Quote of the day: SOUL AND SPIRIT

April 4, 2012


The upward and downward journeys support one another. Although distinct – even opposite – they are the two halves of a single path toward fulfillment and wholeness. While either journey alone is better than neither, the two together constitute a more complete spirituality.

Although opposite in one sense, soul and spirit are not in any way opposed to one another. They are – to borrow a phrase employed by depth psychologist James Hillman – “two polar forces of one and the same power.” We might call that one power the transpersonal, the sacred, or the Great Mystery. Spirit is the mystery of the One, of the Light, of eternal life. Soul is the mystery of the unique and the infinitely diverse, of the underworld and depth, of the dark and of death.

Soul shows us how we, as individuals, are different (in a community-affirming way) from everybody else. Spirit shows us how we are no different from anything else, how we are one with all that exists.

In relation to spirit, everyone has the same lessons to learn; for example, compassion and loving-kindness toward all beings, as Buddhism teaches. Our relationship to spirit makes possible the experience and expression of such universal transpersonal qualities as unconditional love, perennial wisdom, and healing power.

In relation to soul, we each have lessons as qualities as unique as our fingerprints. Hillman expresses the distinction between soul and spirit in delightfully and characteristically irreverent terms:  “Soul likes intimacy; spirit is uplifting. Soul gets hairy; spirit is bald. Spirit sees, even in the dark; soul feels its way, step by step, or needs a dog. Spirit shoots arrows; soul takes them in the chest. William James and D. H. Lawrence said it best. Spirit likes wholes; soul likes eaches. But they need each other like sadists need masochists and vice versa.”

— Bill Plotkin, Soulcraft

One Response to “Quote of the day: SOUL AND SPIRIT”

  1. Sara Says:

    As someone who has covered his work previous, I am writing to see if you would be interested in receiving a review copy of Bill Plotkin’s new book Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche which we will be publishing this April for consideration. If so I would be happy to ask his publicist at New World Library to send you either the PDF or the physical book in March when we get them hot off the press. If this is of interest, please reply to this email with your mailing address, a direct link to your blog, and the format you prefer!

    Here’s more information about this ground-breaking book…

    What do we need to know and understand to help facilitate lasting positive change in our individual lives and communities? How can we revolutionize our understanding of what it means to be human and revive our abilities to realize our potential and transform our contemporary cultures?

    The enclosed advance reading copy of Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche (New World Library, April 15, 2013) by cultural visionary, author, and wilderness guide Bill Plotkin addresses and answers these key questions of our time.

    “We’re being summoned by the world itself to make many urgent changes to the human project, but most central is a fundamental re-visioning and reshaping of ourselves, a shift in consciousness,” writes Plotkin. “We must reclaim and embody our original wholeness, our indigenous human nature granted to us by nature itself. And the key to reclaiming our original wholeness is not merely to suppress psychological symptoms, recover from addictions and trauma, manage stress, or refurbish dysfunctional relationships, but rather to fully flesh out our multifaceted, wild psyches, committing ourselves to the largest story we’re capable of living, serving something bigger than ourselves.”

    In Wild Mind, Plotkin introduces a map of psychological wholeness that is rooted in nature’s own map of wholeness. The book offers an elaborate field guide to becoming fully human by cultivating the four facets of the Self and discovering both the limitations and gifts of our wounded, fragmented, and shadowed subpersonalities.

    I look forward to hearing from you about this possibility! Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions.

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