Soul defines the totality of the elements that constitute the uniqueness of an individual.
Clearly, this is not a physical packet but a concept with metaphysical significance/existence.
The most eminent philosophers, thinkers, and saints (let alone time honored scriptures) have held different and divergent views on what a soul is.
Those who speak and write on souls and furnish details on the entry and exit of the soul in and from human bodies or into heaven or wherever else usually base their information on scriptural authorities and/or intelligent speculation, and not on any so-called scientific evidence.
This does not diminish the importance of the soul-idea which has played many useful/useless roles in human culture. Indeed, the idea of soul (in its various versions) has served millions of people over the ages in cultural, religious, and emotional (bereavement) contexts. That is why it is important in human culture. This is a historical fact, and does not prove or disprove the existence of a soul as described and prescribed in Hindu, Christian, or Islamic scriptures, for example.
I personally have no inkling of what soul is, where and how it exists, etc. I respect those who know better and much more on this subject.
My own immediate concerns and interests are in whether and in what ways I can be of any use to living people right now, irrespective of whether or what kinds of soul they have.
I do remember with love and respect the departed members of my family (parents, siblings, uncles, aunts) one day every year (my version of All Souls Day) though I am utterly ignorant of their soul-status, if any. I do this primarily because it gives me some solace, but also to acknowledge my ignorance of something that may have cosmic significance, but which does not interest me a great deal now.
June 10, 2010