BECK index
THE SOUL: Contents

Essence of the Soul

Origin of the Soul in God
The Soul is divine
Proofs of Immortality

Origin of the Soul in God

God is absolute reality. All things come from God, and all things are part of God. The soul as a divine spirit comes directly from God. The soul is the same essence as God (made in his image), and this essence is creative spirit which has dominion over all the creatures and objects of the created worlds. As souls we are all truly children of God, for God formed us out of Its own being. God loves us as a perfect Father and Mother love their children, and all souls belong to the same spiritual family.

Then God said,
“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness;
and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea,
and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle,
and over all the earth,
and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him.
Genesis 1:26-27

You are the sons of the LORD your God.
Deuteronomy 14:1

Thus says God, the LORD,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread forth the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people upon it
and spirit to those who walk in it.
Isaiah 42:5

(word of the LORD:)  Behold, all souls are mine;
the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine.
Ezekiel 18:4

Thus says the LORD,
who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth
and formed the spirit of man within him.
Zechariah 12:1

Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us?...
Has not the one God made and sustained for us the spirit of life?
Malachi 2:10, 15

I say, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you;
nevertheless, you shall die like men, and fall like any prince.”
Psalms 82:6-7

Because man goes to his eternal home,
and the mourners go about the streets;
before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken,
or the pitcher is broken at the fountain,
or the wheel broken at the cistern,
and the dust returns to the earth as it was,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
Ecclesiastes 12:5-7

These things they argued, and were going astray;
for their vice blinded them,
and they did not know the mysteries of God
nor hope for the reward of holiness
nor choose the prerogative of a blameless soul.
Since God created the human for incorruption
and made them in its own image of eternity;
but by envy of the devil death entered into the world,
and they tempt those who are of that part.
Wisdom of Solomon 2:21-24

One of the basic teachings of the great religions
of the world is the idea that man isa divine being.
In Asia this theanthropic doctrine, or God-Man idea,
is expressed in various ways.
Hinduism declares it in terms of the famous equation,
atman=Brahman (atman meaning “the soul”
or “spirit of man” and Brahman meaning “God”
or “the Universal Spirit” or “Soul;”
in other words, soul and Over-Soul).
Confucianism regards man as a child of heaven (Tian).
This is the same idea implied in the first two words
of the Christian prayer, “Our Father.”
Judaism teaches that man was created in the image of God
and that the human body is the true temple of the Most High.
Shinto, in its principle of kannagara,
affirms the divine nature of man.
Dao, according to Lao-zi,
is the origin of all things, including man.
It is interesting to note that the Chinese word “Dao,”
which means God, the Divine Order, or the Way,
is the word for both God and man
in some Asian languages.
Zoroastrianism declares man’s divinity
in its doctrine of the fravashi or farohars.
Reyes, Cybernetlcs of Consciousness, p. 101

In the beginning, atman (Self, Soul), truly, one only,
was here—no other winking thing whatever.
He bethought himself: “Let me now create worlds.”
Aitareya Upanishad 1.1

Confucius said, “Heaven produced the virtue
that is in me; what can Huan Tui do to me?”
Confucius, Analects 7:22

Pindar tells us that the body obeys Death, the almighty,
but the image of the living creature lives on
(“since this alone is derived from the gods”).
Rohde, Psyche, p. 7

The soul is the first origin and moving power
of all that is, or has become, or will be, and their contraries.
Plato, Laws, X:896

If a man should be able to assent to this doctrine as he ought, that we are all sprung from God in an especial manner,
and that God isthe father both of men and of gods,
I suppose that he would never have
any ignoble or mean thoughts about himself.
Epictetus, Discourses I:3

And to have God for your maker and father and guardian,
shall not this release us from sorrows and fears?
Epictetus, Discourses I:9

He then who has observed with intelligence
the administration of the world,
and has learned that the greatest and supreme
and the most comprehensive community
isthat which is composed of men and God,
and that from God have descended the seeds
not only to my father and grandfather,
but to all beings which are generated on the earth
and are produced, and particularly to rational beings—
for these only are by their nature formed
to have communion with God,
being by means of reason conjoined with Him—
why should not such a man call himself a citizen of the world, why not a son of God,
and why should he be afraid of anything
which happens among men?
Epictetus, Discourses I:9

The primal phase of the Soul—inhabitant of the Supreme and,
by its participation in the Supreme, filled and illuminated—
remains unchangeably There;
but in virtue of that first participation,
that of the primal participant,
a secondary phase also participates in the Supreme,
and this secondary goes forth ceaselessly
as Life streaming from Life;
for energy runs through the Universe,
and there is no extremity at which it dwindles out.
But, travel as far as it may,
it never draws that first part of itself
from the place whence the outgoing began:
if it did, it would no longer be everywhere.
Plotinus, Third Ennead, VIII: 5

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God, and God was the Word.
This was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him not one thing came to be
which has come to be.
In him was life, and the life was the light of human beings;
and the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not comprehended it.
It was the true light,
which enlightens every person, coming into the world.
He was in the world, and the world through him came to be,
and the world did not know him.
He came to his own, and his own did not accept him.
But as many as did accept him,
he gave them authority to become children of God,
to those believing in his name,
who were born not from blood nor from the will of flesh
nor from the will of man, but from God.
And the Word became flesh and resided among us,
and we saw his glory, glory as the one
who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:1-5, 9-14

Jesus said, “If they say to you, ‘Where have you come from?’
say to them, ‘We have come from the Light,
where the Light has originated through itself.
It revealed itself in their image.’
If they say to you, ‘Who are you?’
say, ‘We are His sons
and we are the elect of the living Father.’
If they ask you, ‘What is the sign of your Father within you?’
say to them, ‘It is a movement and a rest.’”
Gospel According to Thomas 50

Jesus said, “Blessed are the single ones and the elect,
for you will find the sovereignty;
because you come from it, you will go into it again.”
Gospel According to Thomas 49

I have spoken at times of a light in the soul that is uncreated,
a light that is not arbitrarily turned on.
I am accustomed to hint at it frequently in my sermons,
for it refers to the immediacy of God,
as undisguised and naked as he is by himself
and to the (divine) act of begetting.
Thus I may truthfully say that
this light is rather to be identified with God
than with any (perceptive) power of the soul,
even though it is essentially the same.
Meister Eckhart, p.  246

When God made man, he put into the soul his equal,
his active, everlasting masterpiece.
It was so great a work that
it could not be otherwise than the soul,
and the soul could not be otherwise than the work of God.
God’s nature, his being, and the Godhead
all depend on his work in the soul.
Blessed, blessed be God that he does work in the soul
and that he loves his work!
That work is love, and love is God.
God loves himself and his own nature, being and Godhead,
and in the love he has for himself he loves all creatures,
not as creatures but as God.
The love God bears himself contains his love for the whole world.
Meister Eckhart, p. 224-225

It had been placed in me by a Nature
which was really more perfect than mine could be,
and which even had within itself all the perfections
of which I could form any idea—that is to say,
to put it in a word, which was God.
To which I added that since I knew some perfections
which I did not possess, I was not the only being in existence;
but that there was necessarily some other
more perfect Being on which I depended,
or from which I acquired all that I had.
Descartes, Discourse on Method Part IV

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’sStar,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy,
But He beholds the light, and whence it flows,
He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
Must travel, still is Nature’s Priest,
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.
Wordsworth, Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood V

The philosophy of six thousand years
has not searched the chambers and magazines of the soul.
In its experiments there has always remained,
in the last analysis, a residuum it could not resolve.
Man is a stream whose source is hidden.
Our being is descending into us from we know not whence.
Emerson, “The Over-Soul”

When he has seen that is not his, nor any man’s,
but that it is the soul which made the world,
and that it is all accessible to him, he will know that he,
as its minister, may rightfully hold all things
subordinate and answerable to it.
Emerson, “Literary Ethics”

The Soul is divine

The soul is the perfect and eternal divine essence. The soul may commune and communicate directly with the spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, and thus magnify the divine energy of the soul. The influx of the soul energies into the human consciousness is experienced as the divine attributes of love, intelligence, revelation, power, beauty, goodness, freedom, peace, joy, etc.

The Universal Atman (Soul) is, truly, that brightly shining one
which you reverence as the Atman (Soul).
Chandogya Upanishad 5.12.1

That which is the finest essence—
this whole world has that as its soul.
That is Reality. That is Atman (Soul). That are you, Svetaketu.
Chandogya Upanishad 6.9.4

This shining, immortal Person who is in this mankind,
and, with reference to oneself, this shining,
immortal Person who exists as a human being—
he is just this Soul, this Immortal, this Brahma, this All.
Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad 2.5.13

This person (purusha) here in the heart is made of mind,
is of the nature of light,
is like a little grain of rice, is a grain of barley.
This very one is ruler of everything, is lord of everything,
governs this whole universe, whatsoever there is.
Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad 5.6

He who consists of mind, whose body is life (prana),
whose form is light, whose conception is truth,
whose soul (atman) is space, containing all works,
containing all desires, containing all odors, containing all tastes,
encompassing this whole world, the unspeaking,
the unconcerned—this Soul of mine within the heart
is smaller than a grain of rice, or a barley-corn,
or a mustard-seed, or a grain of millet,
or the kernel of a grain of millet;
this Soul of mine within the heart is
greater than the earth, greater than the atmosphere,
greater than the sky, greater than these worlds.
Containing all works, containing all desires, containing all odors,
containing all tastes, encompassing this whole world,
the unspeaking, the unconcerned—
this is the Soul of mine within the heart; this is Brahma.
Into him I shall enter on departing hence.
Chandogya Upanishad 3.14.2-4

Here people say: “Since men think that
by the knowledge of Brahma they become the All,
what, pray, was it that Brahma knew
whereby he became the All?”
Truly, in the beginning this world was Brahma.
It knew only itself (atmanam): “I am Brahma!”
Therefore it became the All.
Whoever of the gods became awakened to this,
he indeed became it; likewise in the case of seers (rishi),
likewise in the case of men....
Whoever thus knows, “I am Brahma!” becomes this All;
even the gods have not power to prevent his becoming thus,
for he becomes their self (atman).
So whoever worships another divinity (than his Self),
thinking “He is one and I another,” he knows not.
He is like a sacrificial animal for the gods.
Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad 1.4.9-10

And the LORD said to Moses,
“Say to all the congregation of the people of Israel,
‘You shall be holy; for I the LORD your God am holy.’”
Leviticus 19:1-2

And Mary said, “My soul magnified the Lord,
and my spirit is glad in God my savior.”
Luke 1:46-47

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us,
because he has given us of his own Spirit.
1 John 4:13

God has revealed to us through the Spirit.
For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.
For what person knows a man’s thoughts
except the spirit of the man which is in him?
So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God
except the Spirit of God.
Now we have received not the spirit of the world,
but the Spirit which is from God,
that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.
1 Corinthians 2:10-12

Every soul, authentically a soul,
has some form of rightness and moral wisdom;
in the souls within ourselves there is true knowing:
and these attributes are no images or copies from the Supreme, as in the sense-world,
but actually are those very originals
in a mode peculiar to this sphere.
Plotinus, Fifth-Ennead IX:13

It is infinity in the sense in which
the Supreme God, also, is free of all bound.
This means that it is no external limit
that defines the individual being or the extension of souls
any more than of God;
on the contrary each in right of its own power
is all that it chooses to be.
Plotinus, Fourth Ennead III:8

We know that all spiritual being is in man.
A wise old proverb says, “God comes to see us without bell;”
that is, as there is no screen or ceiling
between our heads and the infinite heavens,
so is there no bar or wall in the soul,
where man, the effect, ceases, and God, the cause, begins.
The walls are taken away.
We lie open on one side to the deeps of spiritual nature,
to the attributes of God.
Justice we see and know, Love, Freedom, Power.
Emerson, “The Over-Soul”

The relations of the soul to the divine spirit are so pure
that it is profane to seek to interpose helps.
Emerson, “Self-Reliance”

For the soul’s communication of truth
is the highest event in nature,
since it then does not give somewhat from itself,
but it gives itself, or passes into and becomes
that man whom it enlightens;
or in proportion to that truth he receives, it takes him to itself.
We distinguish the announcements of the soul,
its manifestations of its own nature, by the term Revelation.
These are always attended by the emotion of the sublime.
For this communication is an influx
of the Divine mind into our mind.
Emerson, “The Over-Soul”

We cannot describe the natural history of the soul,
but we know that is divine....
All things are known to the soul.
It is not to be surprised by any communication.
Nothing can be greater than it.
Let those fear and those fawn who will.
The soul is in her native realm,
and it is wider than space, older than time,
wide as hope, rich as love.
Pusillanimity and fear she refuses with a beautiful scorn;
they are not for her who puts on her coronation robes,
and goes out through universal love to universal power.
Emerson, “The Method of Nature”

We learn that the highest is present to the soul of man;
that the dread universal essence, which is not wisdom,
or love, or beauty, or power, but all in one, and each entirely,
is that for which all things exist, and that by which they are;
that spirit creates;
that behind nature, throughout nature, spirit is present;
one and not compound it does not act upon us from without,
that is, in space and time, but spiritually, or through ourselves:
therefore, that spirit, that is, the Supreme Being,
does not build up nature around us, but puts it forth through us,
as the life of the tree puts forth new branches
and leaves through the pores of the old.
As a plant upon the earth,
so a man rests upon the bosom of God;
he is nourished by unfailing fountains,
and draws at his need inexhaustible power.
Who can set bounds to the possibilities of man?
Once inhale the upper air, being admitted to behold
the absolute natures of justice and truth,
and we learn that man has access to the entire mind
of the Creator, is himself the creator in the finite.
This view, which admonishes me
where the sources of wisdom and power lie,
and points to virtue as to
“The golden key which opens the palace of eternity”
carries upon its face the highest certificate of truth,
because it animates me to create my own world
through the purification of my soul.
Emerson, “Nature”

The human soul is a silent harp in God’s choir,
whose strings need only to be swept by the divine breath
to chime in with the harmonies of creation.
Thoreau, Journal August 10, 1838

You have asked Me concerning the nature of the soul.
Know, truly, that the soul is a sign of God,
a heavenly gem whose reality the most learned of men
have failed to grasp, and whose mystery no mind,
however acute, can ever hope to unravel.
It is the first among all created things
to declare the excellence of its Creator,
the first to recognize His glory, to cleave to His truth,
and to bow down in adoration before Him.
If it be faithful to God, it will reflect His light,
and will, eventually, return to Him.
Baha’u’llah, Baha’i World Faith, p. 121
It was a beautiful conception of the Wise Men of ancient Persia,
that every one should render homage to his own soul.
All that is divine in the universe is so to us
only because of this divinity within our own being.
We may perceive and know, solely because of what we are.
It is the worship of the pure and excellent—
a reverence full of awe and wonder for all that is real,
and beyond the vicissitudes of change—the aspiring to fellowship
and a common nature with the True and Good.
Wilder, “The Soul,” p. 459

It would be blasphemy to assert that God can manifest Himself
everywhere save only in the human soul.
Indeed the very intimacy of the relationship
between God and the soul
automatically precludes any devaluation of the latter.
It would be going perhaps too far to speak of an affinity;
but at all events the soul must contain in itself
the faculty of relation to God, i.e. a correspondence,
otherwise a connection could never come about.
This correspondence is, in psychological terms,
the archetype of the God-image.
Jung, Psychology and Alchemy, p. 10-11

Philosophia perennis—the phrase was coined by Leibniz;
but the thing—the metaphysic that recognizes a divine Reality
substantial to the world of things and lives and minds;
the psychology that finds in the soul something similar to,
or even identical with, divine Reality;
the ethic that places man’s final end in the knowledge
of the immanent and transcendent Ground of all being—
the thing is immemorial and universal.
Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy, p. vii

Soul and Spirit being one, God and Soul are one,
and this one never included in a limited mind or a limited body.
Spirit is eternal, divine.
Nothing but Spirit, Soul, can evolve Life,
for Spirit is more than all else.
Because Soul is immortal, it does not exist in mortality.
Soul must be incorporeal to be Spirit, for Spirit is not finite.
Only by losing the false sense of soul
can we gain the eternal unfolding of life
as immortality brought to light.
Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, p. 335

My guru (Sri Yukteswar) mixed freely with men
and women disciples, treating all as his children.
Perceiving their soul equality,
he made no distinction and showed no partiality.
“In sleep, you do not know
whether you are a man or a woman,” he said.
“Just as a man, impersonating a woman, does not become one,
so the soul, impersonating both man and woman,
remains changeless.
The soul is the immutable, unqualified image of God.”
Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi, p. 132

“Master, can a soul really be lost forever?”
“Impossible! The soul is a part of God.
How can you destroy God?”
Yogananda, The Master Said, p. 109

All souls (atmas) were, are and will be
in the Over-Soul (Paramatma).
Souls (atmas) are all One.
All souls (atmas) are infinite and eternal. They are formless.
All souls (atmas) are One; there is no difference in souls (atmas)
or in their being and existence as souls (atmas).
Meher Baba, God Speaks, p. 1

The soul is the real man, the Atman
or as some prefer to call it, the Purush.
The individual soul is a spark from the Infinite Light,
a drop from the ocean of being.
As such it is one with him—one in substance, one in qualities.
It is in the soul that all consciousness and all power reside.
Johnson, Path of the Masters, p. 320-321

Spirit is energy, the force
that activates the human consciousness and gives it life.
Spirit individualizes itself as soul
and so resides closely within each consciousness.
Many people have said that a human being has a soul—
but it is closer to the reality to say
that the soul has a human being.
The soul, being Spirit,
is more enduring than the human consciousness.
John-Roger, Awakening Into Light, p. 1

There is a God-part within each person, which is the soul.
It’s magnificent; it’s divine; it’s perfect; it’s aware.
And the soul’s natural state is joyful and loving and pure.
When you experience joy and love,
you are experiencing your true self, your soul.
John-Roger, Consciousness of Soul, p. 9-10

The soul is an extension of God.
The human has a soul within, a spark of God.
Because of this, it is our heritage
to become fully aware of our divine nature,
to realize fully and completely the nature of God,
and to become conscious, responsible, co-creators with God.
John-Roger, Consciousness of Soul, p. 13

God constitutes the whole being,
singly, individually, and collectively;
and every Soul has the divine message within itself—
within the Soul, not within the personality or the mind
or the emotions, but within the Self, which is the Christ.
John-Roger, Baraka, p. 4

The soul is a creative spark of divine fire
and a direct extension of God in the form of an individual.
The soul is infinite, eternal, and perfect.
Not one soul will be lost.
The soul has no beginning and no end.
All souls return to the Supreme God.
Pure energy cannot be destroyed
although it may go through many changes and transformations.
The energy of the life force which animates human beings
expresses the divine qualities of intelligence and love.
In humans the soul is incarnate
and may become consciously aware of itself
as the divine Light in all.
Beck, Living In God’s Holy Thoughts, p. 2


In addition to the divine attributes of innate intelligence, love, and goodness, the soul as a reality which is unlimited is often described in negative terms such as infinite, immeasurable, invisible, intangible, incorporeal, immaterial, etc. The dynamic qualities of the soul are expressed positively to convey that it is active, self-moving, aware as the agent of consciousness, actual, free in its use of will, and transcendental of all the limitations of the created worlds.

Who is this one?
We worship him as the Self (Atman).
Which one is the Self?
(He) whereby one sees, or whereby one hears,
or whereby one smells odors, or whereby one articulates speech,
or whereby one discriminates the sweet and the unsweet;
that which is heart and mind—that is, consciousness,
perception, discrimination, intelligence, wisdom, insight, steadfastness, thought, thoughtfulness, impulse,
memory, conception, purpose, life, desire, will.
All these, indeed, are appellations of intelligence....
The world is guided by intelligence.
The basis is intelligence. Brahma is intelligence.
So he, having ascended aloft from this world
with that intelligent Self (Atman),
obtained all desires in yon heavenly world, and became immortal.
Aitareya Upanishad, 5.1-4

That does not grow old with one’s old age;
it is not slain with one’s murder.
That is the real city of Brahma. In it desires are contained.
That is the Soul (Atman), free from evil, ageless,
deathless, sorrowless, hungerless, thirstless,
whose desire is the Real, whose conception is the Real.
Chandogya Upanishad, 8.1.4

Mencius said, “The great man is one
who does not lose his (originally good) child’s heart.”
Mencius, 4B:12

Mencius said, “The ability possessed by men
without their having acquired it by learning is innate ability,
and the knowledge possessed by them
without deliberation is innate knowledge.
Children carried in the arms all know to love their parents.”
Mencius, 7A:15

Mencius said,
“If you let people follow their feelings (original nature),
they will be able to do good.
This is what is meant by saying that human nature is good.
If man does evil, it is not the fault of his natural endowment.
The feeling of commiseration is found in all men;
the feeling of shame and dislike is found in all men;
the feeling of respect and reverence is found in all men;
and the feeling of right and wrong is found in all men.
The feeling of commiseration is what we call humanity;
the feeling of shame and dislike is what we call justice;
the feeling of respect and reverence is what we call propriety;
and the feeling of right and wrong is what we call wisdom.
Humanity, justice, propriety, and wisdom
are not drilled into us from outside.
We originally have them with us.
Only we do not think (to find them).
Therefore it is said, ‘Seek and you will find it,
neglect and you will lose it.’”
Mencius, 6A:6

As soon as you describe nature as good,
you are already contrasting it with evil,
and when you speak of it in terms of
the opposites of good and evil,
it is no longer the original nature you are talking about.
Original nature is transcendent, absolute,
and beyond comparison,
whereas goodness applies to the mundane world.
The moment you say it is good, you are contrasting it with evil
and you are no longer talking about original nature.
When Mencius said that nature is good,
he did not mean that nature is morally good,
but simply used the language of admiration,
like saying “How fine the nature!”
just as the Buddha exclaimed, “Excellent is the Path!”
I have criticized this theory and said that
it is true that original nature is an all-pervading perfection
not contrasted with evil.
This is true of what Heaven has endowed in the self.
But when it operates in man,
there is the differentiation between good and evil.
When man acts in accord with it, there is goodness.
When man acts out of accord with it, there is evil.
Zhu Xi, The Nature of Man and Things, 42

According to the Homeric view, human beings exist twice over:
once as an outward and visible shape,
and again as an invisible “image”
which only gains its freedom in death.
This, and nothing else, is the Psyche.
Rohde, Psyche, p. 6

You would not find out the boundaries of soul,
even by traveling along every path:
so deep a measure does it have.
Heraclitus, Fragment 45

Two characteristic marks have above all others been recognized
as distinguishing that which has soul in it
from that which has not—movement and sensation.
Aristotle, On the Soul, I:2

The same tendency is shown by those who define soul
as that which moves itself;
all seem to hold the view that
movement is what is closest to the nature of soul,
and that while all else is moved by soul, it alone moves itself.
Aristotle, On the Soul, I:2

We must maintain, further,
that the soul is also the cause of the living body
as the original source of local movement.
The power of locomotion is
not found, however, in all living things.
But change of quality and change of quantity
are also due to the soul.
Sensation is held to be a qualitative alteration,
and nothing except what has soul in it is capable of sensation.
Aristotle, On the Soul, II:4

Some thinkers, accepting both premises, viz. that
the soul is both originative of movement and cognitive,
have compounded it of both
and declared the soul to be a self-moving number.
Aristotle, On the Soul, I:2

Further, since it is the soul by or with which
primarily we live, perceive, and think:—
it follows that the soul must be a ratio or formulable essence,
not a matter or subject.
Aristotle, On the Soul, I:2

All, then, it may be said, characterize the soul
by three marks, Movement, Sensation, Incorporeality,
and each of these is traced back to the first principles.
That is why (with one exception) all those who define the soul
by its power of knowing make it either an element
or constructed out of the elements.
The language they all use is similar;
like, they say, is known by like;
as the soul knows everything,
they construct it out of all the principles.
Aristotle, On the Soul, I:2

Further, we have no light on the problem
whether the soul may not be the actuality of its body
in the sense in which the sailor is the actuality of the ship.
Aristotle, On the Soul, II:1

Hence the soul must be a substance in the sense of
the form of a natural body having life potentially within it.
But substance is actuality,
and thus soul is the actuality of a body
as above characterized.
Now the word actuality has two senses
corresponding respectively to the possession of knowledge
and the actual exercise of knowledge.
It is obvious that the soul is actuality in the first sense,
viz. that of knowledge as possessed,
for both sleeping and waking presuppose the existence of soul,
and of these waking corresponds to actual knowing,
sleeping to knowledge possessed but not employed,
and, in the history of the individual,
knowledge comes before its employment or exercise.
That is why the soul is the first grade of actuality
of a natural body having life potentially in it.
The body so described is a body which is organized.
Aristotle, On the Soul, II:1

This too is a property of the rational soul,
love of one’s neighbor, and truth and modesty,
and to value nothing more than itself,
which is also the property of Law.
Thus then right reason differs not at all
from the reason of justice.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, XI:1

That the soul is of the family of the diviner nature, the eternal,
is clear from our demonstration that it is not material:
besides it has neither shape or color nor is it tangible.
Plotinus, Fourth Ennead, VII:10

The soul circumscribes all things.
As I have said, it contradicts all experience.
In like manner it abolishes time and space.
The influence of the senses has in most men
overpowered the mind to that degree
that the walls of time and space
have come to look real and insurmountable;
and to speak with levity of these limits is,
in the world, the sign of insanity.
Yet time and space are but inverse measures
of the force of the soul.
Emerson, “The Over-Soul”

The soul looks steadily forward,
creating a world before her, leaving worlds behind her.
She has no dates, nor rites, nor persons,
nor specialties nor men.
The soul knows only the soul;
the web of events is the flowing robe in which she is clothed.
Emerson “The Over-Soul”

The soul requires purity, but purity is not it;
requires justice; but justice is not that;
requires beneficence, but is somewhat better;
so that there is a kind of descent and accommodation felt
when we leave speaking of moral nature
to urge a virtue which it enjoins.
Emerson, “The Over-Soul”

This invisible and divine goodness, of which I only speak here
because of its being one of the surest and nearest signs
of the unceasing activity of our soul,
this invisible and divine goodness ennobles,
in decisive fashion, all that it has unconsciously touched.
Maeterlinck, The Treasure of the Humble, p. 181

The theory of the Soul is
the theory of popular philosophy and of scholasticism,
which is only popular philosophy made systematic.
It declares that the principle of individuality within us
must be substantial, for psychic phenomena are activities,
and there can be no activity without a concrete agent.
This substantial agent cannot be the brain
but must be something immaterial;
for its activity, thought, is both immaterial,
and takes cognizance of immaterial things,
and of material things in general and intelligible,
as well as in particular and sensible ways,—
all which powers are incompatible with the nature of matter,
of which the brain is composed.
Thought moreover is simple
whilst the activities of the brain are compounded
of the elementary activities of each of its parts.
Furthermore, thought is spontaneous or free,
while all material activity is determined ab extra;
and the will can turn itself against
all corporeal goods and appetites,
which would be impossible were it a corporeal function.
For these objective reasons the principle of psychic life
must be both immaterial and simple as well as substantial,
must be what is called a Soul.
The same consequence follows from subjective reasons.
Our consciousness of personal identity assures us
of our essential simplicity:
the owner of the various constituents of the self,
as we have seen them, the hypothetical Arch-Ego
whom we provisionally conceived as possible,
is a real entity of whose existence
self consciousness makes us directly aware.
No material agent could thus turn round and grasp itself—
material activities always grasp something else than the agent.
And if a brain could grasp itself and be self-conscious,
it would be conscious of itself as a brain
and not as something of an altogether different kind.
The Soul then exists as a simple spiritual substance
in which the various psychic faculties,
operations, and affection inhere.
James, Principles of Psychology, p. 221

We attribute a soul only to moving, living organisms.
The soul stands in innate relationship to free motion....
All the difficulties that are connected with change of place
demand of the soul that it foresee, gather experiences,
develop a memory, in order that
the organism be better fitted for the business of life.
We can ascertain then in the very beginning that
the development of the psychic life is connected with movement,
and the evolution and progress of all those things
which are accomplished by the soul
are conditioned by the free movability of the organism.
Adler, Understanding Human Nature, p. 27

The first thing we can discover in the psychic trends
is that the movements are directed toward a goal.
We cannot, therefore, imagine the human soul
as a sort of static whole.
We can imagine it only as a complex of moving powers
which are, however, the result of a unit cause,
and which strive for the consummation of a single goal.
This teleology, this striving for a goal,
is innate in the concept of adaptation.
Adler, Understanding Human Nature, p. 28

We can accept knowledge as real only insofar as it is
a manifestation of a being capable of perception,
thought, discrimination, and experience, and possessing,
in addition, the powers of abstraction,
conceptualization, generalization, and self-analysis.
These, we have shown, are found only in an empirically real self
or individuality, capable of saying, “I am.’”
This individuality we call the soul.
We can accept morality only insofar as it is
an expression of a being possessing free-will
and the power of choice and self-determination.
These, we have shown, are true
only of an individuality non-mechanically determined
as well as capable of assuming responsibility
for its own motives and actuations.
This individuality we call the soul.
And, finally, we can accept religion only insofar as it is
a manifestation of spiritual faculties capable of virtue,
worship, goodness, brotherhood, and ultimate perfection.
These can be regarded as real
only if man is essentially a spiritual being.
In other words, man must be regarded
as a soul, a spiritual being,
if we must find an explanation
for humanity’s ineradicable urge toward perfection or God.
Man, the religious being, must be a spiritual being.
He must be soul.
Reyes, Scientific Evidence of the Existence of the Soul, p. 231-232

Thus, though there may be many worlds and many universes, even solar systems greater than our own
which we enjoy in the present;
this earthly experience, or this earth, is a mere speck
when considered as to our own solar system.
Yet the soul of man, your soul,
encompasses all in this solar system, or in others.
Edgar Cayce’s Story of Jesus, p. 62

It does not require a large eye to see a large mountain.
The reason is that, though the eye is small,
the soul which sees through it is greater
and vaster than all the things which it perceives.
In fact, it is so great that it includes all objects,
however large or numerous, within itself.
For it is not so much that you are within the cosmos
as that the cosmos is within you.
Meher Baba, Life At Its Best, p. 43

Soul of man is inborn and indestructible.
It has no age, no classification
in accordance to earth-measurements,
and it can transcend time, space, and causation.
Twitchell, The Tiger’s Fang, p. 47

Blissfulness is the very first offspring
of the interaction of soul and Prakriti,
and being the primal manifestation of the Godhood in the soul,
remains the longest to the end in its fullness
in spite of the other four coverings
enveloping it and bedimming its luster.
Blissfulness being the essential and inseparable quality
of the soul inheres in its very nature.
This is why the searching soul ever feels restless,
and feels terribly the loss of its essence
in the mighty swirl of the world.
Kirpal Singh, The Crown of Life, p. 17

soul 1: the immaterial essence or substance, animating principle,
or actuating cause of life or of the individual life
2a: the psychical or spiritual principle in general
shared by or embodied in individual human beings
or all beings having a rational and spiritual nature
b: the psychical or spiritual nature of the universe
related to the physical world
as the human soul to the human body ...
3a: the immortal part of man
having permanent individual existence ...
b: a person’s total self in its living unity and wholeness ...
4a: a seat of real life, vitality, or action: personality, psyche
b: an animating or essential part:
a vital principle actuating something ...
5d: spiritual or moral force ...
6: human being: person.
Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, p. 2176


The soul is the breath of life, the very essence which makes things alive. The soul gives life and removes itself at the body’s death; without the soul there is no life. The soul is life itself and animates all living organisms.

Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground,
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;
and man became a living soul.
Genesis 2:7

For I will not contend for ever, nor will I always be angry;
for from me proceeds the spirit,
and I have made the breath of life.
Isaiah 57:16

And as her soul was departing (for she died),
she called his name Benoni;
but his father called his name Benjamin.
Genesis 35:18

(Elijah) cried to the LORD, “O LORD my God,
let this child’s soul come into him again.”
And the LORD listened to the voice of Elijah;
and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.
1 Kings 17:21-22

The self’s (Jiva) essence is life.
Tattvarthadhigma Sutra, II:7

He who breathes in with your breathing in (prana)
is the Soul of yours, which is in all things.
Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad, 3.4.1

Socrates: If I am to say what occurs to me at the moment,
I should imagine that those who first use the name psyche
meant to express that the soul when in the body
is the source of life, and gives the power of breath and revival,
and when this reviving power fails,
then the body perishes and dies,
and this, if I am not mistaken, they called psyche.
Plato, Cratylus, 399

Socrates: What is that which holds and carries
and gives life and motion to the entire nature of the body?
What else but the soul?...
And do you not believe with Anaxagoras,
that mind or soul is the ordering
and containing principle of all things?...
Then you may well call that power phusechei
which carries and holds nature,
and this may be refined away into psyche.
Plato, Cratylus, 400

And, what is more, he would say that so soon as the soul,
the only seat of intelligence, is gone out of a man,
even though he be our nearest and dearest,
we carry out his body and hide it in the tomb.
Xenophon, Memorabilia, I:ii:53

And the soul is a nature capable of perception.
And they regard it as the breath of life, congenital with us;
from which they infer first that it is a body
and secondly that it survives death.
Yet it is perishable, though the soul of the universe,
of which the individual souls of animals are parts,
is indestructible.
Diogenes Laertius, “Zeno,” VII:156

We resume our inquiry from a fresh starting-point
by calling attention to the fact that
what has soul in it differs from what has not,
in that the former displays life.
Aristotle, On the Soul, II:2

The soul is the cause or source of the living body.
The terms cause and source have many senses.
But the soul is the cause of its body alike
in all three senses which we explicitly recognize.
It is the source or origin of movement,
it is the end, it is the essence of the whole living body.
That it is the last, is clear;
for in everything the essence is identical
with the ground of its being,
and here, in the case of living things, their being is to live,
and of their being and their living
the soul in them is the cause or source.
Further, the actuality of whatever is potential
is identical with its formulable essence.
It is manifest that the soul is also the final cause of its body.
For Nature, like mind, always does whatever it does
for the sake of something, which something is its end.
To that something corresponds in the case of animals
the soul and in this it follows the order of nature;
all natural bodies are organs of the soul.
Aristotle, On the Soul, II:4

Let every soul recall, then, at the outset the truth that
soul is the author of all living things,
that it has breathed the life into them all,
whatever is nourished by earth and sea,
all the creatures of the air, the divine stars in the sky;
it is the maker of the sun;
itself formed and ordered this vast heaven
and conducts all that rhythmic motion;
and it is a principle distinct from all these
to which it gives law and movement and life,
and it must of necessity be more honorable than they,
for they gather or dissolve
as soul brings them life or abandons them,
but soul, since it never can abandon itself,
is of eternal being.
Plotinus, Fifth Ennead, I:2

There is a deeper fact in the soul than compensation,
to wit, its own nature.
The soul is not a compensation, but a life.
The soul is.
Under all this running sea of circumstances,
whose waters ebb and flow with perfect balance,
lies the aboriginal abyss of real being.
Essence, or God, is not a relation or a part, but the whole.
Being is the vast affirmative, excluding negation,
self balanced, and swallowing up all relations,
parts and times within itself.
Emerson, “Compensation”

What is the origin of the word Seele?
Like the English word soul, it comes from
the Gothic saiwala and the old German saiwalo,
and these can be connected etymologically with
the Greek aiolos, “quick-moving, twinkling, iridescent.”
The Greek word psyche also means “butterfly.”
Saiwalo is related on the other side
to the Old Slavonic sila, “strength.”
These connections throw light on the original meaning
of the word soul: it is moving force, that is, life-force.
Jung, Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche, p. 345

The ancient view held that the soul
was essentially the life of the body, the life-breath,
or a kind of life force which assumed spatial and corporeal form
at the moment of conception, or during pregnancy, or at birth,
and left the dying body again after the final breath.
The soul in itself was a being without extension,
and because it existed before taking corporeal form
and afterwards as well,
it was considered timeless and hence immortal.
Jung, Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche, p. 345


They (Egyptians) were also the first to broach the opinion
that the soul of man is immortal.
Herodotus, The History, II:123

 (Theopompus) says that according to the Magi
men will live in a future life and be immortal....
The philosophy of the Egyptians is described as follows
so far as relates to the gods and to justice.
They say ... that the soul survives death
and passes into other bodies.
Diogenes Laertius, “Prologue,” I:9-11

And some, including Choerilus the poet, declare that he (Thales)
was the first to maintain the immortality of the soul.
Diogenes Laertius, “Thales,” I:24

None the less the following became universally known:
first, that he (Pythagoras) maintains that the soul is immortal.
Porphyrius, Vita Pythagorae, 19

All things live which partake of heat—
this is why plants are living things—
but all have not soul, which is a detached part of aether,
partly the hot and partly the cold,
for it partakes of cold aether too.
Soul is distinct from life; it is immortal,
since that from which it is detached is immortal.
Diogenes Laertius, “Pythagoras,” VIII:28

Fools—for they have no far-reaching thoughts—who fancy that
that which formerly was not can come into being
or that anything can perish and be utterly destroyed.
For coming into being from that which in no way is
is inconceivable, and it is impossible and unheard-of
that that which is should be destroyed.
For it will ever be there wherever one may keep pushing it.
Empedocles, Fragment 11

Immortal mortals, mortal immortals,
living their death and dying their life.
Heraclitus, Fragment 62

“Of things invisible, as of mortal things,
only the gods have certain knowledge;
but to us, as men, only inference from evidence is possible.”
He held also that the soul is immortal
and that it is continuously in motion like the sun.
Diogenes Laertius, “Alcmaeon,” VIII:83

Socrates: They say that the soul of man is immortal,
and at one time has an end, which is termed dying,
and at another time is born again, but is never destroyed.
And the moral is,
that a man ought to live always in perfect holiness.
Plato, Meno, 81

Never was there a time when I did not exist
nor you nor these lords of men.
Neither will there be a time when we shall not exist;
we all exist from now on.
As the soul experiences in this body
childhood, youth, and old age,
so also it acquires another body;
the sage in this is not deluded.
Bhagavad-Gita, II:12-13

And do not be afraid of the ones killing the body,
not being able to kill the soul.
Matthew 10:28

The disciples said to Jesus, “Tell us how our end will occur.”
Jesus said, “Have you then discovered the beginning
so that you inquire about the end?
For where the beginning is, there will be the end.
Blessed is the one who shall stand at the beginning,
and one will know the end and will not taste death.”
Gospel According to Thomas, 18

It concerns all our life to know
whether the soul be mortal or immortal.
Pascal, Pensées, 218

That immortality of the soul is a matter
which is of so great consequence to us
and which touches us so profoundly
that we must have lost all feeling
to be indifferent as to knowing what it is.
All our actions and thoughts must take such different courses,
according as there are or are not eternal joys to hope for,
that it is impossible to take one step with sense and judgment
unless we regulate our course by our view of this point
which ought to be our ultimate end.
Thus our first interest and our first duty
is to enlighten ourselves on this subject,
whereon depends all our conduct.
Pascal, Pensées, 194

Thou, whose exterior semblance doth belie
Thy Soul’s immensity;
Thou best Philosopher, who yet does keep
Thy heritage, thou Eye among the blind,
That, deaf and silent, read’st the eternal deep,
Haunted for ever by the eternal mind,—
Mighty Prophet! Seer blest!
On whom those truths do rest,
Which we are toiling all our lives to find,
In darkness lost, the darkness of the grave;
Thou, over whom thy Immortality
Broods like the Day, a Master o’er a Slave,
A Presence which is not to be put by;
Thou little Child, yet glorious in the might
Of heaven-born freedom on thy being’s height,
Why with such earnest pains dost thou provoke
The years to bring the inevitable yoke,
Thus blindly with thy blessedness at strife?
Full soon thy Soul shall have her earthly freight,
And custom lie upon thee with a weight,
Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life.
Wordsworth, “Intimations of Immortality From Recollections of Early Childhood,” VIII

He saw and knew that the Cosmos
is not dead matter but a living Presence,
that the soul of man is immortal,
that the universe is so built and ordered
that without any peradventure all things work together
for the good of each and all,
that the foundation principle of the world is what we call love
and that the happiness of every one
is in the long run absolutely certain.
Bucke, Cosmic Consciousness, p. 10

There are three truths which are absolute,
and which cannot be lost,
but yet may remain silent for lack of speech.
The soul of man is immortal
and its future is the future of a thing
whose growth and splendor has no limit.
The principle which gives life dwells in us and without us,
is undying and eternally beneficent,
is not heard or seen or smelt,
but is perceived by the man who desires perception.
Each man is his own absolute lawgiver,
the dispenser of glory or gloom to himself,
the decreer of his life, his reward, his punishment.
Leadbeater, A Textbook of Theosophy, p. 8

If we ask what a Substance is,
the only answer is that it is a self-existent being,
or one which needs no other subject in which to inhere.
At bottom its only positive determination is Being,
and this is something whose meaning we all realize
even though we find it hard to explain.
The Soul is moreover an individual being,
and if we ask what that is, we are told to look in upon our Self,
and we shall learn by direct intuition
better than through any abstract reply.
Our direct perception of our own inward being is in fact
by many deemed to be the original prototype out of which
our notion of simple active substance in general is fashioned.
The consequences of the simplicity and substantiality of the Soul
are its incorruptibility and natural immortality
nothing but God’s direct fiat can annihilate it—
and its responsibility at all times
for whatever it may have ever done.
James, Principles of Psychology, p. 221

Proofs of Immortality

If souls are the essential beingness of reality, then they can have no beginning or end and must always exist. Although formed out of God’s essence, that essence as the source of all life can have no source other than itself. Since nothing else could have created it, it must be an eternal reality. That which can move itself always has the ability to move. Souls continue through the cycle of birth and death and birth, etc. Even the “disease” of the soul, vice or evil, is not able to destroy its divine essence. The innate knowledge within the soul implies a previous divine existence. The principle of life could never die, and the pure essence of the soul is incorruptible. Immortality has been revealed by persons who are in a divine consciousness. Also a good and merciful God would save all souls in heavenly bliss forever. Why would a perfect God destroy a soul? The active energy of the soul also intuits that it will always continue to be active.

The existence of the unreal is not found;
the non-existence of the real is not found.
The certainty of both of these has been seen
by the seers of essence.
Know that indestructible essence by which all this is pervaded.
No one is able to cause the destruction of the imperishable.
These bodies have an end;
it is said of the indestructible, infinite soul that it is eternal.
Therefore, fight, Bharata!
Whoever believes this the killer
and whoever thinks this the killed,
they both do not understand; this does not kill and is not killed.
Neither is it born nor does it die at any time,
nor having been, will this again not be.
Unborn, eternal, perpetual this ancient being
is not killed with the killing of the body.
Whoever knows this, the indestructible,
the eternal, the unborn, the imperishable,
how does this person, Partha, cause the killing of anyone?
Whom does one kill?
As a person abandoning worn-out clothes takes new ones,
so abandoning worn-out bodies the soul enters new ones.
Weapons do not cut this nor does fire burn this,
and waters cannot wet this nor can wind dry it.
Not pierced this, not burned this, not wetted nor dried,
eternal, all-pervading, stable, immovable is this everlasting.
Unmanifest this, it is said.
Therefore knowing this you should not mourn.
And if you think this is eternally born or eternally dying,
even then, you mighty armed, you should not mourn this.
Death is certain for the born, and birth is certain for the dead.
Therefore you should not mourn over the inevitable.
Bhagavad-Gita, II:16-30

Socrates: The soul through all her being is immortal,
for that which is ever in motion is immortal;
but that which moves another and is moved by another,
in ceasing to move ceases also to live.
Only the self-moving, never leaving self, never ceases to move,
and is the fountain and beginning of motion
to all that moves besides.
Now, the beginning is unbegotten,
for that which is begotten has a beginning;
but the beginning is begotten of nothing,
for if it were begotten of something,
then the begotten would not come from a beginning.
But if unbegotten, it must also be indestructible;
for if beginning were destroyed,
there could be no beginning out of anything,
nor anything out of a beginning;
and all things must have a beginning.
And therefore the self-moving is the beginning of motion;
and this can neither be destroyed nor begotten,
else the whole heavens and all creation would collapse
and stand still, and never again have motion or birth.
But if the self-moving is proved to be immortal,
he who affirms that self-motion
is the very idea and essence of the soul
will not be put to confusion.
For the body which is moved from without is soulless;
but that which is moved from within has a soul,
for such is the nature of the soul.
But if this be true, must not the soul be the self-moving,
and therefore of necessity unbegotten and immortal?
Plato, Phaedrus, 245

If the inherent natural vice or evil of the soul
is unable to kill or destroy her,
hardly will that which is appointed to be
the destruction of some other body,
destroy a soul or anything else
except that of which it was appointed to be the destruction....
But the soul which cannot be destroyed by an evil,
whether inherent or external, must exist for ever,
and if existing for ever, must be immortal?
Plato, Republic, X, 610-611

Socrates: And if the truth of all things always existed in the soul,
then the soul is immortal.
Plato, Meno, 86

 “And besides,” said Cebes replying,
“according to that argument, Socrates, if it is true,
which you often like to say, that for us
learning is nothing else than being happening to recall,
and according to this it is necessary for us
in some previous time to have learned what now we remember.
But this is impossible, if our soul did not exist somewhere
before being born in the human form;
so also in this the soul is likely to be immortal.”
Plato, Phaedo, 18

Then, Simmias, souls existed previously,
before they were born in human form, without bodies,
and they had wisdom.
Plato, Phaedo, 21

“Then is this how it is for us, Simmias?
If there exists what we are always repeating,
beauty and goodness and every such essence,
and we refer all things from the senses to this,
our being already existing before discovering them,
and we compare these with that,
necessarily, this just as these also exists,
and thus our soul also exists before we were born;
and if these do not exist,
would the argument thus be saying otherwise?
Then is it so, and is it equally necessary these things exist
and our souls also did before we were born,
and if these do not, neither do they?”
  “Marvelously, Socrates,” said Simmias,
“it seems to me to be the same necessity,
and beautifully the argument has recourse
to our soul existing before we were born
just as the essence does also, which you mention.
For nothing is so plain to me as this,
that all such things most definitely exist,
beauty and goodness and all the others
which you just now mentioned;
and it seems to me it is sufficiently proven.”
Plato, Phaedo, 22

For if the soul exists also previously,
and necessarily when it comes into life and is born
it is born from nothing else than the dead and the dying,
then is it not necessary also for the dying to exist,
since it must be born again?
Plato, Phaedo, 23

  “So answer,” he (Socrates) said,
“what makes the body to be alive?”
  “The soul,” he said.
  “Then is this always the case?”
  “Of course,” he said.
  “Then the soul that takes possession of it,
does it always come bringing life to that?”
  “It does,” he said.
  “And first is there anything opposite to life or not?”
  “There is,” he said.
  “Then will the soul ever accept the opposite
to what it always brings, as out of the previous agreement?
  “Most certainly not,” said Cebes.
“What then?
So now what do we name the form not accepting the even?”
  “Uneven,” he said.
  “And what does not accept the just and the musical?”
  “Unmusical,” he said, “and the unjust.”
  “Well;  and what does not accept death, we call what?”
  “Immortal,” he said.
  “Then does the soul not accept death?”
  “So the soul is immortal.”
  “Well,” he said;  “then shall we say this is demonstrated;
how does it seem?”
  “And most sufficiently, Socrates.”
Plato, Phaedo, 54-55

  “But God, I think,” said Socrates, “and the form of life itself,
and if there is anything else immortal,
by all it would be agreed they will never perish.”
  “Of course by all people, by God,” he said,
“and even more, I think, by gods.”
  “Since then the immortal is also incorruptible,
the soul, if it happens it is immortal,
also would be indestructible?”
  “Very definitely.”
  “Then when death comes upon a person
the mortal part of one, it seems, dies,
and the immortal, safe and incorruptible,
going away is gone, withdrawing from death.”
  “It appears so.”
  “Then more than all, Cebes,” he said,
“the soul is immortal and indestructible,
and in reality our souls will exist in Hades.”
Plato, Phaedo, 56

To know the nature of a thing
we must observe it in its unalloyed state,
since any addition obscures the reality.
Clear, then look: or, rather,
let a man first purify himself and then observe:
he will not doubt his immortality when he sees himself
thus entered into the pure, the Intellectual.
Plotinus, Fourth Ennead, VII:10

The First Reason Why the Soul Is Immortal:
It Is the Subject of Science which Is Eternal ...
Another Reason:
It Is the Subject Reason Which Is Not Changed ...
The soul is a subject in which reason is inseparably
(by that necessity also by which
it is shown to be in the subject),
neither can there be any soul except a living soul,
nor can reason be in a soul without life,
and reason is immortal; hence, the soul is immortal.
Augustine, “On the Immortality of the Soul,” 1, 2, 9

But it has been made evident that bodies,
of what frame or texture soever,
are barely passive ideas in the mind,
which is more distant and heterogeneous
from them than light is from darkness.
We have shown that the soul is indivisible, incorporeal,
unextended, and it is consequently incorruptible.
Nothing can be plainer than that the motions, changes, decays,
and dissolutions which we hourly see befall natural bodies
(and which is what we mean by the course of nature)
cannot possibly affect an active,
simple, uncompounded substance;
such a being therefore is indissoluble by the force of nature;
that is to say, “the soul of man is naturally immortal.”
Berkeley, Principles of Human Knowledge, 141

By the mere light of reason
it seems difficult to prove the Immortality of the Soul.
The arguments for it are commonly derived
either from metaphysical topics, or moral, or physical.
But in reality, it is the gospel, and the gospel alone
that has brought life and immortality to light....
Nothing could set in a fuller light the infinite obligations
which mankind have to Divine revelation;
since we find that no other medium
could ascertain this great and important truth.
Hume, Of the Immortality of the Soul

If it were true that one human soul was immortal
and yet was to be eternally damned,
getting only more clotted with crime and deeper bit by agony
as the ages went slowly by,
the Immortality were a curse,
not to that man only, but to all Mankind—
for no amount of happiness, merited or undeserved,
could ever atone or make up for the horrid wrong
done to that one most miserable man.
Who of you is there that could relish Heaven—
or even bear it for a moment—knowing that
a Brother was doomed to smart with ever greatening agony,
while year on year, and age on age, the endless chain of Eternity
continued to coil round the flying wheels of Hell!
I say the thought of one such man
would fill even Heaven with misery,
and the best man of men
would scorn the joys of everlasting bliss,
would spurn at Heaven and say, “Give me my Brother’s place—
for me there is no Heaven while he is there!
”Now it has been popularly taught that not one man alone
but the vast majority of all Mankind are thus to be condemned;
immortal only to be everlastingly wretched.
That is the popular doctrine now in this land.
It has been so taught in the Christian churches
these sixteen centuries and more—taught in the name of Christ!
Such an Immortality would be a curse to men, to every man;
as much so to the “saved” as to the “lost,”
for who would willingly stay in Heaven—and on such terms?
Surely not He who wept with weeping men!                                         
Theodore Parker, “A Sermon of Immortal Life,” The Farther Shore, p. 247

To me the eternal existence of my soul
is proved from my need of activity.
If I work incessantly till my death,
nature is pledged to give me another form of being
when the present can no longer sustain my spirit.
Goethe to Eckermann February 4, 1829, The Farther Shore, p. 221

Immortality will come to such as are fit for it,
and he who would be a great soul in future
must be a great soul now.
It is a doctrine too great to rest on any legend,
that is, on any man’s experience but our own.
It must be proved, if at all, from our own activity and designs,
which imply an interminable future for their play.
Emerson, “Worship”

I am a better believer, and all serious souls are better believers
in the immortality, than we can give grounds for.
The real evidence is too subtle,
or is higher than we can write down in propositions.
Emerson, “Immortality”

H. B.: When in deep agony, a side light was flashed
upon my soul with almost blinding suddenness—
“If you could find a beginning,
would not that beginning be itself an end?”
Hence, if you could find one end of things,
would not that show you that there must also be another end?
What! an end of all things,
beyond which there could be only blankness,
as there must have been before things began to be,
if they did begin.
No! “There was no beginning and there can be no end!”
Since that moment’s experience I have not been troubled
as to the immortality of the soul,
and I now think I never shall be again.
Bucke, Cosmic Consciousness, p. 306

Our own death is indeed unimaginable,
and whenever we make the attempt to imagine it
we can perceive that we really survive as spectators.
Hence the psychoanalytic school could venture
on the assertion that at bottom
no one believes in his own death,
or to put the same thing in another way,
in the unconscious every one of us
is convinced of his own immortality.
Freud, “Thoughts for the Times on War and Death,” 3


The soul is a unity, and all souls are unified in God, the One reality of all that is. Thus every individual is whole and complete, and yet all individuals are the same essence as each other.

This is just what Empedocles says about his own birth—
“Of these I too am now one,
a fugitive from the gods and a wanderer.”
He calls by the name of god, that is to say,
the One and its unity, in which he himself dwelt
before he was snatched thence by Strife
and born into this world of plurality
which Strife has organized.
Empedocles in Hippolytus, Refutatio. VII:29.

Constantly regard the universe as one living being,
having one substance and one soul;
and observe how all things have reference to one perception,
the perception of this one living being;
and how all things act with one movement;
and how all things are the cooperating causes
of all things which exist;
observe too the continuous spinning of the thread
and the contexture of the web.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, IV:40

There is one soul, though it is distributed among infinite natures
and individual circumstances (or individuals).
There is one intelligent soul, though it seems to be divided.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, XII:30

That the Soul of every individual is one thing
we deduce from the fact that
it is present entire at every point of the body—
the sign of veritable unity—
not some part of it here and another part there.
Plotinus, Fourth Ennead, IX:l

If the soul in me is a unity,
why need that in the universe be otherwise
seeing that there is no longer any question of bulk or body?
And if that, too, is one soul and yours, and mine,
belongs to it, then yours and mine must also be one:
and if, again, the soul of the universe and mine
depend from one soul, once more all must be one.
Plotinus, Fourth Ennead, IX:1

But just as by the attainment of justice they become just,
by wisdom they become wise,
so it is necessary by similar reasoning
to become gods by having attained divinity.
Then everyone blessed is a god.
But God is one in fact by nature;
while nothing prevents as many as possible
from being it by participation.                          
Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy, III:10

It is one light which beams out of a thousand stars.
It is one soul which animates all men.
Emerson, “The American Scholar”

Meantime within man is the soul of the whole;
the wise silence; the universal beauty,
to which every part and particle is equally related;
the eternal ONE.
And this deep power in which we exist
and whose beatitude is all accessible to us,
is not only self-sufficing and perfect in every hour,
but the act of seeing and the thing seen,
the seer and the spectacle,
the subject and the object, are one.
We see the world piece by piece,
as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree;
but the whole, of which these are the shining parts,
is the soul.
Emerson, “The Over-Soul”

The heart and soul of all men being one,
this bitterness of His and Mine ceases.
His is mine; I am my brother, and my brother is me.
Emerson, “Compensation”

The consciousness available in the realm of Soul
is not in lesser creatures,
but man may, upon obtaining illumination,
acquire a degree of this consciousness.
While this realm allows for distinctions,
there is no actual division
so that the whole is present in each of the parts.
Particular Souls may exist without dividing the Universal Soul
or the Universal Soul absorbing the multiple Souls.
The particular Souls are distinct in consciousness
yet aware of their unity with other Souls,
and they lose nothing of egoness
by entering into the life of the whole.
So it is with the illumined Soul of man
as it returns back to its source,
no longer a personality of an earthly man,
but the individuality of a Cosmic being.
“Happy and blessed one, you shall be a god
instead of a mortal,” says Persephone to an Initiate Soul.
McDaniel, Lamp of the Soul, p. 256

From the viewpoint
of the most interior consciousness of creation,
individual Souls are only
points of consciousness in the total cosmos;
it was from this approach that Buddha implies that
there are no individual Souls, but only one Universal Soul,
and the life of the individual but a “chain of causation”
in the course of the whole.
From the consciousness of man, however,
the tracking of the ego through time
discloses the formation of the individual Soul
in which is stored the seeds of the past
and the pattern of the future.
The destiny of the ego is woven in the Soul,
and this destiny cannot be defeated or changed
except by action of the ego.
This individual Soul,
starting as it does from a point in the whole,
may eventually expand to partake of the whole.
McDaniel, Lamp of the Soul, p. 263

Soul is the Reality and the Essence.
It is one as well as a totality.
In one there is always the delusion of many,
and the totality does signify the existence therein
of so many parts.
Kirpal Singh, The Crown of Life, p. 9

Soul then is the life-principle
and the root cause at the core of everything,
for nothing can come into manifestation without it.
It has a quickening effect and imparts its life-impulse
to the seemingly inert matter by contact with it.
It is by the life and light of the quickening impulse of the soul
that matter assumes so many forms and colors
with their variety of patterns and designs
which we see in the Universe.
This life current or soul is extremely subtle,
a self effulgent spark of Divine Light,
a drop from the Ocean of Consciousness,
with no beginning and no end, and eternally the same,
an unchangeable permanence, boundless, complete in Itself,
an ever-existent and all-sentient entity,
immanent in every form, visible and invisible,
for all things manifest themselves because of It.
Nothing is made that is not made by It.
“The One remains, the many change and pass,
Life like a dome of many-colored glass,
Stains the white radiance of Eternity.” (Shelley)
Kirpal Singh. The Crown of Life. p. 10-11

There is one consciousness, the consciousness of God.
There is one being, the beingness that is absolute.
There is one Light, the Light of the Holy Spirit.
There is one truth, the truth that is eternal.
There is one energy, the energy of life.
There is one action, the action of evolution.
There is one love, and that is the divine love.
Beck, Living In God’s Holy Thoughts, p. 1

Essence of the Soul

Origin of the Soul in God
The Soul is divine
Proofs of Immortality

The Soul in Human Consciousness

Soul and Body
Levels of Consciousness
Functions of the Psyche
Soul and Mind
Cause and Effect

Soul Liberation

Progression and Evolution
Spiritual Aspiration
Desirelessness and Non-attachment
Spiritual Exercises


BECK index