UNDERSTANDING THE SOUL
As evolving human organisms we are always striving to explore our universe further, finding better ways to improve our lives and create a better understanding of ourselves. This basic need reflects the deeper aspects of ourselves; truly we are a work of art, an incredible spiritual being. By learning, we draw on distinctions: our body, our mind, and we often distinguish our inner from our outer self. The concept of soul, often viewed as our most inner aspect has been written in ancient texts as far back as biblical times, explored by well- known philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato and further ventured by 20th Century Carl Jung and many others who have each creatively formatted their opinions through intricate layers of intuitive reasoning or objective assertions. Yet, because of the varied use of language, many ancient texts are difficult to get an exact meaning for the word soul, perhaps a varied meaning exists due to the concepts of people of the times. So questions still arise in us as not only, what is a soul, but further, can we lose our soul?
The ancient Greeks used the same word for ‘alive’ as for ‘en-souled’ indicating that the earliest surviving western philosophical viewpoint reflects the soul as that which gave the body life. This also corresponds to the ancient Aramaic word nawsha (pronounced nowsha) often translated as ‘soul’ , but also means being, self, or life, and same for the Hebrew word, nephesh, which means breath. Further, nawsha’s translation of self in biblical texts have been translated to indicate the ‘higher self’ (that which transcends the ego), but a few instances the same word translated as self indicates the Ego/Persona which can cause much confusion to the lay person. A clear understanding has to come from the usage in a sentence versus an exact meaning. For example:
He restores my soul (He restores my life) Psalm 23:3
…my soul trusts in thee (I trust in thee) Psalm 57:1
Bless the Lord, O my soul (My inner being blesses, my Higher Self blesses the Lord) Psalm 103:1
So how can we bring new light on the question can you lose your soul? This question has been argued between various cultures and religious organizations throughout the centuries. Yet, by matter of fact, a Soul, not being tangible in nature, is unmeasurable (or at least, physically undetectable). If Soul is not measurable how could we know if it was lost? Generally, how we know something exists, comes through our psyche/intelligence (also considered an aspect of soul according to some texts) which grasps our intuited knowledge, feels it, and further makes sense of it. Realistically, we can only know the soul though our inner experience. In order to experience soul, one must, not only intuit the soul, but also express it. Intuition (knowing/awareness) is the only real connection we have to experiencing our soul. This intuited sense of soul can come structured through formal meditation or spontaneously through an impacted moment or event, or as simple as catching snowflakes on your tongue during a winter storm, finding a moment of stillness in an energetic burst: like skydiving or a burst of sunshine on a rainy day; uncontrollable laughter, the perfect pirouette or as quaint as your first romantic kiss. Sharing that experience is what keeps the feeling alive. Once we intuit the soul, only then can we feel the soul through our bodily mechanisms. Then, if we think we have lost our soul, perhaps it is only because we have simply lost awareness of it. Soul, being individualized spirit, can never really be lost, as spirit is eternal. Staying conscious of soul is to have full awareness of your higher being, and generating from our awareness a conscious state of aliveness. There we have the opportunity to express our inner most being into the world; at best, we will affect those around us much like an artist, who grasps an image in their mind and then paints it, or a poet who grasps a feeling and puts it into words.
The Ancients used mystical writings, symbols and mythical stories to express their soul; the soul: expressing the ever conscious spirit through these ancient and modern masterpieces.
A beautiful poem, written by a great Catholic Theologian Saint named Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) expresses soul so beautifully when he wrote two very simple poems:
From my breath I extract God.
And my eye is a shop
Where I offer
Him to the
Sing , my tongue; sing my hand;
Sing my feet, my knee,
My loins, my
Indeed I am His
Having a soul is, perhaps, freeing the soul from the confines of our inner being and expressing it outward. Be creative – or, simply, breathe.