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What is The Soul?

And the nature of being human

Meditation by Alex Gray

For many people, this question is irrelevant to their lives as they have in a way made peace with their suffering and are content to live in relative darkness. In contrast, those who give thought and attention to this question find that they can transcend their suffering, identify themselves as being human and unlocking the mysteries of the universe.

Before plunging into an attempted definition let us remember that we live within a realm of existence whose boundaries are incalculable. We are dealing here with cosmology as well as metaphysics and like the universe itself, ideas that are so immensely huge few people attempt them.

Asking such a question however is the original science and many of those who asked and invested many years looking into the nature of existence through the arts of yoga and meditation have concluded there is a universal oneness from which we are inseparable. Modern physicists and mathematicians with the aid of supercomputers have reached similar conclusions.

When we analyse the physical universe, there are three states of existence: consciousness, energy and matter. At a most fundamental level, a piece of stone can be reduced to a random collection of atoms that are bound together to form increasingly larger particles that we may recognise as rock crystals. Like the universe, these original atoms emerged out of the possibility we often refer to as creation yet even over time the hardest stone diminishes as its consciousness fades.

Therefore it's fair to say that some potentiality gave birth to the stone and it was shaped by consciousness that transformed energy into physical matter. When we consider the big bang theory, the universe came from a potentiality, a release of energy which was then shaped by consciousness to be perceived as physical matter.

There are many people who argue that the universe is conscious and therefore alive in the same sense that we are, so there is no reason to dispute this idea except to try and disprove the existence of our soul.

There is no need to argue against life other than to substantiate the view that being human is in some way superior to all else in existence. This in fact is one of the root causes pushing us toward extinction because we are damaging the environment we are dependent on for our continued existence.

When we look at existence from the perspective of modern science, the atom is made up of protons and electrons in the same manner as our solar system though on a different scale, a disproportionate amount of space. It is said that if all this space was removed from our bodies, the amount of physical substance remaining could be contained in a spoon or within a couple of cubic centimetres.

Like what we call space between the planets in our solar system and the space between galaxies, the space within us is not empty, it's full of material that is beyond our perception that scientists have named as dark matter that contains the universe and strings which interconnect everything.

Returning to the idea of the human soul, we can perceive our physicality of which body and mind are constructed. We know our physical body is the most amazing gadget on this planet that it's capable of doing wonderful things, yet it's also self repairing and produces the chemistry required for our well-being and more when our sense of 'I' cooperates.

As alluded to above, some people's sense of 'I' gives them a sense of superiority over existence, a sense of isolation and soullessness which locks them into compulsive behaviours and codependent relationships. This personality is forever seeking some external form of happiness through short-term pleasures (compulsions).

In contrast, the person who identifies themselves as a soul sees themselves as a part of the universe and interdependent with other life. They are more likely to form cooperative relationships, be happy without reason and find pleasure in everyday things.

When looking to the wisdom of the East, even though the soul cannot be defined any more than 'dark matter', it can be experienced - in contrast to the body that has such a limited life, the soul will continue to exist throughout all eternity.

We know from science that everything we see as physical in this universe is almost insignificant in contrast to what lies beyond our perception. Scientists calculate that dark matter is as much as 98% of our entire universe and to our perception, that's a lot of no-thingness. Therefore, instead of identifying ourselves with the physical we can begin to appreciate more of what is less apparent.

When we identify ourselves with our physical bodies, we tie our identity and life experience to the physical. When we seek to identify as a soul, the physical life is less significant, we know we are not the centre of the universe.

When we identify ourselves as a soul, we begin to see that darkness (as in dark matter) is not dark, it is full of light and helps to sustain us. However we are conditioned or we could say programmed to believe only in the physical and confine the unknown as the domain of the gods. Such beliefs limit us in so many ways creating pain and suffering.

Our existence in the physical realm is limited to perhaps seventy or one hundred years but identifying and knowing oneself as a soul sets one free. Knowing oneself as a soul does not mean there will be no pain in life, however it brings about a freedom from suffering.

To know oneself as a soul, one can employ the rational mind to establish a framework for exploration as described above, but the most important tool is yoga/meditation. The physical body needs to be trained to have a certain robustness and steadiness and then the mind is turned inward. Meditation could be termed as an inward contemplation, observing ones internal universe with complete attention and without judgement.

In questing to identify oneself as a soul, clean living and the minimal practice of harmlessness as described by the Buddha are most helpful. But to assist your quest, the wisdom of the ancients who have walked this path are always available. To help sort the real from the unreal in the modern world, modern mystics like Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev are there to assist with hundreds of videos on YouTube or one can enroll in one of his programs.

To know oneself as a soul is to become self realised or enlightened.

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