Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Soul leaves when you refuse to follow dreams

Soul goes away when we refuse its wishes and assignments. Somewhere between here and Elfland, Lord Dunsany, the Anglo-Irish master of fantasy, came by an unhappy body engaged in a painful dialogue with its soul. “The Unhappy Body” (his title for the tale) is tired; all it wants is to sleep. The soul will not allow it to rest because it has an urgent assignment for this body. Everywhere, the soul explains,

People’s dreams are wandering afield, they pass the seas and mountains of faery, threading the intricate passes led by their souls; they come to golden temples a-ring with a thousand bells; they pass up steep streets lit by paper lanterns, where the doors are green and small; they know their way to witches’ chambers and castles of enchantment; they know the spell that brings them to the causeway along the ivory mountains – on one side looking downward they behold the fields of their youth and on the other lie the radiant plains of the future.

But people forget their dreams. From their dream awakenings, they go back to sleep, forgetting the realms of magic and enchantment, and the causeway from which they can see into past and future. The soul’s urgent assignment for the body is: “Arise and write down what the people dream.”
    The body asks what reward it will receive for doing this. When told there is no reward, the body declares, “Then I shall sleep.” But the soul rouses the body with a song, and wearily the body takes up a pen and starts recording what the soul wants it to preserve: a vision of dreamers rising above the roar and distraction of the city to a shimmering mountain where they board the “galleons of dreams” and sail through the skies in their chosen directions. The soul goes on telling the dreams of all these travelers. But the body is tired and mutinous; it cries out for sleep.
    “You shall have centuries of sleep,” the soul tells it, “but you must not sleep, for I have seen deep meadows with purple flowers flaming tall and strange above the brilliant grass, and herds of pure while unicorns…I will sing that song to you, and you shall write it down.”
     The body protests, Give me one night’s rest.
     Go on and rest, the soul at last responds, in disgust. “I am tired of you. I am off.”
     The soul flies away. The undertakers come and lay the body in the earth. The wraiths of the dead come at midnight to congratulate the body on its happy estate. “Now I can rest,” says the body.

 Soul loss has many causes. The world seems too cold and cruel, and part of us goes away. In cases of profound trauma, this may be a survival mechanism. Soul leaves because we are compelled to make a wrenching life choice. While we take or leave a certain road, or a certain partner, in our default reality, another part of us rejects that choice and travels on a different road, or lingers at the place where we parted company. We grieve the death of a beloved person, and part of us follows that loved one, even into lands of the dead.
    Dunsany reminds us that we can lose soul because we refuse to take on the assignments that nourish and entertain our creative spirit. Soul leaves when we won't follow dreams. This is no fantasy, but a truth we need to recognize and act upon, for a reason stated with wonderful clarity by Mary Oliver in an essay titled "Of Power and Time": "The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time."

Adapted from Dreaming the Soul Back Home by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.

"The Unhappy Body" is in A Dreamer's Tales by Lord Dunsany.
"Of Power and Time" is in Mary Oliver's recent book, Upstream.

Art: John William Waterhouse, "Day Dreams"



BC47 said...

Robert, how can we get our soul back after we have denied our creative urge and gone to work until we have enough to support ourselves in the world and then retire and are ready once again to take up the creative call? Financial insecurity has been my nagging fear, so I followed its directives rather than leap into the abyss and trust that I would fly... I have dreamed all along of neglected cats and kittens which I grieve that I cannot protect, which tell me of my creativity's sorrow. Now I am two years to retirement; will my creativity be dead when I get there? I pray that it will not be, and I can go back to my real living life once more.

Robert Moss said...

We can always choose out attitude, as Viktor Frankl taught us in his indelible account of how he survived Auschwitz in "Man's Search for Meaning". If I find myself truly stuck in a place that I fear I can't leave for financial or other reasons, I will seek ways to make more of a game of my current situation, while nurturing and growing the life dream of soon being able to do what I love without hindrance. Please read and apply my book "Active Dreaming" for very practical guidance on how to pull all of this off.

BC47 said...

Many thanks, Robert! I will do so.

Amy Brucker said...

I love this post because I've found soul loss to be a very real problem, but one that is easily healed. I work with women business owners and help them reconnect with their (denied) soul desires and then dream them into being. I've found that after a soul retrieval and integration it is much easier for them to succeed in their endeavors. They also start to integrate their spiritual gifts (e.g. Tarot, intuition) into their work. One of my clients works with executives in New York and she just started doing tarot card readings for them and they love it! I wonder what would happen with our political structure if we could do a massive soul retrieval for our country...