The Immortality of the Soul

The Immortality of the Soul

Oil painting of Roger Penroses 5-fold tile configuration * Artist: Urs Schmid * Photo by: Urs Schmid

It is as if consciousness rests upon a self-sustaining and imagining substrate — an inner place or deeper person or ongoing presence — that is simply there even when all our subjectivity, ego, and consciousness go into eclipse. Soul appears as a factor independent of the events in which we are immersed. Though I cannot identify soul with anything else, I also can never grasp it apart from other things, perhaps because it is like a reflection in a flowing mirror, or like the moon which mediates only borrowed light. But just this peculiar and paradoxical intervening variable gives on the sense of having or being soul. However intangible and indefinable it is, soul carries highest importance in hierarchies of human values, frequently being identified with the principle of life and even of divinity (James Hillman, Introduction to Re-Visioning Psychology, xvi).

It is said by Christians that the soul is immortal. They take this literally and assume the soul to be an unseen entity, much like a ghost. But the immortality of the soul has nothing to do with the perpetual existence of an entity. One builds the soul throughout one’s life, for this world is the vale of soul-making, to quote Keats. The fulfilled destiny of one’s life, one’s character, is an immortal legacy. It is not that a phantom leaves the material body at the point of death and flies to an eternal abode. This is literalism. Soul is image and metaphor. It is a perpetual legacy, a living symbol that endures beyond the breakdown of the animaterial individual.

Let us take, for example, the character, the legacy, the soul of C.G. Jung. The man, indeed, built a beautiful and stately soul house. By allowing the image imprinted upon him from birth to come to fruition, he left an immortal and indelible mark upon humanity that will never be forgotten. Because of Dr. Jung’s willingness to bring forth his innate calling, we enjoy greater knowledge today of how the psyche operates. Jung’s living soul is with us every time we think about our dreams, or meditate on the meaning of the collective unconscious.

Not everyone leaves such a famous and celebrated legacy. All have their destiny, whether great or small in the eyes of the world. All have a purpose in the great Dance of Being. All leave some type of immortal legacy, regardless of what it may be.

The Anima Mundi, the Soul of the World, has been constructed by our ancestors from time immemorial. This great edifice is constantly undergoing renovation. All the souls gone before leave evidence of their handiwork, their legacy. Not all are morally good; many are hideously evil, but the construction of Soul continues, nevertheless, unabated. This is the dynamism felt by Heraclitus, never being able to step into the same river twice. At the end of every life, a soul legacy becomes attached to the Anima Mundi. In this way, all souls are immortal.

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