Post for January 6, 2016

Nothing is more difficult than to realize that every man has a distinct soul, that every one of all the millions who live or have lived, is whole and independent – a being in himself, as if there were no one else in the whole world but he.

John Henry Newman, in Parochial and Plain Sermons

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Psychotherapist James Hillman understands the primacy of the soul.

I had the opportunity recently to read an interview with Jim Hillman.  Shear genius, uncommon common sense.

In it Hillman discusses the “code of the soul” – the soul as the mystery of human nature, the root of character and destiny.  Yes, the soul tells how we are called, what is our unique identity, the vehicle for a life of imperatives to be fulfilled so we might know who we are, live as we are made to be.

Implicit in our life is the quest of self-awareness, knowledge of who we are in our essence, in the soul.

Yes, circumstances, institutions, culture, misfortune, chance may show us who we are.  Yes, seek common themes that emerge in life’s events.

It is not people per se who are the problem, but often the culture and others and what they bring us. Not that we are victims but, yes – we are impacted upon by that which is around us.  All the more reason we need to know our culture and its ideas and its default settings, and who we are, what our soul seeks to show in us.

Yes, the ideas which govern our time and culture matter, especially those that are misshapen; and, yes, life requires distinguishing our identity from that of our time and it mistakes.  Yes, to be called to be is to be called to be who we are, not who the time or culture might say we are.  We are known by what we naturally do, what gives us joy, makes us helpful to others,  You may be a friend. Enough said: be a friend.

Be reluctant to be made dependent. Those who are dependent are those the culture treats with indifference, without expectation.  Yes, indifference is the opposite of love, those who we do not love, we do not care about, we discard.

It is not just aptitude which tells us who we are but that which we cannot do.  Do not dismiss what you cannot do or do not like, ask: what does this say about me?  Tell me about who I am?

The forces of life are at work.  See patterns.  Loss.  Estrangement. Everything teaches and amplifies who we are in the soul.  Misfortune makes you go deeper, probe more fully.  In this, we see our soul.

And do not forget aesthetics.  They bring you to feeling and beauty and no soul is known, nor personal identity established, without feeling and beauty.

Jim Hillman: a gift.  Part of faith and Spirit.  Yes, he speaks of these and to these.


Note – Some object to mention of the political, the powerful and would-be secular leaders in these posts.  They do not recall that Jesus told the parable of the wicked servants who killed the landlord’s son in the presence of the Pharisees and it made them angry.  Many look, few see.  Jesus knew this so very well.

Peace be with you.