I am not a mechanism, an assembly of various sections.
And it is not because the mechanism is working wrongly, that I am ill.
I am ill because of wounds to the soul, to the deep emotional self
and the wounds to the soul take a long, long time, only time can help
and patience, and a certain difficult repentance,
long, difficult repentance, realization of life’s mistake, and the freeing oneself
from the endless repetition of the mistake
which mankind at large has chose to sanctify.
–D. H. Lawrence
(The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart: A Poetry Anthology edited by Robert Bly [translator], James Hillman, and Michael Meade, p.113)
D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930) was an English novelist, poet and playwright. He became disenchanted with the increasing industrialization of his times . . . including its encroachment into the realms of the soul. With his first line of the poem he adamantly protests this encroachment: “I am not a mechanism, an assembly of various sections.”
Wounds to the Soul
Carl Jung would have agreed with Lawrence that “wounds to the soul” could result in various illnesses, especially those containing a predominantly emotional component. “I am ill because of wounds to the soul, to the deep emotional self.” I disagree with Lawrence that ”[mainly] time can help” heal soul sickness. Certainly, an established rapport with a counselor combined with a therapeutic approach that closely follows a person’s process can be of great benefit in facilitating healing.
I believe that one interpretation of what Lawrence calls “life’s mistake” is living mechanically. . . not spontaneously. His society and our present-day society both suffer “from the endless repetition of the mistake which mankind at large has chose to sanctify.” Certain societies suppress spontaneity and call this suppression a sacred task. Their slogan is ”live superficially according to our rules.”
Tears in the Earth
But the human soul has other ideas: “Tragedies, then, are not so much about personality flaws as about the depths that call up to certain men [and women] and insist that they descend” (ibid. p.96). This calling to descend into the uncharted realms of the psyche is an invitation to make a truly sacred journey. “The Mediterranean world . . . believed . . . that there is such a thing as . . . tears inside nature itself” (ibid. p.96). So if your soul hears the cry of the earth, let your tears become stair-steps down into the core of your being where healing reigns. (See “The Gift of Tears” in my article Softening the Heart).
Photo Credit: Photo by Kris Bradley at Flickr Creative Commons.