Yesterday, it occurred to me that if my soul is a spark of the Divine and has come into this life for a specific purpose and if, also, along the way I have developed an egoic personality that has been conditioned by my childhood influences, upbringing, education and what was expected of me, then this explains the feeling I have increasingly had of there being 2 voices in my head (which I have called wss ( wee scared self) and WSS (Witness Susan self)).
I rationalised that it is because I am a Gemini. Others describe it as an angel and a devil. In a Scottish cartoon, Oor Wullie, that I read as a child, Wullie was often depicted with an angel on one shoulder and devil holding a pitchfork on the other, both whispering in his ears, trying to persuade him to be good or bad.
But, according to Eckhart Tolle and other enlightened masters , there are not two in reality. Eckhart realised this when he was very depressed and thinking of suicide. In the Power of Now, Eckhart writes that one night he said “I can’t live with myself any longer” which led him to question who is the “I” who can’t live with “myself” How could there be two of him? This led to a complete collapse of his egoic personality and what remained was his soul, Consciousness with a capital C, now free to live unopposed through him.
Byron Katie describes a similar experience in her book Loving what is. She, also, was in such a deep depression that she felt too unworthy to even sleep in a bed. Lying on the bathroom floor feeling unable to go on, a cockroach crawled over her foot and when she opened her eyes, the old, depressed Katie was gone, replaced by Consciousness.
These experiences are radical awakenings and the egoic mind can use them to divert us from our own more subtle awakenings.
When we begin to become aware of our souls, often, it seems, in the midst of great suffering, we may also still be aware of our egoic selves. This can be discouraging and lead to us question our experience and dismiss what is awakening in us as imagination or delusion.
The egoic self is full of fear, its prime motivation is to be loved and accepted and it tries many strategies to achieve this. It wants to be comfortable and in control at all times.
Seeing this in myself has awakened self-compassion. The fearful egoic part of me does not need to be resisted, squashed, berated or killed. She only needs my love. Soothing myself in this way quiets her voice inside me. I think this is what the Buddha meant when he said “Love yourself as if you were your own beloved child”.
Most of us, when faced with a sobbing, frightened child would reach out and comfort it. So it is with the frightened child that lies within me. It is the soul that comforts the ego until it can let go completely. The more we are able to allow all our emotions, receive them and comfort them as the frightened children they are, the more space the soul has and the more we can listen to and follow its still, small voice.
Living in this way, for a while, we come to the realisation that in every moment we have a choice about which voice we listen to: the soul’s voice that leads us with love or the ego’s that leads from fear.
I have decided to follow the soul’s voice, trusting she knows what is best for me, that she has information that I need only listen to and follow. This is not difficult to discern, it is always what is happening right now.
Until I have my own cockroach experience (which is likely not my path) I will continue to soothe my wee scared self.
My attitude to her is you are welcome here, just as you are, with all your fears and painful emotions. I see you, I love you, I will comfort you but you are no longer running the show.
Perhaps by doing this, her voice will subside and one day disappear altogether. Or perhaps not, it doesn’t really matter. This life of surrender to what is and compassion for the part of me that still freaks out is enough.
Learning to listen to the voice of my soul is what I have called Slowing down to the speed of grace.