Discover more from The Rewilded Soul
What is Soul Rewilding?
Reclaiming Your Freedom from the Inside Out
My name is Kevin Kaiser. All my life I’ve been irresistibly drawn to spiritual exploration and examining Ultimate Questions. From my perspective, we’re all asking the same two questions: Who am I? Why am I here?
I could tell you factually why I started this column, but I’d rather tell you a story.
The time is always. The place is far away.
A wanderer nears a simple village as the sun stirs awake. Weary from a sleepless night, he hopes to find kindness and a meal.
Ahead, an old woman stands at the village edge. Two elephants, one grown and a newborn, sway beside her chewing hay, which the woman feeds them in fistfuls.
“Good morning,” Wanderer says.
The old woman acknowledges him with a nod. Her face is gentle. Her long, salt and pepper hair cascades over age-stooped shoulders.
Wanderer waits in silence for the woman to respond. Instead, she continues feeding the animals, unbothered by his presence.
A long beat of silence passes. Wanderer shifts on his feet. Is she deaf?
Finally, the woman speaks without looking up, “Either get on with robbing me or make yourself useful. Haven’t got all day.”
“I’m no thief.”
“What then? Everyone wants something.”
“A meal and a place to rest if you can spare them. I will work for them, of course.”
“Fine then. Help me and I’ll help you.”
“What can I do?” Wanderer asks.
With two swipes of a knife, the woman cuts the twine holding a hay bale together. The rope releases with a loud pop.
“Feed the creatures all of this hay, and those too.” She points to a leaning stack of three more bales.
Wanderer gets to work as the woman shuffles to a small stool nearby. She settles onto it with a heavy sigh. “They eat first. Then you.”
He feeds the baby elephant first. As the creature chews, Wanderer’s eyes are drawn to its dusty feet. A single chain, thick and heavy, barely as long as the man is tall, wraps its right front leg. The chain is fixed to a thick stake pounded into the hard earth. Every now and then the baby lifts its leg, tugs at the chain, and grunts.
Wanderer’s attention shifts to the baby’s mother. It, too, is tied but not with a heavy chain. Instead, it is tethered by a thin frayed rope that even a child could break with barely an effort. It is little more than a string loosely looped around one of its enormous front feet.
Wanderer: “Aren’t you afraid its mother will get loose?”
“Afraid? Why should I be?” She lifts a short cob pipe from her pocket and stuffs it with tobacco.
“This baby is chained but its mother, who is far stronger, is held only by this rope. If it wanted to, the creature could just walk away.”
The old woman lights her pipe, takes a long draw and exhales. “Lucky for me she doesn’t know that.”
The woman nods toward the grown elephant. “This animal was once like its baby. Small. Born in captivity, just on the other side of this wall. Doesn’t matter how much they grow. Even the wildest animals are easily tamed if you get them young and train them right.” She taps the side of her head with a finger. “Train them here.”
“How is this done?”
“It’s simple enough. When they’re young use a heavy chain, short and strong, to make the creature’s world small. With time they forget their wildness.”
“But surely they try to get away.”
“For awhile, yes. This little one will pull at his chain for another year or so. Then he’ll realize he isn’t strong enough and will stop trying. Once that happens all I’ll need is a rope to keep him wherever I want.”
A twinge of sadness pricks Wanderer’s heart. Here stands the wildest and mightiest of beasts, and yet it does not know it.
The woman smiles. “Some say an elephant never forgets. Trust me, that isn’t so. One day the little beast will forget what he is, like his mother did. By the time he’s big enough to wander off, it won’t even occur to him that he can. As long as he never remembers his wild nature and what he is, I own him.”
The parable of the elephants is our story—yours and mine. Like those once-wild elephants, we too were born in captivity.
The only difference is, our chains are invisible. Instead of chains of metal, ours are made of thoughts, words, and concepts we inherited from our culture, family, religion, schools, and friends—ideas that are heavier and more powerful than anything on earth.
How we think, feel, and act in every moment of our lives is conditioned by when, where, and to whom we were born. We have been shaped into the image of those who came before us just as they were by those who came before them.
I suspect you intuitively know this, that there is more to who we are and why we’re here than we’ve been led to believe. That we are born as pure and raw possibility miraculously and wondrously wrapped in skin.
That there is an inborn wildness to us that can never truly be contained. You would have better luck fitting all the oceans of the world into a thimble than you would containing one human’s Essential Nature in its full expression.
And yet, this Essential Nature and our connection to it has been denied, ignored, and suppressed. It has been dutifully trained out of us. In fact, this is the only problem humanity faces—the domestication or de-wilding of our Essential Nature. We are mighty, and yet we believe ourselves to be small because we were trained to believe it.
We live small lives that don’t reflect our deepest potential, which is boundless, and our Essential Nature, which is beyond any name, role, career, title, or possession you could ever use to define your Self.
Instead of living vibrant, soul-infused lives, we’ve settled for an ego-centric existence by default. For most people, another way of living isn’t even in their realm of awareness.
Like those elephants, we all suffer from a chronic case of mistaken identity. We’re tethered to a pathetic piece of string, believing we’re held captive, when in truth we are immensely powerful and simply need to remember who and what we are.
That’s the thing of it: we’ve forgotten who we are, and in our forgetting we have given up our freedom. And the way back to our Self is through the rewilding of our soul.
What is Rewilding?
Rewilding is a term typically used to describe the return of a species or ecosystem that has been domesticated (or in some cases, decimated) by humans back to its natural, wild state.
Rewilding starts by re-introducing animals and plants back into the landscape that were once native, but no longer thrive.
One little nudge, however, is all Nature needs. When space is given for Nature to be itself, the best humans can do is simply stay out of the way. The Wild knows what it is.
An elephant knows inherently, instinctively, what it is. It is itself and its nature is to be itself fully. It is not trying to be anything else. It can’t. So it is with us if we make room for our deeper Self to emerge.
As I use the term here, rewilding means healing the divide that exists between ourselves and Nature—our own inner Essential Nature, first, and then the divide we’ve artificially created between us and the natural world “out there” which would include the physical world and other people.
I mean it when I say the only problem humanity truly faces is the denial of our own Essential Nature, our Soul Nature. This has profound ramifications for the entire world.
As the hermetic saying goes, as within so without. Our split from our own inner nature is reflected in our relationship to the outer world. We have made the world in our image.
We don’t know each other in truthful, loving ways because we don’t know ourselves. We are at war with others because we are at war with ourselves. We exploit and commoditize the natural world because we don’t see ourselves as of it and interconnected with its fate.
Our world, with all of its war, pain, inequality, and suffering is a collective reflection of our individual lostness. The only way to begin to heal the division in our world is to first heal this divide within ourselves.
All the mystics and sages of the world’s spiritual traditions agree on one point: the Way to this healing is the simple remembering of our Essential Nature, our wild original Self, which has been denied, obscured, and forgotten for so long. Some call it the True Self, others refer to it as the soul. Ultimately, words fail to contain it because it is boundless. As are you.
Rewilding is the way.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin once famously said, we are not human beings having spiritual experiences. We are spiritual beings having human experiences, and that matter is simply spirit moving slowly enough to be seen.
This is the guiding principle and starting point of my work. You are not who you think you are. Like me (and everyone else), you have been born in captivity.
The good news is you can remember. You can re-wild your life.
In fact, you must.
Re-wilding isn’t simply for personal freedom only. Re-wilding is about the collective. We must if this planet is to endure for another thousand years.
Living a soul-infused life, a rewilded life, is an act of sacred rebellion against the status quo of fear, separation, and systems that are ripping our world to shreds right in front of us. It is the recognition of and return to what has always been true about us and everyone else, even those we see as enemies.
Rewilding is a return to what is true, a recognition of Reality (capital R). It is taking radical responsibility for ourselves and allowing our lives to be the wild and free express of our Truest Self, our Essential Nature, our Souls.
When we return to ourselves, our outer world will change, too, because it must. The world simply reflects the level of awareness with which we have created it.
I should be clear from the beginning: I have no formulas, secrets or strategies to offer on how to manifest wealth, become more influential, or find a soulmate. I am entirely unconcerned with self-improvement. If you’re lucky, you will lose your self along the way.
If anything, this is a kind of map. Not the formal kind, but the type scribbled on the back of a napkin. It’s a starting place, but don’t put too much trust into it.
Maps are helpful, as far as they go. But too many people mistake them for the territory they describe. Where I am inviting you to go is not on any map. Like Herman Melville wrote in Moby Dick, “true places never are.”
In this case, the map is not the territory. You are.
What I’m offering is an invitation to freedom—the real kind, which can’t be found or attained because you already have it. Like me, you’ve just forgotten.
Here are some ground rules:
Doubt everything I say. Take nothing at face value. Trust only your Self. Test every idea I point to and see for yourself whether or not it is true and real. Test, bend, and try to break everything. This is about a new experience of life, not collecting some new insights that you will put on a shelf with all the other things we’ve long forgotten about.
It is about Knowing and not simply knowing about.
Freedom is an inside job. Nothing outside of you can save you. No teacher, book or article (including this one), guru, retreat, psychedelic experience, or healer can set you free. While all of these things can be extremely helpful catalysts for growth, and often necessary parts of becoming free, ultimately you must free yourself.
And, truly, the way out is in. We must break free from our collective illusion by seeing it for what it is and rewild our souls, which is the only way to return to a state of living awake, aware, and free.
I welcome you to the journey that you’re already on. We’re fellow explorers, you and I. If you’re reading this, I believe it’s because you have been drawn here. I gave up on believing in coincidences long ago, and so far that has served me well.
I have come to see that true freedom can only found in the paradoxes all the mystics and sages point to:
To find your Self, you must lose your self.
Reality is hidden in plain sight, and we are simply blind to it.
You need not seek for it. You just have to be willing to look and see. The truth will always appear when you remove what covers it up.
And that, friends, is what this newsletter is about. If you’re “in” let’s get started.
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