What is Soul? Ask a poet.

I am so pleased I found Ursula LeGuin’s rendition of the Tao te Ching: A Book About the Way and the Power of the Way published in 1997. The very first poem, “Taoing” gives us sage advice

The way you can go
isn’t the real way.
The name you can say
isn’t the real name.

 

Sarah Carlson

 

And yet we try.

In contemplating soul almost daily, I track and “want” soul. Or is it that I need soul as never before in times of climate threat and human cacophony? The same poem says,

So the unwanting soul
sees what’s hidden
and the ever-wanting soul
sees only what it wants.

Aligning body and soul to the Beloved Power and Mystery beyond human chaos IS needful. I feel it in my body. But as the poem goes on,

Two things, one origin
but different in name,
whose identity is mystery.
Mystery of all mysteries!
The door to the hidden.

So there is a door.

I recently began seeing quotes on soul. I wrote them down. To my delight, Rob Brezny was way ahead of me. He recently sent a gaggle of soul quotes. Thank you, Rob, master artist of the English Language, astrological wizard, trumpeter for the Truth and Beaty Lab, and author of Pronoia! You can get his weekly readings here. Most of the quotes below were in his last newsletter.

Mystics, contemplatives, young and old sensitives, attendants to what can’t be named, innkeepers of the holy, it’s our job to keep the light on for The Way as others did before us. Whether we do it with touch, a glance, a kindness, a breath a song or a word– we know something hidden.

There is a door.

 

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The entire universe contributes incessantly to your existence. Hence the entire universe is your body.

—Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

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One in body and soul, . . Though outwardly separate in form. As the Source strikes the note, Humanity sings

—Mechtilde de Magdeburg

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“I call the high and light aspects of my being spirit and the dark and heavy aspects soul.”
“Soul is at home in the deep, shaded valleys. Heavy torpid flowers saturated with black grow there. The rivers flow like warm syrup.”
“Spirit is a land of high, white peaks and glittering jewel-like lakes and flowers. Life is sparse and sounds travel great distances.”

—The Dalai Lama, as quoted by James Hillman in “A Blue Fire”

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Soul is something creative, something active. Soul is honesty. I sing to people about what matters. I sing to the realists, people who accept it like it is. I express problems; there are tears when it’s sad and smiles when it’s happy. It seems simple to me, but to some, feelings take courage.
 
—Aretha Franklin

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let my body dwell in poverty, and my hands be as the hands of the toiler;
but let my soul be as a temple of remembrance
where the treasures of knowledge enter
and the inner sanctuary is hope.”

― George Eliot

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The soul is shy

―Trish Watts

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Love’s mysteries in souls do grow, but yet the body is the book.

―John Donne

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The self is something we lay claim to. The soul is what lays claim to us. Soulfulness is not a human quality. It is a quality that human beings partake in, a quality that can be found in how you move, how you see things, how you talk and ponder and eat and love. Soulfulness is the tea and rice of your life. It is a kind of language, and in its calm face we can recognize ourselves and each other, and we can see the way of the holy and the way the natural world has of being itself. The souls way makes and sustains our kinship with the world and with strangers, and as we have seen, there is hell to pay when this kinship is forgotten. the world soul contains and embraces and sustains all those things that human beings find are implacable and opposite, and it gives humans a means of understanding how to live inside their contending ways. With this quality of soulfulness in our minds, we are now on the track of our soul’s desires.

―Stephen Jenkinson, Money and the Soul’s Desires: A Meditation

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The soul will not be confined; nor will its explosive power be contained: “The soul has moments of escape – / When bursting all the doors – / She dances like a Bomb, abroad, / And swings opon the Hours.

―Emily Dickinson

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The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul, which opens to that primeval cosmic night that was soul long before there was conscious ego and will be soul far beyond what a conscious ego could ever reach.

—Carl Jung, The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man (1934).

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And god said to the soul
I desired you before the world began.
I desire you now
As you desire me.
And where the desires of two come together
There love is perfected.

—Mechtild of Magdeburg

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I am the poet of the body,
And I am the poet of the soul.
The pleasures of heaven are with me, and the pains of
hell are with me,
The first I graft and increase upon myself — the latter I
translate into a new tongue.

—Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”

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How prompt we are to satisfy the hunger and thirst of our bodies; how
slow to satisfy the hunger and thirst of our souls!

—Henry David Thoreau

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The soul should always stand ajar,
That if the heaven inquire,
He will not be obliged to wait,
Or shy of troubling her.

—Emily Dickinson

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This earth is honey for all beings, and all beings are honey for this earth.
The intelligent, immortal being, the soul of the earth, and the intelligent,
immortal being, the soul in the individual being—each is honey to the
other.

—Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

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Ondinnonk is an Iroquois word with two related meanings: 1. a secret wish
of the soul, especially as revealed in dreams; 2. the spiritual part of our
nature that longs to do good deeds.

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In the best-known version of the Greek myth, Persephone is dragged down
into the underworld by Hades, whose title is “Pluto.” But in earlier, pre-
patriarchal tales, she descends there under her own power, actively
seeking to graduate from her virginal naiveté by exploring the intriguing
land of shadows.

“Pluto” is derived from the Greek word *plutus*, meaning “wealth.”
Psychologist James Hillman says this refers to the psyche-building
riches available in Pluto’s domain. Hades, he says, is “the giver of
nourishment to the soul.”

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Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the
senses but the soul.

—Oscar Wilde

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“There is a saying that when the student is ready, the teacher appears,”
writes Clarissa Pinkola Estes. But the magic of that formula may not
unfold with smooth simplicity, she says: “The teacher comes when the
soul, not the ego, is ready. The teacher comes when the soul calls, and
thank goodness—for the ego is never fully ready.”

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What is the “soul,” anyway? Is it a ghostly blob of magic stuff within us
that keeps us connected to the world of dreams and the divine realms? Is it
an amorphous metaphor for the secret source of our spiritual power? Is
it a myth that people entertain because they desperately want to believe
there’s more to them than just their physical bodies?

Here’s what I think: The soul is a perspective that pushes us to go deeper
and see further and live wilder. It’s what drives our imagination to flesh
out our raw experience, transforming that chaotic stuff into rich
storylines that animate our love of life.

With the gently propulsive force of the soul, we probe beyond the surface
level of things, working to find the hidden meaning and truer feeling.

—Rob Brezny

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Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.

—Pablo Picasso.

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“The works must be conceived with fire in the soul but executed with
clinical coolness,” said the painter Joan Miró in describing his artistic process.

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“Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul,” wrote environmentalist
Edward Abbey.

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“I had tended to view waiting as mere passivity,” wrote author Sue Monk
Kidd in her memoir. “When I looked it up in my dictionary, however, I
found that the words ‘passive’ and ‘passion’ come from the same Latin root,
*pati*, which means ‘to endure.’ Waiting is thus both passive and
passionate. It’s a vibrant, contemplative work . . . It involves listening to
disinherited voices within, facing the wounded holes in the soul, the denied
and undiscovered, the places one lives falsely.”

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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
hyperspatial software designed explicitly to interface with the Mystery.
Not a mystery, mind you, the Mystery. The one that can never be solved.
By waxing soulful you will have granted yourself the possibility of
ecstatic participation in what the ancients considered a divinely animated
universe.”

—Tom Robbins

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As part of the Beauty and Truth Lab’s ongoing crusade to wrestle the
English language into a more formidable servant of the ecstatic impulse,
we’re pleased to present some alternate designations for “soul.” See if any
of the following concoctions feel right coming out of your mouth:

1. undulating superconductor;

2. nectar plasma;

3. golden lather;

4. smoldering crucible;

5. luminous caduceus.

If none of these work for you—or even if they do—have fun creating your
own terms.

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“Each person is a story that the Soul of the World wants to tell to itself,”
writes storyteller Michael Meade.

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At times it seems to me that I am living my life backwards, and that at the
approach of old age my real youth will begin. My soul was born covered
with wrinkles — wrinkles my ancestors and parents most assiduously put
there and that I had the greatest trouble removing.

– André Gide

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The soul moves in circles.—ancient Greek philosopher Plotinus

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Sensual pleasure passes and vanishes, but the friendship between us, the
mutual confidence, the delight of the heart, the enchantment of the soul,
these things do not perish and can never be destroyed.

—philosopher Voltaire in a letter to his partner Marie Louise Denis

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You will never be able to experience everything. So, please, do poetical
justice to your soul and simply experience yourself.

—Albert Camus

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I note the echo that each thing produces as it strikes my soul.

—Stendhal

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I am not quick moving. I have to wait for myself—it is always late before
the water comes to light out of the well of my self, and I often have to
endure thirst for longer than I have patience. That is why I go into solitude
— so as not to drink out of everybody’s cistern.

When I am among the many I live as the many do, and I do not think as I
really think; after a time it always seems as though they want to banish
me from myself and rob me of my soul—and I grow angry with everybody
and fear everybody. I then require the desert, so as to grow good again.

—Friedrich Nietzsche

 

Upcoming Retreats: InterPlay for Body and Soul

SpiritPlay: Three Summer Mini Retreats

 
Hold sacred the Wisdom of Your Body: Come for one or all

Fridays June 7, July 12, August 9 10:30-3pm at InterPlayce in Oakland

Please register in advance.

Gather into the summer months by listening to what your body wants.
Are you weary? Bring that. If you are cranky bring that.
InterPlay practices provide a place to be YOU
in body, mind, heart, and spirit, with more joy and grace. 

The bonus? Restored sense of human goodness.
Reground in the core power of creative, playful body wisdom.

The mini-retreat schedule

10:30-11:00 warm up meditation
11-12 SpiritPlay Movement, Voice, Story
12-1 Bring or Get Lunch
1-3 Creative Practice Focus

    • June- Creative License Poetry Art
    • July- Heart Bouquet Collage
    • August- Story Shrines- Bring a Book

3pm Closing

Cost: $20-$80 sliding fee, work trades available
Registration/Information: Register with info@interplay.org 510-465-2797

 

Coming This Fall

A PATH TO SPIRITUAL INTELLIGENCE FOR OUR TIMES
The InterPlay Life Practice Program for Spiritual Leaders 2019-2020

Opening & Closing Retreats in Oakland, CA: Oct 7-10, 2019 & Feb 17-20, 2020
8 online weekly wisdom teachings: Tuesdays 3-5 pm PST October 15, Nov 5, 19, Dec 3, 17, Jan 7, 21, Feb 4
Three one to one sessions to explore InterPlay tools and practices in your own life either in person or on Zoom.

$200 off when you register by Aug 30.

Register through the InterPlay office (info@interplay.org).
 
This program orients and guides you through the paradigm shift that puts body wisdom and creativity back at the center of personal and group spiritual life.
 
  • Affirm your body’s intrinsic spiritual intelligence.
  • Increase fluency in the creative wisdom languages of soul: movement, voice, word, stillness.
  • Embody healing, prayer, speaking, discernment, celebration, justice, and ritual.
  • Recoup the path of joy and play in a reflective, easy-going community.

Why Body Wisdom?

Physicality is basic. Racism, gender, class, ability, politics, religion, climate change, animal care, and culture are all body realities. A great transformation is possible when we put the body and our earth body at the center of spiritual intelligence. Our bodies know how to honor and affirm everybody as distinct and as part of a distinct community. Do we honor bodies? If not, how can we honor souls?


Gifts of this Program
When we honor the body we can reliably, playfully, and authentically

• Access voice, movement, stillness, and stories to connect to self, others and the Divine.
• Build communities that empower marginalized people.
• Find a deeper connection with earth, people, and spirit.
• Practice resiliency techniques.
• Adopt improvisational skills for working with complex situations.
• Risk new skills for speaking and presenting.
• Bring artful ritual to bedside, one-to-one, small and large groups.
• Cultivate intergenerational bonds among children, youth, and adults.

Why Creativity for Spiritual Intelligence? Soul comes alive through voice, story, and stillness, whether or not we are proficient in these areas. Each form of creative expression provides a unique route to revelatory knowledge and healing. To embody one’s full spiritual inheritance depends on engaging our birthright practices: movement, voice, story, stillness, as well as visual, musical, written and spatial arts. 

 

The Process

Opening Retreat: The Secrets of InterPlay for Spiritual Intelligence: Body, Mind, Heart, Spirit (Oakland, California)

Start your journey in the creative diversity of the Bay Area and in the artful sanctuary of InterPlayce. With time to explore the balance of creative practice and body wisdom teachings, our journey unfolds through elegant moments of movement, voice, story, and stillness, which open up the parables of our lives. You learn tools to help people orient to the wisdom of their body: Easy Focus, Body Data/Knowledge/Wisdom, Internal Authority, Physicality of Grace, Exformation, Spiritual Disciplines, Incrementality, and Affirmation. You’ll gather into grace, ease, and spontaneous health as body and soul yield refreshment, connection, and guidance. Along the way, we’ll take in the beauty of the bay area.

This workshop uniquely introduces the body wisdom of spiritual practice.

• The Soul Loves The Body: Recovering Lost Soul Languages
• The Architecture of Soul as Bigger Than Our Body: Bodyspirit as Bigger Than Our Skin
• Spontaneity as A Signature Of Soul
• Transformation and Healing as A Creative Process
• The Need for Different Art Forms To Create Different Ritual Outcomes

Online Sessions: The October retreat is followed by eight online wisdom trainings (two hours each). In these interactive, live, video sessions, participants deepen their body wisdom around aspects of the creative spirit, the art of truth-telling, the nature of being a body intellectual, how to play with challenges, healing and wholeness, and how we encourage creative prayer and service in others.

These sessions will be on Tuesdays from 3-5pm Pacific Time: October 15; Nov 5, 19; Dec 3, 17; Jan 7, 21; and Feb 4.

February 17-20 is the Closing Retreat: “Collective Peace-making and Ritual” (Oakland, CA)

Having formed bonds of play and deep story, we open new vistas for creativity in communal life. What does it mean for peace and for the communal soul to be embodied? This retreat culminates with a graduation celebration.

Continuing Education Credit

50 CE credits (Life Practice Program) and 15 CE credits (Secrets of InterPlay) for various healthcare and allied healthcare professions are available for those practicing throughout the U.S. and for educators only practicing in Illinois. CE preregistration is required at least 2 weeks before the start of your event. Notify the Body Wisdom office (510) 465-2797 at time of registration that you are requesting CEUs. A fee of $25 per program will be due at the time you register. CEUs are offered through Continuing Education Institute of Illinois.

Online Information Sessions by appt. cynthia@interplay.org
Email Cynthia for more information.Frequently Unasked Questions about InterPlay for Spiritual Leaders.

Cost: $2,250 (does not cover room and board for Oakland retreats) – Payment Plans, Trades and 2 scholarships available.

Registration/Information: Body Wisdom, 510-465-2797 or info@interplay.org

 

 

A Holy Woman Icon: Anne Marbury Hutchinson

The Hidden Monastery first emerged in 2008 as a sanctuary offering spiritual support for mystics, artists, and activists. I believe that there is an oft-hidden stream of grace and love that is fed by those who are sensitive, gifted, and awake to the lineage of divine reality. Whether or not we are seen or approved of we call attention to the sacred source of life. 

This hidden monastery is dedicated to feeding the mystic stream. There are free dance chapels, affordable one to one support, inspiration, letters and wisdom sharing, retreats, and online groups. I am excited about the ensoulment initiation tools offered in monthly small groups. 

For my birthday May 28th on Memorial Day weekend, I’m hosting a Hidden Monastery Shrines show at InterPlayce. It will feature the Holy Woman Icon of Anne Hutchinson commissioned from Dr. Angela Yarber who researches, writes and paints remarkable dancers, activists, mothers, and women. She gives the commissioned painting to the recipient and places the icon in a canon of holy women in an online gallery and store.

On this memorial day, I invite you to consider a holy woman in your life to lift up.  Send her name and at my shrine show on Monday, I will attach their name to the shrine I’m creating for Anne Hutchinson. Put it in the comments.

I also invite you to contribute to the Hidden Monastery to honor Anne as well as my birthday. I see this ministry continuing to blossom. If you would like to pour some water on the garden I welcome it. Paypal link here.

Why Anne?

We share a common grandmother, Susanne Marbury. My great grandfather was part of the controversial protest against the work ethic “Puritans.” As proponents of grace, our extended family fought non-violently against the land-grabbing, genocidal, judgmental, class and gender biases of men in power.

Anne is a spiritual midwife of American Democracy, the one we still labor to birth. Like Mary Magdalene, the male Puritan leaders of her time demonized her and turned her into a harlot of her faith. Her crime was speaking while being female as a lead advocate and theologian promoting a free grace vs. working to prove one’s worth to deserve God’s love. 

Anne was a happily married mother of 12 and a close friend of Mary Dyer, a Quaker. Both were midwives and herbalists. They knew the body. In the early 1600s these well-read teachers saw women as wise and connected to the Divine. Anne spoke out against the male clergy and the Governor, was put on trial, kept under house arrest, excommunicated, and with others banished from Massachusettes. These “Antinomian” rebels had their guns removed.  Antinomianism relates to the view that Christians are released by grace from the obligation of observing the moral law. This movement included 60 young men who signed a protest and boycotted the leaders of the war on the Pequot Indians. In a later season, Anne and William Hutchinson helped create the document to separate church and state.

 

About Angela: Angela holds a Ph.D. in Art and Religion and is the author of books that address the intersections among gender/sexuality, religion/spirituality, and the arts. An ordained, queer clergywoman, she served local churches and taught graduate and undergraduate students since 2006. After a decade as a professional dancer, she now finds creative fulfillment and spiritual expression by fusing painting, writing, and embodiment through the Holy Women Icons Project. Her partner in life and in this project is Dr. Elizabeth Lee who holds a Ph.D. in Ethics and Social Theory and is a certified Health Coach who has taught ethics, philosophy, and religion. 

 

 

Release! Embodying the Enneagram

Do you want to shift the way you work, but find it almost impossible to do it? Check this out.

InterPlay & The Enneagram July 25 (26-28 Conference) July 25 9-5pm, Oakland, Marriott. 
Cost $210. Register through the International Enneagram conference online.

On Monday & Tuesday, July 29 & 30 Andrea Isaacs workshop The EQX-LIVE, in Oakland
The schedule includes lunch both days, Monday, July 29 8:30 am – 5 pm; 7-9:00 pm, Tuesday, July 30 8:30 am – 5:00 pm

 

When I discovered the Enneagram I needed help with my passionate anger. Reactivity is a hard nut to crack. Fortunately, the Enneagram diagnoses hard inner nuts and was created as an ancient tool for use with spiritual initiates.

One day Helen Palmer’s book on the Enneagram fell off the shelf into my hands.  I honed in on a number between 1–9. Then an Enneagram teacher stayed at my house. She watched me interact with my family where hard nuts take center stage. She said, “Darling, I wonder if you might be an 8.” Ach. I that put me on my knees. 8 is the boss! What I never wanted to be. My friend offered to pray for me. For 24 hours I felt the stunning absence of reactivity, just long enough to get hungry for real peace.

The Enneagram has allowed me to navigate, apologize, research and lighten up on this sympathetic nervous system pattern that is so hard to see. No other tool has helped me as much.

How wonderful then to be invited to co-lead a preconference on Embodying the Enneagram with Andrea Isaacs this July 25. It comes just before the International Enneagram Association Conference.

Andrea created EnneaMotion, using movement to embody the Enneagram, and Somatic Focusing, her coaching method, and shifted her own painful shyness to confidence. She has guided people in 25 countries back to their wholeness so they can live in integrity, have thriving relationships and greater fulfillment. She was co-founding editor-publisher of the Enneagram Monthly, a founding faculty member for the Enneagram Institute Professional training program in 1994, and has hosted numerous virtual programs on happiness and emotional intelligence.

When Andrea interviewed me for her keynote, I discovered her background in modern dance and spirituality and almost immediately signed up for coaching. I am so happy I did. In a few sessions, I’ve made key shifts. She offers the creative designs of an artist and the wisdom of a spiritual teacher. 

I can’t wait to hear Andrea’s morning keynote, “In Every Cell of Your Body: Somatic Work and the Enneagram.” She’ll share video of pioneers working with body wisdom practices and the Enneagram, and teach about somatic work as a doorway for using the body to shift our inner state, replacing patterns that no longer serve us to empower patterns that support living our life as our best self. In the afternoon I’ll teach InterPlay body wisdom practices to allow participants to continue to learn and play with the amazing resources hidden in our body.

You can take Andrea’s EQ Quiz in just 5-10 minutes at EQQuiz.com. It gives you an idea of your core type (which you may already know) and a picture of how much and how little you have of the gifts and the challenges of each type. You also get an Emotional Mastery Blueprint, a pdf of your results, immediately after clicking the <Submit> button.

If you want to Play, Gain Tools, Change, and Glow I would love to have you join me at these opportunities. It is always good when InterPlayful people can be at a workshop or conference together!

InterPlay & The Enneagram July 25 (26-28 Conference) July 25 9-5pm, Oakland, Marriott. 
Cost 210. Register through the International Enneagram conference online.

On Monday & Tuesday, July 29 & 30 Andrea offers her own workshop The EQX-LIVE, in Oakland
The Schedule includes lunch both days, Monday, July 29 8:30 am – 5 pm; 7-9:00 pm, Tuesday, July 30 8:30 am – 5:00 pm