DIALOGUE, SOUL, AND CHARACTER
My name is Andrew Sweeny, and I’m excited to announce the formation of Parallax Coaching and to offer my service as what I call a ‘Meaning Coach’.
First, a mission statement: We aim to respond to the unique calling of individuals and help them align with meaning, wisdom, and greater joy in their lives.
This project has been inspired by my conversations with philosophers, spiritual masters, and psychologists, as well as all my research in media, literature, religion, and art. In all these conversations and deep dives, I’ve noticed something revolutionary but also very traditional: the educational, psychological, healing, and even spiritual benefits of dialogue.
But here, I don’t mean just ordinary dialogue, argument, or negotiation, but something else. My friend John Vervaeke has come upon the right term: dia-logos, which means something like a conversation with the logos, a tango with the truth, a conversation that reveals some dynamic quality of being and becoming.
Meaning coaching here is what I call revelatory dialogue. When the ‘soul’ enters a dialogue, something amazing happens. We can be transformed, inspired, and set on fire with purpose and playful creativity. Amazing new insights and directions are revealed.
We know when music has soul and is soulless; in the same way, if we are honest with ourselves, we know when we are living soulfully or not. Good music expresses a state of longing for liberation and embodiment and for play. Music is a dia-logos that doesn’t require words - it moves towards ecstatic harmony or reveals delicious dissonance - it calls out to the future.
The soul could be considered an image of what the future tells us or what the daemon—as the Greeks call that pesky creative spirit—invites us to be and become. James Hillman, a renegade Jungian writer and therapist, has a book called ‘The Soul’s Code: character and Calling’. In it, he looks at extraordinary people, including famous bullfighters, politicians, and jazz singers; he describes the mysterious way that they were ‘called’ at some point by ‘the daimon’. The daemon can lead us to glory or ruin; it is the challenge that the soul presents us that calls us beyond ourselves.
In Meaning Coaching, the goal is to serve that ‘calling’ whatever it might be, to help the individual listen to—not the superego of society or the small voice of fear and doubt—but to decipher what the soul wants to tell us. We need to learn to be attentive to that soulful and mischievous daemon. It takes character, bravery, and wisdom to listen to the soul rather than a ‘good opinion’. We need to take that risk.
This might not sound like ordinary ‘life coaching’, and it isn’t. Neither is it therapy, even if dia-logos definitely have therapeutic benefits. Of course, we work with life goals and obstacles like any ‘self-development’ process. However, the main goal here is not ‘self-development’ per se, but self-revelation. The aspiration is spiritual in the broader sense. We inquire into the questions: what is your calling? What is your destiny? How do you align yourself with that? What shadows and obstacles are in the way of your highest desires and the full expression of your character?
Today's society presents some unique challenges and opportunities. While social media is destroying people’s souls with noise and drowning out that voice of calling, new forms of technology are allowing new modes of learning to arise, which can help us to rediscover and reinvent ourselves. There are great educational opportunities within the chaos of the present moment.
Meaning coaching is conceived of as an educational process in that sense: for both the coach and the client. It is a kind of deep and holistic learning for the body, the spirit, and the mind. We work with self-inquiry, archetypology, meditation, somatic exercises, with shadow work or whatever is useful. There is no overarching method and no guarantees—except that we will try to respond to the call of crisis and opportunity.