In order to practice creative illumination we must liberate ourselves from the limitations of our materialistic conditioning. We’ve been taught that we live in an infinite expanse of three dimensional space. This vast ocean of empty space is filled with finite things and we are one of the things that occupy space. If our imagination remains shackled to this metaphor of reality, we will tend to see the soul as some kind of non-material thing. An object without substance, like a ghost, but still finite existing here and not there, now and not then.
The soul is not a finite thing. It is an infinite and eternal essence that exists always and everywhere. It would be more accurate to think of the soul as a scent in a room, a flavor in soup, or as I described in essay two, the signal from a radio station in the air.
There is another assumption of our things-in-space reality that we must transcend, – our belief that conscious awareness is a property that exists inside of us and spreads out into the world like the light from a flashlight. We see ourselves as a thing in space, but we are special because we are conscious. We are trained to understand consciousness as something that exists inside us, most likely in our brains. Our conscious awareness then spreads out into the world through our senses gathering information, or it extends inwardly into our mind where it illuminates thoughts and feelings that are the mental objects of inner space. Coleridge, in the same passage that I quoted in the last essay goes on to say,
Nothing is wanted but the eye, which is the light of this house, the light which is the eye of this soul. This seeing light, this enlightening eye, is reflection.
We read the word eye in the passage above and we think about the eyes in our head – the ones that act as lenses that allow us to see the world outside, but Coleridge says that the eye he is talking about is the light. There is no eye that sees the light, the light is the eye. It is a seeing light. The light itself sees.
Here is a place where we must stop, think hard and overcome our perceptual habits and tendencies. We have been conditioned to separate the experiencer from the thing experienced, the subject from the object. The way we have been taught, we naturally think of an eye as belonging to the experiencer and separate from that which is experienced. We also imagine that the consciousness that perceives is separate from the eye that sees. The eye is the instrument that allows sight to happen, but the seeing happens in the awareness of the experiencer, and both are separate from whatever is being experienced.
In order to work in the domain of the soul we must think differently. We cannot chop reality up into subjects with eyes that see a world outside. We must unify reality into a continuously whole event. We must stretch until we can embrace a reality where there is no observer separate from what is observed. Where light is not a passive reflecting energy that allows us to perceive the world beyond them. We must see that all and everything is a seeing light. We are not something that sees, the light itself is the seer. The things we are seeing do not exist outside of the light. The light is also what is seen.
We are not seeing material and mental things with the light of our awareness. Everything is made of seeing light. There is nothing but the seeing light. We ourselves are also made only of this self-perceiving light.
When we experience something, we are not connecting with something that exists beyond the experience of it. There is an experience of something, but there is nothing beyond that experience. And there is no separate self that is experiencing. It is all experience. It is all made of seeing light. This is why in the great idealist traditions they say that consciousness is all there is. Or why William James said that we live in a world made of pure experience.
To gain access to the soul realm we must let go of the idea that we are a person having an experience of a world outside of us. Instead we must understand that reality is an experience. We are not a person having an experience. There is just an experience of being a person having an experience. Experience is all there is. The soul is not a ghost-like part of us, it is a scent in the soup of reality.
Think of the soul as a mood. When you are in a good mood, or a bad mood, where does the mood exist? It exists everywhere and it shapes and colors all of your experience. If you are in a good mood, the world looks different, you feel open and free. If you are in a bad mood you feel constricted and bound.
The soul is something like a mood, and a person with a more highly developed soul will see everything with greater clarity, sensitivity and compassion. They will have a more expansive view of life and existence. They will see more possibilities than others see. The journey of spiritual growth and creative illumination leads to a more highly developed soul and brings with it the gifts of greater clarity, sensitivity and compassion.