|Preservation of the Soul|
In his book The Heart Aroused David Whyte argued for a work place where our soul felt at home enough to release the creative energy residing in the dark depths of our beings. This was The Intuitive Self which I had found to be identical to my soul. Added emphasis appears in red, and my reactions are enclosed in a box: (Note 162)
The field of human creativity has long been a constant battleground between the upper world we inhabit every day and the deeper untrammeled energies alive in every element of life. . . . This is now changing. Continually calling on its managers and line workers for more creativity, dedication, and adaptability, the American corporate world is tiptoeing for the first time in its very short history into the very place from whence that dedication, creativity, and adaptability must come: the turbulent place where the soul of an individual is formed and finds expression. . . .
It is everything we were afraid could be true about existence, and astonishingly, and despite everything we would wish to the contrary, it seems to be an energy without which we cannot appreciate the gift of the light filled, ordered world; remove it, and our soul life becomes puzzlingly empty and impoverished. Yet the sound and the fury of an individual's creative life are the elemental waters missing from the dehydrated workday. The frightening emptiness of existence also contains a place of nourishment and repose. . . .
Adaptability and native creativity on the part of the workforce come through the door only with their passions. Their passions come only with their souls. Their souls love the hidden springs boiling and welling at the center of existence more than they love the company. . . .
But what is soul, and what is meant by the preservation of the soul! By definition, soul evades the cage of definition. It is the indefinable essence of a person's spirit and being. It can never be touched and yet the merest hint of its absence causes immediate distress. In a work situation, its lack can be sensed intuitively, though a person may, at the same moment, be powerless to know what has caused the loss. . . .
Many trainers and consultants maintain that the soul belongs at home or in church. But with little understanding of the essential link between the soul life and the creative gifts of their employees, hardheaded businesses listening so carefully to their hardheaded consultants may go the way of the incredibly hardheaded dinosaurs. For all their emphasis on the bottom line, they are adrift from the very engine at the center of a person's creative application to work, they cultivate a workforce unable to respond with personal artistry to the confusion of global market change. . . .
Work helps us to feel safe. The soul is safe already. Safe in its own experience of the world. Work is bounded by time. The soul of a person lies outside of time and belongs to the unknown, it is the sacred otherness of existence. Work belongs to the personality, but the soul is owned by no one, not even by the personality formed around it. The personality will, we are continually amazed, kiss any required part of a the anatomy to rise in the world; the soul refuses to kiss anything but life itself. . . .
Preserving the soul means that we come out of hiding at last and bring more of ourselves into the workplace. Especially the parts that do not "belong" to the company. In a sense, the very part of us that doesn't have the least interest in the organization is our greatest offering to it. It is the part that opens the window of the imagination and allows fresh air into the meeting room. . . .
Men and women have the timeless human capacity for a religious soul experience of life that an organization cannot. Human beings have an intuitive capacity and knowledge that somewhere at the center of life is something ineffably and unalterably right and good, and that this "rightness" can be discovered through artistic and spiritual explorations that have been honored by all the great perennial religious traditions.
The perennial traditions tell us that despite the impermanent aspect of existence, there is nothing wrong with the world or the things that make it up. They tell us that we are not the center of the universe except in those exquisite moments when the universe in its wisdom chooses to have us be so. Discovering we are not the center of creation becomes a blessed release and a marvelous unburdening. It allows us to meet creation on its own terms, to see it as a continuing form of revelation rather than a source of disappointment when it does not make our career a numberone priority. . . .
The soul of the world makes its revelations felt not by lecturing us that there is something wrong with our endless wanting, but by giving us glimpses of a numinous experience of life that stops our wanting in its tracks, because in that state we simply do not require anything else to complete ourselves, except, perhaps, the one continuing desire of all desires, to bring that vital celebration of experience into the center of our existence. . . .
The rich flow of creativity, innovation, and almost musical complexity we are looking for in a fulfilled work life cannot be reached through trying or working harder. The medium, for the soul, it seems, must be the message. The river down which we raft is made up of the same substance as the great sea of our destination. An ever moving first hand creative engagement with life and with others that completes itself simply by being itself.