|The ultimate challenge: following the promptings of the Authentic Self.|
The greatest challenge of incarnating into the body is the volition to live life according to the direction, prompting, guidance, and leading of the Authentic Self. The term “enlightenment” in eastern philosophy defines a person who has come into a complete, unswerving understanding of being one with all that is, and acting solely upon that connection to the universe, regardless of the consequences that this may have.
And while one could argue that this is the ultimate purpose of incarnating and reincarnating into this body-bound existence, I am certain that no one ever said it is easy. Indeed, one reason that we may reincarnate so many times is that this is in fact such a great challenge that it takes many, many lifetimes to achieve it. And going from one incarnation to the next, the soul understands that certain exceptionally difficult challenges need to be redressed, maybe again and again.
|The brain generates experiences from sense data, develops preferences, and seeks to replicate pleasant and pleasurable experiences while avoiding difficult and energy-depriving experiences.|
This is what I call “karma,” a battery of lessons meant to help us get over the next hump in understanding, but that don’t pass until we “get it.” Our earth-bound existence happens within the context of a body immersed in nested and related contexts from cultural and societal to familial and local. Our brain—a part of the body—generates experiences from sense data, develops preferences, and seeks to replicate pleasant and pleasurable experiences while avoiding difficult and energy-depriving experiences. It does this by patterning—the making of groups of various “types” of experience.
By formalizing strategies based on producing certain types of experiences while avoiding other types, the mind builds a network of patterns by which to navigate through this earth-bound existence. The problem with patterning is that it, by necessity, involves marginalizing certain data while centralizing other data. For humans living in places where there are powerful and cunning predators, such as lions, tigers, and bears, this sort of patterning can mean the difference between survival and extinction. But for those of us living in the more “civilized” environs of a hierarchical society, we very rarely face this sort of danger, and yet, our penchant for patterning persists.
|We tend to sort our experiences into categories of "preferred" and "non preferred."|
In this way, we have a tendency to pattern our experiences, choosing at a very base level to view the world and all that is in it a certain way, marginalizing certain data while centralizing others. This includes opportunities and possibilities which we may marginalize and ignore or even turn down because of how we have constructed our experiences.
For example, if I grow up in a family with a ruthless tyrant as a parent, I may formalize a strategy of “laying low” and “keeping a low profile.” Perhaps I’m a gifted artist, but because of my patterning, I will have a tendency to hide myself even in environments where opportunities exist, such as a visitor at the school looking for early evidence of artistic abilities in first graders in order to help them develop these skills. And if these patterns are not challenged and changed—they typically aren’t—they persist into adulthood where I continue to “keep a low profile,” which is safe, but may very well keep me from following my destiny to be an influential artist. I may resist the promptings of the Authentic Self in my life in favor of my formalized strategies which no longer serve me, but in my own mind keep me safe.
|As a boy, I developed the strategy "keep a low profile."|