All The Souls

Lili Zohar's picture

“What will happen to all the souls when the Earth is destroyed by the dying Sun?”
My son Eli and I were having one of our late night cuddles in his bed and his question, although strange, was not that surprising. Of late, Eli had been speaking of visitations by his grandpa who had died a quarter century before. When I asked Eli how he recognized my father whom I seldom spoke of, Eli responded: “It wasn’t really Grandpa Henry. It was his soul. He gave me magic slippers then he put all the colors of the rainbow into my heart.” I responded to Eli’s question before I thought much about it. “Don’t worry Eli. Souls are resourceful and the Universe is vast. If they really want to take form, surely the wise old souls will find a way.”

Later that night in my own bed I wondered: How could a child who could no longer control his body’s functions conceive of such a question? What part of his mind was asking when his brain had been pummeled by months of radiation and his enlarged brain stem was infiltrated with a ravenously active cancer. Who was asking? And more intriguing perhaps, Who answered? What mother was so delighted to be speaking of souls and the lives of planets that she forgot to be horrified that the small child in her arms had only days or weeks to live?

I have been haunted by Eli’s question and my answer in the years since he died. What if I was wrong and this small blue-green jewel of a rock hurling thorough space is the only home to all the souls who once lived here and those still to be born? The September issue of Scientific American titled “The End” outlines various scenarios and time-lines for how life on this planet is being irreversibly altered by human activities. One article notes that we are living through a massive extinction on par with the one that killed all the dinosaurs. With glaciers quickly melting, oceans dying and large percentages of plant and animal species and habitats now gone or endangered, it is hard to take the long view. One article does so and considers that even time itself will disappear. Sting theory suggests that as matter and gravity descend into the inescapable dark density of singularities, time might lose its attributes one by one: its directionality, its notion of duration and its role in ordering events causally. With no before and no after, children and souls dwindle like everything else, losing all meaning.

Based on Jason’s teachings, I am coming to understand that how I feel about the dire predictions of resource depletion and mass extinctions has something to do with the paradigm I am holding. One requires beginnings and endings while another holds life as a pulsating continuum of varying densities. Yet another would posit that time and space, form and flow, are all guises blurring the One True Reality. Wherever I am seated, I want for those unborn souls the blessings I have had, of open spaces to explore, fresh food nourished in healthy water and soil, and a vast wealth of diversity that supports this precious web of life.

There is some comfort in realizing that what I can’t know or understand dwarfs the information that can be held in my small mind and even perhaps in the minds of the brilliant 21st century scientists. I am willing to dwell in paradox and the vast unknown. I pray for the possibility that shifts of consciousness might bring positive change in the destructive choices we seem to be making. I am happy to gratefully indulge in the magnificent bounty and beauty that fill my life. In my pleasure, I allow temporary amnesia to dampen the awareness that however thoughtfully I conserve, I am entrenched in a high consumption, oil dependent society and am thereby part of the problem. And I wonder: What if the billion shimmering souls flickering in and out of existence like fire flies on a summer’s eve are tied to this small planet, depending on Gaia for their sparkling dance of life and death? What if technology does not hold the answers? What if we can’t change behaviors in time to spare the richness of species and resources on this Earth? What will life be like for the children of our children? And what will happen to all the souls?