Seeing Through the Window to Soul
Everyone can be reduced to our eternal and infinite soul – our one and only, highly original core, which is covered over with a readily recognized flesh and blood costume which is known to ourselves and others as “who I am.” It is this costume that we all recognize as “me,” and “I.” We muddle through life guided by perceptions that we’ve borrowed from the finite and limited culture into which we landed at birth.
If we choose to go there, and linger for a while – past our surface costume, deep into the soul – if we’re interested or compelled to philosophically know, we can answer the questions, “Who am I” and “What is my purpose?” And, the answer is not Descartes’, “I think therefore I am.”
In fact, thinking will get us nowhere; because the endeavor has a goal to be attained and usually wants definitive, problem-solving answers – so that we can hurry up and move on. These are not the answers soul gives; it’s more likely in the answering to ask more questions – ever the therapist, always digging in order to unearth more treasure. Usually soul reveals a portion of, a glimpse toward knowing, and invites us to additional rumination, contemplation, and struggle.
Soul is a circle, and we’re used to thinking of life as emanating from the straight line of a bell curve – with ups and downs but going forward in a linear fashion. The circular stuff of soul can in comparison, be confusing; sometimes down right maddening in its mystery and ill-delineated direction. We thought we were supposed to be moving progressively forward when that d___ circle appears to be pulling us around its axis to a place where we recognize as already having been – I guess in this case, soul wants to review, or find a treasure we missed the first time around.
The perceptions we’re all guided by, are formed by culture, unique life experience, and a pinch of history, or genetic predisposition. A given, from my point of view is that God is the Author and Finisher of all these – but He is not directly the subject of this essay.
It’s difficult to get past our retinue of perceptions; to bypass cultural dictates; and to reinterpret life experiences that have landed in our laps as defining principles of our character, personality, and agenda. But, to unravel who we are, we can dig to the depth – far below the surface which is culture, life experience, and perception – to find that treasure.
Would that we could do this, though – and cut easily right to soul. If we could reduce all the compounding, over layers of our culture, perceptions; and distill our history – like when in the kitchen we reduce liquid juice into a thicker but greatly abridged paste, we might be enabled to see the soul more purely and honestly.
I was able to do this in baby-step fashion recently, via cues planted in my mind from reading Thomas Moore’s Care of the Soul. From this remarkable book, I was able to look, not only at my dreams, but to several childhood experiences, with a new perspective.
Moore’s psychology is counter-intuitive to the traditional psychology I learned in college. The psychology I learned is pathology-oriented. So, my long-held understandings and analysis of my childhood experiences – like so many others from the same school of thought, called attention to various defense mechanisms I had developed over time, such as perfectionism, self-control, problem-solving, and an array of accompanying and skillful fixes of what had gone wrong in my world.
Moore’s psychology is oriented toward the archetype – the mythical prototype or anti-hero, and to story. These tools which deny anything has gone wrong – everything that happens is intended – have enabled me to examine dream images as mythological beings and my life experiences as stories – rather than my dream images and life experiences as problems to be solved or puzzles to decipher and interpret. Therefore, I can welcome my circumstances – all of them, both negative and uplifting, perceiving them equally as God-given apparatus’, perfectly in place, for my benefit.
In fact, during a walking church moment with God in the woods, I blurted out on Facebook, “’There is a reason for the season.’ It occurs to me that that saying does not apply only to Christmas. It explains purpose in every spiritual, emotional, mental, physical, and relational season we pass through. We can give thanks for ALL things as all things are permitted by God to benefit us in some way. We can mine each circumstance for the treasure that surely lies beneath.”
This new way of seeing, flung open the panoramic window to my soul, exciting and renewing my vision of how things are and where I’m headed. The word – revision has a whole new meaning.
Revision of my perception led to a rekindled passion for covering (i.e. I Peter 4:8 “Love covers sin”) the fault, missteps, failures, or my own expectations of how I and my loved ones should be. Rather than choosing anger or judgment against myself or a loved one for having disappointed my expectation of myself or them; or taking it personal, as an affront or offense, I’m choosing to just throw a blanket over the fault – cover it over entirely; out of sight, out of mind – like an infant operating on a blank slate, from moment to moment.
Revision doesn’t happen overnight. I clearly need practice in this – it hasn’t come naturally and I mess up every day, at least once. The temptation is to be offended when my ordinary vision is challenged.
Along with this new fleeting perception has come a hint of the release of control over the people and circumstances that weave in, through, and out of my life daily. I think it’s natural to want to direct the course of events that drives us, in life. Everybody wants to steer; to drive, not ride along; to decide our direction; even control the television clicker. But, I’ve found, the instinct to control and direct things objectifies everything organic around me – until nothing is free to evolve on its own power and I’m equally bound to the inanimate. Stuck and stagnant.
Soul, on the other hand is fluid, mystical; light and dark together; incapable of being defined, understood or pinned down – the epitome of freedom and liberty. When I delve deep into soul; pitch my tent in that realm beneath the surface of culture, history, experience and perception – I am free to be me (but there is always a price – I’ll talk about that later).