Wedding Spirituality and Soul


The School of Athens (detail). Fresco, Stanza ...Image via WikipediaWedding Spirituality and Soul
In our spirituality, we reach for consciousness, awareness, and the highest God; in our soulfulness, we endure the most pleasurable and the most exhausting of human experiences and emotions.  These two directions make up the fundamental pulse of human life, and to an extent, they have an attraction to each other.
No one needs to be told that we live in a time of materialism and consumerism, of lost values and a shift in ethical standards.  We find ourselves tempted to call for a return to old values and ways.  It seems that in the past we were more religious as a people and that traditional values had more influence throughout the society.  But whether or not that is a blurry, nostalgic view of the past, we want to keep in mind Jung’s warning about dealing with present difficulties by wishing for a return to former conditions.  He calls this maneuver a “regressive restoration of the persona.”  Societies can fall into this defensive strategy, attempting to restore what is imagined to be a better condition from the past.  The trouble is, memory is always part imagination, and tough times of another era are later unconsciously gilded into the “good old days.”
If we can resist this temptation to improve the present by restoring the past, we can start to face our current challenges.  The key to lost spirituality and numbing materialism is not merely to intensify our quest for spirituality, but to relate better with God.  The cure for materialism, then, would be to find concrete ways of getting soul back into our spiritual practices, our intellectual life, and our emotional and God relationships.  In the broadest sense, spirituality is an aspect of any attempt to approach, or attend to the invisible factors in life and to transcend the personal, concrete, finite particulars of this world.  Religion stretches its gaze beyond this life to the time of the creation and the Creator.  It also concerns itself with afterlife and with the highest God.  This spiritual point of view is necessary for the soul, providing the breadth of vision, the inspiration, and the relationship with God.
There are serious drawbacks to the soul in the abstraction of experience.  The intellectual attempt to live in a “known” world deprives ordinary life of its unconscious elements, those things we encounter every day but know little about.  Jung equates the unconscious with the soul, and so when we try to live fully consciously in an intellectually predictable world, protected from all mysteries and comfortable with conformity, we lose our everyday opportunities for the soulful life.  The intellect wants to know; the soul likes to be surprised.  Intellect, looking outward, wants enlightenment and the pleasure of a burning enthusiasm.  The soul, always drawn inward, seeks contemplation and the more shadowy, spiritual experience of the relationship with God.
James Hillman has observed that when our spirituality isn’t sufficiently profound, it sometimes sneaks out a backdoor and takes on bizarre forms, all kinds of strange enthusiasms.  We may go from substantive religious sensibility to cultish devotion.  Here we come upon an important rule, applicable to religious spirituality.  The intellect wants a summary meaning – all well and good for the purposeful nature of the mind.  But the soul craves depth of reflection, many layers of meaning, nuances without end, references and the Bible.  All these enrich the texture of our relationship with God and please the soul by giving it much food for rumination.
Ruminating is one of the chief delights of the soul.  Early Christian theologians discussed at length how a biblical text could be read at many levels at once.  Thi8s practice suggests a reading of the Bible, regarding its stories not as simplistic moral lessons or statements of belief, but as subtle expressions of the spiritual that form the roots of human life.
From the point of view of soul, the many churches and innumerable understandings of Christianity are its richness.  The soul’s complex means of self-expression is an aspect of its depth.  When we feel something soulfully, it is sometimes difficult to express that feeling clearly.  When spirituality loses contact with soul and God, it can become rigid, simplistic, moralistic, and authoritarian – qualities that betray a loss of soul.  The problem is never spirituality in itself, which is absolutely necessary for human life, but the narrow fundamentalism that arises when spirituality and soul are split apart.
Eventually we might find that all emotions, all human activities, and all spheres of life have deep roots in the relationship between God and the Soul, and therefore are holy.  A more profound union of ordinary life and formal religion might be found in understanding religion as guidance for the soul.  Not separating individual and social life from spiritual ideas, we might find more intimate connections between what goes on in church and what happens in the deepest places of the heart.
We are not going to have a soulful spirituality until we begin to think in the ways of soul.  If we bring only the intellect’s modes of thought to our search for a path or to spiritual practices, then from the very beginning we will be without soul.  The bias toward spirit is so strong in modern culture that it will take a profound revolution in the way we think to give our spiritual lives the depth that is the gift of God.
The Divine Union
In the midst of everyday struggle we hope for enlightenment and some kind of release.  In our prayer and meditation, we hope for a fulfilling ordinary life.  But it is not an easy marriage to effect.  Spirit tends to shoot off on its own in ambition, fanaticism, fundamentalism, and perfectionism.  Soul gets stuck in its soupy moods, impossible relationships, and obsessive preoccupations.  For the marriage to take place, each has to learn to appreciate the other and to be affected by the other – spirit’s lofty aims tempered by the soul’s lowly limitations, soul’s unconsciousness stirred by God’s grace.
Spiritual  life does not truly advance by being separated either from the soul or from its intimacy with life.  God, as well as man, is fulfilled when we and God develop a strong relationship.  The ultimate marriage of spirit and soul, animus and anima, is the wedding of heaven and earth, our highest ideals and efforts with God’s grace and love.

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About georgehach

I am a retired Lay Minister, acting as a prophet for God to understand the end times that is comingg and how to prepare for it.
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