A while ago I wrote a piece on the soul and what the soul is. (You can read that piece here) In this article I want to talk about how we can find the voice of the soul and learn to let it guide us. My views are of course entirely my own and I share them to inspire, not to preach.
We have all heard it being said: Listen to your heart/gut feeling, follow your instincts, etc. But what does that really mean? To follow your heart or the feeling in your gut can be easily interpreted as following your emotions, as it is in the stomach and in the heart (here I mean the actual organ) we often feel things like fear and excitement first. Following your instincts is a little trickier. Our instincts are our survival instincts, the guidelines provided to us by nature in order to live and thrive and survive, these instincts are often the driving force of the ego which is, I have to say, not always a negative thing, but can lead to a less compassionate outcome. Some people also talk about the intuition, that mystic force that forewarns us about danger and gives us a good feeling about a positive outcome before it has happened. One can argue that the intuition is closely related to our moral sense, our values, life goals and desired achievements. But perhaps I am being too pragmatic here. My point is just that not all such life advice or guidelines are connected to the soul. They have more to do with moral, emotional health and life goals.
When we attempt to find the voice of our soul, or our eternal selves, we need to abandon our ego completely. We cannot try to influence the inner sounds by wishing for something to happen, or logically analyzing an event or occurrence. We have to try to stop thinking within the limitations of time and space and solid matter. It will feel a bit like reading between the lines without attempting to do just that. Yeah, I know, it sounds very cryptic. Let’s try using some examples.
When you look at a piece of art, for example an abstract painting, many times something vague, like a feeling you can’t quite put into words, might awaken in you. The same goes for a poem written using one or many metaphors. It might not appeal to your rational self, but if you are open to it it will still awaken something in you, something you can’t quite grasp, but it is still strongly present. An example is Zen poetry. Zen poems are mystic and often irrational, yet holds within something so vast that it will tickle your sense of eternity and enormity. It is a riddle where the answer cannot be comprehended by logic or “common sense” and hence it attempts to steer you away from this way of thinking.
Surrealism is another perfect example of such a means of communication. A surrealist painting breaks free from the bonds of conventional form and creates a completely senseless world where nothing follows the laws of physics, yet there is something there; a coded message just for you that you might not be able to fully understand, but it moves you and gently nudges you in a new direction. And such is the voice of the soul.
The Hindu god Krishna says in one verse in the puranas that none of us need a teacher to teach us anything. All the answers we need is right here in front of us if we only learn to see with the right eyes. He is talking about the natural world. When you look at a tree, do you only see a tree with leaves, bark, trunk, roots etc. or do you see something more hidden within the form that you have learned to call tree? Is a sunset just a beautiful scene where the sun moves away from your part of the world and rises in another? As poets, as artists, as musicians we learn to put these contemplations into words, images and rhythms, hoping that they will inspire others to see those hidden motions too.
When we learn to hear this silent movement, to grasp the vast vagueness within, our life opens up to a whole other dimension. We are moved by secrets we take joy in keeping secret, by quests without solutions and pilgrimages without sacred destinations, we learn to open doors others cannot see and delight in finding another door behind the first one. When we move through the world with this awareness it is like moving in two worlds simultaneously, one concrete and visible world and one shadow world.
To bring this back to earth a little…have you ever prayed for something or wished for something so hard you feel like all your happiness depends on it coming true? For instance, becoming an artist or an actor, or finding love, or moving to another country. Have you ever tried to listen to an answer? Not an answer given in words, but a wordless one, a vague sense of something that may or may not manifest into a metaphorical answer? Your desire will almost always have two sides to it. To put it into a more concrete and comprehensible answer, ask yourself this: Why do you want to become an actor? Why do you feel like you need to find a romantic partner? Listen to the silence within. Perhaps it has to do with needing to feel loved more than it has to do with romance. Perhaps it is not about acting but about your need to be seen or to express yourself. Perhaps you want to be a writer not because you love words, but because you feel you have something important to say? Perhaps you want to move away because you want to discover new sides to yourself? Even beyond these answers there is another door, another truth, more tunnels to follow.
Living with the awareness of this depth or this shadow world is not only inspiring and exciting it also makes you more flexible and makes happiness more obtainable. You learn to find purpose in everything, even watching a flower open its petals or the sound of waves crashing upon the shore. It will also expand your artistic and creative horizon, inspiring you to always look just a little further when you hear a piece of music or study a painting or read a poem.
Learning to find the voice of your soul is hearing eternity whisper back to you, it is about gaining access to your soul-memory, the memory that goes all the way back to creation and even beyond that, it is about always being on a pilgrimage without a destination, a pilgrimage that did not start with the birth of your body and will not end when your body’s journey is over.