Although I could not articulate it at the time, one of the most painful nidi that inspired me to leave corporate medicine was the division that it supported and even demanded between soul and role. It is not just corporate medicine, though, that partakes in this divisiveness, our culture is vested in it.
As Parker Palmer writes in Hidden Wholeness, “The divided life is a wounded life, and the soul keeps calling us to heal the wound. Ignore that call, and we find ourselves trying to number pain with an anesthetic of choice, be it substance abuse, overwork, consumerism, or mindless media noise. Such anesthetics are easy to come by in a society that wants to keep us divided and unaware of our pain – for the divided life that is pathological for individuals can serve social systems well, especially when it comes to those functions that are morally dubious….
There can be no greater suffering than living a life long lie. As we move closer to the truth that lives within us – aware that in the end what will matter most is knowing that we stayed true to ourselves – institutions start losing their sway over our lives.
This does not mean we must abandon institutions. (Although we may need to at least take a break from them to gain some perspective, insight and healing.) In fact, when we live by the soul’s imperatives, we gain the courage to serve institutions more faithfully, to help them resist their tendency to default on their own missions….
Living integral lives as adults is far more daunting than recovering our child capacity to commute between two worlds. As adults, we must achieve a complex integration that spans the contradictions between inner and outer reality, that supports both personal integrity and the common good. By doing it, we offer what is sacred within us to the life of the world.”
This is a terrifically complex issue. It beckons us to explore our livelihoods, our values, our beliefs, and to really listen to what our soul is saying. No single path is correct for everybody. In my experience both a personal counselor and group mentorship have been imperative to exploring and healing the division between my soul and role. All my best!
A Blessing from John O’Donohue
May the light of your soul guide you.
May the light of your soul bless the work you do with the secret love and warmth of your heart.
May you see in what you do the beauty of your own soul.
May the sacredness of your work bring healing, light, and renewal to those who work with you and to those who seek and received your work.
May your work never weary you.
May it release within you wellsprings of refreshment, inspiration, and excitement.
May you be present in what you do.
May you never become lost in the bland absences.
May the day never burden.
May dawn find you awake and alert, approaching your new day with dreams, possibilities, and promises.
May evening find you gracious and fulfilled.
May you go into the night blessed, sheltered, and protected.
May your soul calm, console, and renew you.