Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), Spanish nun, mystic, religious reformer, mentor to John of the Cross, and pretty much a pain in the neck to the Church of her time, wrote words which are as relevant today as they were then:
“What a shame that, through our own unconsciousness, we do not know ourselves! Wouldn’t a person look foolish, friends, if you asked her who she was and she didn’t know, had no idea who her father or mother were or what country she came from? If this seems stupid to you, know that our own stupidity is incomparably greater when we do not strive to know who we are. What transcends the body? We have heard that we have souls ….
“But we rarely consider the soul’s excellent qualities or who dwells within or how precious she really is. And so we don’t bother to tend her beauty. All our attention is focused on the rough matrix of the diamond, the outer walls of the castle, which are none other than these bodies of ours.
“Remember, this castle has many dwellings: some above, some below, others to either side. At the center is the most important dwelling of them all where the most secret things unfold between the soul and her Beloved.”
source: The interior castle. New translation by Mirabai Starr (2003). New York: Penguin, p.36.