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The Social Self & Isolation

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Role of the Soul

Role of the Soul

At some point in time all of us are given a challenge that requires a serious reappraisal of our life and the way we think about ourselves. Events such as this demand a reordering of priorities. This potentiates what some call an emergence of Spirit because it seems to shake the faith we have grown to accept in our own self-reliance and familiar way of understanding.

The person who actively questions the meaning of faith shaking events is often the seeker who reprioritizes their life to make room for the introspective process of psychotherapy. This option toward being curious initiates a psychological process that tends increasingly to differentiate oneself from the values and beliefs inherent in the happenstance of family and how the family has embodied the social, spiritual and cultural understandings of the contemporary world. Relative to the community of shared values and beliefs previously known, certain events in our lives bring us into an exiled sense of ourselves. This is the wilderness of the undiscovered self which must rethread understanding by first distinguishing the values and beliefs received through family, friends, culture and social institutions with those of our own nature and choosing.

Read what others have to say about the search for becoming an authentic self, which I regard as the role of the soul.

Each man had only one genuine vocation--to find the way to himself... His task was to discover his own destiny--not an arbitrary one--and live it out wholly and resolutely within himself. Everything else was only a would-be existence, an attempt at evasion, a flight back to the ideals of the masses, conformity and fear of one's own inwardness. The new vision rose up before me, glimpsed a hundred times, possibly even expressed before but now experienced for the first time by me. I was an experiment on the part of Nature, a gamble within the unknown, perhaps for a new purpose, perhaps for nothing, and my only task was to allow this game on the part of primeval depths to take its course, to feel its will within me and make it wholly mine. That or nothing!

— Herman Hesse (1877-1962)

I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for you. If you can love me for what I am, we shall be the happier. If you cannot, I will still seek to deserve that you should. I will not hide my tastes or aversions. I will so trust that what is deep is holy, that I will do strongly before the sun and moon whatever inly rejoices me, and the heart appoints.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882),
American author, poet, and philosopher.
Self Reliance

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

— Robert Frost (1874-1963)
The Road Not Taken

There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better for worse as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882),
American author, poet, and philosopher,

On one or on several occasions in the course of their lives, even the most harmless people do not altogether escape coming into conflict with the fine virtues of piety and gratitude. Sooner or later each of us must take the step that separates him from his father, from his mentors; each of us must have some cruelly lonely experience--even if most people cannot take much of this and soon crawl back.

— The character of Demian, in Demian,
by Herman Hesse (1877-1962), German author

What struck me when I read the thirteenth-century Queste de Saint Graal was that it epitomizes an especially Western spiritual aim and ideal, which is, of living the life that is potential in you and was never in anyone else as a possibility. This, I believe, is the great Western truth: that each of us is a completely unique creature and that, if we are ever to give any gift to the world, it will have to come out of our own experience and fulfillment of our own potentialities, not someone else's.

— Joseph Campbell (1904-1987)
The Power of Myth

The eighteenth-century German philosopher Johann Herder taught that each person has an original and unique manner of being human. The task is to develop it. According to Nietzsche, a person is known by his "style," that is, by the unique pattern that gives unity and distinctiveness to a person's activities. Style articulates the uniqueness of the self. Rather than fitting one's life into the demands of external conformity, rather than living one's life as an imitation of the life of another, one should look to find the authentic self within. One should labor to develop one's own unique style in crafting one's soul. An individual who denies individuality articulates life with a voice other than that which is uniquely their own. A person who suppresses the self is in danger of missing the point of their own existence, of surrendering what being human means.

— Rabbi Byron L. Sherwin
Crafting the Soul

If a person possesses any tolerable amount of common sense and experience, his own mode of laying out his existence is best, not because it is best in itself, but because it is his own mode.

— John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)
Three Essays

Every man has his own destiny; the only imperative is to follow it, to accept it, no matter where it leads him.

— Henry Miller (1891-1980)
The Wisdom of the Heart

I studiously avoided all so-called "holy men." I did so because I had to make do with my own truth, not accept from others what I could not attain on my own. I would have felt it as a theft had I attempted to learn from the holy men and to accept their truth for myself. Neither in Europe can I make any borrowings from the East, but must shape my life out of myself--out of what my inner being tells me, or what nature brings to me.

— Carl Jung (1875-1961)
Memories, Dreams, Reflections

I am not a Federalist, because I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all.

— Thomas Jefferson (1743-1845)
Letter to Francis Hopkinson

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"It's the soul's duty to be loyal to its own desires. It must abandon itself to its master passion."
— Rebecca West (1892-1983) writer, journalist and author

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