The soul is best understood not as a wispy ghost but as your true self, present in you at this moment. You donít see it, although when you feel the impulse of love, you have contacted it. There can be no doubt that you have a self, therefore to step onto a new level, that of your true self, is not actually so formidable a task.
Each of us has developed a strong belief in a false self built up from the ego. Ego has already come up several times, but let me briefly summarize its value system through a few key words: limited, constricted, clinging, acquisitive, closed-off, and afraid. Just listing them makes it hard to believe that anyone would owe their allegiance to these values, but consider how much behavior is motivated by them.
The true self is of immediate value because it can fulfill needs that the ego cannot. These needs are as follows: The need for safety. The need to belong. The need to be acknowledged by others. The need to matter. The need to express yourself freely. The need for love.
Desire and fulfillment are the natural rhythm of life. Each of these needs exists to be met. Your true self is already fulfilled, therefore when you merge with your true self, you will be able to feel completely wanted, safe, worthy, and loved. Expressing yourself will come naturally and freely. You will matter more than you ever imagined.
The ego sees the same needs and feels the same desire, but it reaches outside for fulfillment. People try to convince themselves that they matter if they have status and money. They feel they are expressing themselves if they can make their opinions heard. They try to belong by climbing the ladder of success.
The strategy of reaching outward is the only one the ego knows. The true self knows only the strategy of going inward.
Adapted from The Deeper Wound: Recovering the Soul from Fear and Suffering, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2001).