Barbara Emrys

Global Soul

In the course of a dinner with two friends not long ago, I was struck by a spiritually motivated conversation about the virtues of ‘giving up.’ Both men seemed to agree that surrender was a good thing from all points of view. They discussed the surrender of precious beliefs, old habits and personal identity as necessary to the spiritual evolution of every human being.
At one point in the discussion, something astonishing happened. One of the men humorously suggested that the other surrender his soul. The reaction was dramatic. Without seeming to comprehend the joke, his friend abandoned his well constructed position of surrender and hurled a fearful threat against anyone who might attempt to take his soul from him. It reminded me of a scene from a movie, where the protagonist is in danger of being seduced by the devil, but is oddly clueless about the real nature of the threat.
There is no doubt that soul is a word that inspires people. We refer to the human soul as our deepest and holiest aspect, our basic character, emotional center, or most valued possession. The interpretation of the word seems to vary slightly from culture to culture but, in any language, it represents the most sacred of concepts, and a thing that must never be compromised.
I have a more pragmatic view of the word, based on a simple understanding of physics. I see the fact of an apparent form as the result of a soul. Physical form is not solid, but a spinning excitation of atoms that gives the impression of form. And yet, if I touched you, my hand would stop at the parameters of you, as if you were indeed made of solid matter. I cannot penetrate your form. Something about you knows itself as impenetrable. Something knows itself as a particular, indivisible universe, not a whirling mass of individual cells. And it knows itself as human. Something made it possible for you to grow from one cell into incalculable numbers of cells and eventually a human being, not a penguin or a platypus.
As with all of life’s mysteries, the something I speak of is life. Life animates all matter. From all evidence, life is eternal and infinite and it applies its creative force in many ways, including the mysterious ability to hold form in place. Call that force soul, and you can see how its mysteries inspire faith. Call that force soul, and you can also understand how silly it is to think of a human soul as vulnerable to theft. The word goes to the heart of all mystery, scientific or theological, but it does not suggest a thing that can be captured or compromised.
Just as every human body gives evidence to the presence of this force, so does the larger body of humanity. So does the body of Earth. Soul gives them form and integrity. Both know themselves as a universe, and cannot be persuaded to become something other than what they are. Each of us is a part of a global soul called humanity. Like any universe, we breathe as one, even if it seems otherwise. We are an integral form, held together by a common force. This soul cannot be compromised unless the body itself dies, at which point soul becomes infinite life once again.
In tribute to planet Earth and to all its precious components – both human and otherwise – I urge each of you to end all conflict and the delusion within the universe that is you. I urge you to be aware of the force of life that binds you to one beautiful form. I urge you to preserve the integrity of humanity by celebrating your own. Uphold your unique point of view, not your right to an opinion. Speak impeccably. Act compassionately. Honor your mother and father – the celestial bodies that granted you life.
And calm down – your soul cannot be taken from you. Eternal life will not be corrupted or compromised. Common sense is another matter altogether.

One thought on “Global Soul

  1. Raka

    Barbara,
    That is a beautiful and profound piece.
    thank you for speaking so clearly to each soul.
    the parts and the whole, can’t have one without the other. at least, it appears that way.
    i love you, barbara.
    more and more, loving becomes and life is. crying comes more easily as so many plead for saving with eyes of anger fear hunger pain self-abuse amidst a field of all being offered.
    I live in Taos. I do what i can, but don’t really feel that i am doing anything. life has become a dance of beauty. creation and destruction always knocking at my door. may the voice that comes forth be one of unity.
    Raka

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