The soul is your link with the divine, yet exactly what it is and how it works has been the subject of much theological and philosophical contention.
The question 'What is the soul?' has puzzled man for thousands of years, and many different religions and philosophers have all come up with their own views on this fundamental question. The main point of agreement is that the soul infuses the body and is the spark of life and consciousness that makes you the unique individual that you are. The mental processes called the 'mind' are a part of the soul, but not its entirety.
A belief in the soul implies a belief in your own immortality, that althouh the physical flesh may perish, the spirit or essence, the soul, continues to exist beyond death. Where the soul goes, be it to an afterlife, to reincarnate, or become one with divinity, is another question whose answer depends upon your spiritual beliefs.
* Plurality of the soul: The belief that the soul is comprised into parts.
* Limited immortality: The idea that the soul merges into oneness with the universe, losing individuality to become part of a greater whole.
* Metempsychosis: Another name for reincarnation, the transition of the soul from body to body through different lifetimes, in an effort to evolve to achieve perfection.
* Transmigration: The journeying of the soul from one body to another, as in reincarnation.
* Universal Soul: The concept that there is one perfect soul, from which all human souls begin and seek to reunite.
Different perspectives on the soul
Around the world and throughout the centuries cultures have maintained different beliefs about the soul.
The soul has perplexed and enlightened those who have tried to unravel its mysteries. Here are some of the established viewpoints about the soul from around the world.
Humanity has speculated on the nature of its divinity throughout the ages and across the world. Here are some, but by no means all, of these ideas:
There were a number of schools of thought in ancient Greece, where the soul was hotly debated. The Pythagoreans espoused the doctrine of a world soul, whereas Platonists believed in the plurity of the soul, with the rational soul located in the head, the passionate or spirited soul in the breast, and the soul governing appetite in the abdomen.
Christianity teaches the immortality of the soul, which is created by God and placed on Earth to experience life and exercise free will. After death the soul will be judged on its deeds and go to heaven or hell accordingly.
Judaism also contains the plurality of the soul, and there are three terms used for the soul. The parts are the 'nephesh' or animal nature, 'nuah' or the ethical principle, and 'neshamah', the spiritual intelligence. All souls spring from God, and are judged in the aftelife according to their deeds. Prophets may reincarnate, but, according to teaching, no one else does.
Hindus believe that all souls are part of a Universal Soul, Atman, which is also the sum of all the Gods. The soul is the unity that links all living beings, as parts of the greater whole. The soul transmigrates through different incarnations until it realises its unity with the Atman and no longer needs to reincarnate.
Buddhists also believe the soul transmigrates through different incarnations, gaining wisdom and knowledge until it experiences enlightenment, and enters a state of nirvana, ie: limited immortality.
Muslims believe that every person has an immortal soul, which separates from the body at death. On the Day of Judgement all humans will be brought to a second life, where body and soul are rejoined. God will place people in heaven or hell based on their beliefs and the deeds they have performed in this life.
THE EGYPTIAN SOUL
The Ancient Egyptians believed that each part of the soul represented different qualities of the individual.
*Ka - the double of the person that lingered on in the tomb.
*Ba - brings food and breath to the Ka and Khabait.
*Khabait - the shadow of the soul that could leave the tomb.
*Ren - the true name of a person.
*Akhu - the immortal part of the soul created by uniting of Ba and Ka.
*Sahu - the spiritual body.
*Sekhem - the ethereal life force.
*Ab - centre of moral awareness.
To the believer, no proof is necessary - to the skeptic, no proof is enough!
You can't die for the life of you - Gordon Smith