“If you need to visualize the soul, think of it as a cross between a wolf howl, a photon, and a dribble of dark molasses. But what it really is, as near as I can tell, is a packet of information. It’s a program, a piece of hyper-spatial software designed explicitly to interface with the Mystery. Not a mystery, mind you, the Mystery. The one that can never be solved.” ~ Tom Robbins
If, as Bill Plotkin wrote in Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche, “Once one has said yes to the call to adventure, the ego is securely in the grip of the soul, and the soul serves notice that the ego will not emerge unchanged,” then the soul must be a catalyst of great power, a force to be reckoned with, a force that drives the ego into the corner wearing a Dunce Cap while the soul fills up the room with numinous wisdom.
If you want to further visualize the soul, imagine the coalescence of a hot coal in deep snow, a singularity, and a kitten all wrapped up in its little blue purr. If you want to feel the soul, just pinch the sunset between your fingertips, lick the moonlight off your lover’s skin, or touch the crisp pages of a burnt bible inside a pink My Little Pony backpack.
But if you really want to dig deep into the guts of the soul, you’ll need cataclysmic forceps, a bowl of existential water, a scalpel sharpened by Death’s silvery scythe. You’ll need patience, Koch-curved time, the will to be a flicker of nothingness amidst a majesty of infinity. You’ll need love, salve, a plethora of masks, a spool of crisis stitches, sutures and wax. It will be an arduously Nietzschean task that will flabbergast your hearts all-too-serious tangle –for which you’ll need all the algorithms of paradox to untie the knots and unpluck the splinters of rebirth from the shattered mess.
But if you should make it through this infinite jest, this jokes-on-you, ludicrous tenderness, and if you are able to piece back together all the bones that make a spine, all the love that makes a heart, and all the ache that makes up the spirit, then you, my friend, will have discovered a laughter of the most-high, with a numinous transcendence that will make the gods sigh as they trip over their halos, righteousness, and plight. Who’s to say this cannot be Soul?
A wolf howl:
“We are here on earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut
If the soul is a wolf howl, then it stands to reason that it is also a call to adventure. But it doesn’t have to be all serious and threatening, although it can be both. Disposition goes a long way. Sure, our ego gets put on display and its vulnerability splayed out like a self-inflicted crucifixion, but there’s no reason why we cannot have fun with it.
Think: The closing scene in the Monty Python flick, The Life of Brian (see video): “If life seems jolly rotten, there’s something you’ve forgotten. And that’s to laugh, and smile, and dance, and sing. When you’re feeling in the dumps, don’t be silly chumps. Just purse your lips and whistle -that’s the thing.”
Let’s say yes to the wolf’s howl: the call to adventure. Indeed, let’s be the one howling, soulfully, into the moon-thick night. Let’s dare the rabbit hole to challenge us, the wormhole to astonish us, and the existential blackhole (dark night of the soul) to transform us. How else are we going to find our place in the world, let alone our own unique soulwork? Like Charles Simic said, “He who cannot howl, will not find his pack.”
“Our separation from each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.” ~ Albert Einstein
The soul is like a photon in the sense that the soul cannot be currently explained in a rational way. It’s a deep feeling of being in mind-body-spirit, an awareness higher than mere consciousness. Indeed, conscious observation itself seems to be a factor that confuses the data. Similar to how particle physics cannot explain what is light. Physicists can postulate the photon’s particle-like nature. They can postulate its wave-like nature.
But in the end, the phenomena of Light is just as systematically indescribable as the Soul. Contrastingly, we may postulate the neurological and cognitive aspects of the soul and how it connects the body to the world, or the deep feeling of oneness that is felt in meditation, but in the end the soul is just as systematically indescribable as a photon of light. Only in the most generic sense can either the soul or a photon be explained systematically, but, all the same, we know it’s there, somehow, dancing its unexplainable jig.
A dribble of dark molasses:
“What we have to learn in both meditation and in life is to be free of attachment to the good experiences and free of aversion to the negative ones.” ~ Sogyal Rinpoche
Ah, the bitter-sweet shadow. The inner darkness we’re all afraid to face, yet makes up a greater amount of our character than most realize. But the shadow is just as much the soul as the light is. Alas, the soul can be double-edged, sharp yet shielded, aegis-fanged. Best to comb the shadows for Eros. Plant seeds in your fear’s undergrowth in order to manifest soulcraft.
Challenge your demons to a duel and then turn the tables on them like Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid (see video). Eventually those demons will become your greatest ally, and your soulcraft will flourish ten-fold with a shadowy edge. As the Pagan Proverb states, “Don’t you ever tame your Demons, but, always keep them on a Leash.”
From the annihilation experienced within the cocoon of the Dark Night of the Soul, to the spirit-twisting, mind-altering numinous transcendence experienced on the Bright Day of Providence, the soul is there expanding like a cosmic drum skin stretched across the vicissitudes of our lives. Demons howl and angels sing, but both beat out their love/fear song on the mighty drum of our soul.
All we need to do is be present, to be aware, in the moment, to learn from the fear in order to nurture fearlessness, to learn from the love in order to cultivate providence, and of course, to learn a good sense of humor in order to foster enlightenment. As Marcus Aurelius said, “Death smiles upon us all, all a man can do is smile back.”
“Reality is frequently inaccurate.” ~ Douglas Adams
In the end, we are hyper-spatial beings in search for the rhapsodic. We scramble the self and crack open the ego so that Soul can seep in. We long for union. We hunger for connection. We yearn for the growth of the soul and the expansion of our soulcraft. Soulcraft is both the courage and the humor gained to be so engaged interdependently that we’re able to feel how our souls are 14 billion lightyears deep in catasterism, in the Omega rhythm of the mighty cosmos.
When we’re aware, when we’re fully engaged in the here-and-now, we feel our souls longing to count coup on all the gods, to extinguish all the lies shoved down our throats. That is soulcraft. Reality as it stands is simply not enough. We must add our own unique contribution to the soulstream of human evolution. It’s the epitome of creativity, and the cornerstone of being a paradoxical creature constantly stretched between finitude (body) and infinity (soul).
Although we know the entirety of the soul will always elude us, somehow catching glimpses here and there is enough. Tapping the cornerstone and reverberating our own unique musical resonance is enough. Elusion be damned. We have a choice to seek the rhapsodic or not, but it behooves us to do so, for it is one of the core tenets of living well.
As the Tibetan Proverb states, “The secret of living well: eat half, walk double, laugh triple, and love without measure.” Loving without measure is wearing our soul on our sleeve and using the hyper-spatial software of our mind-body-soul as a tool to leveraging health into the universe despite entropy, despite mortality, and despite death.