“I don’t feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am. The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning.” – Michel Foucault. Discuss.

By Adelina Gotera. Adelina is an early childhood/special needs educator living in Sidney, Canada. Please read her article and leave thoughts and comments below.

Let me paraphrase the above quote the way I understand it.

I do not feel that it is necessary to know exactly who I was in previous lives.  I could have been Shakespeare, Julius Cesar, Joan of Arc or a father, a mother, a poet, a prostitute, a lesbian actress or a gay actor. What do I care? My soul experienced episodes in previous lives and it has to move forward to learn more and to become someone that I was not in the beginning.

If not for an afterlife experience during my first childbirth, I would not be able to understand and discuss the above quote in-depth.  Here is a poem I wrote which documented that life-changing event in my present life:

I saw life, after death
It was tranquil above the turbulence below
There were no angels or demons nor saints or gods
My first journey to the labyrinth of motherhood
Paved the way to the afterlife

In the middle of the night, the waves of muscle contractions within me became a savage monster who pinched, squeezed, stabbed my abdomen and pounded my back muscles and spine
My mouth opened and lips stretched as I lay on the hospital bed
The white sheet spilled with flowing Ruby River

While I felt the stings of shots from the local anesthetic drug

My nerves calmed down, and there I saw and felt


A limbo of colorless thoughts
Floating in calm waves
Of air, water, and dirt

I woke up and felt serene and light
And without a trace of pain,
I yearned for home, to be with my love

Quickly, I stepped out of bed and left the room
My feet were off the ground; I glided along the corridors
Feeling light as a feather

I moved swiftly through the hospital hallways
Above all the people walking in and out of the hospital
I had no cares in the world; I simply wanted to go home

There I was, in the blink of a thought
Inside apartment 104 where I lived for countless days and nights
With my husband’s incalculable temper and his callous mother’s whimpers

Here my soul was, at the dining table
With my husband and his mother, unseen and floating above them
They sat face-to-face while devouring spiced adobo
Together with brown rice

The clinking of forks and spoons got louder
As they traded sharp words
To my mother-in-law, I was venom
A woman she loathed, she cursed my name

All about me, the conversation was
Exchanges of words punctuated with hate and love
I heard… but felt nothing

I was numbed, yet I could see clearly while I float
Crinkled noses, curled lips, and eyebrows lowered and drawn together
I saw… but felt nothing

I was in another dimension without time, until
I came back to where my body was
on the hospital bed.

I felt a touch and then opened my eyes
My eyebrows raised and curved as I stared at the woman in white
She smiled and whispered, “You came back… we are happy for you!”
She continued,
“Your baby girl is well, you will see her tomorrow
And surely, your husband, too”
I smiled—in cloud nine, I was; my heart humming a love tune
My mouth parted and teeth exposed as I thanked
All the gentle faces in white uniforms

My teacher, that afterlife experience, unfolded before me the mystery of life and death that changed my thoughts, perspectives, attitudes, and my life as a spiritual being on a human journey.  It instilled in my heart and mind the wisdom to know that there is life after death, thus death is not the end, and birth is not the beginning.

In the experience, I saw my organic body while I floated above; the living essence within released itself from the body to live on, to float in a timeless continuum. I saw my husband and mother-in-law and heard their conversations, but all the words I heard meant nothing.  My soul felt nothing, and therefore could not learn.

The soul has to inhabit the physical realm with its limitations and difficulties. The presence of powerful emotions such as spiritual human feelings, taste, hearing, smell, making choices, experiencing and learning the ebb and flow, the gains and losses of the physical journey.

As an integral part of a greater whole, or the divine, the universe or God, the soul has a mission to learn on a continuum of births and deaths, until the soul evolves and becomes one with the whole.

The living human body is a perfect temple for learning, because the mind and heart have a special relationship to experience powerful emotions and learn.  Emotion is the core of learning for the soul to grow in consciousness and gradually progress through different stages of consciousness.

Positive emotions when intertwined with negative emotions or vice versa could teach powerful learning lessons for spiritual humans. The feelings of hate, annoyance, and distrust could create in its own time positive emotions such as joy, gratitude, serenity, hope, kindness, cheerfulness, enthusiasm and admiration.

Years back, I was disgusted and annoyed at my mother-in-law because I experienced and felt her hatred.  However, that negative emotion became gratitude, kindness, and empathy when she took good care of my firstborn while I was at work and in graduate school.  Through soul searching, I was able to tap into her own human body and thoughts, so that I realized that it was honest and natural for her to experience jealousy and hatred and to express them to me.

The magnificent life-changing revelation comes when the human mind, the body, the heart and soul think and breathe in unison to bring about knowledge, understanding, spiritual awareness and awakening.

What then is the purpose of my soul, that eternal, spiritual fragment of the divine to learn through my human emotions and experiences?  I believe the soul within me is just like any other exploring souls within every human being.  Human life lessons create learning and wisdom for the soul in its journey towards perfection and unity with the perfect greater whole. In its quest for learning, the soul seeks new human personalities, new human life episodes, and new human emotional experiences; until that spiritual fragment became one with the Divine.

Hence, you are me and I am you.  They are us and we are they.  I am an integral part of a greater whole, and so are you and them.

10 comments on ““I don’t feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am. The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning.” – Michel Foucault. Discuss.

  1. Brent Yardley on

    This is my first time to read such a meaningful point of view, that it makes me question my own self being. Like who am I, what am I to do while living or reach out to others as Adelina has done with this story of her experiences.
    I personally believe in what she is saying and I like how she puts it out there in her own words. Very expressive and touching.

  2. Jay Gotera on

    I was deeply touched by Adelina’s essay that hits the bull’s eye on the meaning of life. Using words like how a Da Vinci or a Van Gogh masterfully used oil paints, Adelina portrayed how she saw, felt, and experienced the afterlife in glowing, revealing, and heartfelt details. She actually bared her soul for everybody to get a glimpse of the supernatural world that lies beyond the grasp of our human senses.
    Anybody can have their own take on such esoteric subjects as soul, consciousness, and spiritual dimension. But not everybody can describe the feeling and the reality of the afterlife that touches on all those things as vividly as Adelina can.
    In her exquisite narrative, the educator from Sidney, Canada describes how she found out that all humans – regardless of their varying and sometimes conflicting emotions, ideas, and personalities – are actually integral parts of a “greater whole,” which is the Divine, or what many people regard as God, whatever personality or deity represents that All-Inclusive Being based on their own culture and faith.
    “You are me and I am you. They are us and we are they,” Adelina writes. That’s simplicity at its best! Even a person who has no inclination to explore human consciousness or understand why we are all here in this world can clearly understand and believe in Adelina’s thesis: that we are all one.
    This essay can have a meaningful and life-changing impact on readers regardless of their beliefs. It can serve as an educational tool to foster harmony and unity among people of varying cultures, beliefs, and persuasions. We are all One. That’s all that matters.

  3. Connie on

    Thank you Adelina for sharing your writing talent. The expression of your experience and perspective are very thought provoking and liberating.

  4. Kim on

    Adelina, I’ve always admired your quest for knowledge and your talents for the written word. Reading this piece shows your passion comes from deep inside, thanks for all your beautiful words.


    One of the most beautifully written essays I’ve ever read. It’s even poetic in some parts. I am deeply touched and your out-of-body experience validates what I’ve always believed my whole life. Thank you for a beautiful piece of art in the form of words exquisitely assembled to make us see beyond our physical being and realize that we are all an “integral part of a whole”.

  6. Aubrey on

    There is an undeniable beauty in Adelina’s raw vulnerability when she expresses her own life’s psychological/spiritual journey. I think all human beings have this inexplicable urge to find meaning and truth, and this urge is what arguably separates us from other living organisms.

    Throughout history, we typically express this innate urge through the duality of science and faith. However, science and faith need not necessarily battle, as they are two sides of the same coin. Both science and faith, approaching reality from different perspectives, are tools for our own quest for truth and meaning in our lives. This quest is subjective because we all have different neurological wirings and accumulated experiences–it is impossible to perceive someone’s subjective reality with 100% accuracy. However, we get rare glimpses of other people’s lived lives and their own quest for meaning and truth through literature. Adelina’s writing is so honest and open about her experience and ideas that we as readers get the rare glimpse of our fellow humans’ subjective reality. Her writing is an exemplar that virtual empathy through raw vulnerability can exist between the writer and reader in such a distracted technological world.

    Ironically, despite Adelina’s and my own different subjective realities, experiences and ideas (I’m more inclined to view reality through Karl Popper’s perspective), we converge on our take on life’s meaning–to learn.

  7. Ed Yardley on

    Adalina, I am thunder struck as they say, to know that we have gone thru the same experience. However, you have put your experience into words that make sense of it all…..
    I was a young Lad of seventeen when I went to the other side, as I call it. Where I experienced the same sites, sounds and feelings as you. However, I did not have to see or hear negative thoughts and sounds for I was lucky and came from a loving family of 8 brothers and sisters, counting myself and two wonderful parents.

    My experience came, as yours, in a hospital one Sunday afternoon in the summer of 1968. A surgeon was trying to save my life while a life long disease was taking its toll. As you did, I left my body however, I didn’t leave the room. I floated above the Doctor’s and Nurses working on me and listened to what they were saying. At the same time, I felt no pain for the first time in my young life. I felt peace and tranquility, also a first in my life….

    I knew what was happening and enjoyed the moment, then I became cold, returned to my body, curled up and awoke ten days later.

    How you deciphered Michel Foucault’s words, have given me a better understanding to the question’s I have had for years. They are; Why, why did I come back? Have I, have I been here before? That question has haunted me for a long, long time. Now I have a better perspective on that particular question…. Thank you Adelina. Ed (Edwin) Yardley.

  8. Armida Tecson on

    My coming into this world ushered this experience for my mother, Adelina Gotera. I was there yet I wasn’t. I heard a semblance of the experience before. Yet this writing brought me inside the experience. It is provocative yet simple. It touches the core of man’s search for purpose and meaning. Reality is how the soul chooses to define it.

    Thank you for sharing a glimpse of inspirational truth. My soul and countless others that will read this is better off because of it.


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