A sailor gives her perspective on the human condition.
by Betsy Terrell
Paramahansa Yogananda, in his wonderful book, Autobiography of a Yogi, writes of the “threefold suffering of mankind—from disease, psychological inadequacies, and soul ignorance.” All the great religions of the world have acknowledged that humans are made up of three parts—though named differently at various times, these are essentially the physical, the psychological, and the spiritual. Although ancient civilizations such as the Hindu and Tibetan, among others, took all these parts into account in looking at human health and evolution, Western society and medicine is only now beginning to acknowledge that human life is indeed more than a body. Such reformers as Christiane Northrup (Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom) and Carolyn Myss (Anatomy of the Spirit) are bringing into Western consciousness the need for attending to the psychological and spiritual aspects of our health, and not just the body.
On the other hand, when people think of ‘enlightenment,’ they usually think of a high spiritual condition, arrived at through long years of meditation, or perhaps through a moment of grace such as Saul’s experience being struck by lightning on the way to Damascus. We on the Neutrino rafts work with the concept of threefold enlightment, taking enlightenment in its literal sense, to shed light upon, to illuminate, the three aspects of our human condition—physical enlightenment, psychological enlightenment, and spiritual enlightenment.
Nowadays people drive their cars around with hardly a thought to the functioning and maintenance of the many complicated systems that make this machine work. If anything goes wrong, they are indignant, and take the car to the service center to be fixed.
Many people treat their bodies, the temporary housing of the soul on its journey through this world, with the same disdain and disregard, eating foods without study of what nutrition is truly best for this body, exposing the body to toxic substances not only in the environment, but in cigarettes and alcoholic drinks, working the body too hard or not enough, etc.; and when something goes wrong, taking the body, with a certain amount of indignation or dismay, to the doctor, and saying “fix it.”
This is hardly a respectful nor responsible attitude toward such an important element of our earthly existence. For physical enlightenment, you would study your body with thoroughness and detachment, yet total concern—this, after all is a machine which you would like to keep in good working order for a long, long time. How much rest does it need, how much physical exercise or exertion? What foods are best for it? (Not everybody requires or even thrives on the same diet.) How can you provide the best environmental surroundings in which the body will function at its optimum?
It has be said that the present age is the ‘psychozoic period.’ Self-help manuals abound, and psychological language has become part of our everyday vocabulary. One thing seems clear, however: our psychologies are almost entirely a reaction to, and a product of, our upbringing and the society we are imprinted by. The personality, rather than being a willing servant carrying out the desires of the soul, becomes the primary force, and our life momentum goes with the flow of society.
On the Neutrino rafts, we use a simple starting point to take control of our psychology back into our own hands, which we call the ‘reprogramming exercise,’ reprogramming the psychology, very much like replacing an obsolete piece of software inside your computer with a new, updated program. We use a question and answer process through which we give ourselves information about our own deepest desires, our top priorities in life and our own evaluation of how various aspects of our individual lives are going for us now, compared to our personally chosen ‘best ever.’
It works like this:
The first three questions are to guide you in finding out what your own deepest priorities, your deepest desires or wishes in life are. If you could only do one more thing before you die, what would it be? Once you have answered that, you ask yourself, if you could do a second thing in addition, what would that be? And, finally, you are given an opportunity for a third and last thing, in addition to your first and second choices. Through these three questions, you’ve named your top three desires in life, at least for now. Don’t worry if the answers are different tomorrow, the important thing is just to ask and answer from as deep a place as possible. Over time, these answers will come from a deeper and deeper place within.
Next, you rate your seven levels. The seven levels are seven parts of yourself, corresponding to the seven chakras in Eastern philosophy. They are the
Instinctive; which has to do with physical nurturing and well-being,
Imitative, which consists of everything which has been learned through imitation, from talking and writing to high finance,
Intellectual, which is a different type of thinking than most people do, having to do with describing, comparing, and evaluating,
Higher Emotional, which is your spiritual part,
Higher Intellectual, in which you tune into cosmic consciousness.
You rate each level as it is now, today, based on a scale of 1-10. The 10 is your own personal best that you have ever experienced in each level, whether it was a single peak experience or a particularly good and satisfying time period, whether it is now or in the past.
These 10 questions are the basis of this ‘reprogramming’ process. Used together with self observation, and loving feedback from those around us, we move ever closer to that condition in which the soul is truly the driver.
Yogananda calls spiritual suffering ‘soul ignorance.’ Certainly many people live their entire lives with rarely a glimpse of their soul’s purpose or longings. For us, the reprogramming exercise paves the way to deeper and deeper contact with our soul or essence. But this is merely a clearing away of the muck that clouds the water. Meditation leads to the realization, ever deeper, that we are truly not our bodies, not our thoughts and feelings, not our reactions. Who then are we? This is the spiritual mystery we seek to plumb. Besides meditation, many other spiritual practices help to illuminate and instruct us: gratitude, humility, forgiveness, serving others, giving to those in need, a growing realization of the oneness of all humanity and our responsibility to that whole. In the words and deeds of the great saints and masters of all religions, we find numerous examples to follow in our path toward spiritual enlightenment, and each soul’s path will look a little different from all others.
To transform from suffering humanity into a condition of threefold enlightenment, and to help others along the path—this is our quest.
Betsy Terrell is a licensed captain who has been building rafts with her husband for 25 years. Together they raised and home schooled five children, much of the time on scrap-built rafts. She plans to spend the rest of her life sailing rafts, teaching, and writing. For more information on what they’ve discovered so far: <www.floatingneutrinos.com>
This article was printed in New Renaissance, Vol. 10, No. 4, issue 35, Winter, 2001-2002 Copyright © 2002 by Renaissance Universal, all rights reserved. Posted on the web on October 15, 2002.