. . . a man prepares the foundation for a house; he gathers the
material, stone, lumber, hardware, and whatever is needed; then, he
proceeds to fit the separate parts together and, finally, he has a house
for a home. Every experience the Neophyte passes through is like a
piece of stone, lumber, or iron, used in building the “house.” The Soul
he develops, i.e., builds, will be according to the experiences he has
passed through; each experience becomes a part of the whole
Many people think of Soul as an objective entity living inside a body. This idea is a product of two thousand years of Platonic and Cartesian dualism.
Plato distinguished between physical entities and a world of Forms, which are the perfect original versions of all material objects. For example, since there are no perfect circles in the physical world, there must exist an Idea of a perfect circle somewhere in an ideal world. This ideal world make this world possible and intelligible. Plato said that Souls are prisoners inside bodies and are not freed from their incarceration until death separates the two.
In my own thinking, Soul is an imaginal and mythological perspective of human experience. As the quote above expresses, Soul is a house being constructed; perspective increases as one experiences life and cares for the things of Soul. It is not separate in any way from material bodies. Materials bodies are not prison-houses where souls are locked away until death. The material world is a glorious emanation of the Creator. Reality, which includes all manifestations of human experience, such as dreams and visions, is built of emanation upon emanation flowing from the font of all reality. The Soul is the light of the body. This light increases as we are more receptive to it.
We have discussed on this blog how the eyes are the windows to Soul. Jesus said, “The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light” (Matt 6:22, NAS). If there are no impediments in your vision, nothing to block your view of the unlimited possibilities of imagination, then your whole world will be filled with light. The Soul is not an object, per se, but it is a Light-Being, not in the sense of “being-as-thing,” but as “Light-Being-There,” to borrow somewhat from Heidegger’s use of Dasein.
The ancients saw the eyes as solar orbs, enlightening the body. Jacob Boehme said, “The Soul
is an eye in the Eternal Abyss, a similitude of Eternity.” To gaze into
the eyes of another is to gaze into the unlimited, unbounded depths of
Soul. The gaze need not be a literal looking into someone’s eyes.
This is the realm of the mundus imaginalis.
This Light-Being-There, Soul, is a gradual project that we daily tend like a garden. We must care for it, water it, pull the weeds, and most of all, allow it to bathe in the light. Of course, we know that Soul is not only light but also darkness, for it is the middle-ground between matter and spirit. From our reading of Jung, we know the Shadow will always accompany the Light. This is the middle way, the Golden Mean.
Ovid, in The Metamorphoses, tells how Daedalus warned his son to fly a middle course:
When he had put the last touches to what he had begun, the artificer balanced his own body between the two wings and hovered in the moving air. He instructed the boy as well, saying ‘Let me warn you, Icarus, to take the middle way, in case the moisture weighs down your wings, if you fly too low, or if you go too high, the sun scorches them. Travel between the extremes. And I order you not to aim towards Bootes, the Herdsman, or Helice, the Great Bear, or towards the drawn sword of Orion: take the course I show you!’ At the same time as he laid down the rules of flight, he fitted the newly created wings on the boy’s shoulders. While he worked and issued his warnings the aging man’s cheeks were wet with tears: the father’s hands trembled (Book VIII: 183-235).
May the Creator guide you in your travels through the mundus imaginalis.
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