"If you only follow your own passion according to its own indications it will never go too far, it will always lead to its own defeat." Marie Louise von Franz, Alchemy, An Introduction, p. 254
The Soul of Relationships: The Tests of Love
After years of theological, psychological and religious studies, the examination of various spiritual systems, practicing spiritual techniques, teaching classes on World Religions and Mythologies, I have come to the tentative conclusion that we are on this planet to make a personal soul by going through our own unique experiences in something like '
These various life 'classes' each of us experiences are primarily found in our relationships. The word, ‘relationship’, is most often connected with romance or other significant people. While our relationships do include important people, we also have relationships with places, ideas and things. So then, a relational list might include partners, lovers, children, friends, enemies, work, school, homes, cars, clothes, ideas, politics, religion, health, illness, body image--the list is endless. Relationships include any event or experience where we encounter physical, emotional, ideational or volitional cooperation or resistance. That can happen in a marriage, in freeway traffic, in my thought life, buying a car, or in any internal or external situation where physical or psychological, visible or invisible entities meet. The co-operational variety are typically pleasant, while the resistance variety are typically painful. It is the painful events of resistance and conflict which are most significant for making your soul in
Relationships build souls just as lifting weights builds muscle. Resistance is normal and necessary. The aim of life is NOT to live in constant happiness and peace, as much as we may desire it. This observation is contrary to much current New Age spiritual teaching. The aim of life is to make a unique soul for eternity through ALL life situations-- the good, the bad and the ugly.
I now see that difficulties and suffering are not primarily due to original sin or a dysfunctional human ego. The ego is a wonderful little seed pod containing the flower of a growing soul. Just as the dark soil and stinky fertilizer breaks open the literal seed pod to grow the flower; so too all of the myriad challenges in our thousands of daily relationships disintegrate the human ego seed pod containing the soul's eventual flower, helping us grow to divine maturity.
However, I don’t think our focus ought to be on reaching maturity or waiting for the ‘wholeness’ to arrive, but rather to be conscious and aware of the soul-making poem in each encounter with a person, place, thought or emotion. Soul is being made in every relationship, in every moment. Our conscious participation in every conversation and emotional response allows us to live purposefully in every situation, and free from 'waiting' to arrive at wholeness. Wholeness is a circle that includes the good, the bad and the ugly--the whole process of making a unique soul.
When Jesus told his followers to ‘love their enemies,’ he wasn’t looking to create a group of bleeding heart pacifists. He was reminding them that relational resistance stirs and evokes our emerging consciousness, cracks open the seed of soul. This is often difficult work and if we really mean it when we say, “It is ALL God,” then ALL of it really is God. Now, let’s go relate and watch our soul’s blossom!