In this wonderful season of birth leading to a slow but steady renewal of what is everlasting, we need even more a framework that will help us address the mysteries of our lives, the mystery of life itself, and how we can understand and relate to the infinite. We need a blueprint, or a set of guideposts, that will direct us toward discovering what our true potential is, and where our dreams, values, and beliefs might ultimately lead us.
Even though we are so very familiar with the cycle of the seasons, we may not be as aware that each cycle carries out an on-going process of renewal that sustains our very existence. We also may be more used to seeing life within the limited context of birth (or conception) and death. We are conceived, develop prenatally, and are born, then we develop physically, cognitively, socially, morally, and spiritually over the next eight or so decades, and then we die.
Yet this story of life is incomplete without the recognition of the soul. Greater access to the world’s wisdom has made it quite clear how vital a holistic view of the human life cycle is. Mystics and poets the world over have long described how consciousness continues on in the eternal soul after death. The most vivid and compelling of these descriptions are founded upon personal experience, some upon ancient indigenous ritual practices.
For our purposes today, how would we understand human development differently if we took in the perspective of eternity? How might we carry out our daily lives differently if we saw life as eternal?
The world’s religious traditions, including Native American spiritual traditions, tell us that the road of life is continuous and never-ending. Death is viewed as an integral part of this road; it is understood as the gate to eternal life. As Chief Seattle said, “There is no death, only a change of worlds.”
The soul’s continuing journey in the afterlife would give this life even greater meaning and purpose. The obstacles put in our way here might even be seen as catalysts moving us closer to the next world. If we ignore the spiritual, mystical, and multicultural views of what is humanly possible, the stories we will tell of our lives will also be limited; they will not be a spiritual legacy, but some other kind of legacy.
Only the mystical writings of the world’s religions offer the perspective that life is an eternal journey. There is no other model that focuses on the eternal aspect of our lives, affirms that this can determine how far we are capable of growing and evolving in our lives, and offers a blueprint for identifying a pattern to this spiritual development.