Sacred geometry

Soulmaking Dharma

"As I recognize the presence of image and fantasy, and honour my need for that, and for soulfulness, as I do that more and more through practice, and get a feel for it, it changes my vision, literally. It changes my ways of looking and perceiving things, and I begin to recognize the fantasies in everything that I care about. Everything that’s meaningful to me, I recognize it’s shot through with fantasy, with image, with mythos. It’s imbuing everything that I love." Rob Burbea

yellow plaster wall with an old turquoise panelled door

A New Logos

In 2012 Rob Burbea began intensively exploring, experimenting, discovering and creating what would become the Soulmaking Dharma framework, or logos. Soulmaking initially emerged organically out of Rob's own deep Dharma practice - specifically from his understanding of emptiness. Knowing that everything is fabricated, dependently arisen and therefore empty of inherent reality or existence, one is free to play and fabricate in ways that are beautiful, meaningful and soulful. The work of archetypal psychologist James Hillman, particularly his 1975 book Re-Visioning Psychology, catalyzed and influenced Rob's early thinking on the imaginal. Rob also had an important ongoing practice and teaching partnership with Catherine McGee from 2014. Together they experimented, developed and refined the Soulmaking logos, and jointly led many soulmaking retreats. Since Rob's death Catherine is carrying this work forward, together with Yahel Avigur.

Caring for the Vessel

Rob wanted it to be obvious and clear that all Soulmaking teachings and practices form part of a coherent framework and body of work - that a guided meditation for instance belongs together with other teachings, ideas and practices as part of a larger integrated structure. Only with and in the context of that larger integrated structure do the teachings and practices really have their proper power. Rob was also fully aware that these teachings are vulnerable to misunderstanding, misinterpretation or 'watering down', and understood early on that they would require certain protections if they were to survive and develop after his death. He specified relevant practice 'prerequisites' for those applying to sit soulmaking retreats, including mettā, some degree of skill with emptiness practices, and an understanding of ways of looking. From The Path of the Imaginal course (2015) onwards, Rob placed precisely written caveats at the beginning of each soulmaking talk and series of talks that he recorded. These were variously worded but all make it explicit that the material presented would only be properly comprehended if there was already some basis of preparatory experience and understanding. For Rob's words around practice and prerequisites, please read 'A letter from Rob...' below.

A Flowering of the Dharma for our Times...?

Soulmaking Dharma sets out to restore, expand and deepen our senses of sacredness, and re-enchants a cosmos which in the modern West has become flat, literalist and largely secular through the dominance of scientific materialism and other modernist and post-modernist paradigms. Embarking on this journey of re-ensouling has wide-ranging and important implications for ethics, values and our work in the world.

In the arena of Soulmaking Dharma, imaginal perception is key. An ‘imaginal image’ or sensing with soul may arise through any of the internal senses or in relationship to the material world. Working with imaginal images is not just a conventional use of the imagination, but is fed and supported by twenty-eight elements of the lattice or aspects of the imaginal (graphic below), including dimensionality, grace and autonomy. While an image or an object in the world is not inherently one way or another, the way of looking at and relating to that image or object is what allows it to become more or less fully sensed with soul.

Where love and beauty are sensed in life, there the imaginal is already operating; where dedication and devotion are present, there the sense of soulfulness and eros (the desire for more connection and contact, in its smaller definition) is present too. While these senses may initially be truncated or limited by more commonly used ways of practising meditation, Soulmaking Dharma offers a conceptual framework for expanding them and giving them space to grow through the ignition of the eros-psyche-logos dynamic. Widening the range of what practice is for, infinite possibilities open to consciousness, the heart, the being, life and soul.

Sacred geometry

A letter from Rob about soulmaking practice

The Soulmaking Dharma work relies upon many prerequisite capacities and abilities. It requires, for example: really well-established skills with and study of classical Dharma approaches; working well with one's personal psychology; the wide and varied cultivation of energy body awareness; the cultivation of samadhi; a good understanding of the 'ways of looking' approach, including a good understanding of the full range of its scope and of its implications; and some insight into emptiness through the ways of looking approach (e.g., insight from experiences of the fading of perception which go even a little bit beyond the degree of fading usually available through mindfulness practice.) We are therefore encouraging all interested students to find forms, both alone and together with other Dharma friends, to deepen and develop in all of these. Additionally, for most practitioners it will be the case that other preliminaries are required. For example: other kinds of physical body or voice work; the capacity to stay steady with.... ; relational …; exploring and developing a greater awareness and maturity around one's sexuality…; The need for any of these preliminary developments may only become apparent once work on soulmaking practices has begun, and then they might run concurrently, in parallel with or intertwined with soulmaking practices; or the need may be clear from the outset, in which case it may be that those preliminaries are developed before soulmaking practices proper begin. RB

The Lattice

'Aspects of the Imaginal'

This is one graphic representation of Rob's Soulmaking 'lattice'. The elements are not in any particular order, and ultimately they are all connected to each other.

Not reducible to a single meaning

While there is a sense of meaningfulness, and sometimes a sense of specific meanings to an image, it doesn't ever only mean one thing and it doesn't ever only have one cause. You cannot fully capture an image, or the implications of it, or reduce it to something. It's not reducible to anything at all.

Less fabrication

We are not necessarily going in the direction of fabricating much less than the usual perception, but some level of less fabrication (and a lessening of clinging) is a part of the constellation.

Infinite echoing and mirroring

Image and life mirror and echo each other in infinite ways, some are more obvious and some hidden.


An image is meaningful, which means it is full of meanings. Some of those meanings we can know and sense, and they can point to something that we can clearly recognize in our lives. But the image is pregnant with infinite meanings, not all of which we can name or point to.


An image is a grace. An inexplicable gift. It's somehow given to us inexplicably from beyond.

Created and discovered

Create means that you are making something; Discover, that it was there before. An image is both created and discovered, at the same time. It is as if these two verbs are now one action.


Ideas are involved. Ideas about what the world and self are, what a thing 'is', what suffering is etc. Ideas can come as a part of an image, and always, consciously or not, inform working with an image.

A sense of unfathomable beyonds

A sense that this 'something' is unfathomable. That there is more to know about it, more beyonds that one senses. And we can't get to the bottom of this one.


The image is not part of me. I do not own this image. It is like a person. Oftentimes it has a personhood, and they have their autonomy. Images may act in ways that surprise you (like a person). They are not in your control. Yet, clearly, their appearance is dependent on your way of looking. And there is autonomy on both sides. You do not lose your self-will. You are not going to be taken over and possessed by something so that you lose the ability to make heartful, rational, sensible choices.

Fullness of intention

A fullness of intention means that the primary intention is for serving soul and the image. It may include the intentions for one's own healing but this is not centred. This intention can be cultivated while we might not fully understand what that means.


Something touches us with a sense of beauty. What is seen and sensed does not need to be beauty in the typical way you might think of, but the soul senses and recognises beauty there


With the image, there is a sense of participation in something much bigger than us.


The sense of time in which the image partakes is not a conventional sense of linearly flowing horizontal time. While the image is happening 'now' it is as if “it's always already happening” like this, eternally. Less a sense that the imaginal image is unfolding in narrative time, and more known like one might know an icon.


A sense that “I have a duty to this image.” Often the duty is not so literal. It may get refracted into our life and into the way we live, into choices we make, or attitudes we pick up.

The Lattice

The lattice or the constellation itself: When our way of looking is informed by all these elements we could say we see and sense imaginally. A thing may be (or may not be) an image - dependent on the way of looking.


Moral, ethical, or aesthetic values are implicit in an image. They are part of its meaningfulness. They feel important or beautiful for our lives.


Trusting the image, even if it doesn’t look like something you would necessarily trust, will allow the process to unfold. “Sprinkle a few grains of trust and see what happens”.


For imaginal perception we need to retain a sense of differentiation between self and image. The particularities of self and other are retained while the sense of those particularities might change or not, as they gain dimensions.


An appropriate recognition of my 'place' in relation to the divinity. It is not mine to do something with, like a little puppet. It is not me or myself, it is more than me. Humility is not self-deprecating or with a reduced sense of familiar self. With humility one partakes in a scene, an arising of the world, of another order. Humility is a natural response to divinity if it is not blocked.

Soft and elastic edges

The edges of what an image is are soft and elastic (Like the boundaries of who a person is). They move, change, are not static.


There is always a sense, implicitly, of other possible images. They might not be at all clear, but vaguely: “This is just one image and I sense there are many more possibilities.”


A loving desire for more intimacy with, more contact with, more knowledge of someone or something 'beloved'. This movement of Eros, when the other elements are in place, is part of a dynamism that expands the Eros-Psyche-Logos dynamic. (Eros here can include but does not have to include sexual desire).

Theatre-like quality

There is an artistic or poetic truth to it, and all the power that comes potentially with poetic or artistic truth. If someone asks you, “Would you say that's real?” Not quite. “Would you say it's not real?” Not quite. It's somewhere in between.


A natural sense of the subject in the face of an image or soulmaking perception. A soulful loving respectful trembling in the face of a divinity that is 'more than me'.

Loving and being loved

A sense of love from an image to you, and from you to the image. The kind of love can differ greatly from image to image, and we want a range and variety of kinds.

Energy body awareness

Awareness, sensitivity, and involvement with the whole energy body

Towards soulmaking and soulfulness

One senses/gets/intuits that this can lead onward towards soulmaking.

Dimensionality shading into divinity

A sense that this 'thing' is not flat, rather it has dimensions to its being, that are not obviously seen on the surface, that recede or move forward into divinity.
Sacred geometry