What could be more important than finding and following your life compass? If you were like me, your life was made unnecessarily difficult both as a child and into adult life because you had no strong center from which to evaluate the constant pressure from parents, teachers, peers, partners, and employers. Many side tracks, detours and dead ends in life, represented by not so soulful “soul mates,” moves and career changes that ended up either being lateral moves or setting you back instead of moving you ahead on your path, can be averted simply and easily by learning to tune into the priorities of your life compass. IDL uses “life compass” to refer to a changing, authentic, nurturing, constantly available sense of direction that you can rely on to steer you through the storms of your life.
Traditionally, other terms, such as “soul,” “Self,” “God” (as indwelling, or immanent), “life voice,” “intuition,” the “divine,” “God’s will,” the “sacred,” “still small voice,” “feeling with one’s heart,” dharma, karma, destiny, fate or predestination have served this purpose. Each is useful in certain contexts and not so useful in others. Some of them we will discuss below and give our reasons why concepts that are useful at earlier developmental stages become less conducive to enlightenment as we expand and thin our sense of self.
Terms like “soul” and “self” are psychologically geocentric in that they make life, growth, and enlightenment “all about me” and my freedom, bliss and consciousness. I seek my nirvana, samadhi, and liberation. This is a shamanic, prepersonal perspective that is authentic, natural, and valid in the childhood of life but less so as life becomes less and less self-centered. Terms like “God” point to a “something” or “someone” that is real, eternal, and all-inclusive. The experience of Integral Deep Listening, on the other hand, discloses contexts within contexts, called “holons,” that continuously beckon us on, to be more than we are without implying a static, transcendent state of Truth, Love, and completion or relying on a transcendent/immanent Presence like God.
Your life compass is also not intuition or an “inner voice,” because these imply a belief that you know what is true, right, or real, based on something akin to psychic ability. Have you ever met someone who bases their life on their intuition? They just “know,” because their intuition tells them so, and because they know, it is their experience and their truth, which is not to be questioned or challenged without questioning and challenging them. They take your questions as personal attacks! Appeals to intuition are often a way to say, “Don’t question my belief about this; I know it is true and if you question it you are insulting me!” We see this mentality in True Believers of all kinds, but generally have a hard time seeing it in ourselves. In addition, tests of intuition have shown that it does not operate above and beyond chance or random variation. That does not mean that intuition cannot be accurate, just as chance does not mean you cannot or will not win the lottery. Unlike appeals to intuition, Integral Deep Listening invites questioning and challenging. It invites disbelief and encourages personal verification by you.
Unlike many other terms for an internal source of guidance, such as soul, intuition and God, life compass has the advantage of not being a scripted part of the accepted family and cultural heritage that you grew up accepting. For IDL, your life compass exists only as a conceptual tool, a place holder, for life’s priorities and potentials that are attempting to emerge into the daylight of your awareness and that seek expression in your words and actions. Your life compass is not meant to imply the reality or existence of a “you” that possesses a center. It has no ontological reality because your life compass is not a distinct “thing,” “self,” or “place.” Instead, it is meant to point toward an experiential reality inferred by the confluence of multiple perspectives of many interviewed emerging potentials. An analogy would be to a hurricane, which indeed has a center around which it forms and which gives it structure. However, notice that the center of a hurricane is empty. It can be so large that small planes can fly over the top and into the central “eye” or “life compass” of the hurricane.
The winds of the storm have no identity. They are an impermanent, temporary, ad hoc collection of forces that manifest in a form that we call “hurricane” to differentiate it from “tree,” sky,” or “smile.” However, like a smile, a hurricane is essentially a process, not a thing. Like a hurricane, a smile, and your life compass, you too are essentially a process, not a thing. This is a reality that becomes clear over multiple IDL interviews. You start to experience that your identity is no different than that of the imaginary mushrooms and skunks that you interview – empty.
The analogy of a diamond is another useful way to understand how IDL uses the concept of life compass. A diamond is clear and has no single, “right,” or “perfect” way to be viewed. Its essence is to be a paradox of clarity and hardness, of harmonious stability and a riot of colors and facets.
Your life compass is similar. It is clear, like the air within the eye of a hurricane, yet it is extraordinarily solid, durable, and stable. It is harmonious, like the light from a prism, or the proportions of the fibonacci curve that appear naturally everywhere in nature, and yet, upon close examination, it is a chaos of minor, individual imperfections. There is no such thing as a perfect diamond or a perfect facet of a diamond; similarly, there is no perfection within your life compass, nor is it “your” life compass. It more appropriately is understood to belong to life, with “you” being a convenient figment of your imagination which, when taken as real, becomes your prison. An excellent description of how the delusion of self comes to be, how it works, and what is to be done about it can be found in The Atman Project, by Ken Wilber.
The concept of life compass grows out of direct experience with countless interviews of dream characters and the personifications of waking life issues of all sorts, using the IDL interviewing protocols. A consensus of perspectives, values, and recommendations emerges when you do enough of these interviews that points toward a shared reality that is prior to any form or particular value. This shared context derived from innumerable interviews provides you with a personal, experiential, and genuine definition of what your life compass is and is not.
Your life compass points to a perspective that encompasses traditional distinctions, such as between the real and imaginary, the inner and the outer, the sacred and the profane. The more that you learn to look at your life from the perspective of your life compass, the less imprisoned you are by these dualisms. They continue to exist, but merely as tools that you use to communicate, not as autonomously existing realities. This is a basic reason why some common terms are found to no longer be so conducive to enlightenment, regardless of how useful and important they may have been at earlier stages of development.
To find your life compass, do Integral Deep Listening interviews on your dream characters and the personifications of your life issues. Also interview others, as they personify parts of yourself in your waking dream, and therefore clarify the nature of your life compass as well. When you do these interviews, you will grow into broader, clearer definitions of what it means to be confident, empathetic, wise, accepting, at peace, and witnessing. As you apply the recommendations you receive from your interviews in your waking life your confidence in your life compass will continue to grow. You will not need a stable source of truth, because you will have a method, a dream yoga, that is always available to you to clarify your options and show you broader and more inclusive perspectives on love, life, and growth.