“When we confine ourselves to the village, we lose touch with our true nature. No wonder soul alienation is suffered by most people in the industrialized cultures of the Western world… At one time in our lives…we’ve experienced an emptiness at our core, a sense that our lives don’t make sense, that something essential is missing…
Many people fill their days with a thousand and one distractions in an attempt to muffle the cry of their souls. Often these distractions become our addictions…”
Rare is the person who never feels what psychotherapist Bill Plotkin describes as “a sense that our lives don’t make sense, that something essential is missing.” It may be the case that nothing is wrong, that life is pretty much all we hoped it would be, but there’s a but, a subtle discontent, a feeling that we are not who we should be, and our life is not all it could be. This is often not a matter of practicality, but of spirituality.
Plotkin posits that we are often alienated from our soul because “we confine ourselves to the village.” What he means, I believe, is that our horizon, our understanding of what our life is meant to be, is determined by conventional thinking. What we consider a meaningful life and what we strive to achieve has to do with the values we inherit from family, religion, and the larger society. There is much to value from these sources, but our soul is often left unfulfilled when we listen only to external voices.
Our soul invites us to live large, prods us to be free, beckons us to be fully alive, summons us to be passionate and compassionate in ways that are often countercultural. But as basic as these instincts are, there is often a resistance to them, for they demand the courage to think and to live “outside the box” of conformity, and at odds with the ethos of the village.
We easily become comfortable with confinement, with fitting in, with accepting the limits imposed by society, and we can become good at finding distractions that “muffle the cry” that challenges us to be our own person, our Sacred Self. But as uncomfortable as it is to experience “an emptiness at our core,” it is important to resist the instinct to flee from it, for it can be a dark gift, a disconcerting nudge toward fulfillment.