For millennia philosophers have contemplated the enigmatic figure of the soul and its purpose to human life. While some believe it to be an important and eternal aspect of lived existence, others have been convinced of its superlative propensity to escort travellers into the afterlife. Whether it be significant or trifling, the notion of an “Old Soul” has sustained curiosity in both Eastern and Western tradition.
The idea of an Old Soul may be a human construction, however what if there is something behind the idea providing insight into the soul’s origin? Individuals regarding themselves as Old Souls are consistently found indifferent to their epoch, often manifesting precocious conceptions of life without direct assistance from others; are these ideas naturally concomitant or are they innately present in the psyche? Is there a lingering presence within the soul manipulating conscious thought? To investigate the old soul we must consider the characteristics, postulations of its immortality and it’s confluence with consciousness.
The Old Soul
A prominent feature of an Old Soul is a drive to not just comprehend who and what, but also interpret the why. The desire for understanding endorses an aversion to plain responses, imbibing material their acumen is sharpened and they humbly accept what they don’t know, seeing potential as someday being what they do. Through recurrent internal discourse these individuals merge deeply with their conscious and individual council provides solace and direction, yet with this close connection can create difficulties in adapting to the reality in which their body located.
Being cast into the modern world can be tough for the Old Soul and (whether conscious or unconscious of it or not), the surfacing of multiple dispositions often follows. One attached to occupational activities, another to the engaging with youths, another to converse with maturity and another dominating thinking when alone,
producing questions unpalatable to many contemporaries. As their interests go beyond what is typical for their age they find amicability with those older. Less intent on proselytizing about their shrewdness they seek knowledge from those who have truly experienced life, holding tremendous gratitude to anyone willing to teach personally or, as is the case with most old souls, by proxy through their work.
There is an essence of prudence within the Old Soul. As they become increasingly connected to their conscious acting on reflex tends to be scarce, installing pragmatic thought as an anchor of their actions. This sense of practicality increases earnestness towards personal responsibility and intent on persisting through endeavours. Grasping their influence on events and surroundings blame is seldom angled at others for personal shortcomings; when wrong the old soul presents their knuckles, takes the cane across them and attempts to be better the next time. During solitary moments with nature the Old Soul is at peace, their innate love for the natural world provides grace and serenity where the overactive mind can rest and purely be.
A Lingering Essence
In Memories, Dreams, Reflections, the immortal psychoanalyst Carl Jung discusses his engagement with the duality dwelling within him. Jung noticed at an adolescent age that there were at least two distinct entities echoing inside him, simultaneously existing yet in somewhat disharmony with each other. One he regarded as his eternal soul, the one that forgets the existence of others when in nature or shoots off into metaphysical delight when alone; the other he specified as the social soul, the one required for him to function correctly in the community without seeming deranged or raving. Although the latter manages control of external efforts he was nevertheless convinced that his old soul laid the framework for the formers construction. In his opinion people are “the victims and promoters of a collective spirit whose years are counted in centuries”.
While all of us have our own personal lives we are representations of an essence that has subsisted since the beginning of man. Although we live in this moment today, there is energy within us that has existed for eons and will continue after corporal demise. The energy may share recurrent characteristics across the time and globe, but how it integrates with an individual is completely unique. This enduring essence can be imagined like wind – we may be able to see the affects, yet it is impossible to trace when it began and where it will end.
In Phaedo, Socrates’ grief stricken companions query him about the soul’s eternal nature. One theory the death-row philosopher offered to his friends was The Cyclical Argument, stating that death is actually a state of life and elucidating this with reference to sleep – in order for one to sleep they must first be awake, in order to be awake one must first sleep. When a new baby is born they awaken into this world, however if they are to awake they must have first been asleep somewhere else, no?
According to Plato a soul is not created anew but galvanized from a dormant into an active state, yet as the soul becomes forged to novel flesh the conscious renders it implicitly new and traces of the past evaporate. Could his theory expound why some people feel their soul has once inhabited actuality?
The Recycling of Energy
Traits of an Old Soul can be observed and theories as to why can be concocted, however the question remains as to what makes an individual feel they are an old soul? Perhaps science at the subatomic realm can help shed some light.
Microtubules are a structural component of cells producing their shape and forming part of the cytoskeleton. It was discovered through the research of Stuart Hameroff and Sir Roger Penrose that within the microtubules there is information stored at a subatomic level. Their studies left them with the impression that consciousness, rather than being about the brain, could be stored in cells all over the body providing an access and information link to the quantum realm.
The information stored in the microtubules does not disappear with one’s heartbeat, instead the material gradually dissipates to point of imperceptibility. There is sound thought to postulate the harboured energy’s potential to be released or returned to the quantum realm. In other words these particles, at least intimately aligned but potentially being consciousness, go back into the omnipotent cosmic sauce of the universe.
As nothing can come from or go back to nothing perhaps energy is recycled from previous existences, and possibly particles of former souls converge and compose of those new. If this is true some individuals may have higher amounts of recycled energy in their microtubules, engendering a disposition with traits of someone who has lived before because their inherent energy has had a previous existence, and it’s slowly coming to realize the flesh puppets have changed.
As individuals receiving the recycled energy are not aware of their quantum composition they will sense a variance between them and their contemporary world without knowing the cause. There is endless debate on the relationship between the consciousness (unconsciousness/subconscious) and the soul. Whether they be one of the same or different doesn’t alter the inherit link they foster and the potentiality of them inhabiting the same realm.
With no irrefutable method to examine the phenomenon the notion of the old soul will remain inscrutable, however the theory provided may offer some food if thought intends to adventure into the soul’s realm. If nature incessantly recycles its elements to continue life, would it be so outlandish to suggest portions of reused energy enable new life?
Image source: Ali Noureldine