Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart: Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.
--C. G. Jung
The soul is the mast on our voyage toward authenticity, supporting our sails so we may travel with direction and dexterity. Alone, however, the soul is limited; just as a sail lies motionless without the wind. We must allow the Spirit to awaken and breathe life into our Soul, allowing us to feel and experience life fully. The soul opens our heart, inviting us to know our values in our commitments. Charged with the Spirit, the soul lends strength to the connections of our self to others by infusing our engagements with the vitality of the Spirit. When we let our Soul guide our actions, God is our compass in life. We navigate our voyage with direction.
Certainly, capturing the Spirit may seem difficult. God and the soul relate to issues of faith, and we find diverse interpretations in different religious traditions. It is natural to question whether any particular system of faith teaches the Truth and worthy of our full conviction and commitment. How do we know if what we believe is True? How do we know that we are on the right path? How do we know that God serves as our rudder? These answers are found through knowledge from personal experience when we connect to the Good, much as Carl Jung, the father of analytic psychology answered when asked if he believed in God and responded, “I don’t need to believe, I know!” Such clarity results from personal encounters with the Spirit. Through our Soul, animated by the Spirit, we become united with our True Self, gaining the depth of self awareness. The further we remove ourselves from the experience of the Soul, the less we are able to understand our self, our goals, and our purpose to build a satisfying life. Most of our struggles result from pursuit of the false self that end when we connect with our Soul.
Our culture has increasingly come to recognize the fact that we cannot be fulfilled without finding the Spirit within us. Discipliness that previously ignored or denied the existence of the Soul, such as business or the hard sciences, now join in the search for the meaning that only IT can provide. Through such efforts an invitation extends to us to cross a threshold and enter our True Coming of Age. Such knowledge of God and True Coming of Age occurs individually, as personal and experiential, not based on socializtion, formalism, mere ritual, or intellectualism. We cannot merely speak of God; we must make contact to:
- explain the role of the Truth and knowledge of our Soul in the creation of our personal paradign (our map) for life;
- clarify the difference between inauthentic and authentic spirituality;
- show how our True Self is strengthened through our direct connection with the Spirit.
Realizing the impact of religion and spirituality on our personal development, we acknowledge that at times formalized systems may be mired in traditionalism, political correctness, or extremism. These avenues may not always avail out encounter of the Spirit. Yet, as this experience is as vital force for our fulfillment, we must secure the Spirit through our actions and beliefs. To embrace the Soul, therefore, we must take conscious ownership of our course and navigate our own direction, accepting responsibility for the strength of our connections and gaining endurance and resilience through our commitment to the Truth, less we flounder.
Through our connection to God we achieve perspective that allows us to make peace with the paradoxes of life, understanding that our immense importance, yet insignificance and coming to peace with paradozes, such as, if God knew what we will decide when he created us, how can there be free will? When we take responsibility for the Spirit in our life, we know that there is something greater than ourselves acting within us. By strengthening our awareness of and our connection to our Soul, establishing its ties to our true self and to others we take hold of our voyage.
John T. Chirban, Ph.D., Th.D. is a clinical instructor in psychology at Harvard Medical School and author of True Coming of Age: A Dynamic Process That Leads to Emotional Stability, Spiritual Growth, and Meaningful Relationships. For more information please visit www.dr.chirban.com and www.sexualproblems.com.