Person holding cup of tea

Ensoulment, empathy and immortality

In Insight and Experience by LivingNowLeave a Comment

According to the observations of countless masters, the soul entity, as an energy, varies in potency during a human’s lifetime, obeying the universal law of resonance and attraction. From the time of the original ensoulment, these laws prevail.


It was a lovely early autumn day in eastern Taiwan, with the clear cobalt sky standing boldly above by day, and the crisp dry scent of harvest time filling one’s nostrils in the early evening. I had now lived in the Temple of Pure Light for more than four years. This evening I was busy packing my old travelling bag, readying myself for the ‘big city’. Every six months the government of Taiwan required me to travel down the mountain, take a bus to Taipei, and board a plane to Hong Kong to renew my visa. But I wouldn’t be gone too long, as I’d miss the tranquillity of this temple home too much. Besides I was the only caretaker.

I was just completing the last ‘stuff-ins’ – small articles such as socks, toiletries, and small gifts for Hong Kong friends. Gradually, I became aware of the scent of fine sandalwood incense. I stopped packing. This fragrance was my teacher Jwen’s calling card. Sure enough, when I turned around, I found him standing near the door. He greeted me with a smile, and then quietly took a seat on the old chair by my desk. I sat down at the desk and poured myself a cup of tea, without offering him one, as I knew he’d refuse. Just as I put the pot down, he queried me in a tone of dismay, “Aren’t you going to offer me any?” I felt a pang of regret in my belly as I looked at him in surprise. His eyes held mine for several seconds, then he burst out in laughter, and I soon joined him. Gradually the silence returned.

I held the steaming cup of tea between my palms, warming my hands. The night was chilly and still. Jwen spoke up matter-of-factly, “Where would I put it? –The ‘hsien’ (immortal) neither eats nor drinks, nor does he require the chi (air) to sustain him. He thrives on the radiance of truth. He knows himself as soul – nothing more, nothing less.”

I recognised these lines from a Ming dynasty poem. Jwen had fallen quiet; so I completed the stanza: “All beings find their way in the world by the light of soul.” In this way, I arrived at a burning question I had been waiting to ask. Jwen cleared his throat, looking at me with his most benevolent expression. I knew that I need not wait any longer.

“Soul is no thing. It is a pure energy direct from Tao (God, Source of all-that-is.). You could say a pure expression of Tao. Soul is immortal. I am pure soul, and…” he paused, expanding his energy into the room, “so are you.” Internally he guided me to the feeling of ‘soul-I-am’. A profound clarity of mind saturated the little room, seeming to merge with the stillness of the evening. There was only luminous, calm expansiveness. Blissful.

“Yet there is a difference.” Jwen’s voice brought my attention back into my physical body. “You only know this truth in the deepest meditation, or when you feel the recovery of unblemished soul in the practices I have taught you. I am soul always, without pause or cessation.”

I blurted out, “But what about the physical body?”

He knew my question before I posed it, and continued as if I hadn’t asked it, “The body is the soul’s cloak. Some believe that soul takes on a body in order to burn off karma. They should hold their tongue and examine more deeply. Others believe that soul energy can be offended by the human’s stupid and cruel choices, born of free will.” He paused, eyes wide and translucent, his mind fully engaged. Then he continued, “You see, soul inhabits all humans. All bodies are ensouled, yet not all souls are embodied. Ensoulment begins with the intention of a soul to become embodied. No soul is required to become embodied, but some wish to. This is a mysterious, paradoxical decision. There is a misunderstanding that soul intelligence merges with human intelligence. This is laughable!” He smiled widely as if about to laugh, then continued, “Human conception begins with a soul’s intention. It can be truthfully said that Soul’s intention is human conception!” He remained silent for a while, waiting for comprehension to seep into my reality, then concluded, “However, it’s not really that simple. In assuming the guise of embodiment, soul encounters the perversity of desire, craving, greed, and the other burdensome emotions that arise as the so-called ‘instinct of survival’. This provokes the fear of mortality and impermanence. The human brain is rarely capable of accepting that immortality has nothing to do with embodiment. It is only due to the law of affinity and the teachings of soul recovery that this soul (putting his hand over his heart) has chosen to manifest an illusory body… an artefact of the T’ang dynasty,” he added.

I was watching him attentively as he spoke these words. Suddenly, his appearance rapidly became a flimsy apparition, like a fading television image when the wind blows the antenna in the wrong direction. I could clearly see the wall behind him, and then there was no longer any image at all. This astounding disappearance left my mind totally blank. My eyelids closed involuntarily. Thoughts remained in suspension for some time—I know not how long. Time itself seemed to be suspended. The sound of a little chuckle brought my attention back to what was happening—or not happening before me. Yet my eyelids remained shut. The insides of my head gradually became illuminated, and once again the image of Jwen appeared, just as before. I could no longer keep my eyes shut; opening them abruptly, I found the exact same image of Jwen sitting before me with the same calm smile. Quickly, I closed my eyes, then opened them once again. The two image-perceptions were identical. In that moment, I had a deep awakening regarding the nature of truth and illusion. I had no words for this awakening, but at the time I was aware of the indelible impact it was sure to have on my sense of reality. As I later wrote in my journal “… my reality was forever shattered into quantum-size particles. In other words, sometimes there were apparitions of particles. At other times there was just a continuum of energetic being-ness.”

Jwen continued, with no reference to what had just occurred, “Many people of insufficient experience believe that ensoulment of the body remains stable through the lifetime of the body. For the practitioner of ‘ling shiou’ (soul recovery), this is a critical point of discernment. According to the observations of countless masters, the soul entity, as an energy, varies in potency during a human’s lifetime, obeying the universal law of resonance and attraction. From the time of the original ensoulment, these laws prevail. The law of attraction and resonance also governs human intelligence. In the first innocent years of incarnation, there is a natural bond between soul and human intelligence; however this bond may begin to become depleted. As human habit-patterns activate, the so-called ‘ego’ begins to weave its own story and to create the belief of a person, independent of soul. This person then falls prey to what some call karmic patterning; we call it The Great Veil of Distraction. If negative, distracting tendencies become habitually acted out, the Soul entity loses connection, and, even worse, soul loses interest, and much of the soul’s energy will then return to source. Although this is a gradual process, we will eventually be able to observe the effect in certain people who become too decadent and materialistic. We say that the person appears soulless. Note, that this statement is literally so!”

There was a long pause as Jwen allowed me to jot down notes in my journal, and then to ponder on the deeper truth of what he’d just revealed. Feeling the need for clarity, I posed the question: “It seems that all humans, except for avatars and saints, have the inborn tendency to eventually slip behind ‘the veil of distraction’, yet some eventually become aware that this is the path of self-destruction. Out of this realisation arises a longing to find an authentic ‘way of soul restoration’ such as Ling Shiou. Where shall they begin?” I was considering possible answers to my question when Jwen’s voice broke into my contemplation.

“They must all begin at the same place: self-recollection. Deep noticing of the physical body, the cognitive functions, and the transcendent being-ness… this results in an authentic sense of humility, sincerity, and surrender. These three are the hardest lessons for the ego!” Jwen laughed quietly, and then continued, “Humans are always limited by the intelligence of the body, and the mind. These two are deeply connected to the ego and the instinct to survive. One must be willing to really look into this instinct, for the body and the mind cannot survive independent of soul! Examination reveals that these two attributes are mutable and impermanent. There is another attribute, however, that humans inherit from soul; that is transcendent intelligence.

Jwen paused again. There was a long silence. I glanced up to find the full moon, perfectly framed in the little skylight above us. Suddenly, I remembered that it was the harvest moon, the time of Wesak, the moment held sacred by all Buddhists as the time of Gautama’s enlightenment. How appropriate! I mused. I lowered my glance to find Jwen’s eyes upon me, silently agreeing with my sentiments. Then he continued: “It is only through the consistent surrender to the Third, transcendent intelligence that a human can regain the Soul’s reprieve. At that point the human regains unquestioning trust in soul. –But something much more astounding happens! There is a transference of perspective… sort of like a ‘changing of the guards’. As with a small child; the eyes that peer out onto the world, and the senses that receive and experience the world are no longer one’s own. There is no longer the feeling of ownership of this body, nor of this experience; only a sheer awareness of being. The cognitive intelligence may then register that ensoulment has occurred.”

He continued, “Other indicators are: a lightness of living, an unquestioning positive response to all matters of conscience, and a quiet acknowledgment that the ego-illusion is no longer ‘in charge’. Perhaps the most notable sign is a new alignment with the heart centre. As one begins to come from soul, one will also be conscious of coming from the heart. In coming from the heart in daily exchanges with others we will find it natural to empathise with others, deeply understanding their feelings and needs. All adversarial tendencies will in time disappear, only to be replaced by a prevailing compassion for other people, and also for animals and plants. These feelings are not in the least psychic or saintly, but the natural course of things. Can you think of any more certain and complete remedy for the fear of mortality?” He tossed the rhetorical question my way. Then, unexpectedly, he began to tap the tabletop with his fingers. With a wry smile, he began to hum the mantra of praise to Kwan Hsi Yin Pusa. In  Chinese Buddhist temples, this chant is the most widely heard of all others. As caretaker of our temple, one of my most important duties was to make sure it got played (from a recording) for two hours morning, noon, and night, every day. Kwan Yin is the Chinese Goddess of Compassion. The full name, as above, translates as Goddess (Bodhisattva) who hears (and takes on) the sufferings of the world.

Jwen maintained his beautiful smile for several stanzas, and then abruptly quit, just as quickly as he had begun. After a brief period of silence, he spoke once again. “The fulfillment of transcendent intelligence is the complete and final understanding that there are no others! In fact, all ‘others’ who benefit from our complete empathy and loving-kindness are none other than ourselves! This is the realisation of natural compassion. Sometimes this happens in a flash of awakening, and sometimes much later, with the full integration of human intelligence. All those who receive this realisation will suffer no more. Soul wisdom has completely prevailed on earth; the cycle is complete.”

With these words Jwen fell into deep silence once again. I could feel his gaze upon me. I returned from my contemplative listening and looked up to meet his eyes, which conveyed a sweetness tinged with a glitter of humour, and accompanied by a broad smile. “Enough words for you to chew on”, he quipped, as he abruptly stood up from his chair. As he turned to his left his image faded from sight, yet he left the conclusive comment, “The real journey leads nowhere… now-here!” The next day I heard these words echo in my head, in the now-here, as I was boarding the plane for Hong Kong.


Mas Rogers passed away in Melbourne on 3/1/2011. His gentle nature will be remembered by all his friends and workshop participants and his contribution to the holistic niche is substantial.

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