes a great deal of sense."
"Okay, refresh my memory." You grab another piece of bread.
"While Cayce was in one of his trances he described the universe in startling terms. He said that the root of all existence is the tension between positive and negative. This tension powers the universe. It is "the cosmic dance of energy" as it was so aptly put by Dr. Marie-Louise von Franz, a Jungian psychologist. This law of attraction and repulsion maintains the form and the action of all things. We'll come back to this."
He spreads his napkin on his lap. "But first you have to understand how the universe began. It was begun by God. I won't go into all the details but suffice it so say that after the universe of matter was created God felt a need for companionship. At this point he created all the souls that are in existence. Think of it as the Law of Conservation of Energy. Energy cannot
be created nor destroyed, it can only be made to change its form. For this reason, all the souls that will ever exist, exist right now."
The waitress comes with a tray of food and places the dishes in the middle of the table.
"I figured I'd order a number of things and we can sample them from the various plates like a smorgasbord."
"Sounds good to me. Smells good too." You reach for the serving spoon and scoop some concoction that smells faintly of curry onto your plate. You also take an enchilada.
"Imagine yourself as the only person in the universe. You experience loneliness because you have no one to share your creation with. You built your universe out of love yet you are the sole source of love in the universe. Now let's say that to overcome your loneliness you create automatons. You could program into them a need to always remain at your side. Would that be love?"
"No, that would be brainwashing."
"Exactly. And so it was with God. So to get love God gave each of these souls a free will so that they might chose to be with him or not, because is not love essentially the chosing to spend your time with someone?"
"Yes," you mumble through a mouthful of enchilada. You're having a hard time concentrating on what Winston is saying because the food is so delicious.
"These entities, these souls then discovered that they had free will and they began to exercise it. They began to have an effect on the universe that God had created. They began to create worlds of their own and to live in them. In time, some of them even began to forget that God was the creator of all this. They began to place more importance on the worlds they had created and lost sight of the world that was God's. You might call this the fall of the angels. By becoming so caught up in their own worlds they lost their way back to God. These souls then spread out across the universe. Remember as pure energy they were not restricted by time or space. Einstein was the first to gain an inkling of that." He delicately scoops himself samples from the different plates. "Eventually some of these souls found their way to Earth. They were amazed at what they found. A beautiful blue planet with Edens galore but as spirits they were unable to experience it in a sensual manner. They wanted to become a part of it but to do this they had to take on a conscious mind, a physical body, the five senses, and a glandular and nervous system. So, according to Cayce, they hovered over the early primates and guided these creatures to evolve to a point where the spirits felt that they could inhabit their bodies in order to experience the world. That is why the missing link will never be found. Consciousness entered early man in an instant. In fact in five different locations simultaneously thus creating the five races of man, the black, the white, the brown, the yellow and the red." He takes a drink of water and you reach for your Fruit Surprise Frappe. "This pull of the physical and of consciousness left the soul drifting in God's creation far from shore, so to speak, making it, over time, more and more difficult to return to God. The goal of any soul then is to return to God. In order to do this the will of the soul must become identical to the will of God. In other words, the soul must rise to such a level of consciousness that it will finally understand why the universe is as it is." "The soul as Cayce describes it has two states of consciousness." He raises his fork. "The spirit that bears the knowledge and the memory of identity or oneness with God, and the spirit of the individual which bears the stamp of its individuality with a memory of all it has experienced in this lifetime. When a soul returns to God it becomes aware of itself not only as a part of God but also as a part of everything and every other soul." He shoves a slice of enchilada into his mouth.
You merely nod and keep on eating.
"The ego is the desire to do other than the will of God thus when it returns to God the soul voluntarily relinquishes its ego. Cayce says that the life of Christ is a symbolic representation of that very thing, the crucifixion being the symbolic relinguishing of the ego. He believes that Jesus was one of many souls who came into this realm of Earth to show Man
the way to return to God." He reaches for his water.
"If we are all just part of the same substance, God," you interject, "then why are we all so different?"
"Good question. In every individual every atom of your physical body is a reflection of your soul. A crystallization of your individuality. Your emotional and nervous structures, your mental abilities, your talents, your foibles, your fears. All are the sum of what you have done with your free will since it was given to you. Thus every individual is different because he is shaped by what he has done."
"When does the soul's journey end?"
"When the body is no longer a hindrance to the free expression of soul.
When the conscious mind merges with the subconscious mind. When the atomic structure of the body can be controlled so the soul is as free in the body as out of it, then the Earth cycle is completed."
"You believe all this?"
"I believe it, yes, though I am aware that every consciousness that attempts to grasp the ephemeral world of the spirit must interpret it in the way they know how, within their own realm of experience. Therefore I think that Cayce's appraisal of what he saw was necessarily shaped by who he was. I do believe however that what he saw was the truth. It makes sense within the context of my own experiences." He takes another bite of food.
"So the soul's task on earth is to evolve?"
He nods.
"And how does it do this?"
He swallows and takes a drink of water before he speaks. "It makes God's will its own."
"What is God's will?"
"That you should return to him."
"How do you do that?"
"You live your life helping others to move towards God. You do good not harm. You exercise the one standard that God has given us to measure all our actions. Love."
You shake your head. "It sounds so incredibly simple."
"It is."
"But simple philosphies of the past have often caused more harm than good."
"That is because the danger in any organization is that the members will not each have the same commitment to the collective spirit that began it."
You drain the last of your Frappe from the glass. "In other words when this spirit takes on a physical form it is necessarily corrupted."
"Exactly. Cayce never espoused any church though he was a devout Christian. It was his view that any religion, if followed in its true spirit, would lead to truth."
You finish your plate and sit back stuffed. You had always thought that vegetarian food wasn't filling.
"I see you're full." Winston laughs.
"Yes, surprisingly."
"The only surprise is that you still cling to your old conceptions. But I am pleased to see that you can open your mouth as well as your mind." He points at your empty plate and winks.

Richard Payette