Posts Tagged ‘soul and spirit’

Quote of the day: SOUL AND SPIRIT

April 4, 2012

SOUL AND SPIRIT

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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