With so many global crises everywhere we look demanding so much of our immediate attention, is this a good time to be thinking about our soul? There never was a better – or more critical – time than right now to take the mystic journey of the soul that leads us into and through the spiral of life!
As we venture into the unknown of our deeper selves, we face one formidable challenge after another there, too. Yet, as Joseph Campbell has made clear, we don’t have to risk life’s greatest adventure alone: “The labyrinth is thoroughly known… where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence; where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.”
The world’s sacred traditions provide all the guideposts we need for this adventure. Living our lives consciously, we encounter universal motifs, archetypes, and timeless patterns that will help us discover not only who we are but also why we are so deeply connected to all others. The universal journey of the soul is one we all set out upon, and whether we are aware of it or not, it is the only journey that leads ultimately to both personal and collective transformation. This is the most pressing journey of our time.
In the most basic sense, a mystic is one who seeks union, or unity. Whether what we seek is union with ourselves, with others, with creation, with the Creator, or with Reality, we are all mystics at heart. The mystic traditions came into being to help us all remember our true origin and destiny. The great mystics knew that remembrance links us to the spirit we all possess, as well as to each other. As Marion Woodman puts it, “We’re all little sparks of One Soul… once that thought comes through to consciousness, we understand what love is… When we connect with our souls, we connect with every human being.”
In Mystic Journey, Robert Atkinson offers an “exquisite exploration of the spiritual craft of soul-making,” which details a process “that leads us home to who and what we really are,” as Jean Houston said in her endorsement of the book. This is a journey that profoundly links individual effort and responsibility with collective progress and advancement.
Mystic Journey reveals how shifting our perspective to seeing life as an eternal journey will help us better navigate these rapidly changing times while also giving us a deeper appreciation of the process of soul-making, which consists of:
- Remembering who we are at our depths
- Allowing the universal motifs, archetypes and timeless patterns of life to be our guide and comfort, and
- Cultivating the qualities and virtues at the heart of our common spiritual heritage
Once we consciously set out on a life of soul-making, we become committed not only to fulfilling our own deepest potential but also to helping others do the same for themselves. Our very life, and everything we do with it, becomes a benefit for all.
Getting to the Heart of Your Soul’s Story
“In this exquisite exploration of the spiritual craft of soul making, Robert Atkinson illumines the journey as well as the art and discipline that leads to spiritual transformation. This is as deep and profound a study that ever was of our double nature—finite and Infinite, God Seeds planted in a space-time vehicle, and thus always yearning, questing, drawn by the lure of becoming until we reach the destiny that has been guiding us all along. To read this magnificent study is to remember our original birthright and to commit again to following the path that leads us home to who and what we really are.”
~ Jean Houston , Ph.D., author of A Mythic Life: Learning to Live Our Greater Story and The Search for the Beloved: Journeys in Mythology and Sacred Psychology
“In this lucid and inspirational book, Dr. Atkinson reminds us that we are “hard wired for transcendence” and that life is indeed a school in which we are invited to “learn by heart.” This is a reminder of Keats’ immortal perception that “the world is a vale of soul making” and that the uses of psychology have to do with understanding the soul (Gr.: psyche) in transformation.”
~ Stephen Larsen, Ph.D., Psychology Professor Emeritus, SUNY, and author of The Shaman’s Doorway; The Mythic Imagination; and, A Fire in the Mind: The Life of Joseph Campbell
“Robert Atkinson’s new book offers us a thoughtful and thorough guide to a new kind of heroics, if heroism is redefined for the modern age as the ability to tolerate paradox, to hold within ourselves the tension between two competing ideas or energies. Tending to the dualities of life, if not gracefully managing them—whether the temporal and eternal, the physical and spiritual, or the facts of growth and decay—brings on not just the fullness of life, but the expansion of consciousness, or what Atkinson cumulatively calls ‘soul-making.’ This is a rich read.”
~ Gregg Levoy, author of Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life
Mystic Journey: Getting to the Heart of Your Soul’s Story
Foreword: Soul-Making Is When Time Meets the Timeless
by Marion Woodman
A Context for the Mystic Journey and Practical Soul-Making
Introduction: Who We Are Is Where We Came From
PART ONE: Remembering Who We Are
1. Remembrance Is a Spiritual Practice
Remembering What We Already Know
Remembering Is Living in Gratitude
2. Life Is an Eternal Journey
The Soul Is the Medium for Spiritual Growth
The Mystic Way
The Seven Valleys
Life on Earth Is a Platform for the Ascent of the Soul
Reflection: Our Eternal Journey
PART TWO: Re-Visioning Our Lives Within a Timeless Pattern
3. The Pattern of Transformation
Opposition Is the Necessary Catalyst for Change
The Archetype of Transformation
A Blueprint for Soul-Making
Reflection: Demystifying Transformation
4. The Soul Is in the Depths
The Timeless and the Universal Are the Personally Sacred
Keys to Practical Soul-Making
Three Steps of Practical Soul-Making
Exercise: The Story the Soul Tells
Spiritual Transformation Worksheet
PART THREE: Reclaiming Our Common Spiritual Heritage
5. At Our Depths We Are All Connected
Timeless Universal Archetypes in the World’s Sacred Traditions
The Goal of Our Common Spiritual Heritage
The One Story We All Have a Part In
Reflection: Reclaiming Our Spiritual Heritage
6. Soul-Making Is Part of Our Sacred Inheritance
Remembering Who We Are at Our Depths
Cultivating the Qualities at the Heart of Our Spiritual Heritage
Merging Our Life with the Spirit of Our Time
Exercise: Soul-Making Is for the Benefit of All
About the Author
If you don’t see the question you have here, send it to me through the contact form, and I’ll provide an answer.
Q: Is the mystic journey just for mystics?
A: The short answer is the mystic journey is not just for mystics. The ancient mystic traditions came into being to help people remember their true origin and destiny. The great mystic poets knew that remembrance links us to the spirit we all possess, which links us to each other, as well. The practice of remembrance is common to all sacred traditions. Whether we are aware of it or not, we all set out upon a mysterious, mystic journey: to remember who we are and where we are going. The mystic journey is for all of us. For the long answer, see my blog post here on this topic.
Q: Where does this book, and the mystic journey in general, fit in the consciousness studies, integral studies, and conscious evolution dialogue?
A: Right at the heart of it all. The spirit of our times, a new worldview, sees a shift in consciousness rapidly unfolding which will take us to the next stage of human evolution. This transitional time has been referred to as a process by which we can individually and collectively take responsibility for our future. This is the key, that the individual and the collective are intricately tied together in successfully accomplishing the transformation at hand. Mystic Journey makes it clear that personal and collective transformation are interdependent, and, in particular, that the mystic journey of the soul leads ultimately to the betterment of the world because the journey of the soul and the path of service are one and the same. As we evolve in our personal consciousness, we recognize more and more not only that everything in creation is connected, but that our individual consciousness impacts and influences the collective consciousness, too. Mystic Journey leads us to and through a deeper understanding of who we are and what our common spiritual heritage is; it gets to the depths of our individual and collective journey at the same time.
Q: How is our soul’s story different from our life story?
A: As I’ve written in previous books (The Gift of Stories and The Life Story Interview), a life story is the story we choose to tell about the life we have lived, what we remember of it, and what we want others to know of it. Our life story is really meant to be the essence of what has happened to us. It usually covers the time from birth to the present, sometimes maybe a little beyond that. But often a life story ends up being a recounting of a series of events, with little or no reflection on what it all means. If it is a life story interview that is the method being used to tell your life story, a good interviewer will help you dig beneath the surface, to get to that deeper meaning.
That’s getting to the big difference between the two approaches. There are many layers and levels to a life story. It’s like what C. G. Jung said, when starting out to write his autobiography, “My life is a story of the self-realization of the unconscious… In the end the only events in my life worth telling are those when the imperishable world irrupted into this transitory one.” His autobiography consisted mostly of inner experiences. This is the focus of the soul’s story. All events and experiences of anyone’s life are important and relevant, but the challenge is always distinguishing between those events or experiences that are transitory, that only matter in the world of time, and those that are of deeper, loner-lasting significance. The soul’s story is characterized by two qualities that go beyond a life story: a) looking at our life from an eternal perspective, focusing on the inner nuances and meanings of the struggles and triumphs of the soul’s journey through this world, and b) recognizing that there is a lifelong process of soul-making that we are engaged in, which consists of remembering who we are, living within a timeless perspective, fully digesting both the light and shadow experiences of our lives, and consciously striving to acquire the virtues and attributes needed for our eternal journey.
Mystic Journey Wins 2013 Bronze Living Now Book Award
Mystic Journey: Getting to the Heart of Your Soul’s Story by Robert Atkinson has been awarded the 2013 Bronze Living Now Book Award in the category enlightenment/spirituality. The Living Now Book Awards, “celebrate the innovation and creativity of newly published books that enhance the quality of our lives. The medalists in this year’s Living Now Book Awards offer a list of books representing some of the fastest-growing segments of book publishing today, and the Living Now Book Awards publicize the importance of these books to readers and their vitality in the marketplace”… (see more)
Article by Robert Atkinson, Inner Tapestry
Soul-Making Takes Us Deep Into the Archetypal World
You know the value of every article of merchandise,
but if you don’t know the value of your own soul it’s all foolishness…
This, this is the essence of all sciences—that you should know
who you will be when the Day of Reckoning arrives.
Is knowing the value of our own soul the greatest challenge of our lives? How many of us, as Jung has asked, are really prepared for the second half of life, for old age, death and eternity? For Rumi, this is all a very practical matter, as much so as knowing the true value of anything in the marketplace.
Getting to know this eternal part of ourselves may not be as much of a priority as it should because we tend to think of our identity in terms of the many facets of the physical form that we know for some eight or nine decades. In so doing, we overlook who we are in terms of our soul’s eternal journey. As we mature spiritually, and gain a deeper consciousness, we become increasingly reflective on “what it all means” to us. This is the way it always has been, as we try to draw meaning from the mysteries surrounding us.
Read the complete article: Inner Tapestry, August/September, 2013
Interview by Bob Keyes, Maine Sunday Telegram
Author Q & A: Soul Practitioner
USM professor Robert Atkinson continues to help people reach for their potential with a new book about getting to know our deepest selves.
Robert Atkinson is one of those people who may be better known outside of Maine than in his own community.
Atkinson teaches at the University of Southern Maine in the College of Education and Human Development, where he also directs the Life Story Commons.
Those disciplines may appear narrowly focused, but Atkinson, who lives in Scarborough, is known nationally for his work in helping people realize their full potential. He helps people tell their life stories in ways that connect them with their personal heritage and their communities.
He has written eight books, including two that have been translated into multiple languages and are used in what he calls “various personal growth and life review settings.”
Read the complete interview: Maine Sunday Telegram, 10/21/12
Interview by Matt Welsh, Creator of Spiritual Media Blog
“I recently had the chance to interview Dr. Robert Atkinson, author of Mystic Journey: Getting to the Heart of Your Soul’s Story. Below is the transcript of our interview…
1. Why did you write Mystic Journey?
This is the natural outgrowth of where my work with life stories has taken me. The origin of this book actually goes back to my childhood, when my grandmother came to live with us for part of the year and I became fascinated by her commitment to her daily devotion and reading from Scripture. My 9 year old soul was way ahead of my 9 year old mind then, but from that early experience I came to realize, in my mid-twenties, that the journey of the soul begins whether we are ready for it or not. After more than 30 years of helping people tell their life stories from a psychological and cultural perspective, I love that I now get to focus on the mystic journey of the soul and looking at a life story from a spiritual, eternal perspective, because this gives us our greatest sense of contentment and connectedness.
2. How do you define our ‘soul’ and how can we connect with it?
This is the mystery that is at the heart of all the world’s religions and spiritual traditions. All agree that the soul is the eternal part of us that links us to our Creator. In fact, many say that the soul comes from God and returns to God. This is a perspective that unites the world’s religions. I would say the soul is our infinite aspect, our sacred, divine, nature, one of the signs of God that happens to be with us always, every moment of our lives here and beyond. It is our inner reality…”
Read the complete interview: Spiritual Media Blog, 10/17/12
Reviewed by Lee E. Cart
“In his new book, “Mystic Journey: Getting to the Heart of Your Soul’s Story,” Robert Atkinson explores what it means to live a fully engaged life by connecting with one’s soul and the eternal Creator as well as all other souls on Earth…
When wars, disease, droughts, global warming, and senseless murders are headline news, reading a book that might help a person develop a deeper love of life, an ability to “wrestle with our demons, dance with our angels, make plans with our inner guide, and ultimately, connect with our soul” is worth putting on the bedside table…”
Read the complete review: New Maine Times – 7/25/12
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 17, 2012
Ph: (212) 989-3616
Fax: (212) 989-3662
Life Stories Expert Robert Atkinson Releases His New Book: MYSTIC JOURNEY
Discover Who You Are and Why You Are Deeply Connected To Others
Author Robert Atkinson, a leading authority on helping people tell their life stories, and professor of human development and religious studies, has just released his new book, Mystic Journey: Getting to the Heart of Your Soul’s Story. In this book he describes life’s greatest adventure: discovering who we are and why we are deeply connected to others. The book lays out, step by step, a process of living our lives consciously so we can experience the universal motifs, archetypes, and timeless patterns that we all share.
Mystic Journey uses a multi-faith approach to reveal the path of the soul. As we explore the deeper story of our soul, we also discover that we are living a lifelong process of “soul-making,” described by women’s movement figure Marion Woodman in her foreword to the book as “allowing the eternal essence to live and experience the outer world through all the senses—seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, touching—so that the soul grows during its time on Earth. Soul-making is constantly confronting the paradox that an eternal being is dwelling in a temporal body.”
Robert Atkinson adds: “With so many global crises everywhere we look demanding so much of our immediate attention, is this a good time to be thinking about our soul? There never was a better – or more critical – time than right now to take the mystic journey of the soul that leads us into and through the spiral of life!”
Mystic Journey helps readers better navigate these rapidly changing times while also guiding them to:
• Remember their life stories to identify their changeless identity,
• Re-vision their lives within a timeless frame of reference, and
• Reclaim their common spiritual heritage.
Leading figures in the “human potential movement” have endorsed Robert Atkinson’s work, for example:
“Robert Atkinson’s new book offers us a thoughtful and thorough guide to a new kind of heroics… This is a rich read.” -Gregg Levoy, author of Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life
“In this exquisite exploration of the spiritual craft of soul-making, Robert Atkinson illumines the journey as well as the art and discipline that leads to spiritual transformation. To read this magnificent study is to remember our original birthright and to commit again to following the path that leads us home to who and what we really are.”
—Jean Houston , Ph.D, author of A Mythic Life and The Search for the Beloved
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
ROBERT ATKINSON, Ph.D., an internationally recognized authority in helping people tell their life stories, is an author of eight books, professor of human development and religious studies, and director of the Life Story Commons at the University of Southern Maine. He is online at www.RobertAtkinson.net.
MYSTIC JOURNEY: Getting to the Heart of Your Soul’s Story
Foreword by Marion Woodman
Cosimo Books, June 2012
Religion & Spirituality/Mysticism/Body, Mind & Spirit
Paperback, 158 pages, $12.99 / £10.99
ABOUT COSIMO BOOKS
COSIMO BOOKS publishes titles by experts, academics, journalists, and visionaries on topics including Mind, Body & Spirit, and Socially Responsible Business and Public Affairs. Cosimo Books, based in New York, is an imprint of Cosimo, Inc., a specialty publisher of books and publications that inspire, inform and engage readers. Cosimo’s mission is to create a smart and sustainable society by connecting people with valuable ideas.
Always available at online bookstores. Visit www.cosimobooks.com
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