The Soul Adores Unity

The Soul Adores Unity By: John O’Donohue


“When you decide to practice inner hospitality, the self-torment ceases. The abandoned, neglected, and negative selves come into a seamless unity. The soul is wise and subtle; it recognizes that unity fosters belonging. The soul adores unity. What you separate, the joins. As your experience extends and deepens, your memory becomes richer and more complex. Your soul is the priestess of memory, selecting, sifting, and ultimately gathering your vanishing days towards presence. The liturgy of remembrance, literally re-membering, is always at work within you. Human solitude is rich and endlessly creative.”

The Solitude of nature is mainly silent. This is expressed beautifully in the old Irish wisdom: “Castar na daoine ar a cheile ach ni castar na sleibhte ar a cheile“–that is, “The mountains never meet, but people can always encounter each other.” It is strange that two mountains can be side by side for millions of years and yet can never move closer to each other. Whereas two strangers can come down these mountains, meet in the valley, and share the inner worlds they carry. This separation must be one of nature’s loneliest experiences.”

The beauty of humanity’s poetry

“The ocean is one of the delights for the human eye. The seashore is a theater of fluency. When the mind is entangled, it is soothing to walk by the seashore, to let the rhythm of the ocean inside you. The ocean disentangles the netted mind. Everything loosens and comes back to itself. The false divisions are relieved, released, and healed. Yet the ocean never actually sees itself. Even light, which enables us to see everything, cannot see itself; light is blind. In Hayden’s Creation it is the vocation of man and woman to celebrate and complete creation.”

“Our solitude is different. In contrast to nature and to the animal world, there is a mirror within the human mind. This mirror collects every reflection. Human solitude is so unsolitary. Deep human solitude is a place of great affinity and of tension. When you come into your solitude, you come into companionship with everything and everyone. When you extend yourself frenetically outward, seeking refuge in your external image or role, you are going into exile. When you come patiently and silently home to yourself, you come into unity and into belonging.”

“No one but you can sense the eternity and depth concealed in your solitude. This is one of lonely things about individuality. You arrive at a sense of the eternal in you only through confronting and outfacing your fears. The truly lonely element in loneliness is fear. No one else has access to the world you carry around within yourself; you are its custodian and entrance. No one else can see the world the way you see it. No one else can feel your life the way you feel it. Thus it is impossible to ever compare two people because each stands on such different ground. When you compare yourself to others, you are inviting envy into your consciousness; it can be a dangerous and destructive guest. This is always one of the great tensions in an awakened or spiritual life, namely, to find the rhythm of its unique language, perception and belonging. To remain faithful to your life requires commitment and vision that must constantly be renewed.”

“If you try to view yourself through the lenses that others offer you, all you will see are distortions; your own light and beauty  will become blurred, awkward, and ugly. Your sense of inner beauty has to remain a very private thing. The secret and the sacred are sisters. Our times suffer from such a loss of the  sacred because our respect for the secret has completely vanished. Our modern technology of information is one of the great destroyers of privacy. We need to shelter that which is deep and reserved within us. This is why there is such hunger in modern life for the language of the soul. The soul is a shy presence. The hunger for the language of the soul shows that the soul has been forced to recede to private areas; only there can it mind its own texture and rhythm. The modern world, by trumpeting the doctrine of self-sufficiency, has denied the soul and forced it to eke out its existence on the margins.”

“Maybe one of the ways to reconnect with your deeper soul life is to recover a sense of soul’s shyness. Though it may be personally difficult to be shy, it is an attractive quality in a person. In an unexpected piece of advice, Nietzschethe says one of the best ways to make someone interested in you is to blush. The value of shyness, its mystery and reserve, is alien to the brash immediacy of many modern encounters. If we are to connect with our inner life, we need to learn not to grasp at the soul in a direct or confrontational way. In other words, the neon consciousness of much modern psychology and spirituality will always leave us in soul poverty.”

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