A Soul Story
In the tradition I was raised, All Soul’s Day (November 2) is a time to remember and celebrate those who have gone before us. During Thursday night’s group, through guided meditation, story sharing and candle-light ritual, we connected with loved ones on “the other side” – the other side of what I believe is a very thin veil separating us.
In honor of the occasion today, I share portions of something I wrote a good dozen years ago, exploring ideas about soul and the human condition.
Softening to Mystery:
A Story of Us
…Softening to mystery means saying “yes” to apparently contradictory things, to accept paradox, to live with ambiguity and a “not knowing” that does not allow us to pin life down, or to pin ourselves down. It means opening to darkness and light, the infinite and the infinitesimal. We cannot be easily sized or sized up. In this story, we humans are mysterious indeed. We exist in three levels: Personality, Individual Soul and God Soul.
The level of personality includes the material body with all its physical attributes and chemical quirks, the mind with its habits and patterns, and the ego identity with all its characteristics and attachments. Even at the level of personality, where we are the most obvious and observable, we are quite the mystery. Biological and social scientists spend their lives trying to make sense of us at this all-too-human level, where we are a mass of contradictions. With all our weirdness and goofiness here, our capacity for the heroic and horrific, there is one constant: we are finite beings. The ego is going to die – and it knows it.
While the personality is unique and temporary, the individual soul is timeless. It is the uniqueness of us that transcends time. God speaks creation in the eternal now. Each of us can be viewed as a word in God’s vocabulary – all interconnected, part of one lexicon, each distinct. At the level of individual soul, we are unique, eternal, and many.
There is only one God Soul. In some mysterious way, we all share It. At this level of being, which I believe is our core, we are one with God. Mystics in every spiritual tradition speak of this oneness. Here, we are infinite, divine, and one.
Softening to mystery invites us to include and integrate all of who we are. In this story, each level of being is true of us. Each has its unique reality. And all three are woven together in seamless wholeness. There is oneness in this “three-ness”….
There’s an often-told Zen story about a monastery that was floundering. Membership was dwindling in a climate of bitterness and back-biting. Somehow, a rumor began spreading that one of the monks was Buddha reincarnated. There was much speculation about who that person might be. Soon, the monks started treating each other with new gentleness and care. After all, no one wanted mistreat the Buddha. The monastery grew to be a center of joy. It flourished, attracting new members from miles away.
In grade school, I remember being taught that we are children of God. Many religious traditions and spiritual practices invite us to cultivate an awareness of our divine origin and connection. As we soften to this aspect of the mystery, a reverence for ourselves and for others grows quite naturally. We may even remember that, at the level of soul, we are deeply in love with each other and always have been.
In this story, no matter how hatefully we behave, we still have a divine spark. No matter how holy and evolved we become, we’re still goofy. In us, both the sublime and the ridiculous find a home. Softening to the mystery of the human condition invites reverence and compassion, humility and humor….
Please enjoy playing with the mystery of who we are. Story it in any way that feels right to you. Just don’t expect to solve it.