Posts Tagged ‘bill plotkin’

Quote of the day: SHADOW

September 20, 2012

To proceed toward wholeness and manifest the promise only you can bring to the world, you must investigate your shadow. It contains values and perspectives needed to round out your conscious personality. It contains personal powers you’ll need when you befriend or wrestle with the inner and outer dragons and angels encountered on your soul journey.

In the encounter with shadow, your conscious personality will sometimes be overwhelmed or shattered. Your ego might experience a death, but it will thereby be enabled to later rise from the ashes like a phoenix endowed with new powers….

Before being reclaimed, the negative elements of the shadow appear to the ego as disagreeable and frightening. They show up as scary dreamworld characters and as dayworld people onto whom we project our own negative qualities, such as greediness, cowardice, rage, weakness, arrogance, or cruelty. We project our negative shadow onto nature, too: hairy beasts, dark forests, swamps, tornadoes, bats, snakes, and volcanoes. Yet the negative shadow possesses beneficial attributes we need in order to mature. Without these qualities, our personalities remain unbalanced, fragmented, or otherwise incomplete….

The positive qualities of our shadow – qualities we would consider virtuous, elevated, or otherwise exemplary – are also projected onto others. These are the exemplary traits we see in others but can hardly imagine for ourselves.

Often we discover our shadow holds something sacred: our deepest passion. This may be a longing to dance, to create magic, to sing in public, or to love with abandon. Donna Medeiros, a teacher at an alternative high school, says that when we are young, we name our passion something else — so we can suppress it. We name it foolish, selfish, odd, crazy, or evil. This misnaming protects us from social injury, from being rejected or marginalized by our family or peers. Donna knows this not only from her own story but also from her daily classroom experience with teenagers whom she guides through the process of self-reclamation. When awareness of their passion begins to return, they don’t recognize it at first because it had been mislabeled.

— Bill Plotkin, Soulcraft

Quote of the day: INITIATION

June 7, 2012


Soul initiation refers to that extraordinary moment in life when we cross over from psychological adolescence to true adulthood, from our first adulthood to our second. At that moment, our everyday life becomes firmly rooted in the purposes of the soul. The embodiment of our soul powers becomes as high a priority in living as any other. But it’s not so much that we choose at that moment to make soul embodiment a top priority; it’s more as if the soul commands us to that task and we assent.
In the Western culture, we need to be careful with the word initiation. Many people associate it with elitism, secret societies, flaky or nefarious cults, and oppressive, hierarchical organizations. For some people, the word evokes, on the one hand, a sense of their own inadequacy (if they have not undergone an initiatory experience and believe they ought to have) and, on the other, suspicions of arrogance or ego inflation on the part of those who participate in initiatory rites. Due to its considerable charge, it may be best to avoid public declarations of being initiated. Soul initiation is not something to be worn like a badge or status symbol; it is to be quietly embodied through a life of soulful service.
Soul initiation transforms our lives by the power of the truth at the center of our soul image. Embracing the truth results in a radical simplification of our lives. Activities and relationships not supportive of our soul purpose begin to fall away. Our former agendas are discarded, half-completed projects abandoned. Many old problems are not solved but outgrown. Old ways of presenting and defending ourselves become less appealing, and less necessary.
At soul initiation, our lives are changed forever, irreversibly.

— Bill Plotkin, Soulcraft

Quote of the day: YOUR DANCE

May 20, 2012


Harley Swift Deer, a Native American teacher, says that each of us has a survival dance and a sacred dance, but the survival dance must come first. Our survival dance, a foundational component of self-reliance, is what we do for a living – our way of supporting ourselves physically and economically. For most people, this means a paid job. For members of a religious community like a monastery, it means social or spiritual labors that contribute to the community’s well-being. For others, it means creating a home and raising children, finding a patron for one’s art, or living as a hunter or gatherer. Everybody has to have a survival dance. Finding or creating one is our first task upon leaving our parents’ or guardians’ home.

Once you have your survival dance established, you can wander, inwardly and outwardly, searching for clues to your sacred dance, the work you were born to do. This work may have no relation to your job. Your sacred dance sparks your greatest fulfillment and extends your truest service to others. You know you’ve found it when there’s little else you’d rather be doing. Getting paid for it is superfluous. You would gladly pay others, if necessary, for the opportunity.

Hence, the importance of self-reliance, not merely of the economic kind implied by a survival dance but also of the social, psychological, and spiritual kinds. To find your sacred dance, after all, you will need to take significant risks. You might need to move against the grain of your family and friends. By honing psychological self-reliance, you will find it easier to keep focused on your goals in the face of resistance or incomprehension, initial failure or setbacks, or economic or organizational obstacles. And spiritual self-reliance will maintain your connection with deeper truths and what you’ve learned about how the world works.

— Bill Plotkin, Soulcraft

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

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