(Excerpt from the book Fate and Destiny: The Two Agreements of the Soul by Michael Meade)
Soul is everywhere, but hard to see. It is an essential part of each living thing, but has no substance of its own. The soul is an indwelling, animating, and connecting force without which we cannot live. Yet, it cannot be seen directly or proven to exist. By its nature the soul is "there-not-there;" we can feel its subtle presence and we can anguish in its absence; but we cannot pin it down or hold it firm. The soul is a betwixt and between thing; neither physical nor spiritual, but something that participates in both realms. The soul is another kind of body, a subtle body that partakes of both spirituality and physicality.
As the third element in the trinity of existence, soul fills the space between spirit and matter, it grounds the spirit while animating the body and helping to refine the senses. Soul keeps spirit and matter related by opening an in-between realm of imagination, passion, and deep reflection, that is not simply physical or material on the one hand, nor completely spiritual and abstract on the other. The soul can grow and more soul can be made; but it cannot be hoarded or fixed in a certain place.
It used to be said that soul is the beginning of all motion and the source of all changes. As it moves between one thing and another, between the individual and the sensate world, between one heart and another, between the immediate and the divine; soul is the connecting agent of existence. By its nature soul is the mutable, multiple, changeable aspect of both the world and individual life. As the animating force of natural life, soul was termed to be "anima mundi" - the living, breathing soul of the world. Aboriginal people called it "yorro, yorro" - everything in the world having soul, standing up and speaking to you.
Soul is the essential inter-mediary and subtle go-between that connects unlike things; it holds the physical in touch with the divine and the immediate contemporary with the eternal. As natural intermediary and go-between, the soul is the magical third; it is the narrative force that keeps the story going; it knows how things are secretly connected and that the third time is a charm. Soul is the connecting principle of life, the "both-and" factor, the unifying third between any opposing forces.
When we lose our way in this world it is the soul's way of being in touch with the world that has been lost. We are most lost and truly abandoned when we have lost touch with our own soul, with our own inward style and way of being in the world. Soul is the missing ingredient when things fall apart, just as it was the animating force that first brought us to life.
Old ways of viewing human life involved a unity of three instead of the polarity of two that develops between the spiritual and the physical. The three can be termed body, soul, and mind; or body, soul, and spirit. Body and spirit will one day separate as the body returns to the earth and the spirit departs to the unseen realm; meanwhile it is the intimacy of the soul that holds them near each other. When the old imagination and three-fold way of seeing collapses into a bi-furcated world view, we are left with the famous mind-body split and the blind limitations of either-or thinking.
The soulless split between mind and body generates a gap between culture and nature; as culture becomes more ideological and nature becomes but matter to be manipulated and exploited. When life becomes more polarized than it need be and things become more divided than they should be, it is the way of the soul that is missing and needed to heal the divisions and make things whole again. Soul involves the genuine cultivation of ideas and the living imagination that produces art and culture; but soul also relates to the essence of nature and to natural ways of changing and growing.
Soul is the arbiter of our incarnation and the source of our deep connection with certain places. Any intrigue with place is also an intrigue with soul. For our soul instinctively knows where and how we should sink our feet into the mud of creation and grow our roots down. Spirit may seek peak experiences and the heavenly heights; but soul would have us incarnate fully and would help us to grow deep roots that allow the spirit of our life to branch out.
Soul knows which "walk of life" the soles of our feet are attuned to; just as it knows which rhythms and tunes can keep our heart beating and singing and remaining open to the world. Soul is the secret within culture and the dream within the heart of nature. Wherever nature and culture meet, soul is present and it is the missing element where and when culture and nature collide.
Soul adds "psychic reality" to common experience; it is the psychic go-between that carries messages between this world and the otherworld, between the literal world and the spiritual realm beyond it all. The soul is all-embracing, not seduced by either-or thinking, by us-and-them divisions, or by the pretensions of subject-object dichotomies. Soul is the "missing third" that presents the mysterious, hidden aspect of any situation. Soul is the light hidden inside the dark as well as the shading that gives beauty its shape. It is the inner quintessence that holds things together within us and holds us within the world.
Without our soul and the inner pattern that animates it, we are no one at all. In so much as we are truly individual from others, in so far as we come to know ourselves and live uniquely, we are en-souled. When soul becomes diminished in us we become as an empty shell regardless of our physical attributes or our lofty station in life. The soul keeps body and mind, pulse and spirit connected and we are most connected, body and soul, when we live close to the innate pattern set within our souls to begin with.
Soul has hidden gold, and inner vision, and a light that rises from the deep. The inner light of the soul is not a reflection of the outer world; for the soul flickers with an inward light, a candle that burns with emotional heat and that also knows ecstatic flames. Soul is the secret connection, the hidden glue of the world; it is the erotic factor inside each life and within the blessed intimacy of all things.