Center for Sacred Psychology

Soul Food Archive: Spiritual Practice

Main Courses are offered on a frequently changing menu. Here are words and images to ingest and digest for inner nourishment. We hope these hearty meals invite you to taste and savor, to muse, reflect and remember, to journal, to create art...that is, to feast on food for the spirit.


Pascha #2, by Archimandrite Kiprian,
Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, NY*

Our current main course, below, is just one of several Soul Food offerings. Please visit, also, our buffet of Guest Caterer Specials and, for lighter fare, our Desserts & Snacks counter. And, to sample earlier menus, we hope you'll check out the Soul Food Archive. Like all who prepare foodstuffs, we hope to hear from those we serve! Space to leave comments, or read others' comments, on our cuisine follows each Soul Food offering.

 

 

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What images come to mind when we read this title: The Seeker?  For all of us living in this day of space exploration, one will almost surely be the astronaut.  

And are you, perhaps, reminded of stories and movies or t.v. shows of adventurers or pirates digging for buried treasure?
…or of sleuths bent on discovering hidden-away secrets?  Detective stories are among the most popular genres of fiction, Agatha Christie’s sales second only to those of the Bible, and Sherlock Holmes still thought by many throughout the world to have been a flesh-and-blood person (over a century after his debut in pea-soupy London)!  The sleuth is an iconic figure—sometimes comical, like Inspector Clouseau, but more often brilliant, his or her “little grey cells” well-surpassing those of the reader.  (Franklin Roosevelt and Bill Clinton are two U.S. presidents who have turned to detective fiction for inspiration.)

 

 


 

Here is 16-year old Kay Tracey, heroine of a long-lasting girl’s detective series which began in 1934 and was still alive in the1960s. Kay is well-known for solving “cases that have baffled professional sleuths!”  This scene takes place in an old cabin near ‘Lost Lake,’ where Kay’s hunting for pages stolen from a rare book.  Eluding the mad scientist terrorizing the neighborhood, Kay finds the missing pages in a secret hiding place…then proceeds to ponder her next case: “Can treasure from Civil War days be buried nearby?”

Sleuths of all ages, and explorers and adventurers from both long ago and today, are incarnations of the archetype of The Seeker.  We inescapably meet this powerful ‘pocket of energy’ in the soul in exteriorized ways (the exploits of heroes—and villains, characters tracking down clues, even the animals in our lives seeking food, a nest).  But also, do we all not have an “inner sleuth”…?  And are the characters or people we meet “out there” reminders of an aspect of our soul “in here”…?

 

 

 

Some questions: Do I think of myself as a seeker?—and, if so, what is it I’m seeking? (The words, for many, trigger the scriptural verse: Seek and you will find…)

 

And, if I am a seeker, where am I looking for that which is sought?
In the fifth century C.E., Augustine of northern Africa wrote
Where are you going, to what bleak places?...
You seek happiness in the land of death, and it is not there.

 

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Here is a picture from the past.  Many are familiar with the cycle of Oxherding (or Ox-taming or Bull-catching) pictures, which originated in the Chinese Ch’an and Japanese Zen Buddhist traditions some time after the 8th century C.E.  The little figure—androgynous—is seeking an elusive ox or bull, which stands for the eternal principle of life: truth, the Self, the life force, God, the kingdom within, the Buddha-nature (whatever language one uses).  Here, the seeker catches a first glimpse of the ox, which s/he will then catch, lead and mount.  Ultimately, the external form of the seeker’s quest will disappear; the seeker will meditate and “return to the Source,” then take back to everyday life the fruits of this search.

This series (usually in ten pictures) has been illustrated many times, perhaps never more beautifully than by artist Stephanie Wada, who based her paintings on a beautiful Japanese scroll created in ink and mineral pigments in 1278—“the Year of the Fifth Tiger.”

 

 

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We're interested in ways this Soul Food may have touched your life.

Click HERE to send us your comments...

 

 

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* Credits for this page:

~ Pascha #2 by Archimandrite Kiprian, Holy Trinity Icon Studio, Jordanville, NY
A family in old Russia welcomes visitors with special Pascha (Easter) treats. Gratefully used with permission from Holy Trinity Icon Studio, Jordanville, NY, 13361. This excellent website is the source for inexpensive traditional icon prints and mounted icons.

~ Dustjacket of a Kay Tracey Mystery Story, The Strange Echo (New York: Cupples & Leon, 1934), artist uncredited. The Stratemeyer Syndicate author’s pseudonym, “Frances K. Judd,” disguised the identity of Mildred Wirt Benson, original author of the Nancy Drew series (as “Carolyn Keene”).  The Girls’ Series Companion (1994 ed.), published by The Society of Phantom Friends, refers to Kay Tracey as “a hybrid of Nancy Drew and the Dana Girls series…a bit like comic books: lurid, but too cartoonish to be frightening.”  (Kay bumps into a lot of weird folks.)

~ Treasure-hunting pirates, an illustration by George Albert Williams (from Dover Electronic Clip Art title Pirates, Jeff A. Menges, ed., 2007).

~ Apollo 11 astronaut Edwin E. (“Buzz”) Aldrin on the moon, 1969.  Courtesy of NASA.

~ “Seek and you will find….” (Matthew  7:7)

~ “Where are you going…” (Confessions of St.Augustine, Bk.4)

~ From The Oxherder: A Zen Parable Illustrated, Stephanie Wada (trans., Gen P. Sakamoto; New York: George Braziller Publishers, 2002; http://georgebrazillerblog.blogspot.com/ ).  Wada’s ink paintings are a replication of the Burke Handscroll in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.  With many thanks for the gracious permission of the publisher to reproduce this work.

 

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WATCH FOR OUR NEXT MAIN COURSE—IN june!