If you explore the true nature of reality, all pain will eventually come to an end. In some form or other, religious teachings state this truth over and over. There is no way around the fact that it sounds abstract, yet this is the reality of how the soul operates.
Your soul deals in abstractions like eternity and infinity so that you won’t have to. It converts an inconceivable world into one that we can grasp and understand. Like a car’s transmission, which takes the whirling motion of the engine and transforms it into the forward velocity that gets you where you want to go, the soul makes it possible for your life to move forward.
Eternity doesn’t need to breathe; infinity doesn’t need to find a job. But you need those things and more – you need to eat, work, love, and raise children – and these are made possible through the soul. Without it, there would only be quantum soup, a formless swirl of energy and particles.
Even though we are accustomed to using religious language about the soul, its duties are useful, not poetic. This fact has been hard to realize because the word soul has been used loosely to mean a person’s deepest emotions, his heart, his highest aspirations, as well as more arcane things like the Holy Ghost.
One senses that the soul travels through life undergoing every anxiety felt by the person. It isn’t aloof or apart but very much down here in the mud of battle. The paradox is that throughout this highly emotional involvement, no biblical writer ever defines what the soul is.
As a result, the word remains as diffuse in the end as it was at the outset. If I say to you, “My soul was touched” or “I mean this from the bottom of my soul” or “That person has a lot of soul,” nothing specific is being conveyed.
Adapted from How To Know God, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2000).