(Have no clue what happened to the web site logo!)
As our unfolding continues on through the mystery, clues keep arriving to help orient to wholeness and facilitate the emergence of the next levels of consciousness necessary to help navigate our historical moment. Through a very typical Ojai convergence, I have just come across the work of Bill Plotkin, author of ‘Soul Craft” , “Nature and the Soul”, and his most recent book, “Wild Mind”. As a fellow soul traveler with strong links to Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme, Bill’s unique perspective strongly resonates with me and I hope you can find great inspiration from his vision as well
As a psychotherapist, Bill has a deep curiosity about mind, conscious, sub-conscious and unconscious, and has a great vocabulary to help map and flesh out the psychic and psychological terrain we are all exploring. He is familiar with Internal Family Systems and Voice Dialogue, and has developed his own model and language for the mature and immature parts, based in part on the Native American ‘medicine wheel’ and the four cardinal directions, north, east, south and west, as seen here. Bill also adds in Greek mythology, Jungian psychology, archetypal imagery, and more, but also allows you to find metaphors and language that speak to your own unique self.
From the four cardinal directions, which we can imagine as a horizontal plane, we add three more directions: above, or towards the heavens and celestial realms, which we call ‘Spirit’; below, down into the earth and the heart of mother nature which we call ‘Soul’; and finally into the center of all, which I call the ‘Ego’. We all begin at the center and maturing brings an integration of all seven directions, which I call the ‘Self’. Integration does not imply that every aspect and possibility has matured and completed its unfolding. Just that all seven directions are included in our basic ‘self sense’, and some maturity has begun to deepen the way in which the seven nurture and support each other in their emergence and deepening maturity. Wholeness is our natural state, but we forget, and the ego begins to act from the parts and sub-personalities that are cut off from the others. In “Wild Mind”, Bill goes into great depth about the seven directions and I highly recommend this to you.
***(an important note on language; words are, as the Buddhists say, are fingers pointing at something, but definitely not the object or experience they are pointing to. Spirit and Soul are words pointing to the same experience as the Sanskrit terms Purusha (timelessness, unboundedness, stillness: the masculine expression of divinity) and Prakriti (creation, mother Nature, impermanence, the feminine expression of Divinity. Bill and I agree in this, whereas Adyashanti reverses the words, using Spirit for the feminine and Soul for the masculine. But then Bill Plotkin uses Ego and Self opposite to the way I do. He uses the expression 3-D Ego to describe what I call the Self. He has a more Western based perspective, myself more Eastern. But the principles are exactly the same.)
Bill’s other passion is wilderness and uses wilderness expeditions for vision quests, soul searching, and other means to break out of the shell of a ‘civilized’ ego. Our self sense has become so limited, stunted and deformed by modern society that we have developed a major cultural psycho-pathology that is destroying the planet. Wilderness experience, going one on one, alone with nature, with some guidance, allows a major shift that can open repressed skills and means of knowing that are essential to our growth and survival, as individuals, and as a species.
As somanauts, our encounter with nature can also be an inner voyage to the cells, organs, meridians, nadis, energy channels and fields that comprise our bio-spiritually embodied selves. This is level one soul work. The role of the soul is to help us fully embody our divinity, inwardly and outwardly. In yoga, we explore the seven directions spatially, through movement, imagination and perception, in postures, to shift consciousness from the everyday routine to a communion state with the soul. We become one with earth, water, fire and air, we feel their gifts, their presence, their power, so when we are out in nature, we already are deeply connected through the elements. The deeper dimensions of the soul can then begin to reveal themselves as we meet the birds, bees, flowers and trees, oceans, waves, winds and rain as dimensions of our own deep soul. We no longer observe nature from a distance, but dissolve into the mystery of the unfolding moment. The soul is not about control, but surrender into Creation at the most primary level.
Grad student homework: (This may take a while, or it may come quickly!)
Find your own chakra totem, one animal/plant being for each chakra, one through seven. Find the gift/feel/flow of each of these and how they relate to the other six. You may find only one to begin, but this can be a very rich exploration in and of itself. This is a soul meditation. These are some possible starting points. You may find others as well. Good luck!
Who is my root support?
Who awakens my feeling of flow?
Who empowers me?Who offers my heart roots and wings?
Who liberates my voice?
Who helps me see all?
Who is my primary celestial guide?
Take what arises onto the mat, and out into Nature and the world around you. Be open to surprise.