Today, the strong focus on wellness, physical beauty, health and fitness can be so overwhelming that it can turn into either an obsession or a source of anxiety, having us spending an exaggerated time and mind fuel on our bodies and appearance. It can sometimes even seem as though our worth, success and capability as human beings is measured in how physically fit we are. Secondary to this comes the wellness of the mind. Thankfully in the last twenty years, mental health has been more focused upon and given importance. Mental health has also somewhat been commercialized in the form self-help books, self-help podcasts, different types of therapies etc. These self-proclaimed gurus are often coming from a background of no specific education or training in the field and their success is dependent on advertisement and hashtags in the social media. We are seeing more and more young people looking for someone who can define their identity for them and point them in the direction of financial and emotional success. Image and self-branding has become crucial for this social media generation, and image is often “shopped” from different sources of media. Needing a diagnosis, and someone to provide that diagnosis seems to be important for generation next. So is this really so bad? We are taking better care of ourselves, mentally and physically, we are living longer and becoming more prosperous. The question is, who are we doing this for and why? Where are we letting ourselves be lead?
I had an interesting discussion with my cousin a while back. We talked about what happens after you die. I told her that what I believe is that the soul goes on. Then came the obvious question: but what is the soul? In my cousin’s mind the soul was a ghost-like second version of herself, the only difference being that it could fly and wasn’t solid. I told her that my idea of the soul is very different. To me, the soul is the eternal part of me, the life-giving part that has nothing to do with my body, appearance or my personality. My cousin then said that if that was true dying would be just that dying, because for her her body and personality was who she was and if she lost that she did not exist any longer. Her body, her mind, her thoughts, her face, her emotions, that was what she identified with in order to define herself. I think she speaks for many.
The soul has become a very washed out word without any definite definition. Many people, in fact most people I know, use the word soul the same way they talk about their heart and how we should always follow it. The soul becomes the sum of our emotions, thoughts, values, dreams etc. But is that really what the soul is? Of course there is no real answer to this. Spirituality is not science. Speaking of science. My brother is a theoretical physicist. He lives and breathes science. Religion, to him, is humbug.
In a discussion with him I defined the soul as the energy we are made up of, the atoms that cannot be broken down, the force that breathes without lungs and moves without solid form. Then I challenged him, telling him to imagine that these tiny particles had memory. Like cells carrying within them the recipe for a human being. It is not an impossibility, is it? Not entirely illogical? Well, that essence is what I define as the soul.
Imagine if you could tap into that essence, that bank of memories and pure life force, with your human senses, for in it lies also the memory of the creation of the universe, if something like that really exists. Imagine the richness of that knowledge! This is not a finished “product”, it is an ongoing process, a continuing deposit of experiences and new knowledge that you are now taking part in with your life, and whatever you add to it will be carried on after your body is gone.
This awareness is what spirituality is to me, knowing and understanding that everything in the universe is made up of this soul-essence, and that we, that you, can learn to become aware of your own soul and letting it guide you through your life, instead of a self-proclaimed social media guru, or a readymade “store bought” image, or a package deal given to you be an image consultant or a life coach.
When we learn to be aware of our souls we will also learn to identify with this ancient immortal force rather than our impermanent bodies and vulnerable minds. Not to say that our physical and mental health is not important, of course they are! It is through our bodies we experience the world and with our minds we learn to interpret and make sense of it, without these two components we can not add to the memory bank of the soul. But these are just tools, they are not who we truly are.
Imagine an entity of pure light floating through space, it is invisible to everyone but itself, so in order to confirm that it truly exists it changes form. This new form allows it to experience its own existence in symbiosis with other entities and so it learns new things about itself and about life every day that goes by. Then one day the solid form it has taken starts to wither, it learns that solid matter has an expiration date, but it is far from tired of this amazing learning process so when the solid form finally expires it takes on a new form and to its delight this form is different! It experiences itself and the life around it in a completely different way! And so the learning cycles continues. It keeps growing and expanding for each new form, for each new way of experiencing existence. And then it takes on the form of you…
Let us not invest too much in that which comes with and expiration date, let us rather pay a little more attention to that which is eternal, never ending, that which only becomes richer, more beautiful and wise with time. For that is, in truth, who we really are.