Some argue that there is no spiritual reality or background to our material world. And from this it follows that there is really no such thing as the soul—no deeper part of the personality that endures beyond death and that is affected—negatively or positively—by the way we live our life and the decisions we make in life.
Yet, for most people, except perhaps the full-fledged psychopath, there are decisions that we must make that seem to carry special import or significance. With certain decisions we have the sense that something very important is at stake, something that has to do with ourselves as people, our integrity and life path. We know intuitively and at a feeling level that one path is an offense and injury to our inner self, while the other nourishes and gives life to something deep inside us. One leads to growth, maturity and solidity of the personality, and the other leads to a denial of our true self—a selling out, a devil’s wager. One holds a sense of rightness while the other plants seeds of dis-ease.
Sometimes we lose touch with that small inner voice that would guide us to our destiny. We may have been so long on the wrong path, or straddling the fence of moral commitment, that we may not even realize we have entirely lost touch with our true values and real self. But, eventually life brings things around to a crisis point, a decision we must make that forces us to take a stand one way or another. We can no longer be unconscious or deny the powerful awareness that something very important hangs in the balance regarding the way we live our life and a decision we need to make.
Some people claim that this thing that “hangs in the balance,” this purported soul thing, is nothing more than a culturally constructed conscience. That it has no existence in and of itself. It is just an artificial and arbitrary code of right and wrong drilled into you as a child. There is no soul, no inner voice or autonomous moral instinct within the personality. But what they fail to understand is that the moral dictates of society would hold no water or motivate no one if they did not at some level reflect the moral code of the psyche itself. The personality has a moral and spiritual component that transcends and predates the rules, laws and moral injunctions developed by society.
Of course, possessing a moral instinct in no way ensures that it will be heeded. And it is also possible to go through much of life wholly ignorant of the fact that there is a part of your personality that is beyond your ego and beyond the moral and religious constructs developed by society. And yet, these moral and religious social constructs are reflective of that part of the psyche that seeks to bring harmony, love, healing and creativity to the world community. These imperfect and faltering efforts are pursued not merely for the altruistic benefit of the community, but also because such efforts are to the benefit of each individual soul.
Carl Jung put it this way:
In reality the normal man is “civic minded and moral”; he created his laws and observes them, not because they are imposed on him from without—that is a childish delusion—but because he loves law and order more than he loves disorder and lawlessness. [Carl Jung, “Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious” (1935) in CW 9, part I, p.442]
Copyright © Andy Drymalski, Ed.D.
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