In Buddhism - Is there a soul? What is a soul? What is a mind?
As human beings we are constantly changing from one thought to another, therefore who I may think I am in any given moment is being changed and transformed from one moment to the next.
In some forms of Buddhism they express this as three minds or even as a form of stored consciousness.
The Tibetan Buddhist view defines it as: very subtle mind, which does NOT dissolve in death; subtle mind, which does dissolve in death and which refers to a "dreaming mind" or "unconscious mind"; and gross mind, which does not exist when one is sleeping.
States of Consciousness or Something More?
The gross mind is less permanent than the subtle mind, which does not exist in death. Still, the very subtle mind, does continue, there is a subtle memory at play here. One that will encounter and "catch on" to life again.
Then we begin to see a new subtle mind or entity emerge. One that will in time develop its own personality, and that entity, the soul or psyche, experiences a new life or karma in a new time or current continuum.
Sometimes we can get tripped up by our own vocabulary or lack of vocabulary. Our concept of "I" or "Me" actually changes all the time, based on our own life experiences. And other faiths may use a different description or concept of the soul, than what we are used to hearing.
We are constantly changing and growing, and out of this constant change or impermanence a new self is constantly arising in relationship with everything else around it. A new being is continuous arising from the being that was before, from your own consciousness. And there is a continuity that continues on and moves into the future, inside and outside of time.
In Jewish thought there are several different names or concepts of the soul-spirit; נפש nephesh (literally "living being"), רוח ruach (literally "wind"), נשמה neshama (literally "breath"), חיה chaya (literally "life") and יחידה yechidah (literally "singularity") are used to describe the soul or spirit.
The People of God, across all cultures and civilizations, are a diverse people. We are still one people, one race, the human race. It is important to take time to understand one another in this context. In an historic and cultural context out of which our languages, vocabulary, and faiths arise.
Life - Reality - Transformation – Resurrection – Rebirth - New Being - It Happens!
The point is, it is happening now, all the time, and it's a Mystery that we cannot always name.
I am remembering now, two of my favorite scriptures from the New Testament; ones I have always found to be full of mystery and great comfort.
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicized (NRSVA)
1 John 4:16: God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.
1 Corinthians 13
8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9 For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.
So, as a Buddhist-Christian or Christian-Buddhist, how am I to understand this Mystery? I'll talk about that later on, I promise.
The Over-Soul by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ron Starbuck is an author, poet, the Publisher-CEO of Saint Julian Press, and an Episcopalian.