Archive for December, 2009

What Does Your Soul Want?

Here is an intriguing question on this sacred day representing the eternal return: what is it that the soul really wants? Could it be that it is not the I, the temporal self, that looks back to review our life, but the soul, or who we are in our eternal essence? Whether we are ready or not, memory steps in to connect, or re-connect, us with what matters most; it may even seem to push itself on us, bringing back to consciousness vital images, scenes, figures, and feelings that help us re-member ourselves, and in the process find deeper meaning and solidify soul qualities we may have long cultivated.

Could it be the intention of the soul to bring back, or even cause to appear for the first time, those eternal images, coupled with those soul qualities and virtues, needed to ensure our further progress in our continuing journey? We cannot escape remembering. Reviewing our life, telling our life story, helps us form, or re-form, our deep character just when we need it most, as a final conscious preparation for reaching the soul’s ultimate destination.

As James Hillman put it, “Life review yields long-term gains that enrich character by bringing understanding to events. The patterns in your life become more discernable among the wreckage and the romance, more like a well-plotted novel that reveals characters through their actions and reactions… Without stories there is no pattern, no understanding, no art, and no character – merely habits, events passing before the eyes of an aimless observer.” Life review is “character making its claim;” or, our sign that the soul “doesn’t want to leave this world innocent of the life it has been living.”

A 16th way to review your life story – What is the intention of your soul? What are the qualities and virtues of your soul that will assist your eternal journey? See if you can remember those moments of truth in your life story meant to help you form your deep, or lasting, character. Does this bring greater understanding to the events of your life? What is it that your soul most wants you to be aware of before you leave this world? Is your life like a well-plotted novel revealing your eternal character through its actions and reactions? Can you tell this story of the character of your soul, of how it made you you?

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If our destiny (who we will become) is written in our soul, our life pattern emerges out of moving “nimbly down the middle between” psychology and religion, as James Hillman says. These are the twin frameworks that help create the necessary pattern of our life. Rather than indicating anything like predestination, the intention of the inborn image is to serve as a spark of consciousness that will benefit our own growth. It has our best interests as its purpose. Other names for this mysterious force of life could be grace, or providence, what we might think of as being invisibly watched over. If we kept going in this direction, we might think of it as our guardian spirit, or whatever else feels comfortable to us, until we finally got to God as possibly the source for all of this aid and assistance.

This idea ultimately provides what might be considered a blueprint for human development, or a psychology of childhood, youth, and adulthood. It affirms that there is an inherent uniqueness, even a direction or pattern, waiting to unfold for each and every person at each stage of life. This means further that each of us has a gift to utilize at any point in our development, a gift meant to lead us directly to our essence, to our soul.

A 15th way to review your life story – See if you can identify the pattern of your life. What is it that would repeat itself, and may already have, many times in your life which also tells you how you got into and out of a difficult situation as you were given just the right aid or assistance you needed at the time to experience what you would consider grace or providence? How has your own consciousness of this pattern benefitted your growth? Can you see this pattern, or blueprint, of how your life has unfolded, as a gift meant to lead you directly to your soul? Share the short version of this story here, for others to benefit from?

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James Hillman’s “Acorn Theory,” that our destiny is written in our soul, not only takes us to the core of psychology (the study of the psyche, or soul), it is also at the heart of all the world’s religions. Making sense of our individualized soul-image has always been an essential element of myth, sacred stories, and our quest to know the mysteries of life. It is how we come to discover the meaning of life.

Carl Jung, the first psychologist to hint at the convergence of science and religion, said, “image is psyche.” We cannot think without using our imagination, without relying upon collected or inherited mental images. Jung is really pointing out that memory (memoria) is more than mere recall; it is actually a storage place that we have the ability to access and return from, bringing with us eternal images to the mind. Memory, therefore, is soul. Helping us remember who we really are, which requires imagination, is a function of the soul.

The entry to this storage place is often through the doors of life review, or by telling the story of our life. When we start down this path, we can also find there images that may be beyond our own capacity to imagine, but nevertheless come to us from some universal well-spring that enables us to feel more than we thought we were, and that make us more than we could have imagined.

A 14th way to review your life story – What destiny is written in your soul? How have you been able to glean images, or indications, of this? Have you ever gone to a place in your memory that gave you a spiritual wealth, or wisdom, you thought you could never have imagined? How did this connect you even more with your own soul, or maybe with the soul of others? What remembrances, what stories from your own life review, have taken you beyond your own imagination, beyond who you once thought you were? What have any of these experiences or memories given you that you value most? If you would like to share this part of your soul’s legacy with others, this is the place to do that.

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Every single person is born with a defining image, an innate uniqueness, which, according to James Hillman, is already present before we are born. This innate image is our essence, yet only with the unfolding of a lifetime does this inner quality, or character defining who we are, become evident. As the mighty oak’s destiny is written in the tiny acorn, so our calling, or destiny, can only be understood as we look backward, reflectively, over a life lived deliberately.

We are formed from archetypal images and grow gradually into our own image of the archetype, as we age and mature through life’s experiences. As many spiritual traditions put this, we are formed in the image of our Creator and we have the innate capacity to reflect that image in the life we live. As character and image are inseparable, both expressing the essence of who we are, we get to the essence of our life story by expressing how our life reflects the original image of all life as sacred, as having originated from divinity, and by telling the story of how love, order, beauty, and justice, or any of the other characteristics and principles of the holy, have been demonstrated in our own lives.

We are given, as a gift, a “soul-companion,” a daimon, which is with us each step of our journey, guiding us through the paradeigma, or pattern, of the life we live, toward our destiny. This acorn-like inborn essence of who we will become is given different names in different cultures and traditions, from soul to genius to calling to fate to character. Though none really tell us exactly what “it” is, each confirm that it is, that we all have a purpose to fulfill with the life we have to live.

A 13th way to review your life story – What is that part of you that was already present before you were born? How did you discover your innate capacity to reflect the sacred? What is your own story of divine love, order, beauty, or justice? Who is it that has been with you every step of your journey, guiding you through the pattern of your life? What name do you give to your “soul-companion”? How do you know for sure that it is even with you? Whatever your response to these questions, this is a perfect place to share this part of your soul’s legacy, if you would like to.

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