A Transformational Journey: 1 — The Soul Is Not Human

This continues the series of the Light Morning Renewal Pages, an attempt to clarify and communicate the vision and values which anchor us here. “A Transformational Journey” has four sections: The Soul Is Not Human; The Four Cairns; A Prayer Bead Necklace; and The Gift of Beauty.

The Soul Is Not Human

Meditation room carpet_1
Meditation room carpet_1

Risking intimacy, by choosing to live in a new kind of family, is a worthy challenge. Beyond this, however, lies the still riskier challenge that drew us to Light Morning in the first place and that keeps us here–the whispered call to cast off our moorings and embark upon a transformational journey.

Such a journey grows out of the audacious assumption that we humans are mutable creatures. We certainly belong to a mysterious species, the atrocities and generosities of which are nearly inconceivable. How might one even hazard a guess, then, as to what the ultimate human capacity for goodness or godliness may be? As Gilbert K. Chesterton once observed, “If seeds in the black earth can turn into beautiful roses, what might not the heart of man become in its long journey to the stars?”

Several key paradoxes have emerged during our voyage of discovery. The yearning to become more than we know ourselves to be, for example, while innate, is intangible. And while the conditioned personality may be lured to the cocoon by its longing for the wings and awareness of a butterfly, it will distort and co-opt these images to meet its own parochial needs. Finally, what we most want is also what we most fear.

The importance of this last paradox can hardly be exaggerated. For by refusing to face the shadowy fear that lurks just below our desire for transformation, we work and pray diligently but never really get anywhere. We jam the accelerator to the floorboards, never noticing that our other foot is planted firmly on the brake.

An evocative passage from Michael Ventura clarifies this numbing, bone-deep ambivalence.

The soul is not human. Does not want what a human wants. But needs the human journey for ends of its own. It honors the human journey, but not by protecting what is human.

That’s why the humans are so afraid of their souls. The record of their fear is called history. They are scared most of all because every human knows itself [to be] part of a race possessed, precisely, by their very souls.

If only a human can become unafraid of the soul’s necessity to journey, then anything is possible. The soul is honored, and shares its beauty.

The word soul may carry too much baggage for some of us. Or it may come across as quaint. Or archaic. If so, one may paraphrase Ventura’s words by shifting to the butterfly metaphor.

The butterfly is not the caterpillar. Does not want what the caterpillar wants. But needs the caterpillar’s journey for ends of its own. It honors the caterpillar’s journey, but not by protecting the caterpillar. That’s why caterpillars are afraid to become butterflies.

Caterpillars feed on leaves; butterflies seek nectar. We humans are likewise driven by competing needs. We turn to worldly surrogates for solace–food, money, work, relationships. Through the grist mill of experience, however, we learn that such outwardly derived solace is ultimately shallow and transitory.

Weaving a cocoon doesn’t imply that we surrender all surrogates. We surrender, instead, our compulsive dependence upon them. Once our simplified needs can be met more directly, we will be less likely to squeeze the people and things around us out of shape in order to satisfy our voracious and insatiable appetites.

Light Morning often serves as a cocoon for those who live or visit here. This role goes directly back to our founding vision. (See Associations of the Light Morning.) The community’s primary work and purpose, therefore, is three-fold:

  • To provide a supportive environment for those seeking a “path with heart.”
  • To gestate a world-view which will encourage these journeys and make them sustainable.
  • To model (in our personal journeys) passion, competence, and commitment.

What follows is a brief glimpse of the world-view that has been gestating here (The Four Cairns); the path or practice which grows out of this world-view (A Prayer Bead Necklace); and an intuitive exploration of the relationship between beauty and transformation (The Gift of Beauty).