What a gift, to learn to recognize the call of the soul! Thanks, Southwestern! Here’s an excerpt from a paper I wrote for the Addiction Assessment and Treatment class that I took last winter with Jason Holley:
In the past, I have had trouble connecting with a personal understanding of the word soul. Dictionaries tend to define soul in terms of the immortal aspect of an individual; I have often had trouble fitting the idea of personal immortality into my worldview. In my mid-30s, I felt strongly drawn to end my corporate career in the high-tech industry to focus full-time on spiritual practice and to find more meaningful work—so I did (and as a result, a decade later, here I am at Southwestern). After leaving my high-tech career, a deep dive into Tibetan Buddhism gave me a personal understanding of the word spirit (to me, spirit refers to the mysterious nondual nature of awareness and experience, which can be revealed through specific meditation practices; through these practices, I recognized how, in a sense, everything is spirit and spirit is immortal). However, the word soul still did not resonate.
This quarter, several factors came together to bring the word soul to life for me. The distinction of personality-centered versus soul-centered approaches to working with addiction gave me a new cognitive understanding of soul—an understanding that resonates for me. I now view soul as that which draws us forward toward a meaningful (yet presently-incomprehensible) destination someplace beyond our current state of organization. The call of the soul can be sensed, but it can’t be fully understood in the present. This understanding of soul gave me a new perspective on the experience I had when I was leaving my high-tech career. Previously, I had thought of this experience as “responding to the call of spirit” (since it was spiritual practice that I felt called toward). I now see how, in more general terms, we could say that I was following the call of the soul. I appreciate how the concept of the call of the soul gives me language to describe a common thread that runs through many experiences I have had throughout my life.
After attaining this newfound clarity mid-quarter, I started exploring how I might intentionally connect with the call of the soul. In my daily meditation practice, I discovered that after I quiet the ongoing chatter of my intellect, I can turn my attention to anything and feel into my relationship to it, sensing the deeper levels of personal meaning associated with it. This seems to open the door to a soul-level view of my world; it gives me access to deeper levels of meaning that I can feel, but that I can’t easily explain. With some practice and effort, I’m finding I am able to do this in my daily life, as well. It seems that this work has opened a door to a whole new world of experience, and I’m delighted about this.
Photo (by nevil zaveri) is used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.