Spiritually Timeless and Soulfully Attached
Please listen to the module introduction.
There is a difference between Spirit and Soul. Spirit allows you to rise/see beyond and behind the world, to experience the timeless truth beyond thought and form. Soul shares this ability but also allows you to sink down into the Earth, to experience attachments to place, community and your unique service to your people. Though this distinction is overly simplified, one could say that Spirit is free, Soul is obligated. Spirit is transcendent, Soul is rooted. Spirit is connected with heaven/nirvana, Soul is associated with earth/destiny and the imaginal realm. Both Spirit and Soul are outside/beyond the ego, but “express” themselves differently.
There are many types of attachments including: 1. Common egoic attachments like safety, security, comfort, financial success, and sometimes people; 2. your Soul’s attachments to certain people, plus places and forms of service that express your purpose; and 3. ego’s attachment to Soul, which is expressed as our desire to simultaneously know/embody/serve the deeper purpose of Soul. This is the attachment/desire of ego to be a servant of Soul.
Frequently in spirituality we are directed to go beyond ego in a manner that points us to the Ultimate: the deathless, luminous, dimensionless, open space of awareness. Yet, there is another dimension to spirituality: Soul. The Soul path also directs us to stretch beyond ego, but in a fashion that draws us into a deep connection to our bodies, homes, friendships, communities and destinies.
Module 2 is about preparing for the journey of descent to the center of your being. It’s not a preparation to go up and out of the story of “I” (as in classical Enlightenment) but a down and in, a burrowing into our depths to embody our mythopoetic identity: a unique lyrical narrative that arises from the deep imagination of the Soul.
In this module you will engage in practices that forge a stronger attachment to Soul. Traditional psychology has given us “attachment theory”: the understanding that children with secure attachment feel protected by their parents, and know that they can depend on their caretakers. In Soul psychology, adults with secure Soul-attachment feel supported and connected with Soul, they know that they can depend on Soul to guide them through the journey of life.
During the last 40 years, considerable research has confirmed the importance of creating a secure attachment environment for children. In modern techno-industrial societies there is little (if any) research on creating a secure attachment to Soul as a source of guidance during adulthood. You can now rectify this situation in your own life. Together we can begin a reformation in our own communities where Soul-attachment is genuinely valued, supported and prioritized.
How then do we prepare for the journey to Soul? How do we prepare the soil for harvesting the images and symbols that grow from a healthy garden? Here are six practices for initiating the journey. For this week, engage in each of these practices as your initiation into your Soul-journey.
Note: Below you’ll find six practices for initiating your participation in this course. Think of using them this week as your kickoff into the next phase of the journey. Work with each practice now. After this week, you can continue to use any of these same six practices on a regular basis.
Module 2 Practices
Here are six initiations for your Soul Journey.
Practice 2:1 – Foundation Prayer
You can wait for abduction like Persephone (or that friend who had to wait for bankruptcy, divorce or cancer to be forced to change) or you can request for Soul to take you. Beseech the Mystery to steal your cramped life from you. Invite the Mystery to burgle your hut, to prune what you have outgrown. Ask the wild mugger who is devoted to you to start relieving you of the unnecessary acquaintances, occupations, addictions, identities that are impeding your life, leaving you in a pot too confined. One day, if you are very lucky, you’ll wake up to find your too-small-pot stolen right out from under you, freeing your roots to travel further downward to undiscovered depths of darkness and mystery. Remember, let the longing for abduction be the foundation of your prayer. Descend to the core of your hunger for a purpose-infused life. Let a paroxysm of longing explode from your heart beseeching the Divine to steal your numbness and blindness away. Trust yourself, you know how to make this prayer.
Context: Throughout this course it is helpful to contemplate this truth: purpose exploration is as much about relinquishing what is not in alignment with your purpose, as it is about finding your purpose. For example, when you marry somebody you give up many of the potential advantages and unique opportunities that single life affords, such as dating or unlimited solitude, because these ways of being in the world are incompatible with a healthy, monogamous marriage. In your marriage with your Soul, you relinquish parts of your life that are incompatible with living from your deepest truth. Similarly, taking the Buddhist precepts (not killing, not taking intoxicants, not taking what is not given, etc.) is considered the complementary and foundational practice to meditation. How we live in our day-to-day lives is vital to our ability to plumb the depths of spiritual practice, whether we are on a journey to classical enlightenment or to Soul-purpose awakening. So, the foundation prayer is a preliminary practice we use to ready ourselves for the journey. At least once this week spend a few minutes in silence and then begin to pray, from your heart, asking to live a soul-infused life. It might sound like this:
“Mystery, I am embarking on a 12-month journey to discover and embody my Soul’s deepest purpose. I pray for support in divesting myself from the habits, thoughts, objects, and relationships that hinder the progress of my awakening into the full realization of my Soul’s purpose. Remove these outgrown garments to clear the pathway for uncovering the wellspring of my Soul.”
Practice 2:2 – First Fast
Prayer acquires added depths during a fast. A fast is the ancient practice of clearing a space for concentrated prayer to occur. Fasting is a way to prepare your psyche for a spiritual journey. Fasting is a psycho-spiritual stretching that can be employed before the descent to Soul. I like to think of fasting as “courting the Mystery” through a demonstration of sincerity. There are few things that attest to your earnestness to know your purpose more than giving up food! Giving up food for a time not only cleanses us physically, but is a timeless sacred practice in virtually all spiritual traditions. (See Wikipedia entry) A fast is a recommended practice to initiate your journey. Fasting is a jump start to a life that feels stuck, scattered, or just in need of a reset. Start your purpose journey with a fast of at least one day. You may be pleasantly surprised by the spiritual power of beginning this journey with a fast.
Context: There are two suggested fasts during this program. The first is a fast of initiation/preparation: a rite of passage marking the beginning of the Soul-discovery journey. Example: in a Zen monastery, there is practice called tangaryo, a period of days (even weeks) where a prospective student waits at the monastery gate for admission. This practice is meant to be an ordeal that tests the determination of the student before admittance. In your case, the monastery gate is internal, with fasting providing an ordeal that will serve as a declaration to every part of your being that you are committing yourself to this journey. The first fast is a fast of initiation or induction into Purpose Discovery. The second fast (in Module 9) has a different intention: to step beyond your current understanding of your purpose (more on this later). You might think of it like this: the first fast loosens the skin in preparation for the molting, and the second fast is about discovering one’s new skin.
Note: If you have reason to believe a 24 hour fast would be ill-advised, please consult your physician. If you have past or current eating disorders, modify (or skip) this practice in a way that doesn’t exacerbate the disorder. Additionally, if you cannot manage a 24 hour water fast, consider a juice fast. If a juice fast is inadvisable, you might do a fast from cooked foods and eat only raw nutritious food for a day.
Practice 2:3 – Commune with Nature
You’ve started your fast and are eager to begin praying for a lifetime of intimacy with your Soul. But where should you pray? Famed psychiatrist Carl Jung observed: “The soul is for the most part outside the body.” And from the noted psychologist Thomas Moore: “Soul, the mystery we glimpse when we look deeply into ourselves, is a part of a larger soul, the soul of the world.” Check your own experience to see if this rings true. For myself, I have felt most ensouled during moments of communion: swimming in the ocean, sitting on a mountain top, watching a sunset, lovemaking with my wife, at a Thanksgiving dinner with extended family, listening to live jazz in an intimate nightclub. The through line of these encounters is a heightened sense of intimacy. To intensify intimacy with nature, sit or walk in wild places with the intention of communing. Equipped with this intention, you can engage in nature-intimacy practices. 1. Get close: smell, touch, taste, lie down, toss, roll in nature. Savor the experience fully with all your senses and take your time with it. 2. Be affectionate: speak out loud to the plants, trees, forest or centipede. First, offer the gift of your full presence; second, praise what you see, not only for how it looks, but for how it exists and how its life feels to you. Remember, there is no defined border between your Soul and the Soul of the world. Bringing your prayers for a purpose-driven life to wild nature magnifies both the power of the prayer and your ability to receive the responses to your prayers.
Context: Like the fasting practice, you will immerse yourself in the commune with nature practice later in the course during your Soul Quest. Communing with nature this week will help prepare you for the Soul Quest. Even without the Soul Quest context, this practice enables you to become more you as you relate to more of the world. The Japanese even have a name for this practice – shinrin-yoku or “forest bathing”. Like fasting and meditation, it holds many noted health and wellness benefits and goes back to the roots of how we cohabitated for in the natural landscapes of this planet. We are naturally wired to benefit from this intrinsic healing and soul opening doorway. More information on the Nature & Forest Therapy blog.
Practice 2:4 – Being Simple
Court your muse by practicing simplicity. Woo your soul with an absence of excessive complications. “Simple acts make man simple; and how difficult it is to be simple”, writes Thomas Moore. Creating a hospitable home for your purpose involves cultivating what Plato called “the craft of life”. One defiant act of simplicity can have a profound effect on your Soul. Here is an example from my life: every morning I grind my coffee beans in a hand mill. I move the hand crank with my own muscle power, a small but powerful declaration that simplicity is indispensable to a soul-infused life. Choosing to be simple is a powerful way of courting the Soul. Pick some areas of your life and choose to be simple with them. Slowly, you will begin to notice that your subtle hearing improves and you can begin to discern with greater fidelity to the “still small voice” of Soul speaking softly to you.
Context: Simplicity makes you more receptive to hearing the answers to your prayers. When I’m cracking the coffee beans with the hand grinder, I usually sit on the floor by sliding glass doors, looking out at the oaks and spruce. I feel the lack of complexity, pretentiousness or ornament in my movement, plucking the cotton of internal noise from my ears. My hearing becomes sensitive when I relax into simplicity. We practice being simple because it increases our ability to hear the soft whispers emanating from Soul.
Practice 2:5 – Read Mythology
By reading mythology we learn how to think in images and metaphor. Dialoguing with Soul requires an upgraded language, the language of the imaginal realm. The works of Joseph Campbell are highly recommended. You might whet your appetite here: Wikipedia entry for Mythology Also, enjoy this link to psychoactive Greek Myths. Though geared for a younger audience, these simple tales will begin to activate your ability to sense imagistically.
Context: We live in a mythically impoverished society where many believe the most successful lives are measured by the depth of their bank accounts, not the depth of their Soul. A mythically rich approach to purpose work invites you to see your journey in light of universal symbols and motifs that are our archetypal inheritance. Reading mythology will help activate the imaginal realm within which you live, allowing Soul to speak to you in its favored language: the deep imagination.
Practice 2:6 – Take A Break from Self-Improvement
Let us reevaluate the self-improvement project. Try thinking of it this way: self-improvement is about refinement while still identifying ourselves through our egos or personalities, including even the worthy pursuit of making ourselves better human beings. Given a choice, most of us would choose to hang out with someone more integrated and developed in this manner, with a healthy sense of ego identity. On the other hand, you don’t have to be good, healthy, repaired, secure, partnered, employed, thinner, or learn five languages to live your destiny. Self-improvement in these areas may result as a side benefit of purpose work, but it is a detour and not the direct pathway to living a Soul-infused life.
Context: Purpose discovery is about serving our Soul. The discovery process isn’t part of a personality/ego “improvement project.” During this course, it is suggested you spend less time polishing the decks, and more time putting the boat into the deep, uncharted waters. Your purpose encounters are not dependent on having a pristinely polished sense of self/ego/identity. Your encounter with purpose is dependent on your clearing space to swim in the ocean of the imaginal realm. I’m not suggesting you give up self-improvement forever. I am suggesting you take a sabbatical from it during the next twelve months (or at least the next three months) to allow for an entirely different type of growth, one acutely focused on the embodiment of your Soul. You’ve likely already been working on yourself for decades from the moment you learned to walk, now try stepping out of the way and letting “Soul work on you” for the next twelve months.
Wild Geese by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Module 2 Summary
- 2:1 – Foundation Prayer – Perform once. (Optional: repeat every morning.)
- 2:2 – First Fast – Perform before next meeting.
- 2:3 – Commune with Nature – As often as you can.
- 2:4 – Being Simple – Daily.
- 2:5 – Read Mythology – As often as you see fit.
- 2:6 – Self Improvement Sabbatical – 6-12 months.
Write at least one paragraph about your experience engaging each of the practices above. Email your writing to your Purpose Guide™ before your meeting for this Module.
If you haven’t already sent the invitation letter to friends, please do so now. If your friends don’t respond after a certain time, move on and ask different friends. Don’t hold up creating your group because a couple of individuals are sitting on the fence.
Schedule Soul Circle Meeting 1 during Module 3 (September 13 – September 26). You can find all the needed information on the Soul Circle page.
Before your first meeting, provide your Soul Circle people with the link to the Soul Circle page and recommend them to listen to the Recording 1, as well as find the Guidelines and the Introductory article.
A Soul needs: a sense of home, deep friendship, a poet’s ear for images and symbols, attention to dreams, the fine arts, an intimate relationship to the natural world, acquaintance with animals, memory in the form of storytelling or keeping old objects that have meanings. – Thomas Moore
Soulcraft – Read:
- Prologue – Weaving A Cocoon
- Introduction – A Trail Guide to Soul
- Chapter 1 – Carrying What Is Hidden as a Gift to Others.