What follows are ideas from the Soul Life audio retreat of Thomas Moore. A peaceful resting place on the journey to discover what a soul-connected and soul-centred existence might feel like. The qualities Thomas Moore speaks of regarding the Soul outline an internal rather than external reality.
Qualities of the Soul
Individual – He describes the soul as being individual. For me this idea asks that when I engage my soul consciously I may have to form my own values rather than those I inherited from my parents, my peers, teachers, politicians and others to whom I may feel beholden. I make my own choices of how my life will unfold, of how I imagine my identity in this world. This is a concept of having freewill. And in this I may have to be eccentric. What is it that is eccentric about your life? What is it you do that makes you different? Are you celebrating that difference?
Vast – The soul is vast as the words of Heraclitus expressed in the previous post. I see from my bodily perspective the physical universe, our solar system, the galaxies far beyond our reach and yet I may have something similar going on in my spiritual self. A vast potentiality within. A universe of possibilities to explore as a human. Logos, Moore explains as being the “mysterious, unfathomable nature of soul”. I was drawn to the word as it is used in English to describe the study of different areas (geo-logy, astro-logy). In a way this soulpath is a way to discover the mystery of who I might become in this physical existence. My Creative Mythology for this lifetime. From this vast potentiality within, what will I become?
Madness – Plato says the soul may require me to do something that to others will appear crazy. This mad act may be, by all appearances, detrimental to the life I’m living at the time. If, as has been suggested, that we have a sacred contract to fulfil in this lifetime then this madness may precipitate learning experiences for us or move us on towards the very things we have contracted to do. Or maybe open us up to a new way of being and give us a fuller experience of life itself.
Complex – Moore says the soul is also complicated. I wanted the explanations for the way my life unfolded to be simple so that I could just put it behind me and get on with living. Moore suggests that there are many influences woven together that make up our lives. And some of those influences come from the way our extended families functioned. I imagined that if I could lay the blame for what appeared to be my dysfunction in this life to parents or grandparents then all my problems would be solved. Not so. These threads that I inherit and spin together with the threads I have been given are part of the weaving of the larger tapestry that is life. I may not know how some random act of kindness I perform will affect the beauty of that larger tapestry. So I embrace the threads I am given and acknowledge those who played their parts in my creation.
Cyclic – The wheels of soul turn eternally in the grand scheme of things. And as I spiral upwards I may require in the interests of the divine evolution, a downward slide. And it maybe one step forward and six steps backwards with the soul. The same themes may come up. Sex, money, relationships. Why the difficulties with these universal themes? Have I not got it yet? Have I not yet understood the difficulty. And there maybe only one theme behind it all. The soul crying out for me to be conscious of it. Difficulties are the soul calling to me. What does it want? And as the soul engages the difficulty may fall away. I breathe a sigh of relief and with the next revolution my tyre is punctured in another way. Life is never boring with the soul engaged. An extra gear that clicks in when Life might be at its lowest, or perhaps I’m racing ahead and getting out of touch with what is important.
Shadowy – Another reason why I felt these ideas may hold a key to what I’d been going through was based on some of the ideas of Carl Jung. He spoke of the animus & anima. The animus being the male aspect within the female; and the anima, the female aspect within the male. And both being integral to the nature of the soul. Why are they shadowy? In today’s world these aspects are little understood and what is not understood can lend shadow to our world especially if these aspects are making their presence felt in the unconscious. Because they want to be acknowledged. They are part of the archetypal realm. In that, they are a part of the shadow world, they are formless, even though on a subtle level they have a certain power. They are abstractions, and enable us to form experience around them. They engender emotion as they present themselves. Jung’s description of archetypes include the images of them being; “active living dispositions, ideas in the Platonic sense, that preform and continually influence our thoughts and feelings and actions”; and he also calls them “inherited possibilities of ideas.” The ‘idea’ being an image that holds the deepest or greatest potentiality, in the grand scheme of things. And those potentialities remain in shadow until they come to the fore in the ebb and flow of life. As they come into our consciousness the light of our awareness shines upon them.
Jung also protrayed the anima as having four stages in it’s development.
First Stage: Purely instinctual and biological relationship.
Second Stage: Romantic and aesthetic level still with sexual characteristics.
Third Stage: Love with the aspect of spiritual devotion.
Fourth Stage: Wisdom going beyond even the most holy and most pure.
I can understand the first three stages from my own experience and also the fourth. My imagining is that a wisdom that goes beyond what is most holy and most pure would not be easily understood by everyone. My understanding is that all experience even that which does not appear outwardly to be holy or to be pure is honoured in the Godhead. And so a sense of detachment is required. Honouring the pain, and the darkness of our existence while acknowledging that it will in time pass.
Also the shadowy nature of the soul can manifest through those experiences that we envision as having dark overtones in our lives. Those times when we go through a passage of suffering, when the only friend we imagine having is our misery, when we’ve sunk into a blackhole and are unable to find a way out, the list goes on. And yet it is through these experiences, if we can allow ourselves to feel fully the emotions which arise, and to embrace the darkness that we begin to see the beauty of this shadowy place.
Other – When I mention the anima/animus aspect of the soul I’m drawn to Moore speaking about an otherness quality to the experience of our individual soul and also his ideas about the daimon, which he translates sometimes as angel or guardian. He talks about living in tune with the daimon. Honouring what the daimon requires of us in this lifetime. Being in accordance with what the daimon wishes to evoke within us he refers to as “eudaimonic living”. “Eu” in Greek meaning good. To the Greeks the daimon was a personal intermediary between god and human. They make possible the birth of the soul into the physical body. In some ways we both possess and are possessed by the daimon. The path to be able to fully express through our daimon is blocked on occasion by experience of the demons of our nature.
Sandra Lee Dennis has written of her experiences in “Embrace of the Daimon” and for her the imagery was what might be termed demonic until she allowed herself fully accept it in all its montrous nature. When this happened the imagery transformed into something beautiful. What seemed most figural in her stories were snakes, either singly or as groups and there were other manifestations, human and animal. And this seems to tie in with Moore’s ideas that this other may present not only in one manifestation but also as a multiplicity of images.
Soul Life:How to Nourish and Deepen your Everyday World. Available here
Thomas Moore’s site:Care of the Soul
Sandra Lee Dennis
Sandra Lee Dennis – Embrace of the Daimon
Carl Jung – http://www.cgjungpage.org/
Anthony Stevens – Archetype: A Natural History of the Self