Though a mystery among mysteries, the soul is at the heart of all the world’s religious and spiritual traditions. All sacred traditions agree that the soul is eternal, that it comes from and returns to God. The mystic journey is the journey of the soul. This perspective unites the world’s religions.
Examples of this common spiritual heritage are: “Birthless and deathless and changeless remains the soul, dead though the house of it seems” (Hinduism); “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Judaism); “Birth is not a beginning; death is not an end. There is existence without limitation; there is continuity without a starting point” (Taoism); “He that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Christianity); “The grave is the first station in the journey to eternity” (Islam); and, “The soul, after its separation from the body, will continue to progress until it attains the presence of God” (Baha’i).
In psychology, a similar recognition of the ambiguous yet central nature of the soul is found in C. G. Jung’s work. He knew that “psychology least of all can afford to overlook” the soul, since “everything to do with religion… touches the human soul so closely,” which is also the main subject area of psychology (originally, the study of the soul). For Jung, the soul is what links us to the archetypal world; it helps us experience the universals of life, because at our essence, we are like all other human beings.
James Hillman, in his “acorn theory,” said we live our life according to the innate “calling” that is within us. We are born with an image of the person we are to become, and our soul plays a key role in guiding us through the pattern of the life we live, toward our destiny.
Marion Woodman sees the soul as “the timeless part of ourselves.” She clarifies both the spiritual and psychological connotations of the soul, and adds its connective and collective nature at the same time: “We’re all little sparks of One Soul. We are “ensouled” on this planet… we are one people inhabiting one country… we are all part of One Soul… When we connect with our souls, we connect with the soul of every human being. We resonate with all living things.” The soul is our perpetual connection to the immortal realm.