Friday, December 18, 2009

How do you define SOUL?

Peaking in on Country Parson's "breakfast conversations", I realized as a person who has a website titled "diamonds in the soul" , and practices "soul collage" & "soul care supervision", I should probably wade in with my own thoughts on Soul. A scholarly theologian, Country Parson, offers great questions and ponderings on the topic. He is joined by thoughtful readers and replies with often thought-provoking responses.


In his recent post, the line that jumped out and speaks of soul to me is:

"...it (soul) continues to grow and change embracing the wholeness of life." -- CP

My ultimate response developed into this (partially whole) definition of soul:

Soul (whether in an earthly or heavenly body) is "instantly recognizable" as the truth, wholeness, & fullness of our uniquely created essence.

So, what do you think about that? Do you have your own definition of soul? I imagine I will continue to develop and refine this growing and changing concept. In the meantime, I'd love to know: How do you define soul?

photo december, 2008 ©lucy

21 comments:

Barbara said...

I kinda disagree, lucy, which doesn't make me right, of course.

I don't think the soul is ever complete without the body and vice versa. I don't understand soul as some wispy entity shelled in a body that is inserted at some point and departs upon death.

When soul and body are one, there is no conflict but rather a fusion of love and integrity. I think I echo CP on this -- souls grow to embrace the wholeness of life and that includes the physical. That wholeness is our ultimate destiny, in the One who is the source of our life.

Do I understand what I just wrote? No. Does that bother me? Only if I let it. ;)

Country Parson said...

Wow! Breakfast conversation seems to be spilling out all over the place. Thank you Lucy.
CP

lucy said...

welcome, CP.

lucy said...

oh, barbara - this is where words (& interpretations) get so tricky, because you see i do think you agree with at least what i am trying to say and i wonder if it makes more sense now that you've read CP's post.

i gasp at the thought of "some wispy entity shelled in a body..." in our earthly bodies, i, too, believe it is ALL a part of the whole. perhaps it is my use of the word essence? which to me is VERY full-bodied :-)

(I certainly didn't intend to indicate NO body... i just don't know what anything other than the earthly body may look like.)

thanks for helping me clarify (at least for myself) and hopefully for you too.

blessings.

The Pollinatrix said...

The thought that immediately comes to mind is from John O'Donohue in Anam Cara (again!). He says the soul is in the body, not the other way around.

For me, soul and body are intimately linked, whereas spirit is not. And I would define "spirit" as more the essence. Soul is much more changeable to me. Soul evolves to match spirit, maybe.

And I will echo Barbara's comment in that I can't really wrap my puny brain around what I'm saying here, but that's ok.

Christine Claire Reed said...

I was going to bring up the Celtic idea of soul -- that the body is in the soul, rather than the soul in the body. I THINK that is what The Pollinatrix meant to say... Hmmm...

The traditional Celtic idea being, of course, that the Soul is so much larger than a small (whispy!) package inside our chests or something.

But that we walk around enveloped in soul.

Which is cool when you think about the vibrational level of living and how some of us are easily affected by other's moods etc -- it's because our souls are constantly bumping one into the other. :)

The Pollinatrix said...

Yes, that's what I meant. Thanks for the correction - my overworked brain is fairly scrambled right now!

lucy said...

Pollinatrix et al. Please let me clarify that I in no way propose that I have my brain wrapped around this!! Thx for expanding the conversation.

SUNRISE SISTER said...

Oh, this is a fabulous conversation. Pollinatrix, I'm reading Anam Cara right now and stopped immediately to go for a reread when you mentioned John O's take....then CCR popped in and clarified and then you popped back in:)) These conversations are mind provocateurs which I think is a lovely process that happens in blogging - sometimes - not often enough, that we all take part in the conversation. I've been working on this inside/outside soul stuff and am firmly committed to the idea that our soul is the shell for the body and that indeed, we are bumping against other souls all of the time. We are particularly fortunate when we've prepared ourselves to realize that contact can be so close and even intimate with strangers we meet and most especially with our ancestors and with our family members moving in love and daily lives together. SOUL - a huge subject:))

xoxoxo

Country Parson said...

The size of the soul. In the body or greater than. Consider the size of all that is in God's presence:

"In this vision he showed me a little thing, the size of a hazelnut, and it was round as a ball. I looked at it with the eye of my understanding and thought "What may this be?" And it was generally answered thus: "It is all that is made." I marvelled how it might last, for it seemed it might suddenly have
sunk into nothing because of its littleness. And I was answered in my understanding: "It lasts and ever shall, because God loves it."

-- Julian of Norwich - Shewings

Tess said...

Interesting that the words soul, spirit and essence are differentiated in various ways in the comments - I think of them as different words for one thing.
The question, of course, is what that thing is. I'm more of the "body as temporary shell" school of thought. Either soul does depart upon death or it stays with our bodies, and how would that work?
I think it's important for our incarnational lives that we break down the body mind spirit barriers and become whole as far as we are able. I think that either our essence doesn't continue (always a possibility, perhaps we're just fooling ourselves!) or that it is greater than what we think of as our selves. Somewhere within we are aware of our bodies, our thoughts, our emotions. We observe them, but we are not our bodies, we are not our thoughts, we are not our emotions - they are not essentially us. They are important elements of being human but they do not define us.
At least in my view.
But I'm comfortable knowing I'll never know for certain.
Gonna have to read Anam Cara, BTW, feeling left out!

lucy said...

CCR - so delighted to see you weigh in here. i keep thinking that to me soul also speaks of bliss. your description also sent me searching for words i read just recently that was speaking of "beauty" but totally reminded me of souls "bumping one into another." here is an excerpt from "inspired":

"Gradually everyone’s physical bodies began to dissolve and all that was left were shapes of light. I saw that every “light” was connected to every other light, like a web and I understood then that we’re all energy, that we are all ONE and we really are all connected…"

http://kateiredale.typepad.com/inspired/2009/12/everyday-peace-peace-everyday-beautiful-people.html

lucy said...

SS - thank you for starting this conversation at your breakfast table :-) the ancestors are a fabulous reminder of souls bumping one into another, as well as the connection we can have with a stranger in a brief unexpected moment. glorious stuff, really!!!

CP - oh my, that julian of norwich quote is fabulous and feels so BIG... all in the shape of a hazelnut.

you are full of surprises, you know? :-) xoxoxo

lucy said...

tess - i, too, was surprised at the differentiation between soul, spirit and essence. as i read your words, i realized that i most lean towards them being different descriptors for one "thing". i, too, am quite comfortable to not have a concrete definition of what that "thing" is... (since it would be impossible in any case.) it's kind of like trying to define GOD - words do not suffice!

The Pollinatrix said...

I was so excited to get home from church today and post this comment, because I had an epiphany during the reading of the Magnificat this morning. When Mary says, "my soul magnifies the Lord" I started thinking about the soul as a lens.

I scribbled away about this in my little notebook (while I should have been listening to the sermon). I thought of one of my favorite verses (one that I prefer in the King James): "If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light." Our normal soul mode is a "pair" of lenses, a dualistic nature, but that our goal is singleness of vision.

I thought about the lens of our soul being for others to view God through, but also for God to view the world through.

Is our lens clean or dirty, focused or blurred? Is the view nearsighted or farsighted? Tinted? What color of light does my soul cast on the Lord and on the world?

Rebecca Johnson said...

Whew!! Big discussion going on here. I've been sick for a couple of days and out of the loop. Look what I've missed! I'm going to throw something out there and I don't mean to be flippant at all. My question is, "What does it matter?" I'm trying to think of how I might live my life differently if I have a better definition or understanding about what the soul or the spirit are. I will keep asking that question. For me the soul is some part of me that i think....might be...eternal. It is the spark of the Divine within me.

I think that I disagree about our souls growing and changing. I think that maybe they are fully formed but cannot be fully "expressed" due to our ego and behaviors. It's a little out there, I know, but I think that "perfection" dwells within me somewhere and that must be my soul.

Great discussion!

Tess said...

Just checking in to say Polli, love the lens analogy. And is there something in there about us being made in the image of God? Like a dirty lens on a camera, the images we take will give us an idea of reality, but blurred.

The Pollinatrix said...

Ooh Tess, I love where you went with that!

SUNRISE SISTER said...

WOW - the remarks received from the "soul conversation at breakfast" and your terrific post here Lucy have been phenom! I think CP even did an email to someone on this one. Such rich conversation....in fact we dozed off last night after both reading Pollinatrix's revelation from the church sermon - woohoo - good stuff!

lucy said...

i am so glad my readers have hopped in here (tess & SS) and helped assure my commenters (most recently, pollinatrix) that this is a very cool discussion going on. i absolutely love it when the ponderings take on a life of their own!

and, rebecca...not sure if it really matters in the grand scheme, but it's been helpful for me to at least try and put some clarity around words i toss around pretty often. now, that doesn't mean the "clarity" won't look different in about ten minutes, but it's kind of fun to do a little brain stretch every now and then... or maybe it's a "soul stretch"... who knows?!?!?

methinks this conversation has stretched well beyond breakfast!!

kigen said...

Lucy, you said:

"So, what do you think about that? Do you have your own definition of soul? I imagine I will continue to develop and refine this growing and changing concept. In the meantime, I'd love to know: How do you define soul?"

I am who I am -- the rest is the soul projected into our dream-school world, learning lots of stuff. That's my understanding now. When you leave the body, you will know yourself as you really are. It will be delightful beyond measure, to be you and only you once again. The energy you are has its own intelligence. That's an interesting mystery to me, but anyway when it leaves the body it has that intelligence at its command, and no memory of life events in this world, except values you have learned and refined through various experiences, negative and positive, for instance compassion, responsibility, humility, etc.