What does it look like to live a truly authentic life? Not just the way some 22-year old tik-tok’er might tell you to live “authentically” … but I mean to live daily connected to the your soul’s deepest purpose for living? … What does THAT kind of life look like?
Perhaps more importantly, how do you actually step into living a soul-centric life?
In this episode, my guest is the visionary depth psychologist and wilderness guide, Bill Plotkin.
Now, listen up. This episode is like no other. Bill is one of the most genius and inspired visionaries you’ve probably never heard of.
He’s the author of a few books that have been rocking my world the last few years, notably, Nature and The Human Soul, and now his latest book, The Journey of Soul Initiation: A Field Guide for Visionaries, Evolutionaries, and Revolutionaries.
I’m serious when I say listen up … this may be the most important podcast episode I ever create. I love all my guests, and what particularly excites me about Bill Plotkin, is that when I first read his book, Nature and The Human Soul, I felt like what the Israelites must have felt like when Moses came back from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments.
Not that Bill has brought back commandments of any sort, but through his work spanning probably 5 decades now, as a depth psychologist, wilderness guide, and founder of western Colorado’s Animas Valley Institute, where he has led thousands of women and men through nature-based initiatory passages, what he HAS brought back is a map of human development that I believe to be as all encompassing as any map modern day humanity has discovered. Building on Carl Jung’s work, and the work of countless other brilliant hearts and minds spanning a myriad of human cultures, when I read Bill’s work, I understand more clearly the adventure of my life, the story arcs that have played out, the excruciating bottoms I’ve hit at critical and pivotal moments of my life, and what the real tasks of the different stages of life are that, if I don’t accomplish those tasks, then I don’t truly grow or evolve, even though my body may age. In fact, this is one of the major themes throughout Bill’s work – which I assure you is a MASTER work; his books are just masterpieces of wisdom and insight and practical information – but a major theme he explores, and that we talk about in this episode, is the overwhelming lack of true adults in the modern world, the state of humanity as one currently made up largely of people stuck in adolescent ways of thinking, being, and doing. It’s certainly not hard to make the case for that these days; just read the news or scroll through your social media feed. You may not be able to quite put a finger on it, but something constantly nags at you that the world around you is largely devoid of real wisdom and nuance and maturity.
Bill’s masterfully explains why this is, and at a depth far beyond politics, and opinions, and even philosophy.
Bill’s work is sourced from nature, itself. And I mean that both poetically, and literally!
Look, I can’t possibly articulate to you how important and thorough his work is. Today he and I talk about perhaps the most critical phase of a life journey, The Journey of Soul Initiation. Bill might say all the phases of a life journey are critical, that you can’t grow beyond one stage until you successfully complete the tasks of that phase. I actually don’t know exactly what he’d say to that, and I don’t ask him in this conversation, but The Journey of Soul Initiation, is, according to Bill’s model of eco-centric human development, is the prerequisite for any human to step into true adulthood. And our modern culture does NOT support or even encourage anyone to undertake The Journey to Soul Initiation. Which is why again, we are currently a society clearly being run, and overrun, by adolescents in adult bodies.
You might have noticed I just used a word, eco-centric. Another distinction I love about Bill’s work, which helped me make so much sense about why I for so long have been painfully suspicious (I mean from my teenage days), that modern western culture isn’t really looking out for my deepest good. That the expectations on me – on most everyone in this society – to just get a job, be comfortable, make money, live for retirement – just fail so miserably to support my truly thriving in life. That ego-centric society supports and encourages only the comfort and survival of the ego, which is never fulfilled because the ego always wants more.
But, anyway, I can’t go down that rabbit hole here, I have too much to talk about with the brilliant and wise Bill Plotkin.
I encourage you to listen to this entire episode. I encourage you to get Bill’s books, if you have any interest in human development, in growing yourself as a healthy, soul-connected adult, and especially if you have or want kids, Bill’s work can help you understand what your own children need to experience at different stages of development, if they are to become truly healthy adults.
Bill’s work is profound, and we’re only gonna take a short stroll on the tippy top of the massive iceberg that is his life’s work. Near the end, just before I ask him for 1 key takeaway, one key practice you can do every day to move further in the direction of your own journey of soul initiation, I ask Bill whether he has hope for humanity, given our collective resistance to creating mature adults. His answer will surprise you, maybe frighten you. He does have hope, but not in the way you might think.
So, definitely stay tuned all the way through to the end of this episode of Men, This Way …
Let’s dive …
Bill’s Animas Valley Institute