March 19, 2024

Embodying Our Soul’s Capacity

Thomas explores the idea of spiritual insight and how having a consistent, disciplined, contemplative practice can increase the depth of meditation and allow genuine insights to emerge. As we travel through life, we can learn to see the movement that is inherent in everything and use our soul’s energy to realize our potential and discover where we are called to belong.

Thomas considers this idea of “finding your way” and how we can be open to our planet’s knowledge and evolution and use that information creatively to illuminate our own path forward. But that’s not the only key piece – we must also practice attunement within our personal relationships and absorb lessons from our ancestors so that we can move into the future without re-creating the past.

This episode was recorded as part of the 2018 Celebrate Life Festival.

Share this:

Listen Now

“Humility means that I am not the ultimate answer, but I am here in life because life tries to find an answer.”

- Thomas Hübl

Guest Information

Thomas Hübl

Thomas Hübl is a renowned teacher, author, and international facilitator whose work integrates the core insights of the great wisdom traditions and mysticism with the discoveries of science. Since the early 2000s, he has been facilitating large-scale events and courses that focus on meditation and mindfulness-based awareness practices, as well as the healing and integration of trauma.

His non-profit organization, The Pocket Project, works to support the healing of collective trauma throughout the world. He is the author of the book Healing Collective Trauma: A Process for Integrating Our Intergenerational and Cultural Wounds.

His new book Attuned: Practicing Interdependence to Heal Our Trauma—and Our World is available now wherever books are sold. Visit attunedbook.com for links to order it online.

For more information, visit thomashuebl.com

Notes & Resources

Key points from this episode include:

  • How to recapture the notion of the ‘sacred’ in order to heal fragmentation
  • The concept of downloading our soul’s capacity into our bodies at birth
  • Learning to read and co-author the book of our lives
  • How consciousness can either be a tool of our ego, or a tool for our evolution
  • The need to create healing environments

Episode Transcript

Thomas Hübl: Actually, our practice makes us walk our talk. So we can understand a lot mentally, but unless it’s embodied, and that’s the practice, how what we know here in the scientific age seduces us often into mental understanding. And many people talk about spiritual stuff, but they talk about it. They don’t talk from it, and that’s why it doesn’t have a transmission. So now we talk a little bit about transmission. What is a transmission? Energy in the deeper mystical understanding… And when I use the word mystical, I’m referring to the essence of the wisdom traditions. So the people that really had an awakening are whatever, saints, sages and mystics. These are the professionals within the tradition. And what does it mean, professional? Professional means that their word and their energy is the same. When somebody is professional or excellent in something, it’s that the word and the energy is congruent. Does this make sense? The word and the energy is congruent. This means that there is no difference between what we say and who we are.

So when somebody talks about meditation, I can read a book about meditation, but then I am not meditation. I know about meditation. But that’s fantastic because meditation came into our life through a book, through a talk, through a friend, through whatever. However I get introduced to it, it appears in my life. And if I have a strong resonance with it, I often say meditation is not the sitting or the walking in the nature, or the yoga that you do. That’s the effect of meditation. Meditation is, and our life is part of it. That’s a big difference, because we live in a… And now I’m going to talk about the main fragmentation in our culture, which is that we lost the notion of the sacred. Many secular spaces don’t know anymore what sacred means. So I believe, and we heard throughout the days here from many different people, that the real repair or restoration happens through two things, a transpersonal perspective and non-disassociated transpersonal perspective and relation. We talked a lot about relation, and I want to talk today about the transpersonal part.

Spiritual insight cannot be learned mentally. That’s very important, because many people walk around and talk about stuff that they don’t know. When somebody read about the causal consciousness, it doesn’t mean that we know what it is. Causal consciousness is only true when there is a reference, experience or opening that somebody really set as causal consciousness. That’s causal consciousness, and that’s the only place where it’s true. When I talk about it’s not true. That’s very important because otherwise, it creates a soup of many people talking about it. So it’s like, who would love to… I find a scalpel, and now today I’m going to do surgery. I go into the kitchen, I find a knife, and now I’m going to be a surgeon. Would you like an operation? No, I wouldn’t want an operation.

And so the green meme, like the pluralistic consciousness, ejected hierarchy, and there is one hierarchy that it’s a power hierarchy that needs to be rejected, but everybody wants to go to a surgeon that knows what he or she is doing. And you don’t want to have an operation because your neighbor found a knife in the kitchen. The same is true for spirituality. Not everything that everybody says is true. Many things are maybe lovely knowledge and we are informed and we learn a lot about stuff from books and people’s talks, but same as we want the surgeon to study, to practice, to have done it a thousand times that the person is really excellent in what he or she is doing. And the same is true for spiritual practice. In our first training program, we had a fMRI study done with 20 people and myself in Germany, on meditation. And it was very clear in the study that you could see we had two groups, experienced meditators and inexperienced meditators, people who just started. They came to the training and they have never meditated.

But you could see within one year of their practice, an immense increase in their meditation depth. You could see it in their brains. And so when we really practice, there is a fast progress if I do something regularly. So, practice and discipline is a very important part of our practice. And so, let’s talk a bit about energy. For us, it might look like sometimes, when we look at the person or when we look at the room, that we are looking at something static. It’s fixed. It’s a form. Whereas my brain learned to make screenshots, photo, photo, photo. When you make photos of a car on the highway, it always looks like it’s standing. So when I look at you, I might get the impression that you are a form in the room, whereas in fact every one of us is a movement and we learned to make screenshots, many screenshots. What I’m saying is when we talk about the nature of the soul, the soul is energy. Potential is energy. And energy means information in movement, that something is moving, the whole universe is moving.

When a child comes in, in the moment of conception, potentiality like energy, new movement connects to substance, to the past, to the DNA, to a fertilized egg. So every one of us through our life is downloading basically our soul’s capacity into our bodies. If we download our souls, when we say somebody found his or her way, what we are saying is there’s a fluid download of light and information and evolution into the planet through us. And everything in us is moving. My body sensations are moving. The molecules in my body are moving. My emotions are coming and going. My thoughts are coming and going. Life is moving. Just now in the room, there’s so much movement here in the room, including myself. So, there is a lot of movement. Everything’s moving, so energy is an expression of movement. So we are describing… That’s the best word I believe that we found so far for the movement that is inherent to everything. It’s in everything. Something is moving slower, like the table, but there’s also movement. It’s just moving slower. And something is moving faster.

So when we relate to each other, I often say that… And that’s what we do in the morning meditation. When I ask you to put your hands on the neck of your partner, it’s two trains, many of you maybe heard this already, two trains. If two trains drive at the same speed, you can open the window and talk to the person on the other train. Do you understand? So if I sit on this train and you’re on the other train and we are driving like this, we can have a tea with each other. You open the window, I open the window, if you still can open the window, and you talk to each other. Attunement, like William Ury suggested, you put yourselves in the other one’s shoes. If I really feel you and if I really attune to you, my nervous system creates a coherence with your nervous system. And everybody’s nervous system has that capacity, except we are traumatized, or we are strongly conditioned. We are out of our path.

The more we are out of our path, the less we can express this capacity. The more we come into our path, the more we can express this capacity, the more of my nervous system can participate in hosting you in me. Hosting you in me is intimacy, is the moon in the reflection on the surface of the lake. When the moon up there looks exactly like the moon on the water surface, that’s intimacy. Then in moments like that, there’s nothing in-between us. There’s interrelatedness, there’s just this… When the moon on the water surface has ripples, like there are many ripples on the surface, you don’t see the moon clearly. That’s usually our state. That’s called society. So I believe in order to bridge the legacy that we are sitting in, we have to practice consequently attunement because it’s not given, not in this stage of evolution. We are too hurt as a species, as all of us, we are too hurt in order for it to happen naturally.

In the highest state, there is no attunement because everything is not two. But in the state of fragmentation, we need to practice that. And I believe that attunement, like relational attunement and developing relational intelligence, is a key healing factor of our society. If I learn that I really take a moment every time I meet somebody, I take a moment to really tune in with that person. When I write an email, I don’t vomit what I want to say. I feel you first, and then I write. When I post something on Facebook, I feel first everybody that I write to and then I write, not the other way around. Because the other way around seduces us into a disconnected way of communicating, and using technology in a disconnected way. So when I get an email, I can feel the person that wrote it to me and I can tune in with that person and then write, so that I can use my social skills and my relational skills to use technology in a related way. That’s the intimate internet.

The other one is a cold virtual space. That’s a warm virtual space. And so for mystics, mystics practiced this for many thousands of years that you can say a name of a person that sits on the other side of the planet and we can actually tune in with that person and feel that person and be pretty accurate about how that person feels. So, the internet gave us an external practice platform to practice consciousness functions that are dormant in our nervous systems. Anyway, that’s the only reason why we were able to build the internet, because it’s based on our own inner architecture. And so now I want to talk a little bit about the repair. Every time I listened to William Ury, also during our course, and I pointed this out sometimes during our course that he often used the words, “And then it came to me to say.” And maybe some of you saw that course, he often said, “And in the negotiation, it was hard, and then it came to me…” He didn’t say, “I said…” He said, “It came to me to say.” And that’s an interesting way to put it.

And that’s for sure, one part is his humility, but another part is the function that ourself and the ceiling of our house becomes more porous, that my sense of self is not just the only reality. Why? Because I allow space for something else as well. So humility means that I am not the ultimate answer, but I am here in life because life tries to find an answer, and that’s different. I am not the ultimate answer. I am here because life tries to find an answer through me. And what that means is, a human being is the lovemaking of the future with the past. The next generation carries a potential update, and that potential update is not necessarily happening always. People who leave this life, like leave, they die, and when they have a strong feeling that they didn’t live their life, really, for some of us, that’s true, that we feel the potential that hasn’t manifested through our life.

And it’s a true feeling. It doesn’t mean that it’s good or bad. Nobody says when you come out of life and they say, “Oh, you didn’t do it.” No, there is nobody that’s saying. So it’s not a question of, did I do it or not? It’s not a competition. It’s not a marathon that after 39 kilometers, you stop and somebody says, “You didn’t do it.” So there is nobody to judge it in this way, but what we feel in our life is suffering. We feel it a tension that the light… There’s a beauty in life trying to find an answer through us, and the answer is the tension of the future with the past. Eros, like William suggested, in the healthy way, creativity solves our conflict. Creativity is the update. Innovation is creativity in action. When people are really innovative, something comes to them and through them. I believe that the principle of the genius is that every genius did not know what happened in the moment the genius act happened. It’s innocent.

The nature of the virgin birth is innocent. It’s happening. There’s a moment of presence where something’s happening that is not premeditated. It’s not the recombination of the old. It’s suddenly like, ah. It’s like the virgin birth is that the baby comes into the room and there is no father, and everybody looks, where did the baby come from? It’s impossible. So the real creative act is not a condition of the past, it’s the memory of the future. It’s the memory of the origin that calls us any way, all the time. You said at the beginning what brought you here, that you follow something that you cannot fully name. You have a yearning for God, but what does that mean? You have a yearning for awakening, but what does that mean? So there’s something that is resonant in us that is an echo of creation. It’s an echo of creation. It’s an echo of the original wholeness of life.

And so in the prayer that sometimes came to me in Nepal in one of our meditation retreats, but it has a very lovely… It says, “In the silence of my heart, I am.” And what does it mean, in the silence of my heart? When I learn to silence my energy, which means I’m not suppressing it, I’m allowing it to digest enough past so that I have moments of space. Judy talked a lot about space yesterday. People talked about space throughout the week. Space is sanity. Space is sanity. So space is the fresh air, it’s the system that brings fresh air into humanity. Space. In the silence of my heart, I am. And in the silence of my heart, I can hear Thy name. I can hear God’s name, which means guidance. I can remember the original calling. I can hear the echo of what is already whole. Whole. I can hear the echo of what is already whole.

And why I’m saying this is because I believe the true healing work and true trauma work transcends our notion of time. When we work on a traumatization that happened in the past, I believe if we tune in precisely, that’s attunement, we are together in the room where the traumatization happened, and it’s still happening because an event that is not fulfilled is still present in the room. So when abuse happened, it is not actually the right word. Abuse didn’t happen. It’s still happening until it’s resolved. The energy is still active, which means we, everybody who is on a healing path, you are the presence today that was your hope then. Does this makes sense? It sounds a bit complicated, to transcend our notion of time. We have been trained to see time in one way, and we are a little bit opening another possibility that today our healing work is the resource of what got us going then.

And so the same thing is true for us today, our future is present with us when we are sitting here in the room as a potential resource to help us to go through the healing that we are going through, especially when it’s difficult. There’s something, the memory of the future is calling us. The higher potential of what we are growing into is already present now. But that’s key, because that’s grace. The element that God inserted in life is grace. Grace is the power of the future to rewrite the past. Same as you have the power, if you do the right things in your life, you find the people that can really help you to transcend a wound, a trauma, something that happened to liberate yourself. That’s the future rewriting the past. Without this, we would be eternally stuck because the wounds would be eternal. But the fact that we can revisit those wounds and we can restore relation and we can infuse awareness and healing is rewriting the past.

We literally change neural networks in ourselves, emotional patterns, addictions. We can solve many things. We can heal many physical things by rewriting the book of life, and that’s very important. I said on the first day, and maybe it sounded a bit cryptic then or a bit strange, I said that the real book… There are many books that are being written about a wave in the face of life. It’s a wave that describes a certain quality at that time. So there are books that people read, let’s say 20 years, and then they disappear. Five years and they… Because they’re not relevant anymore. They describe the wave. And then there are books like the Dao De Jing, the Torah, Sanskrit writings, whatever, all around the world, the Quran, that people read again and again and again for thousands of years. And then I believe the mystic in the marketplace like us, people who practice a serious path of awakening, life is our book.

I believe we need to learn to read life, and then we see that we are co-authors and co-readers. We are co-authoring the book. We are writing the book while we read it. And the closer the writing and the reading gets together, that’s what’s called non-dual. Karma is postponing experience. Awakening is making a life whole, integrating what has been postponed. And that the writing and the reading is the same thing, that’s called presence. And that means that our actions are important because the way we live our life, that it’s not just important to meditate a lot, but it’s also important the way we live our life, our exploration of ethics, honesty, accountability, and not conditioned accountability that we fit into a certain context, but that we are accountable in four directions in our life. That’s an important practice as well. Did you ever ask yourself, why when you go to have lunch, all of you goes to lunch?

Audience Member: [inaudible]

Thomas: Did you? Why do all your cells decide to have lunch? Why are not some cells saying, “Yeah, I’m hungry?” Others say, “No, I don’t want to go. No, I hate food. Why is the session not going longer? I want to stay in the room.” So your head goes to lunch and your feet stay in the room, or the other way. Now it sounds a bit funny, but did you ever ask yourself the question why more or less, all the cells in your body want to do the same thing? Who tells them to do the same thing? How do they know? What is the organizing principle that creates those forms? Animals, plants, many forms of life are relatively coherent systems, and we take this for granted. We say, oh, that’s how life is, but what tells life to do that? What tells life to stay ethically connected and related and coherent? And that’s a good question for our life together.

So, “In the silence of my heart, I hear Thy name, and in the beauty of the world, I see your face.” That’s also an interesting line. In the beauty of the world, I see God’s face.

Now the question is, what is beautiful? Do I see God’s face only in what I call beautiful? What is aesthetic? So it helps me to see where do I actually see God’s face in the world, and where do I say don’t? That’s an interesting exploration. And then it says, and that’s also an important part, “I am grateful for what I see and I am grateful for what stays hidden because this is Thy will, and that’s why I am here.” So I’m grateful for what I see and I’m grateful for what stays hidden. And why that’s important is because the ego of the spiritual seeker might want to see everything, and might often be frustrated if he or she doesn’t. And if we don’t, then that’s our spiritual ego rebelling against the current reality.

It’s not that we are curious. There’s a difference between curiosity and the ego attempt to rule the world through consciousness, because consciousness can become the next tool of our ego, then we have a spiritual career. Now we are the ones that are more conscious than the others, and we don’t want to hang out with unconscious people because they are not good for us. So that’s something that we need to challenge because if spirituality makes us elitist, there is a problem with this. So if it doesn’t equip us more to be in the world and not just in beautiful retreat centers in California, that’s smoky now, but… Yeah, but it’s true because in the spiritual scene, there is an avoidance of the dirt of life often, and of the pain of life, that life gets us wherever we need to be. And if it’s in a war zone or if it’s on a beautiful mountaintop or in a forest or in a big city, it doesn’t actually matter.

Once we are healed to a certain extent, that’s the next step of our practice, is to be where life calls us to be, not to be where it’s beautiful. And if that’s where it’s beautiful, it’s also great, but then I’m not in love with beauty, I am in love with life. But that’s a very important part, so I’m grateful for what I see and I’m also grateful for what I don’t see because this is not in my hands. What I don’t see is not in my hands. I can do whatever I can do to see more and I will do it, but what stays hidden, stays hidden out of a reason. And that’s also important if we connect this to modern trauma work, that we know that our nervous system is not going to release information that was painful information unless it feels safe, and that’s very important. So, what seems that it doesn’t heal is not not healing because we are too stupid to do it. It’s not healing because we didn’t find yet the right circumstances.

Healing is about creating an environment that is healing. Healing in many cases is a relational environment that we can create that is healing. And that’s why if something is not healing, it’s not that it doesn’t work. It’s for us to listen what actually doesn’t feel safe yet, to open up. But this leads us to another conversation that the spiritual community is a place where we create more and more relational safety for us to really let go of the past because there’s enough relational competence. And this has two components. I’m grateful for what stays hidden means that I respect the parts that I didn’t manage yet to see in myself. It doesn’t mean that I just stopped there, but it means that I will not contract around it, that I am too something or something doesn’t work. I learn more about what I need to open up deeper. So there’s something that needs to be created for us to see, and that’s not yet there obviously.

So that’s I think an important part, because this is Thy will, there’s a bigger context. The game didn’t start with us and we have been born into a context that had a lot of information, so there’s always a bigger context to my own life. And if I forget that, I lose hope and I lose humility because then it’s just about me. So my healing is about me, my spiritual practice is about me, my life becomes about me. That’s when the circle closes down. But if I remember a bigger context, then there is a lot of support. There’s a support from the future, there’s a support from the ancestors, from the past. There’s a support in the horizontal relational network. There’s a collective intelligence that I’m part of, that is also part of my healing, that you are part of my healing and I’m part of your healing. Why? Because life brought us together, so we have something to do with each other. There’s a resonance in life, otherwise we wouldn’t meet, so that’s very interesting.

That means that the future… and the future is not tomorrow, the future is higher consciousness. Higher consciousness is a crucial factor in the healing of ourselves and the world. And I think if we lose the higher context that we are part of, then we lose that power to restore. And for me it’s simply important because there’s a lot of power in that, there’s a lot of imagination that’s going on also, but there’s also a lot of power in that which is creative. Before we can go into a dialogue about this, let’s see for a moment what you hear. What do you hear? What do you hear about space, inner space, and how much gardening of inner space do you do in your life? Do you have the right amount of… Well, let’s say it in a different way. Same as your body needs air and your body needs food, and maybe emotionally you need relation, emotional closeness, there are different needs, and our soul needs a spiritual needs.

And same as we need to eat in order to satisfy our physical need, there’s something we can do, like we need to prepare a space in our life to meet our soul needs. Space is one of them, to have enough reflection time to reflect on the process of life. Reflection time means that I make space to just be with what’s being created, the composition of my life, my relationships. I can revisit my relationships and see, how does my relationship network look like? Do I still update my life or am I running on automatic? Did I get stuck in certain structures that are not anymore true? Did I miss the train of my updates, and then I wonder why my mobile phone doesn’t work? Sometimes people say, “My clients are not coming and this is not happening,” or, “My company doesn’t generate enough,” but it’s also always a question of, okay, let’s revisit if you’re still in the right place. Maybe life moved on and I missed the train. Maybe there are some updates waiting.

And if I don’t have time for my updates, I will get old. Getting old means that I missed updates. Otherwise, every age is the right age. When people say, “Oh, I would love to be 20. I would love to be 30. I would love to be 100,” whatever, “I would love to be a different age,” it’s a desynchronization in time because everybody is always in the right place, but not in our experience. And getting old has nothing to do with the age in our passport. We are only getting old when we are missing our development. Otherwise, we are always in the movement of life, however old we are, however young we are. So when you look at space in your life and the gardening of space, do you make space for space, for time to reflect on your life, to contemplate your life? Not to add more, to just be quiet and contemplate, and what helps you to do them?

And then the poorest part is when the roof has holes and when it rains, water drops into our house. Do you know this moment when you talk and suddenly you say things that surprise yourself? Not because they’re a bit off, but because they’re so on? Let’s say the ones that are on, and so you hear yourself say something that you didn’t even plan to say. That’s a moment of, something came through. Suddenly, boom, here it is. And that’s, how can we practice that quality of listening to the updates of life, listening to innovation? So it’s space and also movement. And so when you look at your life, do you have the feeling that your life’s unfolding beautifully when you check in with yourself? Do you have time to listen to your updates? Because many of us do, and it’s anyway happening naturally, but sometimes we need also to make space to listen to new things that we cannot hear when we are too busy. That’s why contemplative practice gives us space to listen to the things that we normally don’t hear inside.