On Inner Work, Intuition and Love


Quotations taken from "Women Who Run With the Wolves",
by Clarissa Pinkola Estés,
Ballantine Books, New York, 1992

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  • Three things differentiate living from the soul versus living from ego only: the ability to sense and learn new ways, the tenacity to ride a rough road, and the patience to learn deep love over time.

    It would be a mistake to think that it takes a muscle-bound hero to accomplish this. It does not. It takes a heart that is willing to die and be born and die and be born again and again.

  • To be ourselves causes us to be exiled by many others, and yet to comply with what others want causes us to be exiled from ourselves.

  • Regardless of collective affiliations or influences, our challenge in behalf of the wild soul and our creative spirit is to not merge with any collective, but to distinguish ourselves from those who surround us, building bridges back to them as we choose.

  • We cannot control who brings us into this world. We cannot influence the fluency with which they raise us; we cannot force the culture to instantly become hospitable. But the good news is that, even after injury, even in a feral state, even, for that matter, in an as yet captured state, we can have our lives back.

  • If we stay as survivors only without moving to thriving, we limit ourselves and cut our energy to ourselves and our power in the world to less than half. One can take so much pride in being a survivor that it becomes a hazard to further creative development. Sometimes people are afraid to continue beyond survivor status, for it is just that —a status, a distinguishing mark, a "damn-straight, bet your buttons, better believe it" accomplishment.

    Once the threat is past, there is a potential trap in calling ourselves by names taken on during the most terrible time of our lives. It creates a mind-set that is potentially limiting.

  • To be strong does not mean to sprout muscles and flex. It means meeting one's own numinosity without fleeing, actively living with the wild nature in one's own way. It means to be able to learn, to be able to stand what we know. It means to stand and live.

  • Those who are not delighted by learning, those who cannot be enticed into new ideas or experiences, cannot develop past the roadpost they rest at now. If there is but one force which feeds the root of pain, it is the refusal to learn beyond this moment.

  • In our lives, even though one episode amounts to a crash and burn, there is always another episode awaiting us and then another. There are always more opportunities to get it right, to fashion our lives in the ways we deserve to have them. Don't waste your time hating a failure. Failure is a greater teacher than success. Listen, learn, go on.

  • At bottom is the best soil to sow and grow something new again. In that sense, hitting bottom, while extremely painful, is also the sowing ground.

  • We have been taught that death is always followed by more death. It is simply not so, death is always in the process of incubating new life, even when one's existence has been cut down to the bones.

  • For most women, to let die is not against their natures, it is only against their training.

  • As in sleep, the Life/Death/Life nature in its most wildish form is as simple as a graceful exhalation (ending) and inhalation (beginning). The only trust required is to know that when there is one ending there will be another beginning.

  • If we live as we breathe, take in and let go, we cannot go wrong.

  • To be able to see the right turns, we have to be able to see the wrong ones.

  • Addiction is anything that depletes life while making it "appear" better.

  • Usually a single fear has three parts; one part being a residue from the past (this often being a source of shame), one part being a lack of certainty in the present, and one part being a fear of poor outcome or negative consequences in the future.

  • There is very little right/wrong or good/bad in this world. There is, however, useful and not useful. There are also things that are sometimes destructive, as well as things that are engendering.

  • It is worse to stay where one does not belong at all than to wonder about lost for a while and looking for the psychic and soulful kinship one requires. It is never a mistake to search for what one requires. Never.

  • When you are connected to the instinctual self, you always have at least four choices... the two opposites and then the middle ground, and "taken under further contemplation".

  • What does one feed intuition so that it is consistently nourished and responsive to our requests to scan the environs? One feeds it life —one feeds it life by listening to it.

  • Long ago the word alone was treated as two words, all one. To be all one meant to be wholly one, to be in oneness, either essentially or temporarily.

  • While exile is not a thing to desire for the fun of it, there is an unexpected gain from it; the gifts of exile are many. It takes out weakness by the pounding. It removes whininess, enables acute insight, heightens intuition, grants the power of keen observation and perspective that the "insider" can never achieve.

  • The deep work is a lot like sexual arousal. It begins from ground zero, accelerates in plateaus, becomes sustained and intense. If the plateaus are interrupted harshly, you must begin all over again.

  • One of the least discussed issues of individuation is that as you can shine the light into the dark of your psyche as strongly as you can, the shadows, where the light is not, grow even darker. So when we illuminate some part of the psyche, there is a resultant deeper dark to contend with. This dark cannot be let alone. The key, the questions, cannot be hidden or forgotten. They must be asked. They must be answered.

  • Can a negative aspect of psyche be reduced to cinder by being watched and watched? Yes, indeed it can. Holding it in consistent consciousness can cause the thing to dehydrate.

  • ...taking a little from here and putting it there. Transformation is no more complicated than that.

  • Being bound to one's intuition promotes a confident reliance on it, no matter what. It changes a woman's guiding attitude from "what will be, will be" to "let me see all there is to see."

  • The instinctual nature has the miraculous ability to live through all positive boon, all negative consequence, and still maintain relationship to self, to another.

  • To love pleasure takes little. To love truly takes a hero who can manage his own fear.

  • Afeared or not, it is an act of deepest love to allow oneself to be stirred by the wildish soul of another. In a world where humans are so afraid of "losing", there are far too many protective walls against being dissolved in the numinosity of another human soul.

  • Many times I have heard a man say he has a "good woman" who is enamored of him and he of her, but he just can't "let go" enough to see what he really feels about her. The turning point for such a person is when he allows himself to love "even though"...even tough he has pangs, even though he is nervous, even though he has been wounded previously, even though he fears the unknown.

    Sometimes there are no words to help one's courage. Sometimes you just have to jump. There has to be at some point in a man's life a time when he will trust where love takes him, where he fears more being trapped in some dry cracked riverbed of a psyche than being out in lush but uncharted territory. When a life is too controlled, there becomes less and less life to control.

  • If it is love we are making, even though we are apprehensive or frightened, we are willing to touch the not-beautiful [and also the not-yet beautiful] in another, and in ourselves.

    What is the not-beautiful? Our own secret hunger to be loved is the not-beautiful. Our disuse and misuse of love is the not-beautiful. Our dereliction in loyalty and devotion is unlovely, our sense of soul-separateness is homely, our psychological warts, inadequacies, misunderstandings, and infantile fantasies are the not-beautiful. Additionally, the Life/Death/Life nature, which births, destroys, incubates and births again, is considered by our cultures the not-beautiful.

  • Somehow and somewhere in the delicate layers of the being that is created when two people love one another, there is both a heart and breath. While one side of the heart empties, the other fills. When one breath runs out, another begins.

  • Love in its fullest form is a series of deaths and rebirths. We let go of one phase, one aspect of love, and enter another. Passion dies and is brought back. Pain is chased away and surfaces another time. To love means to embrace and at the same time to withstand many many endings, and many many beginnings —all in the same relationship.

  • When a man gives his whole heart, he becomes an amazing force —he becomes an inspiratrice, a role that in the past was reserved for women only. When Skeleton Woman (Life/Death/Life nature) sleeps with him, he becomes fertile, he is invested with feminine powers in a masculine milieu. He carries the seed of new life and of necessary deaths. He inspires new works within himself, but also in those near him.

  • If we could realize that the work is to keep doing the work, we would be much more fierce and much more peaceful.

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