Saturday, August 11, 2007

Soul - What It Is!

What do you think about "soul"? It means a lot of things to a lot of people, and it gets confusing trying to talk about soul, or the soul, because of all the different concepts and beliefs. Do I have soul? Yes, I think so. Do I have a soul? Am I a soul? Yes, no or maybe.

Here's a snippet from the dictionary:
Main Entry: soul
Function: noun

1: the immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life

2a: the spiritual principle embodied in human beings, all rational and spiritual beings, or the universe
b: capitalized, Christian Science: GOD 1b

3: a person's total self

4a: an active or essential part
b: a moving spirit: LEADER

5a: the moral and emotional nature of human beings
b: the quality that arouses emotion and sentiment
c: spiritual or moral force: FERVOR (syn: passion)

6: PERSON [not a soul in sight]

7: PERSONIFICATION [she is the soul of integrity]

8a: a strong positive feeling (as of intense sensitivity and emotional fervor) conveyed especially by black American performers
[...]
If you've "got a lot of soul", that usage of it fits in with #4, #5 and #8. Not just the average amount of fervor, spirit; not cowering in the corner, afraid to speak up, to extend a hand, sing out loud, bang on a cowbell, call it as you see it, dance like a fool... a full cup and maybe a bit over the top. It's not from being educated, or even just smart, it comes from the emotional part of you -- what you might call "the heart" -- where you decide for yourself what's right and wrong.

#3 and #6 seem almost the same. A soul is a person, a living person. Most people seem to use the word this way. Old King Cole was a merry old soul...

It's #1 and #2 where most of the debate comes in. Is there a "soul" inside you, something that IS you (like #3) but is not really part of your body and can live AS YOU without your body? There's a whole field of study about astral projection and out-of-body experiences. Now, I don't know how this works, but I've actually had a limited OOBE once while getting anesthesia pre-surgery. There's something to it. I don't believe in the concept of the supernatural, so whatever makes this possible, it's something weird about our personal electrical impulses that can take into a realm where things are just plain unexplained. Can you live, after the death of your body? There are people who have died briefly and come back, and have experienced a whole lot of very odd things that can't be explained, and unless you yourself have been brought back from the brink of death or beyond I don't see how you can make judgements about what other people have been through. It's hard enough to make judgements about your own experiences. Interesting stuff.

Calling it proof of having an immortal soul is a huge leap though. It's not proof of anything. If person A has seen a space alien and person B has seen an angel, or a demon, or the Blessed Virgin in a pancake, or Elvis alive and well, does that count as proof? Let's leave it as "interesting".

Our family were Jehovah's Witness for a few years, and I learned about a lot of alternate mythology there, and I have believed various things like that in my life before I became a skeptic and a non-believer. They believe that the soul resides in the blood, and they base it on these bible scriptures:
Genesis 9:4 - "Only Flesh with its soul - its blood - you must not eat"
Leviticus 7:26 - And you must not eat any blood in any place where you dwell"
Leviticus 17:11 "the soul of the flesh is in the blood"
Leviticus 17:14 "The Soul of flesh is its blood"
That why they won't donate blood or take tranfusions, in case you always wondered about that. Well, being a vegetarian, I'm pretty much 100% off eating blood these days. Doesn't sound good. Doesn't look good. Blah. Are animals "souls"? Are they "persons"? No worries about eating souls here.

Will I live forever? As Joni said, ...we are stardust... I am composed of a lot of things, not only my personality, what people think of me and what they will remember about me -- but there's a strictly physical part that will break down and live forever whether as DNA (some of you have passed yours along, I chose not to) or just chemicals. You really only die when you are forgotten. That is my feeling.

Image by David Ho.

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7 comments:

Kay said...

Sometimes I find the words "spirit" and "soul" useful, sometimes I find they prevent an understanding of what I'm trying to convey. (Did you read my conversation with Fred, btw?)

Lately, when I've use the word "soul," I've meant that which is material, earthy, or grounded. But even this is confusing, as I don't think soul is really anything different than spirit.

I guess in a way I'm a materialist. I'm definitely not a dualist. (At least, not as dualism is commonly understood.) I don't think there are two "substances." I think there is one substance, so to speak, that takes on different attributes. Even the word substance is misleading. Argh.)

Energy and matter are the same thing. Spirit and soul, in the same way, are the same thing (imo).

Boy, I'm really rambling. Perhaps I'll ramble about it a bit more on my blog. Sorry. :)

Kay said...

I guess in a way I'm a materialist.

Oops, I have to take that back. I'm a monist, not an materialist.

Mariamariacuchita said...

When joni said "we are stardust," she followed by "and we have to get ourselves back to the garden." What garden? Eden? backyard? A state of innocence?

Aretha has the kind of soul I'd like to have!!!

Blueberry said...

Kay: I guessed I missed Fred. Which post?
M*M: I always though she meant Eden (innocence). Always fun to read our own interpretations in (that's what poetry/lyrics are for, aren't they?), and nowadays I think getting back to the (literal) backyard garden and away from corporate planet-rape might make us more worthy of being stardust. Now I'm rambling...

Oooh, how about Tina Turner? Joss Stone? Our own phenomenal Ruthie Foster?

Kay said...

In my sidebar there is a category called "Conversations with Fred." There are a total of two posts within the category. In one we discuss the words spirit and soul.

Ellie said...

Blueberry, when I recently told a musician that one of his original songs had soul, I did not mean it in the traditional music sense as in soul or gospel music. I meant that it had something else as in #1 an inmaterial essence. At the time I tried to explain what I meant. Wish I would have had the phrase "inmaterial essence." It fits perfectly.

Ryan said...

I think the soul might be a concept that humans have created in their mind.

However this might not be true. I heard that scientists are finding that there is a certain type of radiation in our brains, and that radiation shows more activity during times when you think and stuff, so perhaps that could be it. I dunno. Research it if your interested