Our soul, our true self, is the most mysterious, essential, and magical dimension of our being. In fact, it is not a separate reality, as traditional Western thought views it, but the cohesive force that unites our body, heart, and mind. It is not a ghost trapped somehow in the physical machinery of our body but the very essence of our being.
Each soul is unique, and we are called upon to break out of the minimum security prison of conformity and mediocrity to experience our soul's true magic and power. Like a plant it needs to be nurtured to grow and blossom, and to be freed from the entangling, obscuring weeds that tend to take over. The soul is an artist. Its nature is to create, and its natural expression is in the sacred architypical roles of the dancer, the singer, the actor and the healer. Life is a caberet, and our challenge is to act out our essential self on the stage for the world.
Though the soul is not a thing, it is our beingness, that which gives us being. So its presence and absence are visible. Its presence manifests in being awake, attentive, energetic, alive. It is the spark of life. It is absent or dampened when we lack vitality, elan, energy. It is the true self we are seeking in all our explorations, and yet it is not somewhere "out there" but right here now, underneath the false roles we're always casting ourselves in.
Freeing the soul, freeing ourselves to be soulful, means empowering ourselves to really see what's going on in ourselves, in others, in our lives. This seeing is not the ordinary sort of looking we're habituated to. Looking operates on the surface; seeing probes beneath to discern the essence, the motion, the energy. Looking is just a matter of regarding things things according to our preconceived, static ideas. But as the new physics and biology have clearly shown, our surface impression of the nature of reality as static naively misses the truth of the constant motion and infinite space that truly constitute reality.
Carlos Castenada in "A Separate Reality", gives an arresting example of the difference between seeing and looking. Don Juan describes the death of his son who was crushed by rocks on a highway. "The workers stood around looking at his mangled body. I stood there too, but I did not look. I shifted my eyes so I would see his personal life disintegrating, expanding uncontrollably beyond its limits, like a fog of crystals, because that's the way life and death mix and expand. Had I looked at him I would have watched him becoming immobile and I would have felt a cry inside of me, because never again would I look at his fine figure pacing the earth. I saw his death instead, and there was no sadness, no feeling. His death was equal to everything else." Later he tell Carlos that seeing is "hard work."
Seeing implies detachment. Looking implies attachment. Looking is with the eyes. Seeing is with the whole being. Looking at myself in the mirror, I think that my nose is crooked and too big, my eyes too small, my hair too fine, my hips too wide. I judge. I assess myself by some external criteria that have by now become part and parcel of how I look at people. But if I stare into my left eye in the mirror I see only a still, perfect little doll-like figure of myself in the midst of a deep pool of subtly changing reflections, probably an image much closer to the truth. It is when I can see myself with interpretation that the magic of being, the pure wonder of existing is revealed...
... LIfe is sacred. Life is art. Life is sacred art. The art of sacred living means being a holy actor, acting from the soul rather than the ego. The soul is out of space and time and hence always available, an ever-present potential of our being. It is up to each of us to celebrate and actualize our being, and to turn each meal, conversation, outfit, letter, and so on, into art. Every mundane activity is an opportunity for full, authentic self-exploration. The soul is our artistic self, our capacity for transforming every dimension of our lives into art and theater.