The Language of the Soul

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Those of us who venture out (and in) to the realms of the soul can find ourselves within vast reaches of unexplored territory that is hard to evoke with words. Soul speaks a language that's oftentimes felt rather than heard.

There isn’t the vocabulary in place for all of the subtle feelings and intuitive insights that one can experience in this realm. You’ve got anatomy to provide you with scientific names for all the portions of your physical body; you can learn the technical names for all of your bones and muscles if you have the interest; but where’s the terminology that you can apply to the inner regions of the soul?

Not only that, but what few terms exist aren’t in general usage. They rather belong to specific “schools”; like, if I say The Nagual one must think of Carlos Castaneda; “spacious mind” is a term put forth by Jane Robert's Seth; “Collective Unconscious” was coined by Carl Jung; and yet these can all be (depending upon the circumstances of their usage) descriptions of similar phenomena.

And the essence of such phenomena can’t really be captured with language.

To Evoke rather than Describe

This is where I think the great poets have the right idea, because they use language to evoke experiences that can’t be described. If you're receptive to the poet's words, you may arrive there for yourself and must find your own way of articulating it.

Or you can enjoy the vistas and not worry yourself about setting it down in some kind of form (in antiquity, this was the shaman’s vocation) or communicating it to others (the arena – ideally – of a spiritual teacher of the West).

It will be interesting to see how language might evolve if and when the experience becomes more common among human beings. There will be so many nuances to explore with these newly invented words. I think of the myriad words that Inuit peoples have for "snow"; or, the many ways that desert-dwelling peoples have of describing sand.

And communication will definitely be fostered if the people who explore those realms, serving as pioneers of sorts for the movement, can get over the fearful need to jealously guard their terminology and claim ownership of it.

None of us are really inventing these concepts anyway. What we are doing that is new and unique, though, is learning to live with them within the context of a modern cultural environment the likes of which has never been seen before.

Experiencing universal truths as they apply to one’s unique, individual life; that’s the essence of the soul journey. So the myths tell us, anyway.

Spiritual Braille

In the first Edge of the Known novel, What Casts the Shadow? , Brandon Chane (the conflicted and struggling musician who narrates the tale) describes (among many other things) his songwriting process...

Because he is a visionary creator, there are no road-maps that he can follow to either produce his work or to try and convey it to others. He often feels as if he's groping around in the dark, trying to give form to insights and sensations that there are, as yet, no names for.

They felt like they {the songs} were already “there”, full cloth; I’d sense the faint outlines, sketch them out with some phrases or maybe a chord progression to start with. Slowly, all the pieces were laid into a pre-existing groove. It’s like learning to read a form of spiritual Braille.

Mind and Matter: No Separation

Many of our most detrimental misconceptions about human nature stem from the erroneous belief that mind and matter are separate.

This belief, which is shared by millions (maybe billions) of people, and has long been a central tenet of modern science, creates a profound sense of separation within us. It makes us feel alienated from our surroundings and from our own inner life.

A belief in natural selection, for example, carries with it a boatload of other unsavory ideas: That nature is unfeeling; that life carries no underlying purpose but to merely continue; that our only source of worth lies in our ability to propagate, etc.

But natural selection only seems to make sense and bear out if you believe that the physical world came before consciousness. If you see the world of matter as a product of the mind then such a theory has no stone to stand on.

Beliefs Beget Reality

A scientist may argue that such a conception of reality can never be proven. But the scientific method itself cannot prove that anything exists at all, or behaves as it appears to, outside our perception of it. It must rely upon, as its basis, the testimony of the five senses.

And if one dares to explore perceptions beyond this testimony of the physical senses, and trust them, then one must enter into the realm of dreams and intuition, so-called “extra-sensory” perception… A realm that science has largely dismissed as frivolous.

This is the arena of belief rather than fact – belief that many people out there have found to be corroborated by the vividness of their own inner experience. That consciousness comes first in all things is a notion that may never be conclusively proven in a lab – though some of the developments in quantum physics have come close.

The Impact of a Belief in Separation

And in the end, perhaps it’s more fruitful to examine the effect of a belief rather than whether it can be conclusively proven as ‘true’. The belief that mind and matter are separate – indeed, that matter came first and consciousness was just a sort of accidental afterthought – has created immense suffering and limitation within our modern world.

It strips the world around us, the world that we are innately a part of, of its luminous magic. It makes us strangers to ourselves, reducing the sacred sense of self (which every child carries) to the level of soulless mechanisms. It paints a picture of a universe that can never have meaning or significance beyond that which we give it, out of baseless fantasy, to comfort ourselves.

Such beliefs hardly encourage any human being to realize his or her gifts and potentials, to believe in life and its possibilities, to treat the Earth as the sacred gestalt of consciousness that it is. And the inevitable outcomes of these beliefs lay all around us in broken fragments.

There seems to be little point in exploring and moving through our own subjective experience at all, if we’ve accepted the idea that we’re just a walking jumble of mechanisms and involuntary processes, accidentally formed from chance collisions of matter.

As my protagonist Brandon Chane hears it from his mentor Saul in Trust in the Unseen:

“So you know why the idea of self-exploration feels threatening? Because you don’t see the value of it. Because you still don’t believe that your life is mirroring your own inner condition. So examining your own thoughts and feelings seems beside the point. But it is, in fact, the essence of the point.”

Mankind is ready for more expansive stories, stories that revolve around the miracle of the mind and soul rather than the notion of a meaningless universe of dead matter.