We know so little about our mind, much as psychology and especially social psychology have made some progress over the past century. And then, the soul tends to be ignored altogether as scientists have not through experimentation proven its existence.
Yet, when we search within ourselves, to find the self, one encounters the soul. It is there, instinctively we know. To improve the self, the soul becomes more relevant than the mind. This journey, to find the self and my soul, I have traveled long arduous paths through years of searching, trying to understand what makes us tick the way we go..,And why we waste so much effort on that which has little or no relevance. Rather, it is superficial and materialistic, perhaps giving temporary pleasure or gaiety, but leaving a troubled mind over the long term. To this theme I shall return another time….
But let me start by sharing some of my experiences chronologically, hoping they make some sense of existence.
During the earliest memories, they were of joy, spending my preschool days in a garden, picking flowers, watching and chasing butterflies and dragonflies; eating a bird’s egg, very pretty blue with brown specks but awful to the taste buds; followed by kittens and stray dogs that I fed and played for hours with; learning to write the alphabet with a most impatient mother; waiting for my father to come home, clamouring for his attention, sitting in his lap to babble stories, inventions of the imagination to which he listened with patience; imagining fairies and elves marching around in my room during siesta time; generally a life of wonder and fun, absorbed by nature and fairy tales… Happy days.
As I grew older, amongst five siblings counting myself, the usual rivalries and unhappy experiences caught my attention. Being a bookworm, and adept at sports I was held as an example by my father to the others. Sadly, it did not make me popular amongst them. Thus I was teased and bullied. I learnt early to take it quietly, as I was told by my father to ignore it or better, laugh at it.
At an early age, I began to ponder why people were cruel to one another. Even within a family where one would think there was love. And then I began to wonder whether my way of thinking may be wrong and they correct. So I learnt to give the benefit of the doubt to opposing thoughts in my early teens. It helped in surviving!
Marriage was another not happy experience, in the sense I found a man who was similar in attitudes as my siblings. He was intelligent and adept at manipulating, hungry for control. I learnt to live such situations by dedicating my time to bringing up a child without myself repeating the negative cycles I experienced. At the same time, I also learnt to detach myself from painful situations, by telling myself to stay above them, and no one was worth my peace of mind. I didn’t realise it was the peace of the soul that manifested itself.
Well, if you wonder why I say this, it is because the mind was active, trying to play up negative emotions, such as anxiety, depression, sadness, and such. If it had its way, I would have been a totally different person, perhaps a broken person. As I said, the soul taught me to be detached, not to harbour ill will, not to be judgmental, to lead my life with its small pleasures which were many. At the time I did not realise it was so.
At work, I was successful beyond my expectations, and my bosses let me know it. It gave huge amounts of satisfaction. Plus the fact I made excellent friends of colleagues and bosses, their families. Outside of work too, I had many friends, and found I was considered intelligent, great company, and a better cook.. My dinner table was sought after. My son’s school principal thought there was no other parent comparable to me, and he and his wife made it a point to tell me at parents meeting days… It gave me faith in the self, the soul that manifested itself.
When those close to me made it a point to run me down, showing animosity, envy, jealousy, I was impervious to it. I now realise because I had found peace and calm within the soul, they actually did not affect me in any way in the long term. I learnt to do that which would make me happy, such as go to the opera, or a museum where Goya’s sketches were a comfort, or long walks in the city of Madrid.
I developed an independent free spirit, that in the worst of situations, could transport me to a happy place, off for a daylong walk in the mountains, back again refreshed and light hearted. Surrounded by dogs, a passion since a small girl, always with such companions whose love was and is a blessing.
I learnt within the self, there is an inner space of immense joy, laughter, contentment that no one can touch. It was and still today surprises me to see how it helps one to bounce back more resilient still, when in a bad place. It is the soul. A soul that does not know biases, prejudices, intolerance, hatred or any of the other painful negativity. Instead, it teaches one to find joy and love in the simplest of things. And this place no one can invade or destroy,
To begin the day early out in a garden, barefooted preferably, feet in contact with the earth, seeing as if for the first time, blades of grass, plants, smelling flowers, hearing birds awaken with wondrous chatter, owls hoot, in short, engulfed in love, pleasure…Thank you Divine, within and extrinsically, for all the magnificent beauty that surrounds us… for yet another day with my much loved companion dog… for the music I hear, for the art that moves my soul, for the love of mankind and all that surrounds me.. That is the soul speaking and not the mind.
One with the Universe, with our Mother Earth, with All.
By Laila Khan