Loss of soul
A man came up to one day and asked me this question: “What does it mean to lose your soul?” I don’t like questions like this, when they are asked, there is more often than not, some kind of underlying agenda, which over the years I have tried to avoid. I really can’t help others with their issues about Christianity, since that has to be worked out personally though study etc., and dealing with notions that are not fair or even true, are actually impossible since they are often so emotion laden. Unless this is worked out by the one asking the question, it is often a waste of time to try to answer, though there are times when I do, often to my chagrin.
So against my better judgment I tried to answer. So we sat down over coffee and we talked about it. To lose ones soul, at least the way it is used in modern times is of course not possible. I think to look at it in another way would be a better way to discuss and ponder a question such as this, though I am sure it will not be adequate. There are aspects of our existence, as well as what we believe, that take a lifetime to work out, or perhaps to grow into, or true as well, to grow out of.
In order to even think about the loss of soul, there has to be some accent that at some level, we have the freedom to make choices, which are in fact a form of self-creation. We see it all around us. What we love the most, truly desire; is where our hearts are. Jesus talked about letting go of a way of life, to die to self in order to receive the kind of life he was talking about. So anything that does not help along in our desire to grow in intimate relationship with God, needs to be put aside, or let go of, to die to. This understanding of what that means grows as our commitment deepens.
It is easy to see where this also applies to other areas of life that people want to commit themselves to. Say to a career. A way of life that demands total dedication, where anything that gets in the way of this life plan has to be put in second place. This also means that they need to adapt to what is expected of them if they are to succeed. So a great many sacrifices have to be made if indeed this is their highest goal in life. What we love the most is what we truly seek. There is always a form of death to other avenues that could be sought after or experienced. It is not possible to avoid this facet of our lives.
Marriages, relationship with ones children, the letting go of friends that get in the way of ones goal, can be and are often sacrificed to ones greatest love and desire. At some point there may be regret, if what one slaves for is in the end an illusion. So each human being will make great sacrifices for what is greatly loved and sought after.
We are always converting towards one thing or another. Towards God and what that implies. Or towards some other ‘good’ that also makes its demands. Of course it is not always that black and white, at least on the surface of things, for it takes years for the seeds we plant to take fruit.
So I went with my ‘friend’ and we talked for a bit. We did converse some about what I wrote above and it went better than I thought. I did tell him that we are all responsible for what we believe. If we wish to make pointed judgments about some other belief system, or about our upbringing, it is wise to step back and to try to understand what these systems actually teach beyond popular expressions that can often be destructive. If not, then we can stay chained to anger and perhaps as we age, to an ever growing frustration. Human weakness, ignorance and evil, can be found in any stytem of thought or religion. It amazes me that people are shocked by this, for we all have the same in our own hearts if we look deep enough.
So we can ‘lose our souls’ to a ‘way of life’ that is opposed to us. If we are made for God, which I believe we are. If our deepest longings can only be fulfilled by an intimate relationship with God, then to give oneself, ones love to something else and to seek only that, could be called loss of ones soul, and that choice can be total and to find ones way back extremely difficult, since it was something freely chosen and pursued.
If to grow as a loving human being is central to ones life, then all other choices will be second to this one central goal and desire. It will show up in how the other areas of life are lived. All other occupations will either adapt to this goal or die. This inner movement towards what we truly love and desire may be hidden for a time, but the fruits of ones life are often tasted sooner than expected. If the fruit is too bitter or rotten, this may in fact be the beginning of a new and deeper life.