Plato was the first philosopher to resolve, or settle, a dualistic premise — the body-soul construct in ancient thought. He believed the soul was immortal and distinct from the body, although he elevated the metaphysical ‘fencepost’ for its credence. He believed the soul was also perpetual. He suggested that the soul doesn't come into existence with the body; it exists prior to being ‘attached’ to the body. Socrates, his teacher, believed, no less, that the soul was immortal. He contended that death was not the end of existence; it was merely the parting of the soul from the corporeal body.
The soul and the ego — in today’s context — are two pristine exemplars, albeit they are hardly ever in balance, or equilibrium. While most of our life’s ‘catch-22’ is represented by our bloated ego, the fact also is most failed relationships are remnants of its skewed, elemental divergence. Our ego is a paradox, all right. On the one hand, it celebrates the divine connotation, or context, in us — call it our inner ‘all-inclusive’ power, or what you may. Yet, on the contrary, it is the same ego that exemplifies our pride in what we do, or don’t. The more we have it, the happier our life will be, or so we think, although the fact is something that lies, or stays, somewhere in-between, where no one is more wiser than when one started.
The ego has its own rote, its own pendulum, or sensor — it can caution us in the face of a threat, or hazard. For Plato, this was the rational element — one that connects to Sigmund Freud's lucid precept. It pertains to each corresponding relationship vis-à-vis other elements confined to and in the soul. While Freud formulated the theory of human ego, his whole psychological canvas was cemented to the idea that our ego functions ceaselessly, far below the breadth, or expanse, of our mind, or mindful awareness, working, influencing, or amalgamating every facet of our behaviour — primarily through the use of disagreement, reasoning and other stratagems. What does this connote? That our ego holds a ‘double-sided’ mirror; and, it reflects or refracts any given, or not given, condition. It rules every domain of our activity — be it science, the arts, sports, business, politics, or technological advance.
Picture this — it is our individual or ‘collective’ ego that brings about change, a change for the better, or worse. This makes our expressive life what it is — the two contrasting ends of the spectrum — of balance and happiness, or imbalance and despondency. It provides us with certain clues, if not the precise direction — a handy voucher to beat our stresses and live our lives to its completest potential and also ‘prize-fight’ to turn our soulful dreams into reality. It also holds a life-long lesson for all of us — that we should always strive to do our best, come what may, but never ever squander life by thinking pessimistically as what could be in store tomorrow.
Life is, indeed, the most complex material element. It has chemical and physical properties of matter. This is why it mends, maintains, reinvents and maximises itself — right from millions of cells that drive us through life, not just the changing of seasons, while sifting and wading over matter like a slow, measured surf — a form of precise, artistic transformation. Life is also a part of the time and space continuum, including our existence and thinking processes, aside from our diversity and progress. Yet, the irony is — most of us continue to live far too much in our heads, not in the resplendent, harmonious ‘soulfulness’ of our being.