From Before to Beyond: exploring the soul’s journey

Life is getting more changeable for most of us. Many of us these days have to face mortality more directly: perhaps because of our own health, or the passing of a friend or family member. Sufi teachings and other traditions urge us to face our dying to enrich our living: by getting through fears and denial, we can reach a view of death as a positive transition, and our soul can help us in this process. Exploring the soul’s journey is a weekend retreat near Oxford, February 27-28 on these themes.
souls journeyIt can be illuminating to imagine that we have a soul which exists before us and chooses this human lifetime, and the family we’re born into, to provide experiences and learning which it needs. Believing that the challenges in our life have a positive purpose has helped me hugely, and stops me feeling like a victim of circumstances. However, finding the positive aspect can be tricky! This retreat will offer various ways to help you to listen to your soul, and seek its guidance on questions about your life, death and beyond, in a supportive setting.

Does some part of us have a life of its own, before and after our time in a human body? If we call this our soul, why did it choose to experience life through us? Can it give us some guidance, for this life and beyond? How can we hear its voice? These are some of the questions we’ll explore: the aim is not to prescribe answers, but to share some wise teachings and create a safe space for each person to explore their own answers.

One of our main sources for this weekend will be the book ‘The Soul’s Journey’ by Hazrat Inayat Khan, a leading Sufi teacher in the early twentieth century. He believes that each soul chooses its human life, and is guided by departed souls and angels. He says that “ignorance of the self gives the fear of death”, and the antidote is to identify more with the soul than the body. One benefit of drawing on Sufi teachings is that they are un-dogmatic, centred on open-heartedness and a sense of divine unity in all life: so they can fit alongside many other spiritual teachings.

Another main source is the work of Neil Douglas Klotz, who has explored the deeper truth of Christian and other teachings by re-translating them from the original languages. This often adds great depth of meaning compared to traditional translations. See more at

Here’s an example of Jesus’s teachings on this topic: “unless a human being returns to that sameness with the cosmos that feels like death – the dark, moist place of birthing, the place where only flow and animating spirit, only water and breathing, exist – that person cannot enter the reign of unity, the “I can” of the cosmos…” This is Neil’s rendering of John 3:15, in the King James ‘Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God”.

This will be the third retreat that Cordelia and I have led at The Abbey. Each has provided a safe space with a supportive group for deep, personal exploration. These are delicate topics, and our aim is not to prescribe any answers, but to help each of us find our own insights.

For more information and bookings, see

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