What’s the point? Why are we here? What are we trying to do, to get? What’s it going to do for us when we do it, have it? Good questions, don’t you think? It would help if we knew the answers. Here’s mine. Wholeness. Wholeness is the whole point. By wholeness I mean alignment of being, integrity of being, oneness of being. I mean knowing who is running the show and assisting the operation. Knowing who is in charge here and placing ourselves in that service. I mean understanding what is at stake in Jesus’ prayer, “Not my will, but thine, be done,” and intending that with our complete being. That kind of wholeness of being is the point. What’s it going to do for us when we have it? Life. It’s going to do life for us. It’s going to bring us alive in a way that glass beads and silver mirrors—or the current cultural equivalent—cannot touch. But, you are going to have to believe it to see it, to know what I’m talking about. And, you are going to have to be willing to pay the price.
The price, of course, is the surrender of your idea of how your life is to be lived. We have to leave the safety of our comfortable way with life, our structures and routines—home, if you will—and find the way in the wilderness where there are no maps and nothing is as we expect it will be. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. Call it the first irony. Leaving home doesn’t necessarily mean going anywhere.
Lao Tzu says, “The master travels all day without leaving home.” And, “Even though the next country is so close that people can hear its roosters crowing and its dogs barking, they are content to die of old age without ever having gone to see it.” Jesus says, “There is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions.” Leaving doesn’t mean going away so much as it means seeing differently, living differently. With the same burdens we had before the shift happened. That’s the bad news about the good news. It isn’t the only bad news.
The really bad news is that we have to face ourselves—we have to see ourselves—and decide what we are going to do with ourselves, about ourselves, every day for the rest of our lives. We have to know how it is with us. It’s like this: We have to have a home in order to be able to leave home. Home is where we are given life—nurtured, nestled, brought to life. Home grounds us, centers us, focuses us, names us with an identity that serves us well and enables us to step forth with all that we need to find our way in the world—to find the way that is truly our own, and not just a worn path with the black foot-prints laid out through the long years of the far distant future. Ah, but, how many of us start out with a home like that?
But, a home like that is necessary for us to grow up around a protected core, a strong sense of who we are. We must protect the core. The core is the Soul, the Self—the inner dynamic center around which we constellate. It is the foundation upon which we build our life. The core is that which is deepest, best and truest about us. Our central identity. The essence of us. We grow out of a protected core (And home is really the self we have to leave in order to, finally, find).
If we do not have a home that supports life and protects the core, then our primary search is for a home, a place, a community, that will help us develop spiritually/psychologically to the point of being able to leave home. The problem is that without a protected core, we enter the search for the right kind of home wounded and in need of such healing that our energy is devoted to, drained by, restoring the core, and the work of aligning ourselves with the core and redeeming the world is indefinitely delayed.
To take up that work, we have to learn to heal and protect the core. We do that by consciously processing the harmful experiences. We say what happened, what its impact was, and how wrong it was, how wronged we were by it. We witness the wrong and name it specifically and clearly. We do not deny it, or gloss over it, or say anything other than the truth about it. And, we look for corroborating witnesses, those who can hear us and understand. We have to know we are not alone and we have to know the wrong that was committed against us, and we have to know it was wrong, and grant it no excuse, no defense.
We heal and protect the core by consciously bearing the pain of harmful life experiences—by saying what happened and how wrong it was that it happened, and how no one should have to deal with what we are having to deal with, and bringing the knowledge of that experience and its impact into our life, and letting ourselves not get over it and act as though nothing happened, but walk with a limp, because we have received a blow. The core cannot stand unprotected against the meanness of life. It needs us to defend its interests and take up its cause. This is the Hero’s Task, bearing consciously the blows of life, and it is one that we need a community to help us undertake. It is not ours to do alone.
Once the core is vital and dynamic, the fun begins. James Hollis says all the soul wants is an interesting life. We think the soul wants a straight arrow kind of life, a straight-laced and narrow kind of life. Our idea of the right life for the soul, and the soul’s idea of the right life for itself, are two different ideas. We think right is about moral rectitude, or peace and justice and fair play all around, equal pay, equal rights, hunky-dorey, everybody’s happy now, let’s just be nice and the world will be a better place. Boring.
The soul hates boring. The soul loves interesting. The soul loves not knowing what is going to happen next. The soul thinks the Right Life is one where we: Upset the apple carts, rock all the boats, yank the rug out from under everything, stomp the egg shells, don’t do anything the same way twice, create chaos wherever we go, create something anyway, make a mess, relish messes, love the mess, get our hands dirty, don’t know what we are doing or where we are going, live without a map, or a plan, or a schedule, live for the situations in which the rules do not apply… That’s the kind of life our soul has in mind for us. And you thought the soul was on your side. Anybody that thinks that doesn’t know the first thing about soul.
We want stability, security, predictability, sameness, constancy, certainty, dependability, death disguised as life. The soul wants life in the raw. No disguises. No costumes. No pretense. The soul wants to be alive. You see the disconnect, I’m sure. Whose side are we on is the question. To what extent are we living to be comfortable? Seeking to be comfortable? Surrounding ourselves with that which makes us comfortable? We cannot be alive and comfortable. What’s it going to be?
We cannot be alive and comfortable because life is inconvenient and inconsiderate and insistent and incessant and unrelenting. We just want to settle down and be happy. Life is goading us and urging us on. We just want to “get there.” Life won’t let us stop. We never get done living—we never get living done. We look for a groove. Life gives us upheaval. We look for smooth sailing and easy street. Life gives us chaos and says, “Here. See what you can do with this.” It’s a conflict of interests all the way. Who is in charge here? Who is running the show? We can force a life on Soul that Soul doesn’t want, and Soul picks out a nice wall to slam us into. Those who know, know who’s in charge. Those who don’t know are learning.
Soul isn’t here to serve us, we are here to serve soul. “Not my will, but thine, be done!” Until we understand the right order of things and put ourselves in the service of soul, there is hell to pay. Of course, there is hell to pay if we serve soul, so either way, there is hell to pay, but serving soul is a different kind of hell, it’s the kind where we can grin and laugh while we are going through it, or after we go through it. The path to heaven winds through the right choice of hell. The wrong choice of hell just winds around in hell. Choose the right kind of death and you come alive. Choose the wrong kind of death and you’re just dead.
It comes down to a question of faith. Who are you going to trust? Put your trust in the core, in soul, and step into your life. Every day. That’s all there is to it. We have to know, remember, be conscious, aware, that our primary work is bringing forth soul, living aligned with the core, manifesting the core—that the call is for wholeness, integrity, authenticity, genuineness, and truth—that we are called to live lives that are integrated, that are integral, with what is deepest, best, and truest about us, with the soul, the core. That is our work, knowing the core, living from the core. Living the life the core would have us live, the life that translates, incarnates, embodies, exhibits, makes concrete the core within the context and circumstances of our lives, the time and place of our living.
But this gets tricky. Because we decide what the core would have us do. Surely, even if your name isn’t Shirley, you see the problem. How do we know that what is important to us is important to soul? We pay attention, and practice, practice, practice. The first place we listen is to our bodies. Psyche is Somatic. Soul is physical—is expressed, known, felt physically. So, we talk about “gut feelings,” and taking a “gut check.” The thing we have in common with our soul is our body. Soul communes with us through our physical sensations, our feelings/senses, our emotions, our reactions to our life experience, our dreams, our slips of the tongue, our unconscious drifts toward music (humming a tune) and memories and preoccupations, our symptoms, our fears... We tune into ourselves and find Soul talking to us, calling to us, trying to get our attention.
And, we can’t worry about being wrong. It all becomes clear over time for those who keep looking for clarity. We have to live toward the best we can imagine at all times and let the outcomes guide our future direction. Therein lies wholeness and life.