I was a hidden treasure and I longed to be known. Hadith Qudsi
Everyone’s soul is unique and yet plenty of general observations about ‘the soul’ can also be made. For example, although Carl Jung suggested that women’s souls are more masculine, feminine pronouns are most often used to refer to the soul, perhaps because it is usually associated with the body, the heart, nature, and with mystery, which are all generally categorized as feminine. Cynthia Bourgeault describes the soul as a bit of a ‘prima donna’, and this too, has a feminine connotation.
I take it Bourgeault means that the soul likes to be the centre of attention. On the other hand, John O’Donohue argues that the soul shies away from the light of modern consciousness with its “harsh and brilliant white light of a hospital operating theatre. This neon light is too direct and clear to befriend the shadowed world of the soul.” The soul might like to be on stage but has no interest in being examined as a specimen or object, or too directly.
Perhaps what the soul really wants is not so much to be observed as to be heard. It desires relationship. The soul wishes to be listened to, and to receive acknowledgment and response. It would seem that when we speak of the ‘inner voice’ we are referring to that of the soul.
According to Carl Jung, the original meaning of ‘to have a vocation’ is ‘to be addressed by a voice.’ In his view, a vocation is a process, not a thing. Rather than a career, a vocation is a way of life. When one has vocation, they are attuned to the 'inner voice’ and live in accordance with it on a daily basis. For Jung, it is through this process that we transform into who we are meant to be.
The voice of the soul is subtle, and is easily missed. Many of us go through life without even knowing we have one. So how can we listen? Body sensations, even illnesses may be messages from the soul. Dreams, too, are speaking from that part of us. Our sense of energy – whether we feel enlivened or flat – can be like a language. The soul also expresses itself through creative endeavours. And images or words or even songs that pop into our mind, may have something to say to us from our depths. I have to add that all we love speaks to us of who we are deep down.
Sometimes the messages seem to come from outside of us, from ‘world soul’, what Arnold Mindell refers to as the ‘intentional field.’ Synchronicities (meaningful coincidences) are the most obvious form of communication. Animals and plants communicate and maybe even the wind. Any unusual occurrence in our life may be worth paying attention to.
Allow me to tell you a story. Back in the early eighties when I was studying for my first degree in psychology, I read Jungian psychology on the side. Jung was the main reason I was majoring in psychology but he was nowhere to be found in the courses I was taking. One warm summer evening, I was with a couple of friends at Stanley Park to see a play (I can’t remember which one). While we were waiting for the gates to open into the seating area of Theatre Under the Stars, my friends wandered off while I sat on the grass and pulled out the book I was reading, The Development of Personality by Jung.
I read the words quoted above as well as the following:
It is what is commonly called vocation: an irrational factor that destines a (person) to emancipate (him/herself) from the herd and from its well-worn paths. True personality is always a vocation and puts its trust in it as in God, despite its being, as the ordinary (wo/man) would say, only a personal feeling. But vocation acts like a law of God from which there is no escape. The fact that many a (person) who goes (his/her) own way ends in ruin means nothing to one who has vocation. (S/he) must obey (his/her) own law, as if it were a daemon whispering...of new and wonderful paths. Anyone with vocation hears the voice of the inner (wo/man). (S/he) is called.
An electrical current charged through me, and the vibration remained as I continued reading,
We physicians of the soul are compelled by professional necessity to concern ourselves with the problem of personality and the inner voice, however remote it may seem to be.
I was in a timeless state and I knew without a doubt what I was reading had to do with my own life. I mean, it has to do with everyone's life, but I knew that this subject was my life work, though I had no idea what that would look like.
That was around thirty-five years ago and since that time I have been impelled to write about the soul and the inner voice again and again – in regards to transformation, mid-life, fate, nature, even jazz music. I have circled around and around the subject from every direction, and here I am writing about it yet again.
We are all in a theatre under the stars, and the soul is our ‘prima donna’. Our life ‘script’ is available to us in our ‘soul’s code’, and we can discern it if we make the effort to listen. We improvise the rest.