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What is the soul?
Nameless
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Post: #1
What is the soul?
What is the soul? It is an intriguing question that I haven't seen a post on yet and one I believe could lead to interesting conversation. My idea of the soul is still rather undeveloped, but I cannot help but feel a necessity for some form of energy to exist that is recycled in order to explain the Other phenomena. I don't think it is the mind, the personality, or the body. I think the mind is part of the body and that the soul is attached in some way to both, but still independent.

I know the ancient Egyptian concept of the soul had many different parts including the Ba, the Ka, the Shadow, and the Heart to name a few, and that some of these parts could function independent of each other after death.

In a western Christian view I have heard the soul spoke of as a sort of extension of your personality and memory, as well as the divine energy that empowers things ( or just strictly human beings in some views).

Shinto, now in Shinto I recall reading that oddly shaped rocks or other inanimate, yet bizarre, objects could have a soul. However, I could be mistaken, and I must admit I have not researched the Shinto concept of the soul.

In some schools of Buddhism, I can't say all because I haven't learned about all of them, the idea of the soul as a 'self' doesn't exist. The souls in this train of thought has been compared to a lit candle passing its flame to an unlit candle. The flame itself is not moving from one candle wick to the next, but the flame still empowers a new or next life. ( Apologies if I butchered that analogy.)

Then there is of course the view that there is no such thing as the soul, but if that is the case then how do past life memories work, how does the entirety of what it means to be Other function? I am trying to grasp how I know the things I know, why I feel the things I feel, and the source for thinking the things I think as related to my Otherness. These are just a handful of concepts, stripped to their most minimal forms, that I pulled off the top of my head. What are your thoughts about the soul? How do you define it, or how does the religion you follow define it?

Thank you for your time, and for reading.
2009-02-04 5:08
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Malakoi
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Post: #2
Re: What is the soul?
I prefer to think of it as "mind" rather than "soul".

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2009-02-04 10:14
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Twilight
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Post: #3
Re: What is the soul?
Well I think we can all agree that part of who we are transends beyond this fleshly body. Most people refer to this as a soul. I personally belief is that this soul isn't firmly cemented to the body, i.e. astral projection.

I do however believe the soul is necessary for us to exist as we are. When a person projects too long or too "far" they tend to grow weaker. On one busy "trip" I was tired for days afterward.

I may not know a good enough definition of what a soul is. but I do know that souls are unique.

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2009-02-04 14:14
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Post: #4
Re: What is the soul?
I personally believe that a soul is a specific configuration of energy that adds the battery to the car so to speak. Without a soul, I don't personally believe that a body would function. To me, the soul adds "life" and consciousness to an otherwise useless mass of flesh/etc.

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2009-02-04 22:12
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Post: #5
Re: What is the soul?
I agree a little with Sera, though I think the body can function without the soul, but it'd be barely functioning and just the basic animal needs would control it. I'm also with Twilight on parts.

I personally think of a soul--like the Christians--as a combination of memory, personality, and divine energy (and I believe everything being in all of the planes has a soul)--whatever that divine energy may be or where it comes from. I believe those three make up the soul because ghosts seem to retain some of their memory and personality.

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2009-02-04 23:50
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Post: #6
Re: What is the soul?
I don't believe a body requries anything other than physical processes to function.

"Soul" is, to me, not a discrete ingredient that is added to a body to make it alive; rather "life" is the result of the complexity of a body. As for energetic beings (like my lot) - are we "alive"? I'm not sure that term makes a lot of sense for anything that isn't physical, and isn't really anything like physical life. We are conscious, sure; but that consciousness I believe to simply be a product of the complexity of our energy systems.

I don't like the term "soul", because it implies an ingredient separate from body/complex systems. When I use it, I use it only to mean "the identifying traits or nature of a specific individual". It's not something that gets added from outside, not something mystical or magic in any way. It's just a really, really emotional way of saying "emergent traits".

Do I think a human embryo (for example) gets a soul at conception? Birth? No way. I think that as a human develops from embryo to foetus to baby to child to adult, its complexity increases and as such what other people call "soul" grows within it. And, for the most part (as I believe reincarnation is the exception, not the rule) dies with it, too.

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2009-02-04 23:54
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Post: #7
Re: What is the soul?
Quote:Shinto, now in Shinto I recall reading that oddly shaped rocks or other inanimate, yet bizarre, objects could have a soul. However, I could be mistaken, and I must admit I have not researched the Shinto concept of the soul.

Yea, general idea. Shinto is more of an animistic religion, so that idea that most everything contains a soul/spirit can be found all over the world. I've noticed though that in neopagans that idea has been modernized to include things like computers and cars. Not too big of a jump from Shinto though, since there have been records of demonic books, mirrors and roof tiles <!-- sBig Grin --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_biggrin.gif" alt=":D" title="Very Happy" /><!-- sBig Grin -->

Meh, I dunno what the soul is. I do believe in souls/spirits, but whether it's got one part or 100 parts, or if the body and soul are intertwined or not is above me. I just know it's there, and I also follow the idea that most things do contain some sort of soul or spirit within. Even a little rock....and quite possibly the registers at my work, because they can be stubborn as hell sometimes <!-- s:x --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_mad.gif" alt=":x" title="Mad" /><!-- s:x -->

Though I don't think the otherkin idea really has to be explained by a soul-thing going on. I'll use me as an example, though you might disagree with my reasoning: I have two types listed in my kin box. Arctic Fox is what I believe I literally was, as in my soul and form was once a fox's. The Hu Xian, on the other hand, is more psychological, like an archetype. I identify with many of the aspects of them strongly, but if there are such things in existence I doubt they're exactly as they are in the stories. There's too many similarities and cultural trappings around them to make me not think that the human writers are projecting themselves onto these creatures. In short, I don't consider myself to have the soul that was once a hu xian, I simply have a similar mindset if you will.
2009-02-05 0:48
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Post: #8
Re: What is the soul?
I'm not entirely sure what a soul is either. I believe that all energy is the stuff of life, therefore, saying that energy beings are alive isn't a problem for me. I believe a soul is what is created when enough energy coalesces into a stable mass. Like with stars, eventually enough of it clumps together and the thing ignites. Maybe it won't last forever, but it's stable and sustaining in a relative sense. I believe that there are different types of energy, frequencies or colors or whatever metaphor you want to use. The energy that goes into creating the 'star' will determine something about it's character. But it's not an intelligence or a personality until it interacts with other things. The 'color' of the energy might influence the way that it will react, but other factors might play a more important role, like environment or training.

I believe that patterns of these interactions can be stored within the soul, but I wouldn't think of it as the same as the literal memory we have access to now. I think of it more as patterns of reaction. The soul may replay these same patterns over and over in one life or another without having what we think of as a conscious memory of the past. You could easily refer to these patterns as archetypes. And here, now, incarnated in the physical, with a built in computer, and armed with self-awareness, we have the chance to change our patterns if we will it to be so. Or to keep reinforcing the same old stuff if that's what we want to do.

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2009-02-05 2:51
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Post: #9
Re: What is the soul?
Difficult question. The list of various oppinions of what a soul maybe indicates already that the answer is as personal as it can be. Well, I think "the soul" is something beyond the Time-Space-Thing we are living in that collects all that it can collect in this life. It may survive the body it inhabits, most sure it does in some cases, IMHO: Many Otherkins would not be here, otherwise. The soul is an extension of the "Total Self" of yourself, which is the total sum of all your lifes you have lived, live and are going to live. And all that has something divine in it, I call it the divine spark of love.

If some people really see angels where others see only empty space, let them paint the angels. (John Ruskin, 1819 - 1900, english critic and writer)
2009-02-05 20:55
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Post: #10
Re: What is the soul?
How did I not see this thread before? *blink blink* Fascinating question! *is surprised it doesn't have more posts*

I think the concept of the soul is so highly personalized, you'd be hard pressed to find a consistent answer. ^_^ I remember that when I was younger, and I first encountered the concept of the soul, my mother was quick to tell me that the soul was just the physical body. It wasn't anything intangible, nor did it 'ascend' or 'pass on' after death. The soul was the body, and death was the end of it. (Gotta love Jehovah's Witnesses for a simple, straightforward, and yet VERY puzzling answer, no?) That, as you can guess, didn't satisfy me at all. It seemed ridiculous for there to be SO many writings, paintings, etc regarding the journey of the soul for it to be JUST the physical form.
From then, I began learning about self-image, identity and how that might work in conjunction with the concept of a soul. Transgendered individuals were fascinating to me, because it seemed wholly probable that they were simply born into the wrong body. Considering some of the information I found- especially amongst some Native American cultures, which provide words for individuals who don't identify with their physical gender- it was even more intriguing that people could sense their soul was something ELSE, something *not* restricted to their physical body.
When I discovered paganism- can you say relief on many, MANY levels? *grin*- I accepted the idea that the soul was the intangible source of thought. It is the 'spark' that fades out of someone's eyes when they die, and the essence of that person. Of course, learning about otherkin, therians and reincarnation had to adjust THAT thought process a bit. I always believed that animals had souls- anyone looking into a horse's eyes should see that, 'm sorry- and it seemed ridiculous that an animal's soul would simply vanish, while a person's soul would ascend or be reborn.
What does all of this blather mean? That the concept and understanding of the soul is always going to change. You can't have a fixed idea of such a vast concept, because there's always the chance you'll learn something you didn't know before, and it'll change your perception. I thought I had a grasp on what a soul was many, many times throughout my life, and every time, I've found more information which changed my perception of it. All I can say for certain is those I've spoke with who work with the dying tell me they've seen something leave the eyes of those who die. There's something *there,* and then there just isn't.

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2009-02-06 1:44
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