What might a soul be?
Here is my (Shunyata’s) hypothesis: Ultimately, everything is made of the same “stuff”, which can be called awareness. A soul is a clump of awareness which has remained in the form of pure awareness. When awareness “slows down” or “cools off” it takes on the apparent forms of energy, and then of matter, matter being the most slow and turgid. Consciousness (with a capital C) is the substrate or backdrop within which awareness exists – much as space-time is the substrate within which all matter and energy appears (and without which nothing can exist, it is the stage upon which all appears).
Why should a soul incarnate?
Another hypothesis: A major aspect of the non-corporeal side of life is that imagining or believing something is practically the same as experiencing it. So without discipline (call it maturity) this will be a very dizzying experience, like a giant hurdy gurdy or gaudy merry-go-round, or even worse a horror-trip or nightmare, potentially going on (subjectively) for ever, since awareness is in principle beyond time. So souls are automatically drawn to incarnate into a body, which slows them down and anchors them, bringing them into a time frame in which experiences are sequential, and reflection and growth are possible. In the ripeness of spiritual maturity the soul no longer needs this anchoring and can create worthwhile and constructive experience without a body.
What I can add to this hypothesis from my own personal experience is, that the more my attention is relaxed and expanded, the more I actually experience which is not originating in “my” body-energy organism. In fact this has often been a very disconcerting experience, to suddenly be noticing the sensations of another person, or events far away, even on other planets. These “noticings”, when they happen, happen in parallel to my awareness of this life, this body – and often I have had virtually no control over where or what is being witnessed. So this adds weight – for me personally – to the “giant hurdy-gurdy” hypothesis.
Memories of past lives
Many people have convincing memories of previous lives (in regression sessions, under hypnosis, in meditation or during past-life seminars), whereby a lot of them have purported to remember being a particular person, e.g. Joan of Arc. At first we might be tempted to say “Well they can’t all have been Joan of Arc”. I can see at least two ways to explain this:
- Mayhap souls do not (always) hang together from one incarnation to the next, but might break down into smaller pieces which recombine to form a “new” soul, thus allowing many souls to “remember” being a particular person. The Dalai Lama was once asked if he believes in reincarnation. He answered “Yes”, and added “but of course, it’s completely impersonal”.
- Since – according to the spiritual view of life and the personal experience of many people – everything is (at the very least in the source substrate of life) connected to everything else, then it might be that people are not “remembering” such events, but are in fact witnessing or experiencing them beyond the conventional limits of space and time.
To be honest, this section is simply speculative and I personally have no proof or idea of what is actually happening in this regard. So please just take it as food for thought.
What I do know from personal experience – my own and through assisting quite a few people in regression sessions – is that starseeds will invariably “remember” lives in their “home” sphere of existence. This may be as other beings on another planet, or even in energetic realms of existence, where the beings have no physical bodies, just energy bodies. Some people also seem to be part starseed, part human souls, which either started out as starseeds but have often incarnated here, or started as human souls but have been especially visited and nurtured from afar. I know two such people (but a lot more “pure” starseeds). Human souls on the other hand will invariably remember only human lives.
Voluntary and involuntary Incarnation
Many teachings state that a young soul has no choice but to incarnate – it will be drawn into a new body within an experientially short period after its last life. A mature soul has more options – to incarnate or not, and in which life to incarnate.
The souls of the majority of humans on this planet have not yet matured enough to gain voluntary control over their incarnations and habitually reincarnate here because of the law of karma (which basically means cause and effect). Here are some examples of beings with souls said not to be still stuck on this “wheel of fate”, which appear (normally as humans) on earth.
- Avatars, which are totally enlightened beings, or perhaps simply expressions of divinity, which either have no past lives or have no limiting connection to them;
- Tulkus (in Tibetan Buddhism) are souls which became fully awakened on the human path but still voluntarily incarnate to help other humans;
- Ascended Masters, which seem to be about the same as Tulkus but from Christian or other traditions; they don’t incarnate into bodies anymore but work alongside angels and archangels to help earth in various ways. They are often channeled, and you can always call on them for help.
- Starseeds are souls which gained maturity on other planets, but have not yet reached or opted for Nirvana. In their maturity they can voluntarily choose where they incarnate; and in their compassion they are drawn to help other beings – in this case, humans on earth.
What about death?
Yet another (comforting) hypothesis: No big deal – the universe does not lose anything – neither energy nor awareness! At “death”, which is just a change of form or circumstances, the soul detaches from the body and returns to the non-corporeal realms of life, and again there is a phase of that form of existence. For the younger souls it will be short, the more mature may make it to some sort of heaven or pure land, to continue their maturing without a body (probably being coddled by some highly enlightened souls). Many mature souls will elect to reincarnate voluntarily to assist with development and to alleviate subjective suffering, e.g. as Tulkus or Starseeds. Quite a few will reincarnate in pleasant lives just for the fun of it – there are many highly developed cultures even in the milky way, not to mention other galaxies or quantum universes! And of course, those cultures are actively engaged in supporting younger cultures anyway – that’s always part of the game!