By Dennis Klocek
I have been approached a number of times by students who say they feel the closeness of a departed friend or relative and ask, “Sometimes they seem so far away and sometimes they feel near. How can I maintain my relationship with this person? I know they haven’t just disappeared from existence. How can I cultivate the nearness?”
Consciousness of those who have departed continues on into the lives of the living in many ways. One of the most available sources of linking is through the moods of nature. Imagine a departed soul to whom you would like to be closer. Imagine this person doing something characteristic that they thoroughly enjoyed. It may be that they loved to tell a joke. Try to imagine the way that they moved their arms as they told the joke. Then imagine yourself moving your arms that way. Then try to imagine that you are hearing the tone and cadence of their voice or maybe their laugh. Hear this and then imagine yourself speaking in this way or laughing this way. Then imagine that you can see their shining eyes or their soft curling hair or their particular nose or the veins on their hands. Whatever stands out at a distinctive physical characteristic of theirs. Imagine that you are looking down at your own body and you see your hands look like theirs or you can feel the softness of the ringlets of their hair as if it were your own. On a deeper level you could imagine your own eye or nose transforming into theirs.
When your soul is permeated by these impressions consciously dissolve them systematically into silence. That is, start with the last impression of their physiognomy and dissolve it. Then move on to the inner picture of their tone of voice or cadence of speaking and dissolve it. Then move on to the feeling that you are making the motions of their limbs with your own limbs and dissolve these images. Pay attention into the silence so that your intent in your will is strongly focused on the place where the images have gone but the mood of your soul is devoid of expectation. You are simply extremely focused on the silent awareness that is left after you have systematically dissolved the images of yourself becoming them.
When these exercises are continued for a week or so a subtle sense of the mood of the departed soul begins to be present as the exercises are begun. A feeling that is a kind of composite or extract of the images in the exercises is noticeable as the exercises begin. This feeling waxes and wanes during the exercises. Once this extract feeling is perceptible a short summary type image of the composite images can be developed like a movie on fast forward but not jerky or hectic just gliding faster through the images than usual. The mood is serene but focused on the particular essential character of the flow. Working with the forward flow of distilled images should be separated from working with the backward flow by short periods of silence so that the two soul forces do not interfere with each other.
Over time, depending on the intensity and the frequency of the practice it is possible to have an experience that the inner flow of the mood of the departed is recognized as having the same soul configuration as a mood in a natural event. We might realize that the rhythm of the departed soul¹s laugh is very similar to the sudden bursting of a summer breeze on a hot day. We might suddenly see that the gesture that the departed soul made with their hands while telling something humorous to another is very similar to the inner feeling when seeing the color vermilion. We might see that the way in which a cloud forms in the sky puts us in the same mood as when we visualize the departed soul¹s way of answering a delicate question. There are very many ways that the soul forces of the departed soul can be experienced as an analog of the forces of nature.
Are there possible pitfalls? The greatest of these is the tendency to believe that whatever imagery comes to us as an inner picture is a direct communication from the departed soul. The safeguard against this error is to consistently think whatever comes to us backwards into silence again and again until a clear and certain experience of the imagery is attained. One way to enhance this certainty is to make drawings or poems of the inner images and put these works in some form of journal. Then in the evening think the image making process backwards as part of the practice. Another way is to try to go out into nature and closely observe the natural phenomenon that is being used as the form of communication. Take notes on the true sequences of the phenomenon and go to texts where some degree of intellectual understanding can be formed to support the inner imaginative experiences.
Eventually it is possible to understand that the images that seem to come to us from the other side are actually questions that we are asking of the departed! Likewise it is possible to have the experience that the questions that we form as a result of the practice of dialogue with the departed are really answers that we are being given from the other side. They only appear as questions because we believe that we do not know. On the other side all is revealed, there is just an extreme lack of referential benchmarks from physical reality with which to make a conclusion. The conscious transformation of memory pictures of the motions of the departed soul provides a sort of Rosetta Stone for the language of the dead. It is a form of dream consciousness that is consciously cultivated by the esotericist to be permeated with the forces of the day awake consciousness. The images of nature provide both the departed soul and the practicing alchemist with a common vocabulary for the important work on the soul.
The idea of maintaining and enhancing our relationships with those who have died was a fundamental part of Rudolf Steiner’s work. One published volume that gathers together many of his printed lectures on this topic is entitled Staying Connected. Published by Anthroposophic Press, it can be ordered through local or online bookstores.