‘The human being has to be born twice, once from his or her mother, and then out of his or her own body and of his own existence. This body is like an egg, the essence of man must become in this egg a bird, thanks to the heat of love. And then he will escape this body, into the eternal world of the soul, beyond space.’
Sultan Walad

The tiny circumference of the world into which we are born is a gross assault on the grandness of the soul. Concepts, ideas and belief systems soon enclose us, blinding us to our vital essence, rendering us forgetful of our greater purpose. But the soul is bigger than you in the same way the baby is larger than the tunnel through which it is born. It is as if everything has to be squeezed into life, shrink-wrapped to take its place, a small egoic self suitable for the universe of time and space.

That works for a while, for many it works for a lifetime and beyond, but for all, finally, the soul, long forgotten and contained within the confines of family and culture, must emerge while the small personal self recedes, taking its proper place as a bridge between the conscious and unconscious life. The ego serves its own adolescent life, the soul serves both divine and human realms and calls you to a life of sacred service.

Soulvision is not the life of the spirit but its paired twin. Spirit ascends moving us from the individual to the universal; soul descends, a shaft of spirit coming back down into the world to play a unique and special role in the life of the world. They reveal the paradox of polarities, both necessary. An Apollonian flight into the heavens; and a journey to the centre of the earth. Many aim for a first-class flight, all light and fairy dust. Few choose to get down and dirty. It was wisely said…….many are called but few are chosen.

Between the polarities of spirit and soul rests the ego world of the everyday, the conscious life. To embark upon the dark night, this self needs to be sufficiently strengthened to cope but sufficiently soft to be soluble. For when the call goes out and is heard, the call to take your life deeper into the unknown, tremendous courage is required together with the readiness to make the journey. Many sit immobilised by terror on the perimeter of new life. You can spend a whole lifetime sitting there, knees clasped to chest, playing it safe until your dying breath.

And the beauty of it is, the whole of your day world will support your refusal to shift, to stick with what is, to protect your conscious life, your career, your mortgage. Conformity just loves company and the comforts of a manicured life. Even your therapist, if he or she is also avoiding their own soul work, will be complicit in your commitment to dullness and a worthy safety. Fortunately, soul has its own agenda and, if you forego its hellish invitation, will shake you out of your cosy world in its own inimical style: a close death (your own or another’s); an accident; divorce; disaster. A tsunami of tears in any case, or perhaps a molten shock.

So, if spirit calls us out of the universe of time and space, soul calls us down but also out, beneath the surface life into the bowels and all its accompanying dirt and black odours, the place where true life germinates, the unmanifest itself. What awaits us of course in the deep unconscious is all we have repressed as well as the archetypal world, the great structures of the psyche that can strengthen any individual life. We fear the pain and darkness of our shadow, forgetting that it is also golden and contains all the beauty and potentials of our unlived life.

Like any journey into deep space, preparation is wisdom just as fate is character. And wisdom is what is called for when dealing with self or client. Soul work should not be done unaccompanied, particularly for newcomers, and it is vital to distinguish a true call to soul rather than a childish need to escape adult responsibility. But therapists need not fear the call into the depths if the call is true. One of the markers of the call to adventure is a continued circling around the same issue and a refusal to budge. You just know you are in the wrong job or relationship and have been just itching to get out for years but can never quite make the leap. Life grows stale and meaningless…and you let it.

This is plain cowardice – learn to call it what it is – and finally the window of opportunity, the one that has been glinting sharply at you for years, simply disappears and you move quietly into a life of quiet desperation. Your addiction or depression worsens and any chance of honing your character into a personal vision for your life and your contribution to the whole turns blue and dies. For soul is about nothing if not vision, your vision, your sacred purpose. Learn to cultivate the notion that you came into the world called, with meaning and reason, and hold to it like a whole pack of dogs fighting for just one bone.

But first you must recognise the call, see that what ails you and what will sicken you unto death is alienation from self, that the wounds you have repressed may hold great gifts and that uncovering them is your sacred duty. Therapy is perhaps the first port of call, but the goals of therapy can differ sharply from soul work. Soul work is not trying to make you better, but take you deeper. It is not aiming at comformity but essence and it will happily obliterate your marriage or career if they truly stand in the way of what you are here to accomplish.

Without this understanding that life is grand you will not make the journey. Yet if you keep on circling your destiny like a starving vulture it is time to take heed. Where therapy can really help soulvision is in exploring the symbols of your life, the accidents, strangenesses, meetings and illnesses that somehow marked your time here. What you – and your therapist – will need here is an eye for initiation, a seeing into the substance of things into the beyond. Do not bemoan the limits and traumas of your past, rather envision them as holding the key to your purpose.

When I look at a person I look at them straight on. Everything is in the image you see before you; each relationship will show its essence and destiny within the first few meetings, but only if you have an eye for initiation. Each thing contains the whole, is holographic, and will reveal itself. If a person is sorrowful most often they have betrayed their longing and are seeking initiation. In your naivety you may try to get them to ‘try harder’ at their day world, not realising that what their soul craves and needs is adventure and new life. If you have little experience of initiation yourself, are not an initiate, know nothing of the importance of ceremony and the power and meaning of deep ritual you cannot serve your client at a deep level.

On the other hand, suggesting soul work to a client who is just coming off drugs, is deeply depressed and has lost their way would be irresponsible. The ego must first be strengthened and stabilised. The child who has been deeply traumatised does not need to be retraumatised but rather to return to the garden of innocence to renew itself, heal the past, and get in shape for whatever adventure lies ahead in order to follow the call when the time comes.

The question as the poet Mary Oliver put it is this: What will you do with ‘your one wild and precious life?’ Frederick Buechner offers us a clue:’Our calling is where our deepest gladness and the world’s hunger meet.’ Life’s greatest gifts flow from doing our sacred work. The shift required is from a life of egocentricity to a soul-centred life. What can help greatly is meditation, working with imagination (including journalling), engaging in therapies like Deep Memory Process which takes you into the life of the soul over lifetimes, time in nature, dreamwork, and working with ritual. A vision quest will alter the course of a life as can working with ancestors in deep sacred space.

Initation, whatever its form, should take you from the day world, the conscious life, the world of the material and out into the world of soul. It is a rebirth. Irina Tweedie, a middle-aged Russian woman living in London, left for India to work with a Sufi master after her husband died. She was hoping to learn yoga and have a graceful experience. There was some grace, but it came in the form of suffering, terror and facing the murderer and rapist who lived in her soul as she was purified again and again by her teacher. She returned home some years later to establish the Golden Sufi Order a changed woman.

Yet the risk is death and those unprepared for a face-to-face encounter with their own demons may not make it. I had the great privilege of working with African Shaman Malidoma Some of the Dagara tribe. When boys are sent out on their quest for manhood it is a given that some will not return. For the Dagara it is better to be dead than live an uninitiated life. Such thinking is a world away from that of alienated western culture that has exchanged nobility and purpose for narcissism and personal aggrandizement. Without an alternative small wonder that is the way things have gone.

And for many clients, including yourself, this terrible forgetting lies asleep at the roots of a being long held within the chains and blindness of a post-industrial society so far off purpose the world is plainly heading for apocalypse.

Rumi, the great mystic, said this:’I’m tired of cowards, I want to live with lions, with Moses, not whining teary people. I want the ranting of drunkards, I want to sing like birds sing.’

We are all needed now and somehow must find both consciousness and courage….our hope is that we need look no further than our own wounds to rediscover hope and the green shoots of new life.

The ranting of drunkards may hold more than you know.

Copyright Simon Heathcote

Comment Feed

6 Responses

  1. This is a really great blog. Thx to the auther

  2. This blog has got a lot of really helpful stuff on it! Cheers for sharing it with me!

  3. Hey mate! Amazing site! I really liked being here.

  4. I am proud to yell-out-loud that the author is my Godson!

  5. ChristinaMay 31, 2012 @ 7:23 pm

    Thank you Simon…..What a gift to go to the depths of our pain. To live the excruciating agony of our own worst nightmares and emerge like a diamond forged in the depths of our deepest darkest hell. Here in the very centre of our our pain shines the brightest most beautiful light.

  6. I am not a mechanism, an assembly of various sections,
    And it is not because the mechanism is working wrongly that I am ill.
    I am illl because of wounds to the soul, to the deep emotional self—
    and the wounds to the soul take a long long time,
    only time can help and patience…
    …and the freeing oneslef
    from the endless rpetition of the mistake
    whcih mankind at large has chosen to sanctify.

    DH Lawrence

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