You may have heard that you have unlimited potential and that you can reach your dreams, but what does that really mean? The book, “Like a Spark From Fire: Break Free from the Past, Find Your Brilliance and Become Your True Self,” by Debra Berndt Maldonado begins with the story of a woman asking the guru, “Who is my true self?” In this episode we explore:
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How to Tap into Your Soul’s Potential Transcript
Debra Maldonado, Robert Maldonado
Debra Maldonado 00:08
Hello, welcome everyone to Soul Sessions with CreativeMind. We have a wonderful episode for you today about your true potential.
Robert Maldonado 00:37
Last time we talked a little bit about Toni Wolff, and how these ideas of the feminine archetypes were conceptualized by her and Jung in their work together. We got to the point where we're talking about these deeper philosophical elements, so we wanted to do this particular episode talking a little bit deeper on that topic.
Debra Maldonado 01:10
The title of this episode is How to Tap into Your Soul’s Potential. We're gonna go deep.
Robert Maldonado 01:19
First of all, because of what's going on in the world, and the news, we do want to give a shout out to the people of Ukraine, and just let them know that our heart’s prayers, meditations are definitely with you.
Debra Maldonado 01:35
Look at the colors. We're wearing Ukraine’s colors on purpose for you today.
Robert Maldonado 01:40
They show us real human courage, the willingness to stand up for freedom, which we know is always the case. If you look at history from around the world, people need to fight for freedom. It is not given freely. They're showing us the way.
Debra Maldonado 02:03
I find that the President Zelensky is such an inspiration. He's in so much danger, but like Sean Penn mentioned in an interview, he was born for this, he has some kind of quality. When we think about our soul’s potential, it’s said that we have to have that conviction within ourselves that we can create change in the world, we're meant to do something special, we're meant to have the freedom that we want in our life. When we think about freedom in just our general small little world, so much is driven by our patterns and our misperception of who we are. Not only are we fighting on the outside, but there's also a battle within to find the freedom, to truly free our life. Free it and choose it.
Robert Maldonado 02:54
Speaking of Jung, he wrote this incredible book called The Undiscovered Self. If you're interested in understanding his views on politics, on mass media, on mass movements, on World Wars, he talks all about that in an incredible little pamphlet book called The Undiscovered Self.
Debra Maldonado 03:18
This idea, "Like a Spark From Fire" came from the wonderful teacher, Adi Shankara, who came from the non dual philosophy of Vedanta. People would go to his lectures and ask him all these challenging questions. One question was, who is my true self. He used this metaphor of the spark in the fire to help us understand that we are. We are this universal self, but it's so hard to conceptualize, but if you can see them in a metaphor of fire, the spark is separate from the fire, but it has the same exact substance, it is fire, it could actually burn a hole and create all the fire if it wanted to, and be identical. It has the same power. It's just that our perception is limited by name and form and it appears separate. But it's one and just like us, we appear separate from our universal, powerful self, but we are the self and that's the overall philosophy of the book — how do we get to understand that, how do we work through that and the journey to recognize it within ourselves so we can create the life we want.
Robert Maldonado 04:39
Those of you not familiar with Adi Shankara, he's a great philosopher of the Vedantic school, or Vedanta. He is what Advaita Vedanta stands for, which is non dualism, the schools are still around today, they're worldwide. We were very much influenced by that school. We use the philosophy as the basis for our coaching work.
Debra Maldonado 05:11
Advaita means non dual. When we think about Jung's work, it's all about integration. It's not “This is a bad part of me, and this is a good part of me.” It's about integration, it really fits in well with the whole philosophy. Let's start with the question of the difference between the soul and the universal self. We're talking that there is no difference, but why does it appear different?
Robert Maldonado 05:41
If we think about consciousness, Adi Shankar was a master of a very sophisticated philosophy of what is consciousness. In the West, we're used to thinking of consciousness as synonymous with the brain, with the mind, or being conscious, with that cognition and thinking through things. Of course, there's something to that. But in his philosophy, consciousness is not our mind. Our mind, our brain process consciousness and turn it into our human experience. But consciousness is a more foundational element of the universe. It is very much like what the quantum physicists talk about as they're looking for the God particle. What is the foundation of creation? That's what Adi Shankara means by the self, or pure consciousness. It is a foundational ground of being, not cognition, not thought, not human cognitive processing.
Debra Maldonado 06:53
You read something in one of your books that I found very fascinating, I don't know if it was Adi Shankara or one of the same school of this philosophy. He said the ego is conditioned consciousness, but consciousness cannot be conditioned. That’s the contradiction we have to deal with. We actually are always free, it just appears that we have this little individual self that's fighting a battle in this world. Like in a dream where we think we're having all these experiences, we wake up and realize that the actual world we see out here with our senses, is a very same nature, then underneath all of it, we’re one. That's why when we think of wars and someone trying to take over a country to get control from something external, it really is ego way of thinking, separateness of us versus them. This is how we all have been conditioned in the world. You could see what it creates, this separateness with all of us. When we think about the soul, what would be the purpose of having a soul and having this individualized experience of the self?
Robert Maldonado 08:13
If you think about the question of who am I, it's more what am I? What am I? Am I a human being? Am I this awareness? Am I this cognition, this mind that I have? Non dualism, or the Vedanta philosophy would say “You are the pure awareness that pervades the whole universe, from which the manifest, that observable universe arises from.” You are, in essence, the one that is asking that question. That awareness is the self, it is that universal, pure, infinite consciousness.
Debra Maldonado 09:05
I think we all get tripped up because our ego needs to put it in words and form. It doesn't like to deal with that ambiguity. It's really hard to conceptualize from a person who has a body and a five senses experience of “I'm here and you're there, how can we be one?” It's really hard to conceptualize. It's like a veil that covers our awareness that gives us the impression that there's two of us, or that there's 7 billion people, and animals, and planets, and universes. This whole idea that everything is disjointed. You said once that we break the world in pieces, and then we're all trying to pull those pieces back. But our ego awareness has broken everything in separateness. The soul is there, they call it the Jeeva.
Robert Maldonado 10:12
The Jeeva translates, as close as we can get it, to this idea of individuality, your individual existence is a Jeeva. It is like a soul, but the concept in the West of the soul is close to what's called the Atman. The Atman is like the individual core of you that is identical to the universal self, to that pure consciousness.
Debra Maldonado 10:45
Some people call it the God within, or Christ within. Whatever religion you are, there's a concept of that in that religion, there's a divine part of you. Like namaste, the divine in me recognizes the divine in you.
Robert Maldonado 11:01
If you think about it, it's not hidden, this is the incredible philosophy of Vedanta. It's saying it's not hidden, it's actually very present with us continuously. But we are focusing on the objects, on the separateness of things, on the individual objects of existence, instead of the awareness of those objects. It says the awareness of those objects is the Atman, it’s the true self, the pure consciousness that cannot be destroyed, cannot be altered, is always constant. The objects themselves are part of the illusory nature of existence because they're always changing, objects are continuously morphing and changing, but the awareness doesn't change.
Debra Maldonado 11:56
It's like you walk into a room and there's silence. Then you start playing heavy metal music, it's really loud, and you can't hear the silence anymore. But it doesn't mean the silence isn't there because it's the space where that music shows. When you turn off the music, the silence reappears, re-emerges, we're aware of it. It's not that the silence disappears, but the awareness of that space we're existing in gets clouded. That's what happens with our mind, we have this beautiful place of a lot of people meditate to get to that silence, but those nagging thoughts get in the way and interrupt this beautiful peaceful place, or that annoying person out there is having me obsess over them. I just want peace. We have that. It's the duality that we're wrestling with to see that this other thought, or this thing outside of this oneness is actually just an apparent reality. I love that idea of the apparent reality versus the true reality.
Robert Maldonado 13:03
It is an incredible thought. It accounts for the way we experience the world. Because we know from perceptual sciences that what we're seeing is not really out there. If we just go by ordinary scientific understanding of the brain, the way it processes information, we know these beautiful colors that we see are not really there. It's not in the blouse, although it appears to be an integral part of the blouse. It is really processed in the brain, it is a mental experience. The color itself is a mental experience. It does not exist in the physical world.
Debra Maldonado 13:59
It's verifiable by science. When we start to understand that simple concept, we say “What else are we imagining in the world that's not really there?” I think the ego creates problems that aren't even there but it appears that way. Here's another example from a practical standpoint. You ask someone to go to dinner, and they don't respond. Your mind starts going “Are they mad at me? Remember last time we spoke I might have said something that may have triggered.” You start obsessing and thinking this person's mad. Then the person says “My phone battery died. I just got your message.” You created this problem in your own mind just from that stimulation that person didn't respond. We're doing that all the time with the external giving us information. We are interpreting it individually, where you would think “They’ll probably call me when they get there”, but someone who's insecure about being needed or being wanted, would interpret it very differently. We do this all the time in the world, we all live in this individual bubble of our ego’s bail, but underneath all of it is that awareness that's the other problem was never there in the first place. It's like rain storm coming, then it ends. Our brain, our mind is constantly creating these psychological and emotional storms in our life. Even good storms, like “That was so amazing!” We have these thrusts of joy as well stimulated by what we associate in the external.
Robert Maldonado 15:51
The Upanishads explain it this way: the apparent reality that you mentioned, which is called Maya, the principle of Maya is that illusory appearance of the world. It covers reality, it covers the oneness of things. It makes it appear as if there are many instead of one principle, which is that infinite consciousness. Then we project our assumptions onto it. That's what we're experiencing. That's the human drama right there, playing out on the screen of the apparent reality.
Debra Maldonado 16:34
Even ourselves, our identity. My persona, Debra Maldonado, is an idea that's not real. I have an idea of who I am, you have an idea who I am, my mother thinks of me differently, my sisters, I'm sure there's people out there that have different opinions of me. Who is the real me? Our ego tends to create this character, we self identify with that, we decide we have limits, we think “I can't do that, only they can do that.” It creates not only the reaction out there, but our relationship with our body and our identity to limit what we can create in the world. Because our ego looks backwards and says “This is what's here, watch out for danger” and collapses us into this limited space of identity and duality too, we grasp for pleasure, moving away from pain all the time.
Robert Maldonado 17:40
Let's get to another question, which is does the soul need healing?
Debra Maldonado 17:44
That's a really good question because of this soul work people talk about. I would think Jung meant that you're working to reveal your soul, not fix yourself.
Robert Maldonado 17:57
It would go back to the question of how do you define the soul? There are East-West differences as well as overlaps. If the soul is the self, as in the Eastern philosophy, we read that your soul is identical with the universal soul, which is the true self, that infinite consciousness. It would not need any healing because it cannot be damaged. If it is identical, meaning it's essentially the same substance as infinite consciousness, consciousness cannot be damaged, it cannot be hurt, cannot be split, cannot be burnt. Therefore there is no need for healing.
Debra Maldonado 18:54
In that philosophy, the ego itself is really when you're working on healing something, you're really just working on that ego level, which in a way can be limiting because the ego’s not real. It's okay to understand your ego and how it operates, the conditioning. But ultimately, the freedom is when you realize “Nothing can harm me, I am invincible, nothing in the past can limit me.”
Robert Maldonado 19:28
Maybe in the West, they mean something different when they say the soul needs healing, or the soul has been through some kind of trauma or some kind of injury.
Debra Maldonado 19:38
I would say that from my early dabbling in spirituality, there could be religions that believe your soul carries karma with it from lifetime to lifetime. In Vedanta they talk about that too, in Buddhism, the samskaras that we carry from lifetime to lifetime.
Robert Maldonado 20:01
Those would be part of the subtle impressions left on the human mind that are then carried over. But the way I interpreted that is that what they mean is more that if you continue to not realize the true nature of yourself, that you are the infinite consciousness, the impressions that you experience as a human being in your lifetime remain in your subtle mind. Those impressions are then carried on to the next life. But what they mean is more like going from a dream to another dream. During the night you have several dreams. In one dream you're at work and driving a car, the next dream you're in your childhood home in another situation. You go from one dream to the next dream, without waking up.
Debra Maldonado 20:59
You're trying to change the dream, it's like having a dream and saying “I want to go back to that dream because I got ran over by a car, I got to go heal that leg” or “I hurt someone in that dream, I gotta forgive myself.” You're spending a lot of time working on something that actually doesn't have any lasting reality except what the mind associates with. If the mind associates with the ego, it believes there is some karma there. But if the mind associates with the self, it's basically free of karma. Of course, you can't just think it of intellectually, you have to go through a process of individuation to realize that. Someone asked Shankara, because I always had wrestled with this question we all have, do we have past lives? What gets to reincarnate? There's so many different theories. Adi Shankara said “Don't worry about it. Whatever you need to know is happening right now.” Just focus on here. Forget about all the other lifetimes you've had, focus on what's here and now, and remember, what you're seeing is Maya, you're not seeing a true nature of things. I think that's the simplest way. Even if you think about your childhood, can you go back to every point in your life where you felt hurt or someone disappointed you? Or you had a heart ache? Or you've had joy? How do you come to terms with all that in just one life? Can you imagine trying to fix everything from the past? It's keeping you busy and not really creating. I think a lot of people even in just regular therapy are talking about their past versus creating a new future. There's absolutely room for people to examine where your patterns come from, understand them, not push them away. But there comes a point where it becomes more of an avoidance of creating something new. People can do that with spiritual work too. It is like “I gotta keep going.” There's this fear of “I don't want to reincarnate again”, like there's something terrible about this world that we have to get out of it. Where do we go?
Robert Maldonado 23:16
In Vedanta, karma only really exists and is operating and impacting you as long as you identify as ego, as an individual, as Jeeva, in essence.
Debra Maldonado 23:32
Isn't it that karma acts, if you believe in it? From an ego standpoint, you not believe in the karma itself, but believe that you are the individual and there's punishment?
Robert Maldonado 23:48
I don't know if it's belief. But it's certainly identifying with it. Identification is a little bit stronger than believing because people believe all kinds of things, but it's more like a knowing. If your knowing is that you are this physical body and this individual ego, then karma plays out.
Debra Maldonado 24:13
Because your perception will be just like that person that didn't call, you're operating from those assumptions, then your mind has a cognitive bias to filter out and see things that way in that reality.
Robert Maldonado 24:27
That's the incredible thing about consciousness, we understand it to be very much like water. It takes the shape of whatever we pour it into. We pour this certainty that we are only a body and that's the way we exist, that’s the reality we create through our consciousness. Maya will take the form of whatever you believe it to be. That's the magic of it.
Debra Maldonado 24:59
We’re already free, you hear this “You're already enlightened”. The thing is, you can't read a book or think “This sounds nice”, you say your affirmations and you go out and be unlimited, but you have to come to terms with your ego, that's really hard. The hard challenge is that you still have a body. As long as you have a body, you have to deal with the ego, with the shadow that the ego creates. We're going to talk a little bit about that in the next class but I'd like to talk just in general, how we can live from that potential, what is the path people take? I love Jung’s map of the soul, it basically gives you a journey that you go on from start to finish, from conditioning to freeing your mind through what he calls individuation. The question is, how can you discover and live your true potential?
Robert Maldonado 26:07
At the end of the day, we need to be practical and ask that question, how do we apply these incredible ideas we've learned from philosophy? The simple answer is that we have to ask what our worldview is. What are we assuming about the reality we're experiencing? A lot of people think practicality is being grounded in a physical reality. Physicalism, realism, they say “Be practical”. But science itself tells us that what you're perceiving is not really the truth. Our senses are not designed to give us a perception of what's real and what's true. They're more designed to help us survive in the moment. What's good to eat, what's good for us as far as safety, moving towards warmth, comfort, safety, away from danger. Our senses aren’t going to reveal to us the truth. If we use our senses to determine what is true, real, practical, we're missing the whole point of understanding of perceptual science.
Debra Maldonado 27:39
Even emotions, a lot of people say “Just follow your gut.” That's intuition, it could be a misperception of what's real because you're actually paying attention to your conditioning. A lot of people say “My gut is telling me this is too scary of a step and I should wait.” That sounds like your ego, it doesn't sound like a higher intuitive message. The emotions are really not a reliable source of intuitive, higher knowledge.
Robert Maldonado 28:15
I like the metaphor of the mirage. If you see a mirage for the first time, and many people are fooled when they see a mirage. They'll think “That's water right there, I can see it right there.” They're basing that assumption on their senses, their eyes are showing them there's water in the distance, therefore, I'm going to walk towards it or run towards it. If you understand the principle of an optical illusion, you're not fooled by it, you understand that's a mirage, it's an optical illusion, there is no water there.
Debra Maldonado 28:58
If you are feeling joy and relief when you see it, that's not telling you something true. The mind is connecting water and relief to a feeling of “I'm going to live, I'm going to survive, I'm thirsty.”
Robert Maldonado 29:16
The practical question would be “Is it practical to run towards the optical illusion or not to run towards it?” Of course, the practical solution is not to run towards it because you understand what it is. It's the same thing with the senses. If you're guided by the senses, use them as your guide to reality, you’re like a person who is mistaking the illusion for reality and running towards that apparent reality when it's not really there. That is not very practical. You're going to waste a lot of your time, a lot of your energy chasing after mirages in your life. If you go by this higher knowledge, this philosophy of Vedanta, this philosophy of understanding of how is it that we perceive the world, what is the nature of perception, then you're understanding things at a higher level, you can be very practical, you can use your thoughts, your time in on Earth, your energy towards moving towards things in a real practical way.
Debra Maldonado 30:34
I think it's really important, early on when I did my spiritual dabbling, there was a lot of dual messaging about getting rid of the negative emotions, be positive, get rid of the negative thoughts. I find we can't live without negative emotions. This is what life is, it’s ups and downs. Integration is about being able to live and ride the waves, we’re on a boat, there's going to be waves. But we don't want to stop the waves because that's what makes it exciting and different. If it was still, we wouldn't move anywhere. It's a part of the movement in the dance of life. But if we understand that it's a mirage that we're seeing, we lose all our fear. Then we can really create from a potential base because I could look at my five senses. When I first started, my coach told me “You should charge this amount for coaching.” I said to myself “No one's gonna pay for that. No one's gonna pay that money. No one's gonna pay me, no one knows me.” She said “No, you have to, this is what you need to do. This is what you should charge, you're undercharging.” I remember just shifting my perspective of maybe that's possible. I started asking for it. Then people showed up. But my mind had created this limitation of “This is all you can have. There's no one that wants to spend that much money on themselves.” Even for us, there's no one that wants to do deep work, they all want the vision boards. There's people that want deep work. We do the deeper work and have these deeper conversations. Whatever it is in your life that you feel is not possible because your mind and your senses are telling you, and even your friends and community and the swirling of media, what is possible for you, if you buy into that, that's what's going to be a reality. What we're saying is, see through the mirage, that's how you start to express yourself because I believe the soul has a big dream. The self didn't come here to be mediocre, the self didn't incarnate in your body to just be scared, it came to see what it's made of. Its natural tendency is to grow, expand, learn and see itself in all ways. If we play small and just buy into that mirage, we will feel at the end of our life going with what we were afraid of. I remember you had said you worked in the hospital and had spent the night with a man who had all these regrets of his life.
Robert Maldonado 33:21
Many people. When I worked on the night shift, it was part of my work, to treat people during the night. Many were on their last few days of life. I would talk to them, and many had a lot of regrets. They were trying to do this work. But it was too late.
Debra Maldonado 33:49
They couldn't get up from their bed and make something happen with their life.
Robert Maldonado 33:52
Not only that, but you don't have the time. It's a process you have to undergo to purify your mind, your awareness to the point where you can start to see reality as it is, instead of the apparent reality, the conditioned mind. You have to be able to purify that so you can get to the truth. It's always better to do it while you're young, today, when you have time and energy to do it.
Debra Maldonado 34:27
What would be the first thing from a practical standpoint that someone can do besides going on the individuation process and reading my book? From just today, what can they do right now to start questioning the reality and seeing and practicing this higher knowledge?
Robert Maldonado 34:48
It begins with self inquiry, a simple question of who am I? Taking it seriously, making it a priority to answer that question for yourself. Coaching is a great benefit for that process because it's collaborative inquiry. Somebody else in collaboration with yourself are helping you find the answer to that question.
Debra Maldonado 35:24
I did personal growth since I was in my early 20s. When I turned 40 and started my own first business, coaching and doing hypnotherapy, I hired a coach. That year I did more transformation in one year than I did in 15 years because I had someone who held me accountable, someone who helped me ask the questions. I met you because I had a coach. I think people don't realize the value of coaching. It's not about healing, it's not about fixing your past, it's about helping you get in the reins of your mind. You can see what's real because your ego will hide things from you, make you believe things that aren't there, you'll get lost. The people around you that are conditioned around you are going to see the world the same way you do. You need someone on the outside of your bubble, like a coach who's has done individuation that says “I can see it from a higher perspective here.” They can pull you up and help you see a new vantage point of your life. I think that's really important, it's worth every penny. It's been life changing, having coaches in my life, and training coaches as well. Pay attention to your dreams and see what is there, and start to see the world as dreamlike. If this was a dream, how would I interpret it? Something happened in your house, your flat tire, someone's blocking your driveway, someone's getting in an altercation with you or being a certain way. What does that mean if it just happened in a dream? You're starting to see that what you're seeing isn't as real as you think it is. The first step is just questioning what you're seeing. I think everyone needs to do this, with the political climate of mass media and the messaging, people are just in their little bubbles. You have to have that critical thinking. Do I want to believe this, be spoon-fed what people are saying, or question for yourself? That's what coaching does, it says “Is that really what you want to live into? Can you hear yourself thinking right now?” It's that reflective collaborative inquiry that I love about coaching.
Robert Maldonado 37:57
It goes back to this idea that if your individual soul, your individual awareness, your consciousness is identical to universal self, infinite consciousness, what are the implications of that? That means you can direct your life. Because you have that awareness, you have that ability to think and will things into your life. Then you have to start practicing them, you have to be able to use them. That's where meditation, self actualization, observing your own mind, understanding what is the power of thought, what is the power of will, that's where all that comes in.
Debra Maldonado 38:48
It takes time because we're so conditioned by the senses, it really takes effort for us to wake up from that. You can't just do it by intellectual understanding, you have to work with the emotions. I think one of the big things you can do is make a big goal in your life, do something outside of your comfort zone, start a business, get into a relationship, anything that challenges you is going to bring up all the things that are in the way of keeping you in your comfort zone. You can force it to happen, or the world will just happen for you. When I lost my job, my homeless, manless, jobless stage I talked about, we have that dark night of the soul, you don't want to wait that to happen you, you want to proactively individuate. What age, in your 30s, when it starts?
Robert Maldonado 39:46
It depends. I think a lot of people very early on get the message that they're here to do something bigger than the ordinary life, and they heed that calling and follow it. I was very young when I realized I'm not here to do the ordinary thing. There's something calling me to do something extraordinary. Other people it takes a little bit longer. But regardless of when you heed that call, it's worth it. It's worth whatever sacrifices you have to make, whatever you have to do to follow that calling.
Debra Maldonado 40:28
If we don't do it, we end up with wars as a human race, we end up with separation, with acting out our unmet needs through harming others. We have to balance that out by becoming more self aware. That will save the world, the Maya that we live in, even though it is illusory. It's not that it's not real. It's just an apparent reality. Like a dream, the experience itself is real, what we experience is real, but the nature of it is not what we think it is. It's not like “It's just an illusion, we shouldn't buy into it.” We're having an experience here, there's a reason why the self designed this ability for us to have an experience of an individual in a body. The reason is to remember who we are.
Robert Maldonado 41:24
At the end of the day, you are a spark from fire, meaning your awareness, your consciousness is identical to the universal mind, to that pure infinite awareness. The implications of that are really profound. Individuation, the way Jung laid it out, is about realizing that, finding that path inward towards realization of that true self.
Debra Maldonado 41:57
It's a journey we're all meant to be on. We hope you check out the book, subscribe to our channel, click the button down here on YouTube, if you're watching us on YouTube. If you're listening to our podcast on Spotify, and all the channels, Apple podcasts, make sure you subscribe so you can get notified of every episode. Next week, we're going to dive deep into the ego, we're gonna teach you how to tame your ego and go into conditioning and how that all works on a deeper level. This was more of a high level conversation, but I think it's so important to realize. We recognize that a lot of people come from different spiritual traditions and may have a different approach to the soul. But just ask yourself this question “Is this empowering to me? Is this something I feel like can help me live my potential in life? Or is this holding me back?” I would invite you to just investigate with a critical mind like I did, what do I really want to believe in, don't take it because we say it either. Ask yourself “What is it that I believe?” and look for the evidence to where that is. If you don't have evidence, keep asking the question, and that inquiry will lead you to the truth. Take care, everyone. We'll see you next week.
Robert Maldonado 43:20
Thanks for watching.
Debra Maldonado 43:21
Take care. Bye bye.