The Soul Train

10 Sep

I got to thinking about soul the other day, primarily because my son is in a phase where he needs to label everything, from his sister (“annoying little freak”) to his religious beliefs. He is an atheist and is intent on naming everyone in his family, except the annoying little freak, as an atheist as well. He won’t speak for the freak because he thinks she’s too young to have formed an opinion about theism.

When he said, “You’re an atheist,” I balked. Then we started splitting hairs about what we meant when we said we were theist, atheist or simply “spiritual.”

I spent an entire 5 mile run thinking about the concept of soul and what business a godless heathen has even considering whether or not she has a soul.

What does soul mean to you? Do you have one? Do all creatures have one? All of existence, including non-living entities?

18 Responses to “The Soul Train”

  1. gnatseyeview September 10, 2012 at 11:13 am #

    I think of the soul as the self–somewhat similar to the personality. It is material, for it is a function of the mind, which is a function of the brain, which is matter. The self is that part of us that exists beyond the animal-human (although it is made possible by the biological hardware that allows the brain function). Those unfortunate to be at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs rarely have the luxury of moving beyond the animal-human, because the sole focus of their brain is out of necessity on the survival of the biological unit.

    • jmlindy422 September 10, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

      Thanks for the insightful comment. So, G’nat, what purpose does the soul serve? How does it differ from the self, in your construct?

      • gnatseyeview September 10, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

        I don’t think there is a difference between the soul and the self. Purpose? Purpose is our creation. Life is a blank canvas, and the self (or soul) holds both the paint and the brushes. The self (soul) not only has the freedom, but also has the responsibility to paint its own purpose. No one else to look to or thank for our purpose, but neither is there any one else to blame. It’s ours, and we must own it. If the colors are bleak, it is because we have chosen bleak colors. Self pity has no place, and should not be enabled. I love colors that are bright and hopeful. Why would I choose anything else? I don’t have good days (as if they fall from the heavens), I make them. And when they are bad, I have made those too.

  2. OneWeekToCrazy September 10, 2012 at 12:50 pm #

    I think everyone is on their own journey to discover whether or nor there is a soul, afterlife, God etc. That being said, I think many people spend so much time trying to figure it out (something I was guily of for quite awhile) that they miss living in this life. Whatever is or is not waiting for us at the end of our lives, will be there regardless of the research we do ahead of time. After “soul searching,” I decided that it was a moot point to me!

    Courtney Hosny

    • jmlindy422 September 10, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

      Thanks for dropping by…so, you seem to be equating soul with afterlife. I’m pretty sure they aren’t the same for me, or at least they “feel” different. This is like trying to catch butterflies, I think.

  3. dinnerversions September 10, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    Oh my….a heavy topic for a Monday morning. But I’ve been having similar conversations with my 7 y.o., actually. My own feeling is that our ‘soul’ is the energy within us. Neurons firing, chemical messengers moving across a gradient, the electrical potential between the cells of a heartbeat, the positive or negative charge of an amino acid….All of that is energy and when we die, that energy leaves us. That’s about as deep as I get.

    • jmlindy422 September 10, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

      Yeah, pretty heavy indeed. I’m thinking of writing about soul on Thursday. I see the image you have and it’s one that works for me, but then I wonder why we need the idea of soul? Why do I even think I want a soul? I thought for a while about becoming a minister…see why?

  4. Hellosailor September 10, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

    I believe everything has a soul and a soul is a type of energy, or a life force. Logically my brain wants it to know that it is just neurons and chemical messages, but in my heart there is something mystical about it, because where did that energy come form in the first place and where does it go when we are finished?
    I don’t believe in a God, but I don’t disbelieve, I just want to do a good job while I’m here. And I think that is what makes your soul good xox

  5. nevercontrary September 10, 2012 at 7:40 pm #

    I personally believe in reincarnation, thus everyone and everything has a soul for me. That is until we reach enlightenment which can take many many lifetimes. What happens after enlightment I believe is a type of heaven.
    Such deep conversation with your child. That is amazing, my parents only told me what to think and believe, there was no discussion.

  6. Mad Queen Linda September 11, 2012 at 9:17 am #

    Thursday is for soul. That could be a driveway chalk post; thanks.

    I’m having to rethink my entire life’s beliefs so I guess that includes the soul concept. Now that you bring it up, I’m not sure of its existence in any being, but does it matter? (That’s not a rhetorical question, I’d like to hear what others think.) I can’t envision my consciousness not existing now that it has, so perhaps that’s the soul.

    • jmlindy422 September 11, 2012 at 9:38 am #

      I hadn’t thought about consciousness as soul. I like that; it accommodates very neatly the idea that there are those whose soul is fouled beyond recall, such as Adolf Hitler, but also leaves room for redemption. The Mad Queen is nay so mad! Gotta get me some driveway chalk.

  7. societyred September 11, 2012 at 10:03 am #

    Wow! Such a thoughtful post and series of comments. I remember talking about a rock having a soul in high school english class decades ago. The class thought I was nuts but the instructor agreed that the evidence of soul was more or less the same in a rock and a human. I spent much of my youth in Catholic school and when I finally escaped I bundled all that gibberish and tossed it. Not to say I wasn’t scared into believing as a child. It seems that the concept of “soul” is an important component in most organized religions used to instill fear and control.
    I used to think things would be better in my life when “this” or “that” happened…better job, passionate relationship, less debt, “things”. Meanwhile life slipped by. A friend of mine claimed to have the answers about “the afterlife”. He said “I care about where we all spend eternity. Don’t you think about what happens when you die?” I told him I had too much to think about in the here and now. Isn’t this time part of eternity?
    I guess I don’t really know where I stand on the question of soul. I just try to live a good life and do the best I can. Does there have to be more than that?
    Kind of a rambling comment…I guess you got me thinking…

    • jmlindy422 September 11, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

      I got myself thinking, too. I hadn’t even thought of soul in the context of afterlife, but more as a container or embodiment of the desire for deep connection. I remember an experience I had while singing. I felt my dead grandparents were with me and they were filling a “center” that welled with such love. I’m not the kind of person who talks about things like that, but I was so moved by what felt concrete but clearly wasn’t. I guess that brings up the afterlife question, after all!

  8. kelloggs77 September 12, 2012 at 4:18 pm #

    Here’s something that will blow your mind (it did mine, anyway). A former colleague of mine took a course on Cosmology and wrote about an interesting fact that she learned: Our bodies are made up of about 50% hydrogen atoms. When the universe was born, ALL of the hydrogen and helium atoms were formed. And since matter can neither be created nor destroyed, that means the hydrogen half of you is 13.7 billion years old. I think that definitely speaks to the idea of soul, and the continuity of the soul. Maybe the soul is the collective experience of those hydrogen atoms. We are imprinting our own story on the atoms inside our body as we live and breathe, and that story will be taken with those atoms once our bodies are gone, transformed into something else. Now how that reconciles with an afterlife in the religious sense (in which I believe), I have no clue. But I also remember hearing a quote that just made practical sense to me: “I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn’t, than live my life as if there isn’t, and die to find out there is.”

    • jmlindy422 September 12, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

      So many things about the cosmos blow my mind. When I think of the universe and truly connect to the infinity, I feel so sad knowing that our small part will die away. Ok, done with the downer part of my response.

      The hydrogen and helium atom creation idea is one that I hadn’t thought of, but it’s kind of hitting me over the head right now. Everything we are made of was created billions of years ago. I will have to think about how that relates to soul and afterlife. Thanks so much for the insight.

  9. Mary Rayis September 13, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

    I am a little late to the party here. Just catching up on my Snide Replys while having lunch. I think the soul is the part of us that seeks meaning in our lives.

    • jmlindy422 September 14, 2012 at 12:25 pm #

      Thanks for hanging on to them.


  1. The world in a grain of sand? How about your soul in an atom of hydrogen? « Snide Reply - September 14, 2012

    […] I asked other bloggers what they thought about soul. The G’nat at G’nat’s Eye View is an existentialist. His […]

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