Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Soul Sickness & Nourishing Sacredness

Health & Wellness


Whatever satisfies the soul is truth.” 
Walt Whitman [1819-1892],
Preface to Leaves of Grass, first edition (1855)


Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (1860 edition)
Image Credit: Thayer and Eldridge; Boston, Mass.
Source: Wikipedia


What troubles the soul is the opposite of truth. We might call this instinct, and some proclaim to have good instincts. I am inclined to view this as the soul speaking. This is not about fairness, but about the search for truth. Poetry is distilled prose in search for truth, or at one time this was so. But I think it still is so—that poetry can be both revealing and salutary. I am reading a book, Care of the Soul (1992), by Thomas Moore, which says the soul does not so much require curing but caring, nurturing, etc. The soul is not some silent partner in your life; when it is hurting or in pain, it lets you know.

Silencing it, censoring it or ignoring it will not work. Neither will using drugs, whether they come from pharmaceuticals or the street; such are only temporary solutions to a human condition of soul sickness. When you feel as if “something is not right” you understand the gist or meaning of the words that I just wrote.

Some might find this idea irrational, but it is not within the bounds of rational thought or ideas. This does not, however, deny its reality or validity. We, humans, are more than flesh and blood; we are more than materialistic beings; we are also spiritual beings. Such are the intangibles, the unknowns, the unseen aspects of our being. Serious thinkers throughout the ages have made inquiries into this very subject.

Science cannot and Religion fails when it imposes without love or understanding. But there is Poetry and the great voices of poetry, which Whitman is part of, to increase our understanding of what it is to be human. Poetry speaks to us in a far different manner than does science. It does so, I believe, not through the channels of reason, but through our souls, however hard this is to describe, let alone define.

Definitions and certainty have their place in our lives, but they cannot and do not lead to complete understanding  or to pathways of truth. There are general truths, but there are particular truths, just as there are particular tastes. The writer residing in the human body makes inquiries and writes about such inquiries. So have I throughout the decades of my adult life and have touched upon this very subject in some of my writings, in some of my posts. It is important because it is human.

I plan to write more about this subject from time to time, and will share some of my thoughts. I have the desire and the need to do so and hope that you can give it some attention.

Thomas Moore’s Care of the Soul (1994 edition); in Chapter 1 to introduce the working view of the book, Moore writes: “Care of the soul, looking back with special regard to ancient psychologies for insight and guidance, goes beyond the secular mythology of the self and recovers a sense of the sacredness of each individual life. This sacred quality is not just value—all lives are important. It is the unfathomable mystery that is the very seed and heart of each individual. Shallow therapeutic manipulations aimed at restoring normalcy or tuning a life according to standards reduces—shrinks—the profound mystery to the pale dimensions of a social common denominator referred to as the adjusted personality” (19-20),
Photo Credit & Source: ©Perry J. Greenbaum, 2016