Soul and Consciousness Query

Just as law of attraction suggests thought energy is as powerful as physical energy, the two quotes below appeared from completely separate sources in my inbox today.

The past few days while living my life and while all these images were captured, a piece of my background chatter has been churning on the word soul. What is it?

Say not, “I have found the truth,” but rather,

“I have found a truth.”

Say not, “I have found the path of the soul.”

Say rather, “I have met the soul walking upon my path.” For the soul walks upon all paths.

The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed.

The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals.

~ Kahlil Gibran

The soul, fortunately, has an interpreter—often an unconscious but still a faithful interpreter—in the eye.

~ Charlotte Bronte

How can Buddhists not believe in soul concept yet believe in reincarnation? What are general Jewish teachings on soul? Christian?

After reading briefly about each, they all seem similar except what’s lost in translation. Some of the differences in definitions actually seem to be more error of translation than difference. Buddhists analyze there is no permanent “self” or “soul” because self is an illusion, a construct of the mind. All forms are impermanent, ever-changing, interconnected. So therefore an unchanging “soul” cannot exist, but consciousness can have continuation lifetime to lifetime.

Hebrew version of soul very generally is breath, life force, vitality.  Christian soul concept is something created by God but separate from mind, heart, body and spirit.

Western thought seems to be using the word “soul” often to mean simply an individual person or expression of mind consciousness.

Merriam-Webster soul definition:  “the immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life.”

So what is consciousness? The closest thing most modern writings come to is a spectrum of states in spiritual, medical and psychological fields. Many writers have decided defining consciousness is next to impossible. The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition is far too limited to material individuality to satisfy me personally.

1: a: the quality or state of being aware especially of something within oneself
   bthe state or fact of being conscious of an external object, state, or fact
   c: awarenessespecially concern for some social or political cause. 
2the state of being characterized by sensation, emotion, volition, and thought: mind
3the totality of conscious states of an individual
4the normal state of conscious life, regained consciousness
5the upper level of mental life of which the person is aware as contrasted with unconscious processes
 

After this brief review, I recognize that my personal understanding of consciousness is as a cosmic field of energy expressing itself through all sentient and nonsentient beings in different ways yet transcending and connecting all life forms as one entity. In other words, consciousness is what can both be witnessed by sensory apparatuses (I looked up plural and it is not apparati) of life forms AND extend beyond physical body, through lifetimes, whereas soul is the manifestation of that consciousness. In my limited way of perceiving, a soul has an integrity throughout a life like a person’s fingerprint and may be the seed of yearnings, drives and deep longings for expression during a lifetime of an individual, but soul is informed through truths of life experience and does not extend as far as consciousness beyond a single lifetime.

Such are the ramblings of my limited understanding, but it’s something I just want to jot down for further exploration.

About Erin W

A sensitive plant, bamboo strong.
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