My wife and I had an interesting discussion this morning about soul. She was not raised with a definite spiritual tradition like myself and so she often brings a different perspective to “god talk” such as terms like “soul.” As a result of this discussion, another dimension of the soul became apparent to me. The soul is not a static phenomenon but is dynamic, vibrantly dynamic as it lies at the very core of our being. The soul is something we are born with and the fact that others would utilize some other term does not bother me in the least. The soul is “the Christ child” which we are at birth…and even before…which the Chinese describe as “chi.” This burst of energy that we were, and still are, was flung into being by what in my spiritual tradition is called “the Word.” It is will, it is “elan vital,” and in some fashion is energy and at birth this “germ of being” that we were, vibrating with the energy that it was/we were, began its task of seeking expression in this world of form.
But the soul-quest, which Carl Jung described as our vocation, is a perilous venture for obstacles are present each step of the way for the duration of our life. We could even say “Satan” immediately puts barricades up in our way to keep us from unfolding as this “Word” had intended for us. And our life, being inherently a spiritual enterprise, is the story of the unfolding of this energy (I might say “Spirit of God”), seeking full expression and battling each step of the way the barricades that are necessarily before us. For, with these “barricades” that the world of form puts before us, we are deterred from staying totally Spirit in which we would never enter the human race. Though we might have human form, we would be some version of a blob of protoplasm.
And others unfold beyond this “blob,” but are still spiritually driven beyond the pale. Their neurological “god spot” is over heated. Those who suffer from this spiritual malady are often addictive personalities and are plagued with the desire to “Break on Through to the Other Side” as Jim Morrison of the Doors put it. Unmitigated, this drive will accomplish what it did for Morrison who died of an over dose as a result of his psycho-pharmocological attempt to “break on through to the other side.” This is spirituality run amok, which upon closer scrutiny is merely the ego’s co-opting of the soul’s quest for expression, turning the spiritual hunger into an unmitigated black hole.
But still another example of the ego’s intrusion into our spiritual development (one could even describe it also as a Satanic intervention) is to settle for some static level of development and at some point in the process of unfolding find certainty too intoxicating. When we sip of this delightful elixir, at some point it becomes too intoxicating and our spirituality will be arrested, sometimes even fatally. At that point we shut down the dynamic life process and when Life or, to use W. H. Auden’s term “Truth” presents itself, we “cling in panic to our tall beliefs and shrink away like an ill-treated child.” This is the temptation that fundamentalist Christianity taunted me with.
Forgive me for beating a dead horse, but Donald Trump is relevant to this argument. He, like all human beings have a soul. We can see it in his frenetic, desperate quest for power which is ultimately merely a quest for love. But early on, and certainly in his “terrible two’s” the world of form was not sufficiently present to teach him about limits. He then became stuck in narcissistic splendor and then the family and environment in which he lived never set adequate limits for him when it was still possible. By his mid-teens when he was kicked out of a boarding school, he demonstrated that he was not going to submit to the world of form. What this meant is that the energy that he was/is, that soul-level energy, was closed in upon itself and, to borrow wisdom from my youth, “The person who lives by himself and for himself will be spoiled by the company he keeps.” In other words, his soul became bound in the anguish of incomplete development but with his wealth and circumstance he was able to bully his way through life to the point that he will shortly be the President of the United States. Once again, the “world of form” has not set limits for him, have not resolutely told him, “No, Donald.” Now he is in the position to wreak havoc on our country and the world. (And here I do not have the time to explore how this developmental phenomenon as relevant to those who put him in power and continue to not hold him responsible for his word and deed, also relevant to our entire culture.)