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Soul Project – Dispatch #1

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Yoga proposes the existence of an everlasting soul. So in order to live in integrity as a teacher of yoga, I want to know without the shadow of a doubt: 

  • Does the soul really exist? 
  • If it does, what is the soul’s relationship to consciousness? 
  • Does consciousness exist beyond the body?  
  • To what extent can I experience my soul here and now?
  • If I dedicate time and focus to this, can I learn something worth teaching to students? 

In this brief blog, I share a bit about my latest project, which involves nothing less than a direct, eyewitness journey to the soul. 

Table of Contents: Jump To

1. Does the soul really exist?

Believing vs. Knowing

I never felt comfortable bandying the word “soul” about. I mean, yes, all the world’s religions posit the existence of a soul that lives long after the body dies. However, there’s a difference between faith and knowing. As a teacher of the ancient lineage of yoga, I feel a responsibility to know firsthand and without a doubt whether or not an eternal soul in fact exists, insofar as it is possible to know such a thing in this human lifetime. 

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2. How can I find out?

Meditative Witnessing

Masters and monks the world over have described going so deep into their meditations that their consciousness actually leaves their bodies. They report an experience of themselves that feels like the personality remains intact but the perspective becomes more panoramic. Sometimes there is a momentary but complete loss of the “I” sense. In all cases, the meditator emerges with the bulletproof conviction that there is no death and that the soul continues on. I have had some deep experiences in meditation but I can’t say I have ever left my body (at least not as of May 11, 2024). 

3. Going OUT to explore WITHIN.

The Inward Journey

In his book “The Secret of the Soul,” prolific out-of-body explorer Bill Buhlman writes: 

“When we transcend the body, we become the ultimate explorers of consciousness and open the door to the answers to our existence. It is our destiny to evolve beyond the dense forms we see around us and experience our spiritual self. This will occur. The only question is when.” 

Could the out-of-body state give us information about the soul, or about consciousness, that confirms the verity of the Vedic teachings and the distillation that we read in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali? Many people are content to take others’ word for it, and that is fine. As for me, there’s a strong calling to bear firsthand witness to consciousness-beyond-the-body as tactilely and assuredly as possible so that I can report back with authenticity and complete integrity to my students. 

It just feels wrong to teach about the union of self and soul (yoga) without a knowing about what this union feels like. 

4. Taking Time and Space to Explore the Inner Realms

The Need to Retreat

The urge for inner exploration is strong, and I am sensing that I need to devote incredible concentration, focus, and intention in this direction. For that reason, I am clearing time and space to go fully inward. I trust that my spiritual seclusion will teach me something about the nature of reality. Whatever I learn, I intend to report back about and teach. If I learn that it’s been a fool’s journey, I’ll report about that! Ultimately, I may only scratch the surface, but that’s better than not beginning the journey at all.

5. The Evolution of the Soul

The Magnetic Pull of Self

Yoga teaches something I feel intuitively to be true: that every individual is on their way to becoming the most evolved, most grace-filled version of themselves. We can take the many-thousand-lifetimes route, or we can take what Paramahansa Yogananda calls “the airplane route.” I perceive that my own soul is beckoning me to meet it. So it is with trust-in-Self that I embark on a focused journey inward. I look forward to reporting back. 

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About Leigha Butler

Long-time consciousness explorer Leigha Butler offers yoga teacher trainings and yoga flows on her membership site, LBY

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Discover 300 sublime yoga flows at LBY.

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