Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom
Excerpts about Malleability
It is Easy to Observe the Malleability of the Soul
It is easy to observe this malleability of the soul. For example, a strong and repeated experience in childhood can render one so stuck with the forms of that time that even though one becomes an adult, one may continue to feel and behave according to these forms, as if one is still a child having these experiences. A more extreme example is the intensity and frozenness of feelings and memories in post-traumatic stress disorder, resulting for instance from war trauma. The soldier will continue to feel and behave in ways that are not appropriate, because his inner experience of himself and world is frozen into a fixed structure that can last a lifetime. The malleability of the soul allows her to be affected by her perception and inner experience, and this effect can be lasting. This phenomenon is everyone’s common experience; it is a normal part of being human, and more basically part of being alive. Here, however, we are exploring exactly how this happens. We want to understand the basic properties of the soul responsible not only for her being affected, but also for her retaining such effects.
The Inner Journey Home, pg. 95
Malleability and Impressionability
Thus, ego development occurs mostly through the establishment of relatively fixed impressions. Furthermore, because ego development culminates in the establishment of an identity and sense of self that depend on the fixed impressions, it naturally leads to a limitation on our malleability and impressionability; dependence on the fixed impressions orients us toward identification with and attachment to them. We tend to perpetuate our self and its identity, limiting our openness, malleability, and impressionability. We generally experience as threatening and destabilizing the forms of experience outside the boundaries of our identity. In other words, we become both habituated and attached to the fixed impressions that compose our identity, at the expense of our basic capacities of openness, malleability and impressionability.
The Inner Journey Home, pg. 102
Soul Can be Shaped Into a Relatively Permanent Form
The property of malleability has a different significance than that of changeability. The soul cannot only change herself, she can be changed. She can be molded by her experiences, whether they have an external or internal origin. The forms she assumes are not always her choice; they can be imposed on her. At first, this may appear to be an innocent property, necessary for her in order to respond to situations and external stimuli. The forms she assumes are frequently dictated by external stimuli; her senses reflect the external environment by generating corresponding inner forms, and she also responds with corresponding inner feelings and thoughts to various environmental stimuli… the fact that the soul inhabits a world means that her inner forms are constantly shaped by external impacts. This shaping is necessary for learning and action. However, the soul’s malleability also allows the impact of the world to mold her more than is necessary for learning and action. By malleability we mean not only pliability; we also mean that she can be shaped into a relatively permanent form, fixed beyond her normal needs for perception, learning, and action.