Journey of Spirit - Part V
Young Soul — Old Soul
Have you ever been called a “young soul’ or an “old soul?” I have heard one or both of these terms used in reference to someone. I have even heard it used to describe myself over the years. What makes its use so striking is when the term young soul is used to describe a person that is, chronologically speaking, older in physical years; or vice versa, when a small child is referred to as an old soul.
What does young soul or old soul mean? After all, it has already been stressed that a spirit, which is what we are, is ageless. And, if it is true, that the living soul is a product resulting from the union of spirit and body, then isn’t every soul a new soul? The answer is yes. Every soul is a new soul. Yet, the terms “young soul” and “old soul” are appropriate.
If every living soul with its attributes of will, reason and emotion is new when an ageless, timeless spirit takes on the newly formed physical body, then why is it appropriate to call a person a young or old soul? Because, they are simply terms that describe the spirit’s experience level as a living soul. All spirits are eternal. A spirit has no beginning or end for it is the very breath of Adonai. Therefore we are outside of time in terms of age. However, not every spirit has chosen to incarnate and some have had very limited human incarnation experiences. A spirit that has been in clay on numerous occasions has “downloaded,” if you will, far more human experience than one who has none or few human incarnations. Does this mean that the spirit with no or few incarnations is somehow lacking? Of course not! Every spirit is bathed in Light; is complete, lacking in nothing. But on this side of eternity, within the framework of the space-time continuum, it can make a significant difference. Remember, the term old soul and young soul is meaningless in the Eternal Now, beyond the veil, the heavenly realm, or the other side; whichever term best suits you. Those two descriptions only have meaning here in space and time.
Here is how it can be significant. When an ageless spirit incarnates for the first time or has had but few incarnations there is the constant danger of the spirit loosing the perception of its true identity. This can also be a trip-wire for those with many incarnations under their proverbial belts, but it is more likely to occur with lesser-experienced spirits (those with fewer incarnations).
How can an ageless, completed spirit possibly lose itself? While in a human body it is surprisingly easy. It begins to honestly believe that it is its intellect and its emotions. The spirit totally identifies itself to its human rationality and feelings. If it stoops low enough, as some have, its identity is totally attached to the body. This type cannot picture itself beyond the five physical senses of its human body. For this misguided individual the fear of death is a constant devastation. The spirit who has its sense of self invested in its rational human mind or emotions is under the delusion that if it cannot think or feel then it can no longer exist and all life has lost its meaning and purpose. I think the popular vernacular today is “the quality of their life has been lost.” That is why mental illness and such deteriorating and devastating diseases such as Alzheimer’s are so feared. If I believe that I am because I think and feel then my identity of self is so tied to the intellect and emotions that if they cannot function “normally” then I am as good as dead already. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have eternal intrinsic worth regardless of our mental, emotional or physical state because we are not any of these things.
The servants (body and soul), have become master of the house. This again is backward thinking. The master of the house is ourselves, or spirit. Our five physical senses of the physical body and our soul’s attributes of reasoned thoughts and emotions are servants, tools to be used to aid spirit in its quest to accomplish its purpose. If spirit relinquishes its place of mastery and leadership soul and body will be more than happy to step in which leads to behavior and actions that mark the person as a young soul. Whenever spirit takes the reigns, which generally requires the experience of more than one or two physical incarnations, the behavior, actions and wisdom found in the eyes of that human give it away as an old soul regardless of the person’s chronological physical age.
Now that all this concerning the function of soul and body has been stated, I must put in a disclaimer. These separations are easily discussed in this type of format but are not necessarily so readily noticeable by the individual in this busy hustle-bustle, computerized, 21st Century world. For any of this to become realizable and clear a little of our day must be set-aside for some quiet time for study of Torah, prayer and communion with HaShem, doing mitzvot and spending time with fellow Jews, especially tzadik. This cannot be stressed enough. If we cannot make time for study, prayer and fellowship then self will remain buried under the mundane. We must learn and listen to the words of wisdom found in Torah, the Tanakh and in the teachings of our Sages of Blessed Memory so we can separate what is the us from all the noise and clamoring of the intellect and emotions, as well as, the cravings of the body. Begin to depersonalize without relinquishing personal responsibility.