The Unbelievable Strangeness of Soul

20170814 THE UNBELIEVEABLE STRANGENESS OF SOULI’m back in London after a few days break, and I’m in my inner London apartment, which is graced with a back garden (some would call it a yard), and though small it may be, it is greatly appreciated by me as a modest space to imbibe a steaming hot cup of coffee, read a good book, and in the evening or early night hours, like now, it’s a good place to rest with a few candles burning away to provide light, and to think.

The last few days have been relaxed. Very busy before that – hence the need to get away for a few days – and the next few days have the potential to be ever-so busy, and more so, if I let them. I’m not going to let that happen. As far as possible I intend to pace myself, plan ahead, and move smoothly through some complex issues regarding house-selling.

But, at times it can feel like a distant storm is approaching, such is modern life today. However, here in my small patch of garden or yard, I’m at peace. Come what may, we determine the effect events have on us.

And right now, ‘it is well with my soul’.

In the twilight, with nearby lamp posts just lighting up, their light is harsh and abrasive. The candle-light offers no competition, and is gentle and seems to hark back to more leisurely times. Candle light, just is. In the fast pace that modern life can move at, the soul can be buffeted even without us knowing. Buffeted, fragmented, parts lost, chipped away. The soul is indeed a vital part of ‘us’ some would say, and delicate, but one many do not consider at all.

‘I plucked my soul out of its secret place,
and held it to the mirror of my eye,
to see it like a star against the sky. Claude McKay)

There is a notion that the eyes are the windows of the soul. And, it certainly seems that our soul resides behind our eyes, and in our skull. For those that are unsure about soul nature, that’s a good start. But, I do believe the soul is stranger than that. There’s more.

Why should we surmise that our soul is behind our eyes and located in a small ‘box’ where our brain resides? Like most people, the idea is that the soul, infact, inhabits part of the body.

The candles on the garden table number seven distinct, small candles and yet their light travels far. At first, their light seemed to travel just a few inches, but now it seems their flickering light can be measured in yards or metres. The change is no real change at all. The candle light travelled just as far as it ever did. What changed was my perception of their light and the ‘acclimatisation’ of my eyes.

Strangeness #1: Could it be that your soul doesn’t inhabit your body, but that your body inhabits a much larger and all-pervading soul, and that your soul is the size of an apartment block? Ofcourse, the soul is immaterial, but to be ‘materially-minded’ for a moment, yes, your soul is bigger than your physical body. I think so.

Have you ever looked deeply into someone’s eyes, and had that ‘ocular swap’ episode, that sensation, feeling or ‘shock’ where you can see (of feel) yourself looking back, even for a moment? And that may happen in rapid succession in a few seconds?

The idea that the soul is separate may be useful at times and it may be the dominant view in our society – but then we live in an individualistic age – but it isn’t the best way of looking at the soul.

Some of the small candles on the garden table are flickering, spluttering and for a moment one or two emit less light, and yet no shadow is cast. Together, whether glowing at brightly or reduced in light, they work together.

Strangeness #2: There is also a soul-connectedness to other people. It’s as if, as we move pass people (whether physical or otherwise) we ‘connect’ and influence them, and they affect us. Sometimes, just their presence does that.

‘…as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:40b

And, perhaps there’s some reciprocity occurring. What we do, send, think about others comes back to us. Perhaps, by way of analogy, our soul appears individually like the spokes on the outer rim of a wheel, so that we can see another soul at a short distance on the rim, so to speak. And, then as we travel nearer the hub our souls become ‘closer’ and entwined, so that we are ‘soulishly’ connected to each other.

Strangeness #3: ‘Soulishly’, we are all connected to One! But, there’s more. At the hub we become one with the Hub of All, that which some might call the Source of All. Simultaneously individual, and yet connected and entwined, and yet One!

‘There is something strange, hidden in the symmetry of the soul. When you diminish another person, you diminish yourself. When you diminish yourself, you diminish others’. John O’Donohue.

It’s late. The air is cooling, and it’s time to take the now-cold cup of coffee and book indoors. Extinguishing the candle-light the garden or yard (I like to think of it as a small garden) is plunged into darkness. No more light. No more analogies. Except that speeding away from the little garden table, and at the speed of light, that candle-light is indeed continuing on a journey, unbeknownst to me, but seen by others if there were twenty light-seconds away. [I worked it out: potential observers would be about 3.75million miles away, and would just now be seeing me extinguish the candles].

Perhaps I can ‘sneak’ in another strange theory (Strangeness #4) that: however it looks from our perspective, the soul continues on, just like that candle light.

And, then, as an after-thought. Our language has limits (hence the use of analogies and metaphors) and our journey into the strangeness of the soul is  a slow one – slow is good – and so in talking about us having a soul, perhaps we should bear in mind, as a timely reminder, the words of C S Lewis.

‘You do not have a soul.  You are a soul.  You have a body.’ C S Lewis

The Coimimeadh & You: Celtic Thoughts When Out Jogging

20170609 THE COIMIMEADH WHEN OUT JOGGING 1Thoughts from earlier today: I’m in London. It’s early, probably about 6.30am and I’m out jogging. Well, walking now as I’ve done my stint for the day. I’m walking back home. The weather is mild, a little cool, grey cloud overhead, and it’s threatening to rain. There are few people out and out, but there are a few.

Strangers?

Have you ever noticed that when people are not in a rush, perhaps when you pass them first thing in the morning, such as I’m doing now, that there is a ‘connection’. They are more willing to look you in the eye, albeit momentarily, as you pass them by. A friendly nod of the head, perhaps a verbalised greeting and eye contact ensues. This happens a lot in this part of London – I like to think of the city as a friendly place – but there’s a deeper looking into each others soul – if that’s what it is – when passing by, unhurried, early in the morning.

Recognition?

‘When we can look into each others eyes, however briefly, without any agendas or scheme of desire or need, something indescribable and essential takes makes us more than we…’ Mark Nepo

I don’t know if it’s just me, but it’s as if I know them from some other place or time, but don’t know where and when. Odd. There’s something familiar about them. And then it’s gone as we pass each other by.

Could it be that that recognition that I see, and presumably they see in me, and I’m sure the same applies to you, is something deep and profound. It certainly feels like it.

‘Ninety-nine percent of who you are is invisible and untouchable.’  Rhonda Byrne

Could it be that in some way I am ‘seeing’ myself in them, and they see themselves in me. Do we ‘see’ ourselves in others. Not just the human condition reflected back, not just separateness, not just another human being passing you and me by, but a genuine soul-connectedness. Perhaps a recognition that is soul-to-soul, deep within, and/or of having even one-soul such as, say, at the centre of a wheel’s hub and waking up to that commonality or oneness?

‘Each time you say hello to a stranger, your heart acknowledges over and over again that we are all family.’ (Suzy Kassem)

Could it be, allied to that soul-to-soul link, that each one of us has another! Yes, you are not just one! That you have something like a spiritual doppelganger. There’s an unusual and wonderful reference to this in the Book (see Acts 12:15, The Book).

‘The angel seeing us is watching through each other’s eyes.

To ancient (Irish) Celts and Druids this mysterious being, this other-us, is the coimimeadh [pronounced koym-imah]. In the late 17th century, Reverend Robert Kirk wrote about the coimimeadh (literally the ‘co-traveller’), and wrote that it is part of you (your soul), who walks beside you, generally, but sometimes can even go walk-about (in which case you, too, can be bi-locational).

Have you ever felt another presence nearby? An elemental in the forest? An angel? Your (own) coimimeadh? Who knows?

Could it be, and I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m amongst friends, so here goes, could it be that that person and I have, indeed, met before? Yes, I’ll nail my colours to the mast and declare that I’m a firm advocate of not only accepting the existence of the life hereafter, but also of pre-life. Perhaps, that’s where I know them from. Perhaps all the people in your (earthly) life and mine, all those that we fleetingly ‘see’ deeply in the early morning (or in similar settings) are friends from that realm of pre-existence? And, they have been put here as your companions to assist each you on our journey back home, and you for them?

‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you..’ Jeremiah 1.5a

Meanwhile, I’m almost back home, and the person passing me right now has quickened their pace and is looking down. Perhaps, they’re not someone I met in pre-life, perhaps not a coimimeadh, perhaps not my soul-reflection or an angel as no deep connected is felt. Perhaps they aren’t soul-open?. Or, perhaps I’ve got it completely wrong.

Now time for a shower, and to make myself look presentable again.

‘My soul is not asleep. It is awake, wide awake. It neither sleeps nor dreams, but watches, its eyes wide open far-off things, and listens at the shores of the great silence.’ (Antonio Machado)

But, in any case, it’s only good manners to be polite, and smile and greet strangers, first thing in the morning (and at other times), isn’t it? As it says somewhere, ‘Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.’

But, what do you think?

Le Point Vierge: Regarding The Soul: Haiku #8

20170519 LE POINT VIERGE REGARDING THE SOUL HAIKU #8As you may know, I’m fascinated by the traditional haiku – those short Japanese poems consisting of three pithy lines; and the lines containing firstly five syllables, then seven, then five.

Below are a number of verses to a poem, with each verse being a haiku, and each (hopefully) seen as progressive, and saying something (albeit brief, and poetic) about our awesome, complex, mysterious ‘composition’ as humankind.

Flesh and blood yet flow
within our soul’s great embrace.
Animated dust?

‘Yet more!’, the sage says.
The soul, the immortal light,
is the precious ‘you’.

Where the soul resides,
time and timelessness exist
in a paradox.

There, le point vierge,
a meeting place of the soul,
Wondrous rendezvous.

The ‘go-between’ soul
encounters, there, the spirit,
always faced to God.

butterfly 111 animal-2028155_960_720In liminal space,
there we dance the dance of Love.
Graceful theosis.

Triune personhood,
as above, e’en so below.
You, mirrored Spirit.

 

20170519 LE POINT VIERGE REGARDING THE SOUL HAIKU #8

Celtic Lifestyle: Time For Our Souls…

20170518 TIME FOR OUR SOULS CELTIC LIFE4STYLE

‘I know you’re a Type A personality, but right now you really need to slow down, or even stop for a while’, was a phrase I overheard recently. It wasn’t directed at me (as I think I probably qualify as being a Type B personality), but it was well-intended, and in hindsight it was probably exactly what that person needed to hear.

I know we all live in a busy society, but my encouragement to myself and yourself (so far as is possible and practical) is to slow down and find the opportunity to stop for a while. Ofcourse, this is not a reason to do this when we’re working in paid employment clients depend on us, or when it is otherwise inappropriate, but a ‘nudge’ to find time at other times, or even ‘gouge’ out time, then, to slow down and even stop for a while, may be beneficial to each of us.

‘Busy is the enemy of peace. Busy takes us away from our purpose…Busy means life’s joys and surprises can’t find a way into our lives because we’re moving too fast to see and experience them. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to move so fast that I miss my life.’  [Lara Casey]

The ancient Celts, Druids, proto-church Christians and other ancient people lived life to a much different timescale to us, and we have many things to (re-)learn from them. Indeed, they even to a different time-measurement than us. Could it be that we really are missing out by being so busy all the time?

‘Faster is fatal, slower is safe.’ [Amit Kalantri]

A half-way decent fictional movie – I do like Robin Hood – was on tv recently, and  it was spoiled for me when one of the protagonists lined people up and gave them orders to see him, privately. Each one was told by him to report to him ‘ten minutes later’, that is ten minutes after the previous one! Would the Sheriff of Nottingham, some six hundred years ago, be using time in that way? I don’t think so. Time measurement may have been in hours, then, or even half hours, but probably not quarters of an hour or so many minutes. It’s only since the advent of clocks and wristwatches (and railway timetables, apparently) that we, as a society, have been obsessed with the measurement of time to the minute, to such a precise scale. And yet, in looking back it ‘feels’ like it may have always been this way. To the film’s script-writers it obviously seemed like a normal thing to do – to schedule visits to the Sheriff of Nottingham down to ten minutes – but it wasn’t always that way. Nor for our society.

‘Stop talking, stop thinking,
and there is nothing you will not understand.’ [Seng Ts’an]

There’s an interesting story, that goes like this: An archaeologist once hired some local  tribesmen to act as bearers  and paid the to lead him to an archaeological site deep in the mountains. After they had been moving for some time the tribesmen stopped, put down their cargo they were carrying, and insisted they would go no further. They sat down and waited. The archaeologist grew extremely  impatient, and then  became angry. But no matter how much he cajoled them, or even bribed the tribesmen with more money, they would not go any further. Then, some hours later, and without any prior announcement the local tribesmen changed their attitude, picked up the cargo and set off once more. When the bewildered archaeologist asked them why they had stopped earlier, and had refused to move for so long, the tribesmen answered in matter-of-fact manner, ‘We had been moving too fast, and had to wait for our souls to catch up.’

‘…life  always seems vacant and diminished when I accelerate beyond my capacity to feel what is before me.’ [Mark Nepo]

Could it be that we’re all too busy? It may not be the case for you, but it’s always worth periodically checking to ascertain if we’re moving to fast, and need to ‘wait for our souls to catch up’. A busy diary is not necessarily the mark of an efficient or important person, though our egos would like us to think that.

Here’s something you might like to consider: Take some time to think of four things that you must do today. Carefully, relinquish three tasks. And then give yourself fully to that one task.

I admit writing the abovementioned is a risk, and I do advocate using ‘sanctified common-sense’ in doing this exercise, as it may need to be adapted, or it may not be feasible to do it today, or because doing it will cause great offense or pain to others. That’s where we may need to adapt, but I’m sure you get the point. But, if not today, what about tomorrow?

What is this life if, full of care,
we have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
and stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
and watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
we have no time to stand and stare.

[W H Davies]

Maybe it’s time to wait for our souls to catch up?