For many weeks now, I've been consumed with the desire to better understand my own soul, and where I am in terms of spiritual development. If you've never encountered individuals who impress you as having "old souls," you may not immediately know what I'm referring to, but please read on. You may find something in the following passages of interest or benefit to you and your own life.
Since she was an infant, I've recognized my daughter as a very old soul. She's been both a challenge and a real joy to parent. As a young child, she was very sure of herself, independent and headstrong. She didn't really take to being parented. All that changed when she started kindergarten, and found her place in an atmosphere of learning. She became a different child. Overnight, she turned into a child who was mature, extremely intelligent, quiet, curious, tenderhearted, and incredibly perceptive. High-level academic subjects are a piece of cake for her. And, in her spare time, she's working on a novel, in which her character' dialogue sounds like something right out of a classic by an author like Mark Twain. It's very interesting that people who get to know my daughter well have always told her she'd make a great teacher. The other night, she said to me, "Why does everybody keep telling me that, especially when they know I plan to be a professional singer??"
Now in her early teens, my daughter exhibits a quiet confidence, doesn't like to call attention to herself. But teachers adore her, and her peers are very drawn to her and often seek her opinions. They view her as funny and wise, and she's extraordinarily disciplined and spiritual for her age. When she goes missing in the house, I often come upon her in quiet prayer or engrossed in her bible. All over the wall and doors of her room, she's placed index cards in pastel rainbow colors, each featuring a passages of scripture or quote by people she considers to be wise and of good character. Recently, the pastor of the church we attend called for a corporate three-week fast, something that's become a new tradition at the beginning of each year. I struggled with it, to be honest, but my daughter did it easily. Her nature is so sensitive and filled with love for others, that she will weep for hours over something like a family member's forgotten birthday. I can't recall a time the child's not sought me out to say "thank you" for the most mundane things. Over time, I've come to feel that she's here to teach me more than I'm here to teach her. In short, my daughter is my role model.
So, I started researching the notion of old souls, and came upon the following description of soul stages by Jose Stevens. I see aspects of myself in both the "mature" and the "old" souls, and assume I'm working my way from one to the next. For the sake of clarity in this writing, I've omitted the descriptions of the lesser evolved souls. Below are the two stages I'm concerned with, where I recognize both traits that I need to work on, and others I feel are very descriptive of me in my current incarnation:
THE MATURE SOUL
MATURE SOULS challenge the young soul's desire to "have it all." It is a hard cycle that demands seeking answers to life's tough questions. They are attracted to gentler faiths, such as Quaker, Unitarian, or Buddhist. Mature souls are not as open to the occult as old souls. They look for and question the motivation for all of life's actions. They often continue with inappropriate relationships - perhaps believing that through self-sacrifice, or tough lessons they will ultimately prevail. Often they can't shake their sense of duty. Mature souls suffer from stress related illness that sometimes results in schizophrenia, psychosis and a higher suicide rate than other souls. [Edgar Cayce, "the sleeping prophet," emphasized the role that `stress' plays in not only physical illnesses but also mental illnesses; he believed it was `stress' that wrecked havoc on the brain chemistry/balance]. But they're smart enough to seek professional help without urging. Mature souls often make huge contributions to knowledge - particularly philosophical and scientific. But altogether they don't necessarily have the drive for fame, many still achieve it. They're emotionally high maintenance.
THE OLD SOUL
OLD SOULS live and let live. They seek the route of least resistance...they're individualistic and usually easy going. They have an inner knowing of the waste of time in pursuing fame and fortune and therefore create the appearance of being "laid back." Old souls are highly competent - even in roles they don't particularly like. They tend to choose work that is pleasant and undemanding, leaving them free to pursue their desired goals easily...unless the job adds to the spiritual search. They may or may not seek higher education... but definitely will seek it if they sense it's needed for their chosen path. Old souls create confidence in animals. And their choice of medical care tends to be alternative and holistic. Old souls are here to teach others their spiritual understandings. Their philosophies and writings are simple and easy to read. Old souls religion is far reaching and has no label. A grove of trees is a sacred place to them. They seldom cling to dogma and prefer personal spiritual practices. However, old souls are wise enough to be discreet in their religious practices and know how to pass in public undetected. They focus on searching for the spiritual truth and have a finer sense of knowing what is true than any other souls level. Old souls all over the world share the experience of emptiness and a longing for that feeling of home.
I recognize so much in those descriptions, thoughts that run through my mind continuously. The one that struck me most, and that well encompasses the rest, is that I experience many periods of feeling emotionally isolated and having a longing for my "real" home. And it's true that I often feel I must keep hidden a large part of my spiritual life,even among those I hold most dear in the midst of my outward religious practices. I know they won't share, and may even have a fear, of my most deeply held beliefs and knowing. I know many will feel I'm a little 'out there' and misguided, because they cling to the comfort of what they've been taught to believe. I understand that many have no desire to look further, almost as if they'd be opening a can of worms, or be in danger of misguidance by a guileful enemy. That, I must respect. We are all on a journey, and all have the right, the responsibility, to learn as we go along. That journey is sacred.
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