For of the soule the bodie forme doth take;
For soule is forme, and doth the bodie make.
Life is real! life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.
The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.
— Messiah’s Handbook : Reminders for the Advanced Soul
Most religions accept the concept of the soul, that part of us that apparently continues to exist after our deaths and which may have existed before we were born. Science is unable to confirm or deny such an idea because it’s beyond the realms of any rational investigation. Similarly, science can't determine what existed before the ‘Big Bang’ or know those other dimensions of the universe that are postulated by the Unified String Theory.
The concept of the soul is often applied to humans, not animals, because of the apparent difference between us and other creatures. It’s said that the responses of an animal are purely based on instinct, whilst human beings have the extra ability to make moral decisions. However, this difference could simply be explained by the difference in mental capabilities.
It is an absolute certainty that the one who is born must die, and birth for the dead is also an absolute certainty. Therefore, one should not grieve over what is unavoidable or inevitable.
— Gita, Ch.2, verse 27
The soul passes unchanged from the baby into childhood, from childhood to youth to middle age to old age. Thereafter the soul passes unchanged from one body and enters into another body.
— Gita Ch.2, verse 13.
Just as a man replaces worn out clothes and acquires new garments or clothes, in the same way the embodied self separates from the worn out body and enters into another body which is new.
— Gita Ch.2, verse 22.
The idea of the soul existing unchanged forever is particularly prevalent in Eastern faiths, whilst other beliefs sometimes consider that it can be destroyed. The Bhagavad Gita describes the ‘indwelling soul’ or ‘embodied soul’ as eternal, indestructible, immeasurable, unborn, indestructible, stable, immovable, ancient and unchangeable, something that doesn’t die with the body.
The soul is not a combination of elements; it is not composed of many atoms. It is of one indivisible substance and therefore eternal. It is entirely out of the order of the physical creation; it is immortal!
The soul does not die; it endures everlastingly. When the human body dies, the soul is freed from ties with the physical body and the surrounding physical world and begins its progress through the spiritual world. Bahá'ís understand the spiritual world to be a timeless and placeless extension of our own universe — and not some physically remote or removed place.
The nature of the soul after death can never be described.
The universe is now believed to consist of eleven or more dimensions, of which only three can be reached by us. The remainder contain things that we may never understand, perhaps even our own souls. Only in death could we find the answer to such a question, although even then I suspect that the workings of this infinitely complex universe will always remain a complete mystery
A mortal ripens like corn, and like corn is born again.
— Katha Upanishad I.1.6
This vast universe is a wheel. Upon it are all creatures that are subject to birth death and rebirth. Round and round it turns … as long as the individual self thinks it is separate from Brahman, it revolves upon the wheel of bondage to the laws of birth death and rebirth. But when through the grace of Brahman it realises its identity with him, it revolves upon the wheel no longer.
— Svetasvatara Upanishad 118
Eastern faiths are based on the idea of reincarnation, a return of the soul to this world or other worlds, either as humans or animals, or on to different levels, also known as ‘heavens’ or planes. Each life is a lesson on the progress towards a higher level.
In the beginning there was energy. All energy, of course, has potential. The energy began to reach out, to see what more it could become. The energy began to rotate a sparkling, swirling spiral of dancing energy. One half pursued the other, trying to touch what it did not have.
One half is known as the Lord, the other is the Lady. One was strong in body, the other strong in mind. One was beautiful in body, the other beautiful in soul. Of course, this was the other’s view. They are both. They become each other’s compliment, each other’s soul mate, becoming whole in their love.
And when they fell in love with each other, they consummated it by making love. This made swirls in the spiral dance of energy like ripples in a pond. These became the suns, the stars, the moons, and the planets. The Goddess grew pregnant with love, with energy, energy created by the force of their love. She gave birth, raining bright spirit down upon the worlds. Some took the form of the Lord, some took the form of the Lady. When they came of age, they began to search for their counterpart, their soul mate, regardless of the sex they'd been born in. Then more life was created. So came the universe and so came forth life, out of love.
— Jedi-Wiccan Book of Shadows
The idea of soul mates and affinities is closely related to the theory of reincarnation. Two souls may, in a number of incarnations, grow very close together in their pattern of spiritual evolution. These souls will need the help and assistance of each other as they evolve and hence, in any one incarnation, will be drawn closely together because of their many past associations and the intricate entwining of their respective personalities. — Hugh Lynn Cayce
Some believe that when our souls return to this world we can re-establish contact with souls we have known in previous lives. It’s also thought that ‘clusters’ of souls are born again together over several lifetimes and therefore meet again and again. Although the soul itself isn’t normally considered to be male or female, the concept of a ‘soul mate’ is accepted by many people, the idea being that a partnership that began in one lifetime can be continued in another, whilst ‘twin souls’ are timelessly linked much more deeply at a non-material level.
Of course, this all could be wishful thinking, a hope that in death we don’t lose forever the person that we love so much in this life. Hardly surprising, as in many ways such a loss seems more terrible than death itself.
©Ray White 2006.