The term ‘soul searching’ seems to be banded about from time to time. The football player who’s been caught on a bender. The cheating polititian. The girl who slagged off her best friend. The bad decision. The missed expectations. As humans, we tend to have this period of ‘soul searching’, especially after experiencing negative emotions. I know I’ve done plenty of soul searching in my time.
Across cultures, times and religions, people have had ways and methods of explaining ‘soul searching’ and explaining what has just happened. We are all familiar with the concept of karma, which I understand essentially is you get what you deserve. The Bible talks about reaping what you sow. Some people say ‘what comes around goes around’, or the term ‘they got their just desserts’ is banded about when bad times fall upon an enemy or foe. I guess soul searching is a combination of both. It’s reaching within for what you could have done, and searching without for an external explanation of what you just did, or a justification of it.
In thinking about soul searching, we often go within ourselves for the answer. Some seek solace in Scriptures, in words of the wise or the council of someone trusted. But here is the catch. Soul searching will only find what you have already put in. I know there are definite cases of ‘devine inspiration’, but I think those are the exception, not the rule.
New Years Resolutions. The hungover promising never to drink again. The abuser swearing in front of the magistrate that they have changed. These people, however well intentioned, often have a period of soul searching, trying to draw on their own strength to get them through, only to find themselves back in the same old destructive patterns. Why? because when you soul search, you only find what you have already put in.
Soul searching is of limited value. You can’t look inside yourself and find something that you have not already put there. I truly believe that we control most of what we put in our minds, in our souls. What we read, listen to, watch all invests in our soul.
The legend goes that a Christian missionary met an American Indian, who had converted to Christianity. The American Indian explained to the missionary that his faith was like two dogs fighting – a black dog and a white one. Curious, the missionary asked the American Indian what he ment. It was explained that his faith is like two dogs, in constant battle. The black dog was his old self, the white his born again self. The missionary asked ‘well, which one is winning?’, to his reply, the Indian explained ‘that’s easy – which ever one I feed more!’
Soul searching is a forgone conclusion if you have not already put in good things to find. Soul searching without the right things to find is just feeling sorry for yourself. So next time you go soul searching, think about what you want to find. If you already know the answer, you’ll need to search elsewhere. Don’t look within yourself. Look outside. Read the positive, the life giving. Ponder on what gives life. Ponder who gives life. Muse and meditate on the source of life, the Creator. There, your soul will find what it is looking for.