People often talk about a soul. But what is it? In truth, does anyone really know? Maybe we can say that there’s a spark of life. It differentiates a dead body from one that was alive a few seconds before.
I have a faithful and loving pet dog. Is her spark of life is equivalent to mine? She behaves very differently to me, but the “soul” that animates her seems just as strong as mine.
Here’s an interesting thought: By definition, a spark of life can’t be extinguished. It’s life after all! So my dog won’t “die” and neither will I because life is absolutely alive, even though a physical personality or form has passed.
It’s a tricky subject. My dog – and any other animal – is suddenly equivalent to me. Her life is worth as much as mine. I won’t eat her, but I’ll eat other animals, so there are massive implications for the food industry and for people. Really we are responsible for ensuring that anything we eat comes from sources that recognise this sanctity of life, and are not cruel to any animals they slaughter.
Yoga looks at the long term. If this spark of life will persist, then how can it manage the detritus it picks up time after time in the world? We all have behaviour we would like to change. Behaviour is driven by attitude, and attitudes are formed from experiences. Yoga teaches that these attitudes can cling to a life force between appearances in the world, and mess up its progress anytime it appears. Yoga offers techniques to reduce and eventually integrate these hangover characteristics.
More fundamentally, Yoga suggests that each spark of life is in fact just Life. There are no individual sparks really. There is just one continuous flow of energy. Like water pouring into the sink, energy swirls and forms whirlpool vortices. Each vortex represents a life, a creature or plant that thinks it’s an individual fighting to survive amongst all the others. Nowhere is this more apparent than when considering the human condition. Our planet has provided for the many millions of years or our evolution and subsequent dominance, but we still feel compelled to arrange resources tactically, for maximum output.