Conception of “the soul”

“In this story of her rare girl, Lanier shines a clear light on what we sign up for when we allow a human soul to come through us and into the world, in whatever ‘interesting and beautiful package’ that soul might find.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/07/books/review/raising-a-rare-girl-heather-lanier.html

For those who believe in “the soul” at all, I think the typical conception is of something discrete.

Physicists went through a long debate in regard to whether light travels as a particle or a wave. They came up with a kind of hybrid theory: light is a particle (photon) that has wave-like characteristics.

At least we can see light. Some esoterics think they can see the soul. Most of us are skeptical of that claim.

But . . . if we refrain from thinking of it as a discrete thing, particle-like, well, maybe we can see the soul.

What’s discrete is an organism. My own conception of the situation is that each organism is just an individuated vessel for a particular manifestation of life energy. The latter is like a wave.

At the most general level: There seem to be two kinds of energy in “the universe” (whatever that is, and I think we can know maybe 1% of the answer to that Big Question). There’s inorganic energy (physicists say it’s all essentially derived from electromagnetic radiation). And then there’s organic energy, what we call life.

Life energy can be thought of as a vast wave or a stream . . . something that flows. It flows into a new organism at conception. From the time of birth we see it as vitality. The organism channels this energy to get what it needs to live, hopefully to thrive. Vitality starts to wane as the organism ages. The body (the vessel) loses all vitality at death.

So what you see when you look at the natural world is a profusion of life energy manifesting through myriad organisms. Nature doesn’t really care very much about any individual organism (or seed or embryo or fetus, etc.). Nature “cares about” / is all about the efflorescence of the life force. “Soul” is the generality of it, the totality of it, the fullness of it. It’s all around us, all the time.

A co-editor of Green Horizon Magazine, Steve has been a Green movement activist for almost thirty years.