Soul Matters

I interviewed Gary Zukav this past Friday for our June issue. His latest book, Spiritual Partnership, deals – as have all his books since the publication of his evergreen bestseller Seat of the Soul – with matters of the soul. The world “soul” means different things to different people. For some, it is a staple of their daily conversation, a reminder of life’s inarguable value; for others, it is yet another in a list of superstitious hokum floating meaninglessly above hard, observable reality. Although I was raised without any organized religion, I took to the word quite early, largely because it was used so freely by the artistic types I looked up to and whose lives I wished to someday emulate. Poetry or music or books were said to either have soul or not, and always the more soul a work of art had the better.

I came to see that artistic soul usually meant art that expressed itself without intellectual self-consciousness, which is always a grand thing. But as a concept, this idea of soul was too laden with accomplishment, as if soul is yet another by-product of craft. There seemed to me a deeper value to the word, and one that spoke more directly to the creative life.

My soul is that to which my interest attunes itself. My interest has no logic, it can never be proven, and yet it is the guiding force of my life, responsible for the woman I married, the food I choose to eat, the city in which I live, and the magazine through which I write to you now. The intellect sorts through the data of the physical world, interprets it, and arrives at logical conclusions, like how to make a boat buoyant. That which I call the soul has its own logic, whose only desired conclusion is my own contentment.

I cannot create without this concept of the soul. If I remain bound to the physical world, that which I can see and taste and hear and so on, then nothing I create makes any sense. There is nothing within the physical world that will tell me what to write next. Only the inherent logic of my own desire shows me a path through the infinite choices before me. Without my soul, I am little more than a rubber ball, buffeted meaningless by events; with it, I am a creature of action, an engine in the service of love.

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