By: Suzanne Maiden
We’re all seekers. We quest for meaning and purpose. We want to know, at the deepest level, that life and Soul are synonymous. We want purposeful lives profound with meaning. But Good God! The task most oftentimes seems insurmountably impossible. So we bumble our way, walking down various paths never knowing, actually guessing, if the current road we’ve choosen will take us to our final destination. Destination = Soul = Logos or God or Yahweh = Home.
The vast paths each of us select vary as much as the types of species in the entire animal kingdom. This variability allows a lot of latitude for judgement from others. We critique others and their method of searching for meaning. Simultaneously, we may secretly wonder if maybe they know something we don’t?
Oftentimes, our quest is an unconscious one. That is, the invisible pull towards meaning is strong. The intangible, unnameable something gnaws at our very essence, but what is it? What mystery silently beckons us? Many of us unconsciously move through the everyday motions of life. This does not present too many problems until we want something more. When we want more, yet remain unconscious and unaware of how to access Soul, then we often externally search.
For many, our unconscious impulses leave us to externally search for Soul through acquisition. We buy things. We buy big homes, vehicles, and clothes which we project our split-off parts of self on.
A concrete, hypothetical, example is someone who remodels their kitchen. We want a new structure. Now, of course, the need may be real and valid. OK. But, what happens when it’s ‘never good enough’ scenario plays out? We pay someone to come and demolish the existing structure to create something anew. Already, the metaphor is percolating… That is, we pay someone else to destroy our existing psychological structure and recreate another. Except, it’s not good enough, nor will it ever be. The unconscious purchaser is really asking for someone else to recreate their structure – their psychological structure. The purchaser attempts to find meaning in their life via external search for Soul. They are willing to pay someone a hefty price to do the work, but the work is not another’s – it is our own.
This pattern of behavior is predictable, and usually necessary for most of us, until we discover the futility of it all. Because when we get all the material things we so desperately sought, and still feel empty, our real work can begin. The climate is perfect for Soul growth.
For some, this expedition for Soul Search typically does not occur until the middle years of our life. C. G. Jung noted this as the typical pattern. But what happens when this next and appropriate phase is never reached? Then, we continue to externally search for Soul. We seek meaning through every external way possible. We vehemently avoid doing our inner work. Inner work is the only access to Soul.
Inner work is hard work. Inner work is analogous to an archaeological dig; it takes time and care and gentle excavation to reach and explore the buried pieces of Self. What is Inner work? Inner work is identifying the split off parts of Self and consciously working towards healing those broken pieces. Inner work is any venue that increases consciousness. By being conscious of behavior patterns and underlying impulses and urges and motivations – which typically cannot be fully done without help (e.g. therapist, spiritual teacher, shaman…), we can begin to heal ourselves and our wounding.
When we begin to heal ourselves we can withdrawal our negative projections onto others. We can stop pointing our proverbial finger at others and our intolerance for their shortcomings. We reorient our perspective and earnestly look in the mirror. If we can look at ourselves, then we can begin to healthfully integrate our split-off parts of Self. When we can assimilate our woundedness, C.G. Jung said we’re never done, we walk towards psyche’s goal: Individuation.
Through this process we may minimize our external search for Soul. When we look externally in search for Soul, we will never find it. Finding Soul has always been and always will be the result of our inner work. Soul has been sitting with us through our entire journey. Look inside.