Recently, I came across a quote by the Norwegian writer Arne Garborg from over a century ago. I was immediately moved by the perennial wisdom that transcends time and cultures:
“To love a person is to learn the song that is in their heart and to sing it to them when they have forgotten.”
In mystical traditions around the world, there's a recognition that within each of us, there is a consciousness that is unchanging regardless of the external circumstances. It is our soul or our essence, the one in us that is pure being, without doing. Our soul is our sense of “I am-ness.” It is who we were before we were given a name and who will continue to exist after we exhale our last breath.
But many of us are so busy navigating this earthly plane that we have forgotten who we are as a soul. We are constantly doing, striving, and achieving as we have been taught to do. We spend our entire lives creating an ego identity that we think would make us happy or successful, but we rarely ask, "what is nourishing my soul?" Our ego identity or personality becomes a mask that we hide behind in order to feel safe, worthy, or validated. We could be so identified with our personality that we believe it is all there is to us.
The disconnect between what we show the world and who we are at our core is the reason for the existential angst that human beings experience since time immemorial. We walk around this earth half-asleep, without awareness of our infinite nature as a soul - who we are at the deepest level, what really matters, and the unique gifts we have to offer to the world.
Perhaps it is an inevitable part of the human existence that we forget who we are, for awakening to our true nature is precisely what grows our soul. At the heart of many wisdom traditions are practices designed to overcome our ego's sense of alienation and separation to remember that we are an expression of the divine. Who we are as a soul is infinite and much vaster than the personality we think we are.
And we are not meant to travel this soul journey alone. As Ram Dass famously said, “We're all just walking each other home.” As we wake up, we become aware of the natural qualities of our soul and the love that is inherent in us, which allows us to feel compassion for others. We come to understand that all human beings are just like us - they too are souls struggling to recall their higher nature. It turns out we are all just a bunch of souls bumbling around the earth and growing through it all.
And maybe that's why this quote resonates so much with me. Perhaps the greatest love we can give to a person is to really learn the deepest qualities of their soul. We see them beyond their personality and recognize them as a spark of the divine. We validate their soul's journey without judging the messiness of their human experiences. We allow them the space to be perfect as they are, because where they are is exactly what is needed for their soul's highest growth. And when they forget their gifts, we reflect back to them the light that we see in them.
In my lowest moments, I have been lucky to be lifted up by those who see the best in me beyond my last mistake, rejection, or self-judgment, and each time it feels like a healing balm to my soul. These individuals don't have to be the people closest to us. Sometimes the most profound healing can come from strangers who are able to see us in our highest light when we can't see it ourselves. When we are acknowledged at such deep level, we are reminded of our true nature and we don't feel so alone anymore.
We are each a unique vessel of love, with the potential to recognize, give and receive love through our daily interactions. Even in the most ordinary moments, we can choose to see beyond others' personalities and learn the songs of their hearts. In witnessing others at the soul level, we are also deepening our connection with our own soul and its innate capacity to love. We receive as much as we give, as we are being continuously transformed when we shine our light on others.
May we continue to walk this earth together in beauty and love.