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What Is The Soul?


Neon Genesis
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When I was a fundamentalist Christian, my church rarely discussed what the soul was although everyone believed in the soul. It was just assumed assumed everyone was on the same page about what the soul was and nothing was elaborated on. I had always imagined that the soul was like some ghostly gas in another dimension that preserves all our memories. But even when I read the entire bible, it also assumed the reader knew what the soul was and never explained what it was like. So my question for theists, what exactly is the soul?

Edited by Neon Genesis
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Neon,

 

Ramana Maharshi is quoted as saying. "All religions postulate the three fundamentals, the world, the soul, and God, but it is only the one Reality that manifests Itself as these three. One can say, 'The three are really three' only so long as the ego lasts. Therefore, to inhere in one's own Being, where the 'I', or ego, is dead, is the perfect State. "

 

The soul to me maintains identity by the ego which is none other than the thinking mind or a construct of mind. It consists generally of reason, common sense and passions and influenced by what it sees as the external world. Another word for the soul or ego might be the self. It seems to me it is a created and temporal thing. Many will have different definitions than i for the soul but in my experience the quote above by Ramana speaks to me where all distinctions between the three seem to disappear.

 

Just one view to consider,

Joseph

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Hello, Neon...

 

Religions use a variety of words in an attempt to describe the indescribable, something that has been a human endeavor since we became humans. The 'soul' is a reference to that spiritual identity unique to each and everyone of us and that serves as the spiritual component within. There are words that can be swapped out with 'soul', such as 'spirit', but it's the idea here that's important: within each and everyone of us there exists an element of the spiritual. That's it in a nutshell. In the Quaker faith and practice, those terms may be used as well, but the central theme for Quakers is 'that of God within', i.e. soul and spirit are simply references to the Light of God that is within us all. Personally, I think we tend to over-complicate the spiritual; gnostic mythology is an excellent example with its multitude of levels and cast of spiritual forces. How can we really identify our 'souls' or argue with confidence the existence of The Trinity? At some point, such human terminology loses its effectiveness. I prefer the simple: we have a connection to God within: The Light of God. There is, for me, no need for 'levels' to be passed through, 'souls' that are our shadowy 'other' spiritual selves, etc. Our connection to God isn't set up through intermediary entities such as 'souls', but is a direct connection that can be known.

Edited by Quaker Way
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Nicely put.

 

I like to think of the soul as God’s dwelling place within us.

Beyond that, I think of it as the part of us that returns to God after the body dies, or lives on among other souls in some way that we can hardly imagine.

 

“Between God and the soul there is no between.” – Julian of Norwich

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In my view the soul is really not born because it is unaffected by the process of change. It is without birth, without old age and without death. The soul is the Son of the Father so it

is stable, immoveable, fixed and the witness of all change in time and space. It is unaffected by change because all is within it.

 

I feel the Fall of Adam from paradise, a fragmentation causes man's spirit to disengage from pure consciousness, and it no longer is the life source of man. Man is left to himself until once again he tries to recover the lost harmony. The moment the mind of man ceases to be a channel to pure consciousness, the inspiration of unity ceases to be channeled from the soul into the psyche and ceases to invigorate the body. This cut off from ecstasy is the fall from the harmony of Eden.After the fall from the Eden state of mind, we as individuals must labor and be troubled to gain support for the rest of our days unless we decide to change our course of action. Instead of communing with pure consciousness and unity, after the fall we share in the life of the material world. The material world is where our bodies obtain life, ill health, unhappiness, confusion and death because our bodies came from dust and will return to dust. It is our invisible spiritual nature, which harmonizes, balances, cultivates and brings forth the good in our body and mind. If we don’t associate with pure consciousness in a harmonious state of mind, body and affairs, we have to depend totally on the created world and are subject to its pain and hardship. After becoming more and more involved with the external world and experiencing pain, the struggle of the flesh once again becomes a struggle for happiness. The nature of the flesh being self-centered, possessive, fearful, and always trying to force its will on others after suffering in the world, finally returns our mind on a direction back through individual consciousness to a path leading to the soul. Suffering makes us not happy with the material world so our minds lead us back through the depths of our own being to the kingdom of God.

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IMO, the soul is the aware self. I think there are a lot of names for this -- self, consciousness, spirit, life, mind, etc. The soul is aware of self, of God, of others, and of the world. Sometimes I think of it as the "software" that runs our "hardware." :D

 

As to what happens to it when we die, I'll let you know one of these days (if I can). :lol: But I tend to think God, at our death, uploads our software into his database until such time as he gives us new hardware to run our software again. Pure speculation, of course, but fun to think about! :blink:

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Its been interesting reading the various understandings of the "soul". All the word suggests to me is some words of Blake.....we murder to dissect. He also said somewhere that the physical body is just the visible aspect of the soul.

 

Really I can't conceive of anything "before" or "after", I have enough trouble with "now"....... :D

 

Eckhart: ".............if God finds a place to act in us, then I say:- as long as this exists in us, we have not yet reached the ultimate poverty...." Eckhart goes on to say that if God wishes to act in the soul He Himself must be the place in which He can act. That this is our ultimate poverty. i.e having no place IN us where God can act.

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  • 2 months later...

So what would be the difference between ones soul and ones Christian heart or are they the same ?

 

steve

Steve,

 

It seems to me that they are the same but the word soul has more than one definition so if someone disagreed, i would bow to their definition.

 

Joseph

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So what would be the difference between ones soul and ones Christian heart or are they the same ?

 

steve

 

Steve, rightly or wrongly, the word "heart" always suggests to me the emotional side of ourselves, and the word "soul" suggests a "thing" within. Quite what the difference is between such suggested meanings I'm not certain. This is why I often speak of the "mind/heart", and ultimately I only have interest in the living existential reality of our total lives.

 

I assume others react differently to the words, and that they may suggest different things.

 

:)

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Steve, rightly or wrongly, the word "heart" always suggests to me the emotional side of ourselves, and the word "soul" suggests a "thing" within. Quite what the difference is between such suggested meanings I'm not certain. This is why I often speak of the "mind/heart", and ultimately I only have interest in the living existential reality of our total lives.

 

This is very close to my thinking in that I see the heart being addressable the sole is just there. Sometimes I think the sole is one size fits all ... everyone has one and it is always good. The heart on the other hand can be open, closed, soft , hard , broken, affected by day to day life and heredity.

 

steve

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  • 1 year later...
Ramana Maharshi is quoted as saying. "All religions postulate the three fundamentals, the world, the soul, and God, but it is only the one Reality that manifests Itself as these three. One can say, 'The three are really three' only so long as the ego lasts. Therefore, to inhere in one's own Being, where the 'I', or ego, is dead, is the perfect State. "

Joseph, this touched me deeply tonight.

 

Dutch

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for the evolutionists among us

 

"On the assumption, then, that ontogeny does to some extent recapitulate phylogeny, and the further medieval assumption that "the spiritual soul only comes into existence at a later stage in the growth of the embryo, [with] several pre-human stages [lying] between the fertilized ovum and the organism animated by the spiritual soul, " the origin of the human soul may, [Karl] Rahner concluded, be compared to the creation of the individual soul: In both cases a not yet human biological organism develops towards a condition in which the coming into existence of a spiritual soul has its sufficient biological substratum."

 

Karl Rahner in The Evolution of Religion,Bernard VerKamp

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for the evolutionists among us

 

Dutch, do you have an english translation? :)

 

Doe Karl mean to say that as bugs in the primordial ooze we didn't have souls, but the organsims in between that state and homo sapien were in fact moving towards a physical structure (human being-ness) which would then be suitable to bring a soul into existence?

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Karl may be saying that. It would certainly agree with the medieval view, I suspect. I wouldn't say, as Karl seems to be saying, that the soul is waiting in the assembly for the right moment. But I do speculate that the soul evolved along with everything else. I haven't incorporated this yet. We could say that the soul is similar to the 13.7 billion year old hydrogen in your and my body: that it has always been here. Like the hydrogen that was all created during the big bang 'essence of soul' has been here for 13.7 billion years.

 

Hmm, thanks. If soul is like hydrogen then yes it has always been here, and it is in every on-going process. So I don't agree with Karl and I may not have to struggle with incorporating ideas about soul into an evolutionary view of the spiritual.

 

dutch

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Karl may be saying that. It would certainly agree with the medieval view, I suspect. I wouldn't say, as Karl seems to be saying, that the soul is waiting in the assembly for the right moment. But I do speculate that the soul evolved along with everything else. I haven't incorporated this yet. We could say that the soul is similar to the 13.7 billion year old hydrogen in your and my body: that it has always been here. Like the hydrogen that was all created during the big bang 'essence of soul' has been here for 13.7 billion years.

 

Hmm, thanks. If soul is like hydrogen then yes it has always been here, and it is in every on-going process. So I don't agree with Karl and I may not have to struggle with incorporating ideas about soul into an evolutionary view of the spiritual.

 

dutch

 

From http://www.buzzle.com/articles/is-hydrogen-the-real-god.html

 

I remember when I was small, my mother and I used to go for a visit to our neighborhood temple every day. I used to enjoy the time alone with my mother and being an inquisitive kid, used to bombard her with a lot of questions. My mother used to answer them patiently telling me stories of different God's, each story having a small moral at the end like 'be righteous, don't be greedy, and always help the weak' and such. She said that God existed in all forms; religion was just a form of portraying Him in various communities. Essentially, the concept of God did the same thing everywhere; provide a moral boost to the people who believed in Him. My mother used to say that God has neither been born nor will ever die. He is all prevailing and all dominant. He exists in all places at once. He is present in everything you see, the sun, the moon, the plants, the earth, everything.

 

I grew up with these kinds of thoughts embedded in mind and proceeded to educate myself in Science. I was a curious kid always trying to discover new things and performing new experiments in my so-called secret laboratory at home breaking up things (much to my father's displeasure). My family decided to let me pursue my line of thinking and suggested I follow a career in Physics. After a long and hard winding road through the academia, I finally completed my PhD, got myself a job and was satisfied with my progress in life.

 

My friend and I were sitting one day chit-chatting about the world and its happening and religion in general over a beer on a warm summer night. My friend was an atheist, while I was a believer. I used to debate with him over God and religion in general. Nobody really pushed their beliefs onto each other but deep inside I used to think that he is wrong in not believing God. I told him that night, that God existed everywhere, from the sun, moon, air, plants, earth, sky, everywhere. My friend, who was a chemist, said something that I could never forget till date. He said, 'If God exists everywhere, then he must be hydrogen." The truth in his statement took the wind from my sails. I repeated mentally, 'If God exists everywhere, he must be hydrogen'. My mind analyzed this further. The truth ran so deep. Hydrogen was the most common element in the Universe. It was the singular element that could be uniquely identified; smaller than that, it was either a proton or electron which lost its individuality.

 

Hydrogen was everywhere, water, sun, moon, earth, wind... everywhere. All the logic of my mother was also true and the logic of Science was also true. Hydrogen was the reason for life on earth, for evolution, for growth of new species of plants and animals; it was the creator of life! Hydrogen is an essential component of water which is required for existence of all living species on earth. It's the essential component of any fuel generated on earth. There was an endless list of what hydrogen did. Although it did sound corny, how could I have not seen this before?

 

The existence of the universe started out with a big bang. According to astrophysicists, this big bang was an explosion from a massively compressed black hole about the size of a pinpoint which could no longer handle the implosion it was sustaining over the ages and expanded suddenly, with a bang releasing hydrogen atoms all over the universe. Life started with hydrogen which was the God of all things to come.

 

Now, I was finally able to put a physical existence of God in the universe. God equaled hydrogen. What a night it had been! That night was the night I had the soundest and most satisfying sleep after a very long time. I had finally found the interface between science and God.

 

Then again, maybe the soul is carbon?

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This is much more Jim Burklo"s story about evolution for children on the TCPC website. He called his scientist friends to make sure the science was correct.

 

http://tcpc.blogs.com/musings/2011/06/from-seeds-and-stardust.html

 

From Seeds and Stardust

 

It’s awesome!

That I came from a seed

and so did you.

 

Fifteen billion years ago,

The universe was so small

It was hardly more than a fuzzy speckle,

Barely as big as a freckle on a flea.

And all that there was and all that could be

Was rolled up inside like a baby in a blanket.

Everything that came before

Dreams and dinosaurs,

Planets and popsicles,

Gardens and galaxies,

Was packed inside so tightly

That one thing had just about no room

To be any different than another thing.

Outer space was squished inner.

Time was scrunched down so much

That then was when

And yesterday was balled up with tomorrow

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For Paul who is out of posts

 

Sent Today, 01:17 AM

Dutch,

 

Indeed carbon may be a late starter compared to hydrogen, if the current science around the Big Bang theory is correct, but then wouldn't hydrogen also be a late starter as it was simply the first 'product' of the Big Bang - subsequently it hasn't always existed. The other gaseous substances that condensed, imploded and exploded in the Big Bang process were surely First Cause?

 

Cheers

Paul

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for Paul who is out of posts

 

I should have paid more attention in Science - I am out of my depth here.

 

But I am interested in this subject so I am enjoying pursuing it. Looking up Hydrogen on Wikipedia suggests that hydrogen gas is still being 'produced' by some bacteria and algae, so it would seem to me that not all hydrogen in the universe was created at the time of the Big Bang. It continues to be created.

 

I don't know for sure if hydrogen is in every ongoing process - although it is abundant it only makes up 75% of normal matter in the universe (Wikipedia).

 

Furthermore, naturally occurring elemental hydrogen is relatively rare on Earth (Wikipedia).

 

Like I said, out of my depth but I have to run now. Have a good weekend and I look forward to getting back to the forum next week.

 

Cheers

Paul

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Hydrogen gas is produced by some bacteria and algae and is a natural component of flatus, as is methane, itself a hydrogen source of increasing importance.

I think this is getting two hydrogen atoms and letting them form H2 which is the gas. but I will ask around.

 

Have a great weekend

 

Dutch

Edited by glintofpewter
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Hydrogen is the lightest element and the first on the periodic table. it can only be formed from the smaller stuff available right after the big bang. Other elements can be formed from lighter elements in processes of increasing complexity. :blink:

 

Dutch

Edited by glintofpewter
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