In this series we have been looking at what is worthy and deserving of respect in humankind. We've examined the dignity and worth of ethical choices made by people who had to suffer to stand up for those choices. Today I would like to talk about the School of Life; the Refinery of Souls; the boot camp which life on Earth is.

We all complain because life sometimes seems so impossibly hard. "Why me?" we ask. "Why now?" "Why this?"

I am a channel for an ET group called Q’uo. They suggest:

"You and your guidance system, before incarnation, selected not only your gifts and talents but your limitations and perceived faults. You wanted this opportunity to come and serve, and yet also you wanted to do work in consciousness in the fiery furnace of planet Earth and consensus reality."

We pack our bags before we enter the womb, they say, including not only the things that seem good in our earthly personality but those very bugaboos that will, again and again, limit our thinking and cause us to err. Why plan so carefully to include what seem like huge faults of character?

According to Q’uo and other Confederation ET sources that I channel, we use this boot camp in order to grow our souls. I enjoy the Confederation approach, for their view on this issue is supportive of sacred living, a dearly held ideal of mine. In their opinion, the suffering is not necessary. Only the experience is necessary. The Q’uo group says:

"The Creator does not need your suffering. The Creator wishes your experience, and if suffering is involved, the Creator may gladly take that also, for that is your truth. It is accepted without judgment. It is loved. It is blessed.

"It is not desired. All that is desired is that the unique spark which is yourself do as it pleases to find out, to the deepest level possible, what that essence of self is. The journey of discovery lies within, and it is a long voyage."

By "a long voyage" I suspect they are not talking just about this lifetime but about the entire succession of lifetimes we have experienced on this Earth and elsewhere. They always go for the biggest picture.

The Confederation see what we are doing here as refining the raw material of our personalities in the crucible of experience. They say that this refining process is the whole point of our Earthly life. It is as though we were miners, cracking the surrounding rock of surface personality to get at our ore, our precious, gemlike treasures of newly discovered depths of selfhood.

Generally, we are attempting, in the fire of experience, to find a new and better balance in our souls' constitutions by our use in this life of our faculties of love, wisdom and power. It is hard work indeed to rebalance soul-deep habits, and we tend to suffer as we transform. In this q'uote, the Q’uo group uses rock itself in order to talk about suffering:

"Let us look at the suffering of the rock. First, it becomes rock by being cast out of the fiery, molten core of your planetary sphere. It is flung into space, tossed away by that which was its home. It now thrusts upwards through an atmosphere of air. Nothing is as it was. And through time this rock is worn, slowly and steadily, eroded, pitted, roughened and creviced, until little bits of earth cling to its surface. Gradually it is covered by earth, which then grows plants whose roots reach down into the rock, breaking it, further wearing it away until this rock is broken, falling into splinters and shards, rolling perhaps into the bed of some stream and washing, century by century, until it has become a million pebbles; a billion grains of sand.

"The rock has a long life. From its first identity as rock until its last dissolution, it is constantly worn away, broken and rebroken, in order that earth may come to it; that it may support growth and blooming and that it may eventually dissolve.

"Because the rock has no self-consciousness, it does not suffer. It experiences."

The images of Jesus the Christ's being broken on the cross and dissolving into death and then soaring into new and larger life come to mind here. Yet even the Christ prayed that he might not have to go through the suffering of the crucifixion. I am sure we all hope the same for our daily lives. We do not look forward to suffering. And the Confederation realize this:

"We feel a great deal of sympathy for those who are in the midst of famine, of disease, of loneliness and of that dryness of spirit that turns to bitterness in the view of life. Yet, we are comforted in our feeling of sympathy by knowing that each of these experiences shall make a mark upon each entity which is one stroke of the artist's brush upon an eternal canvas of complete harmony."

I have been in mystical states where this complete harmony was as clear to me as my hand in front of my face. The memory of that consciousness is a very reassuring gift. It helps me to keep that long, long view that sees all seeming imperfection as part of a larger picture that is, in itself, immaculate and perfect. The difficult experiences we undergo are as the darker colors that the artist uses to accentuate and underscore the subject of the painting. By themselves, they seem ugly in color. Yet without them, the painting would be wispy and unfinished.

How, then, shall we go about honoring and using this School of Life? How shall we refine our souls, here in the rush and confusion of everyday living? The Q’uo say:

"We encourage each seeker to gaze without fear at the troubles of the day. When resistance is felt; when the suffering occurs; this is a puzzle for later contemplation. Do not stop the flow of suffering but rather allow a portion of the self to observe it so that it may be accurately remembered.

"When there is a distinct lack of suffering, it is well also to take note of that which constitutes the enjoyment experienced, for there is much to learn about the self from the simple reactions or responses which the self has to various stimuli. The path to self-knowledge is one in which reflection and contemplation upon one's own inner workings does bear a substantial part."

Again and again the Confederation teachings point us not outward but inward, into the very center and essence of our being. This is sacred work. The Q’uo say:

"The goal of the suffering seeker is not an end to suffering but, rather, an increased or enhanced sense of the sanctity and the hallowed nature of these processes of learning, changing and evolving through experience."

Change is always hard! Every learning curve is a challenge. And the changes we move through as we seek to speed the course of our spiritual evolution are especially difficult. Yet there is no other way to build a new life within our hearts except to take down the old self to clear the way. We cannot just add on to the house of our life as we learn. We keep outgrowing our old homes of thought. Our learning causes us to undergo transformations which are challenging and costly. We all go through difficult and sacrificial "dark nights of the soul." We all feel thanksgiving when we have won through once again.

This gathering of experience is unending within our lifetime. We shall not finish this course until we breathe our last breath. Life, seen from a spiritual point of view, is an archetypal process and event, common to the tribe of humankind. We are all upon the wheel of life. The Q’uo say:

"Each arises on the Earth scene full of a life. And the nature of that life's manifestation is that the coin of time and the treasure of attention is spent. And eventually the personality is completely bankrupt and out of time, out of treasure, out of lessons, and out of school. And the incarnation ends."

Getting out of school sounds wonderful! And at this point in our planet's rhythms, graduation time is here, so that we not only have the chance of getting out of this grade of school for a summer vacation; we also have the chance to graduate completely from this refinery of souls where the lessons are often so painful. We have the opportunity to move on to the next grade, where our options for learning in the School of Life will be much enhanced and where our environment will be full of clarity and awareness of this refinery's purpose.

This sounds good! As for me, I am cramming for my "final" every day. Every time that I remember to ask myself, "Where is the love in this moment?" I gain a certain perspective. Then, I attempt to live out the vision of love that I have received. Sometimes I cannot find love in a situation, except for the love in my heart. Those are the times where the spirit of love may use me, bless me, break me and transform me the best.

I open my arms and embrace your spirit. I embrace your suffering, if you are suffering at this time, for you are a part of me and I sorrow with you. I rejoice with you if your heart is gladsome and light today, for your joy is bliss to me. We are a part of each other, classmates of the Class of Earth, Third Grade or Density. Let us dance through the lessons of this boot camp together today, rejoicing in the love and the light of the infinite Creator.