What information if understood would change the world? What would happen if everyone understood the soul? God in the Ofudesaki tells us that when everyone understands the soul, there will be paradise on earth.
What is the soul? The soul has also been called the heart or the spirit. Scientists have not located and verified the existence of the soul in our bodies. We know that our physical bodies decay upon our death, but many believe that our souls will exist to continue for eternity.
We believe that the soul by itself is energy that contains our pattern of thoughts and our fate. Some may question how energy may convert to thought patterns and fate. Some say quantum physics may hold the answer? But until it is proven or disproved, all we have is our best ideas and theories that we fabricate from what we presently know, including information from religious doctrine.The following will attempt to define the soul according to our current knowledge, and verses from the Ofudesaki. Let us continue to presume that the soul is energy.
When the soul occupies our bodies before birth, the soul programs and activates our minds with our thought patterns in the developing neural system; while in the body, the soul also collects and stores our merits and demerits that were caused by acting on these existing pattern of thoughts. These merits and demerits are eventually released as our fate when conditions are favorable. We reap what we have sowed. The soul is who we are; and it also enforces justice for our behavior.
But some people will say that they can’t remember having sowed evil, yet they suffer. Others will arrogantly boast that they have done evil, yet they do not suffer. It is as if God places a wall in front of us by the prolonged lapse of time between cause and effect; we do not know what fate exist around the corner. This lapse of time between cause and effect often extends into our next lifetime. But why the wait? The soul waits for the right circumstances and conditions to distribute our fate.
These are the concepts of reincarnation and karma, where our memories are erased upon our death; but our pattern of thoughts and our fate are preserved to be manifested later in our next lifetime by the soul. Both our thought patterns we have acted upon, and our fate that were created by acting upon these thought patterns will continue on, even after our physical demise. This is possible because of the soul. Again we reap what we have sowed. We are responsible for our own actions!
Metaphorically, our souls are like little suitcases that contain our pattern of thoughts and our fate, exiting our bodies at death to ascend to heaven; and descending from heaven to enter our new bodies before birth. One can say that we exist both on earth and heaven for eternity because of the soul.
By what mechanism does the soul operate? Upon entering our developing bodies, the soul eventually programs our minds with our previous thought patterns (like greed and arrogance) from our past lives.
There are no surprises to what thought patterns our bodies receive from our souls. We have the same pattern of thoughts that we had acted upon in our past life. For example, if we succumbed to greed in our past life, we have the same thought of greed in this lifetime. The same neural pathways of greed are reestablished. One can say that our souls upon entering our bodies, eventually create and restore our own individualized minds!
It is these difference in the pattern of thoughts that make each of us unique. Some of us will have more or stronger negative thought patterns than others. Others will have more positive thought patterns. It is these thought patterns that influence our behaviors and eventually determine our fate. God tells us to sweep away these negative thought patterns, so we do not act upon them. If this happens, we will have only positive thought patterns, leading to only positive fate.
But how do we know if we have these evil thoughts in our minds? These negative thoughts always bring upon an emotion or temptation. For example, when we have the thought of arrogance, often the emotion of anger will arise. Temptation appears when we have the thought of greed or self-love in our minds. Depression will appear if we have the thought of self love or regret. The presence of these negative emotions or feelings are telltale signs that we have evil thoughts in our minds.
What do we do when anger, depression or temptation arises from these negative thoughts? Most people will direct their anger, depression or temptation at what appears to be the source, which could be an coworker, stranger, spouse, circumstance or even God. But if we understand the soul, we acknowledge that it is our own soul that brings upon these challenges or fate. Our past actions created our own fate. These obstacles are only messengers of our souls. Our efforts will be directed to calm our minds, and ponder our evil thoughts that created these obstacles; therefore not acting upon what emotions (like anger) were elicited by them. By this process, the neural pathway of the evil thought becomes less prominent, and the emotions they elicit will also decrease. This is how we gradually eliminate our evil thoughts and become spirited.
Eventually by this process of not acting on our evil thoughts, especially when our soul bring upon sufferings, we can purify both our minds and our souls; where only positive thoughts emerge from our minds, and joy flows from our souls
What happen when we act on our evil thoughts? When we act on our evil thoughts, we cause suffering to others, and more evil thoughts are created in our own minds. The neural pathways for these thought become stronger, and the emotions they elicits becomes stronger to resist. This causes us to continually act upon our evil thoughts, causing more demerits which our soul collects. The soul eventually releases these demerits (energies) as fate . The cycle of suffering will continue until we understand the soul.
For more understanding on the soul, please visit The Tenrikyo Ofudesaki Study Group on Facebook.