UU Salon asks:
What is a soul? Does it exist before we are born? Does it disappear when we die?
The question unfairly presupposes the answer to another question: Is there a such a thing as a soul? That question I can answer, for me at least: No. Nevertheless, we all have one.
Soul talk, as is so much else in western society, is the product of a platonic worldview in which there are things, so we suppose that the soul, if there is one, must also have the characteristics of a thing. For years my view mirrored others expressed about this question, but I have since moved to a view that disputes the existence of the soul as something.
Instead, I believe that "soul" is a metaphor for that sense of the infinite reality which exists, in however attenuated a fashion, in all of us. Soul is the channel we use to experience, communicate with and attempt to understand "that which is out there." As such, it is not a thing, not some as yet unlocated nexus of cells in the brain or ganglial cluster associated with a chakra. Rather, "using soul" is a skill, much like "playing tennis" or "writing a blog." We attempt to use our soul more if we hope to increase our skill at perceiving the unseen, scruting the inscrutable or effing the ineffable. If we use it less, our skill wanes.
For the vast majority of us, this channel to the infinite is at best a tiny, tenuous thread which on rare but blessed occasions graces us with a sense of rightness. Those we think of as holy or wise or spiritual seem to have managed to increase the bandwidth of their channel so that their experience of the infinite is much greater, potentially so much greater that in the end the channel opens to encompass both all of the infinite and all of us, so that the two are one.
May each day end up with us being more soulful than we started.