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The Soul

At last for as long as we can judge from recorded history, human beings have been greatly concerned with the nature of their own inner self and with what it is that separates human beings from the animal kingdom. The element that has emerged in religions and cultures around the world as the single thing that identifies the human being and makes him or her of particular importance in the world is what we call the soul. It has different names in different traditions, but it is the animus, the life-force, the aspect of the self that is presumed to survive after death and that has some connection with the universe outside ourselves. Human beings are obsessed with the condition of the soul, with how it is formed, with how it is served by our actions, and with its general health as a guide to salvation or success in this life or the next, depending on the religious tradition involved. The literatures of the world show this obsession as writers have considered the meaning of the soul, its nature, and its relationship to human salvation in the universe.

The obsession with the condition of the soul is apparent in Vedic literature from South Asia, though as Caws and Prendergast note, the soul in that region was thought of as primarily a male concern (488). Concern for the soul often took the form of an analysis of the individual who did the most to teach about the soul and how to perfect it--the Buddha. Buddhism takes on a slightly different patina in the different countries of the world where it is practiced, meshing its religious culture with the social culture of the given region. Buddhism is a major religious force in the countries of Southeast Asia. Buddhism is defined in these regions first by the particular tenets of the religion which separate it from other religions and second by the manner in which it is integrated into the different societies of Southeast Asia. Buddhism has similarly been adapted to the U.S. experience, an...

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The Soul. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:39, July 01, 2022, from