Part II of the Soul Series
When we consider Oneness and the soul, it becomes apparent that the typical Western notion of soul does not quite apply. If we are all One, if we participate in divinity and God is everywhere, do we have individual souls? If we have individual souls, what happens to them after death? Certainly there is no doctrine of salvation among Pagans, as we do not consider ourselves in need of it, as Christians do. It seems this concern for salvation is the primary consideration for those worrying about whether sentient robots have souls. (Please see my previous post.) To me, this concern amounts to naught, and so it would for most Pagans, I assume.
If we consider salvation irrelevant, what is the purpose of a soul? Our souls are those divine parts of us that participate in God, and that we consider ours while we live in our bodies. After death, our bodies return to being an assemblage of chemicals and microorganisms, and our souls merge into the One again. This could be considered a sort of reincarnation, but it seems to me that each individual is who they are based on their biology rather than their soul. Our personality and intelligence and all the rest of us is the expression of our physiology and genetics, and when we die it is gone. Since we are products of not only our genetics, but also of our environments, any individual is a completely new person, not someone being reborn as who they were in another lifetime. Time has moved on, and the unique genetic and environmental components that produced a deceased individual are gone. The soul that endures and returns is God, living in each person and allowing them to participate in divinity.
There are many Pagans who consider the soul to be multiple, often threefold. One soul is the animal soul which animates the body, another is the human soul which provides intelligence and personality and the distinctively human attributes of a person, and the divine soul. The only one I consider a soul is this third soul, the divine essence in each person that joins us to God, and that returns to God upon our death. The animal soul I see as really only the chemical energy that powers our bodies, and the human soul is, as I stated above, the result of genetics and environment that gives us our personalities and intelligence and our distinctive way in the world. To me, the soul is exclusively divine; anything else others may consider a soul is chemical or biological energy. Although all natural processes are part of God’s life in the world, they are not God, while our souls are. They are our own sparks of divinity that make us One with God and each other, and the universe.
The case can be made here that we do not have individual souls as such, particularly since they do not endure as individuals after death. If our souls simply merge with the One upon death, and our souls do not provide our individuality or our salvation, then perhaps they are not personal, individual souls that are unique to us. But I ask, does that matter? The primary benefit here is participation in God’s life, which is such a blessing that it renders the other concerns insignificant. I find it an inestimable privilege to participate in God’s divinity, even if only for my individual lifespan.
Next week, we conclude by looking at the divinity present everywhere and in all things.
Copyright © 2017 Teresa Chupp. All rights reserved.