|Sunset, by Arkady Rylov, 1917|
In the sense that the word, “supernatural,” means “something that transcends nature,” Soul is not supernatural. The word, “nature,” literally is derived from “born,” natus. It also carries the meaning of “the universe.” It is the “course of things.” Enigmatic as Soul is, and whose depths are fathomless, it is still intertwined with our natural universe. The idea that Soul originates in some otherworldly place is a product of our Christian tradition, its penchant for dualism, and its inclination for taking truths about reality literally. In mainstream Christian thought, God and nature are totally separate. According to this view, our world represents something fallen, due to sin, from a paradisaical state. I reject all of this in favor of a supremely wonderful universe, which has room in it for dreams, imagination, epiphanies, love, and beauty.
The claim that the Soul is purely a natural reality is not reductionist. I am not attempting to relegate the function of Soul to brain chemistry, physics, etc. I propose that the experiences we know to be soulful, such as those we have when enjoying an excellent meal with people we care for, or that feeling we get when gazing at a lazy sunset, or when we are moved by a play, a song, a book, are perfectly natural for humans to have. They are deep, meaningful, even epiphanous, at times. These are part of what we call Soul and Soul is ubiquitous, if we are open to the experiences. We can experience Soul in a painting, in a work of architectural genius, or simply gazing across a picturesque body of water at daybreak when the fog rolls gently across its surface. The experiences of Soul are myriad and they all occur in this universe.
Author, Paul Levy, says,
According to the alchemists, the products of our imagination are not
immaterial, vaporous phantoms, but are something corporeal, having a
“subtle body” all their own. The alchemists were realizing that the
philosophers’ stone was a subtle energy body, a super-celestial body,
the “star” in humanity, which is the interface between mind and matter (God the Imagination, by Paul Levy, emphasis mine).
And Carl Jung tells us,
Somewhere our unconscious becomes material, because the body is the living unit, and our conscious and our unconscious are embedded in it: they contact the body. Somewhere there is a place where the two ends meet and become interlocked. And that is the [subtle body] where one cannot say whether it is matter, or what one calls “psyche.” (Nietzsche’s Zarathustra: Notes of the Seminar Given in 1934-1939, Volume 2, vol. 1, p. 441).
Perhaps there are many modes of being in the universe, Soul being one; perhaps it is the primary mode of being. We do not possess all knowledge, so it is impossible at this time to say how deeper experiences of human life come about. We simply know for a fact they exist. Who knows what other dimensions there are to this wondrous universe of ours? It is arrogant and pompous for us to assume we have sufficient knowledge to proclaim that nature is composed of dead, inert matter and nothing more. It is a deus ex machina to posit a supernatural Soul. Marvelous, yes! But still part of our marvelous cosmos.
Take a dream, for instance. We all know that a dream is a very real experience. Are we to conclude that this experience, which really doesn’t fall into the category of consciousness, is not real because it is not empirically observed? Of course not. Common sense tells us it is a very real experience. Certainly, it is not literal, but there are many realities that are not literal. And again, they are all part of our natural universe. One need not posit a shadowy, otherworldly locale from whence these experiences emanate. The universe is the body of the Anima Mundi.
That brings us to unconsciousness, and the irruptions into consciousness that C.G Jung wrote so much about. These, too, are part of our natural cosmic order. All the forgotten experiences of our species, and perhaps of all entities, lie there in the depths of Soul. This, too, even though we don’t have much knowledge of the unconsciousness of humans, is part of the natural order of things. There is no need to posit a supernatural order.
Many assume that Soul is supernatural. This article was written to initiate thought processes that might lead one away from transcendental ideas, and perhaps nudge one to realize the amazing universe we are all part of.